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"Mau Mau Campaign" Topic


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Whirlwind27 Apr 2012 8:10 a.m. PST

I was reading this today link and was wondering if wiser men than me know what the facts are? I don't know very much about the Mau Mau campaign, but this sounds totally different from the stuff I've read before. Or is it a wildly contentious issue in certain circles?

Regards

Jed Norton Inactive Member27 Apr 2012 9:15 a.m. PST

My father served in Kneya during the MauMau troubles, as part of the KAR (Kings African Rifles) and we have discussed his experiences at length.

Let me just say that he wasn't interviewed for this "book" and I hardly recognise his personal recollections and the accusations of systematic torture and abuse portrayed in the linked article.

It seems, as is fairly common in many western-white-orientated history re-writes, to rather ignore indigenous tribal rivalries and likes to utilise emotive sentences in generalisations.

Having said that, beatings were not uncommon in the camps, nor were hangings (after trials of one sort or another) but the sheer levels of abuse and torture claimed in that article bear very little resemblance to the experiences of my father (but read on)

Bear in mind that the majority of "British troops" were not whites but were drawn from ‘local' tribes and the, sometimes intense, tribal hatreds and rivalries were at the heart of a lot of these allegations and many abuses. That does not excuse them, but let us not start imagining a 100% white army of occupation committing al these deeds, as with many colonial forces the rank & file were "locals" tosome degree or another with just senior NCOs and officers being whites.

Perhaps even more importantly there is underway now legal challenges seeking compensation for "MauMau victims of British colonialism", and I suspect a level of pandering to that 'goal' simply to help sell copy. This sort of re-writing history is also in vogue, but does that mean it is incorrect also? Probably not.

It should not be forgotten that atrocities were committed by the ‘MauMau' on whites and blacks themselves and this was by no means a time of one-sided abuses.

My father remembers incidences of white abuse that were stamped on as soon as they were revealed, but also of abuse by black British troops upon prisoners that were probably never revealed let alone dealt with by "authorities". Systematic? Not from anything I have heard from a living eye-witness who I trust not to shy from the truth. Did abuse happen? Yup, most certainly. The extent of it – hard to say (read on).

I have photographs of my father refereeing a footy match between the camp guards and a prisoners team at McKenna Road(?) Camp which whilst on the surface seemed friendly was very tense and largely a PR stunt. ‘Massacres', such as Hola Road are documented, but to the basic grunts and NCOs (like my father) these only came across as rumours. Covered up? Hushed up? Yes.

It is strange though as the Kenya then was still that of big-game hunters and Colonial rule, plenty of what would now be highly offensive racial terms and really all the "bad stuff" that was rather "jolly british colonial attitude" back then. The MauMau (not that MauMau is even a term they used themselves) were viewed as brutal, vicious, evil etc etc, by whites and any attack on white farmers (which were indeed generally brutal) publicised for all their worth.

My father though was added to the Education Corp whilst over there and ended up teaching at schools and with the locals to a very high degree, he was fluent in local languages and spent a lot of time out in the bush, with locals, troops and civilians, so whilst he isn't wearing rose tinted glasses he never did have had that much contact with the camps and their guards.

So his most intense memories of the time revolve around mass-migrations of huge herds of animals, the fabulous countryside, teaching the locals, being on excellent, friendly terms with the locals, game hunting and a lot of travelling…and friends being shot dead in front of him, the odd ambush and cleaning up bodies after attacks on white and black farmers and workers.

I would say that his view is skewed toward the "MauMau" being ‘the bad guys' because that's what he encountered personally; I suspect that white officers and perhaps NCOs from the camps would remember a vastly different Kenya and who knows if there is any money in "MauMau" going after the Kenya Government seeking to get monetary payouts from the blacks who abused other blacks during the time?

One suspects not, hence the actions against the UK and the emergence of supporting evidence to those (monetary) claims.

/Jed

jeffbird27 Apr 2012 11:11 a.m. PST

It would be interesting to wargame the Mau Mau conflict as i spent my childhood in Western Kenya in the 70's.

Norman D Landings27 Apr 2012 2:08 p.m. PST

My dad and his mates nicked melons out of the fields until they got told stop behaving like twelve-year-olds and just buy the bloody melons.

It was inexcusable, but war is hell.

Oh, and he did set dogs on people, but, y'know, he was a dog handler, and that's pretty much their thing really.

GNREP827 Apr 2012 3:14 p.m. PST

I think you have to take into account that Monbiot is an arseclown though – having been anti-nuclear he is now pro and accuses the antis of overstating the impact and the casualties caused by Chernobyl – though he doesn't have a problem in that article in saying "But it is clear that tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of Kikuyu died in the camps and during the round-ups". Based on? The sort of person you'd love to empty a pint over.
He said this about police misconduct in more arseclownery
"anyone who works for the police and is found to have made false statements – to the prosecution, the defence, the courts, parliament, public inquiries or the media – should be sacked. No excuses, no mitigation, no delays. It sounds harsh; it's not nearly as harsh as a system in which the police malign both the living and the dead, and use the law against innocent people in order to protect themselves."


Aside from stereotyping the entire police service of 150,000 by the actions of some (and what about tactical untruth in murder and anti-terrorist investigations), change the word 'police' to 'press' and I might support it!
Arseclown!

FusilierDan Supporting Member of TMP27 Apr 2012 4:48 p.m. PST

I was in Kenya during the '80s. The exhibit in the museum about Kenya's history called the MauMau terrorists in one display and freedom fighters in another.

Jed good point about who was interviewed for the book. Self full filling?

I'm sure horrible things happened but they need to be looked at from the perspective of the era and culture in which they occurred.

I saw this and found the reviews interesting.
link

thejoker Inactive Member27 Apr 2012 5:05 p.m. PST
link hunter 99 Inactive Member27 Apr 2012 5:56 p.m. PST

if you ask two people for their story then they will always be different. ask people from different villages and you can start a war.

it is very true that in years past the story was different to today because of british propaganda. that was main way that other nations heard the stories. but over time that changes and the other side of the stories are now being told.

but now those stories are many years old and memories are gone or people are dead from old age, so the new stories are by people who were never there and spoke with sons and daughters of the people who were and very old people.

so what is the truth? stories told to children or faded memeories of old people? and what village did you ask?

The exhibit in the museum about Kenya's history called the MauMau terrorists in one display and freedom fighters in another.

because even in kenya the answer is not clear. it never will be because it was like a civil war at the same time as a fight for freedom. and in some parts there was never trouble at all because it was mostly in kikuyu areas.

but the camps were very very big and many Kikuyu were put in them for no reason but their tribe.

artaxerxes27 Apr 2012 9:07 p.m. PST

This *is* a contentious matter, and not only because of the current compensation claim and the fuss over the Foreign Office documents releases over the last few weeks. The best, serious, archivally-based and knowledgeably fair-minded analysis I could suggest is David French,The British Way in Counterinsurgency, 1945-1967, chapter 5, Britain's 'Dirty Wars'? Some of the recent work on Mau Mau (over the last ten years or so) has exaggerated the casualty figures and alleged deliberate actions on the basis of misreading of the evidence, wilful or otherwise. It is probably fair to say that the official figures and the official portrait released at the time were decidedly on the low/low-key side. But French's fundamental point is that the application of force was a regular characteristic of British counterinsurgency rather than the 'hearts and minds' popularity contest that popular imagery often implies. The book is well worth a read.

Personal logo x42brown Supporting Member of TMP28 Apr 2012 5:14 a.m. PST

I don't remember anything like like the descriptions in the Dark Hearts. I will state it was not hearts and minds but force. I never guarded one of the camps but was on patrol out in the woods. Starvation did not present its self to me and the only beating that I heard about in our unit had the perpetrators punished but not as heavily as I would expect nowadays.

I was there barely six months so perhaps missed quite a bit but I do think that article is severely exaggerated.

x42

jeffbird28 Apr 2012 6:40 a.m. PST

Is there any suitable 1950's UK infantry/ Mau Mau figures available?

GNREP828 Apr 2012 12:37 p.m. PST

Also anyone reading Monbiot's review would come away with the impression that it was Africans v Whites which of course is utter rubbish given that so much of the colonial forces were African as pointed out above (I am sure Monbiot would say that those who served the white man were collabos or Uncle Toms but that is of course utterly patronising and ignores the fact that whilst the Kikuyu (or at leats a portion of them) supported the Mau Mau), the other tribes like the Masai etc were on the govt side

GNREP828 Apr 2012 12:48 p.m. PST

I was in Kenya during the '80s. The exhibit in the museum about Kenya's history called the MauMau terrorists in one display and freedom fighters in another.

Jed good point about who was interviewed for the book. Self full filling?

I'm sure horrible things happened but they need to be looked at from the perspective of the era and culture in which they occurred.

I saw this and found the reviews interesting.
link

---------------
yes some of the reviews were interesting though some, such as the one commenting on the "communist funded Mau Mau revolution in Kenya" are archetypal 'dem commies are everywhere' idiots of the type that gives Americans a bad name

Whirlwind28 Apr 2012 1:42 p.m. PST

Also anyone reading Monbiot's review would come away with the impression that it was Africans v Whites which of course is utter rubbish given that so much of the colonial forces were African as pointed out above (I am sure Monbiot would say that those who served the white man were collabos or Uncle Toms but that is of course utterly patronising and ignores the fact that whilst the Kikuyu (or at leats a portion of them) supported the Mau Mau), the other tribes like the Masai etc were on the govt side

To be fair to the guy I'm sure he wouldn't say that. I think that he would make the point that the guys accused were members of the armed forces and were the responsibility of the British Government, so it would be both legally and morally responsible for ensuring units like the Kikuyu Guard behaved in acceptable fashion.

Regards

Whirlwind28 Apr 2012 1:42 p.m. PST

PS That link isn't working GNREP8?

GNREP828 Apr 2012 3:19 p.m. PST

its the link that was posted by Fusilier Dan

Actually to be the fair to the guy he's an arseclown who would distort anything to meet his own agenda. Try reading stuff by he and his ilk about Libya where anyone who was against Ghadaffi was in effect a pawn of the evil West

jeffbird30 Apr 2012 9:12 a.m. PST

Found these 1/72 figures

link

Marked as WW2 but deffo 1950's+.

For 25mm these might be suitable.

link

Whirlwind18 Jul 2012 7:53 a.m. PST

Of possible interest:

link

TrenchRaider19 Jul 2012 6:52 a.m. PST

>>>the "MauMau" being ‘the bad guys'

A number of years ago, I stumbled across some horrific post mortem and crime scene photos of a young (if I recall eight years old or so) British boy who was hacked to death by panga weilding Mau-Mau. At that moment I made up my mind quite clearly who the "bad guys" were in that conflict. "Freedom fighters" don't do things like that. Period. Full stop.

As to gaming the conflict, given my well known interest in post-colonial African conflicts, I've given it a thought. You would have the same issues that other such Bush Wars have in that making a good game involving terrorist groups who tend to avoid direct conflict with security forces were possible can be a bit tricky. But that is not an impossible probem to solve. I too would recomend using WW2 Far East British for some of the Security force units. For the bad guys, I would use a variety of figures in a mix of Western and tribal dress. Most would have spears, pangas, etc with the occasional home-made gun or captured firearm. Some of the figures in the various "Darkest Africa" ranges out there might work.

Martin

Edit: wow…just noticed this was a necromancy thread. sorry about that.

vojvoda Inactive Member20 Jul 2012 11:09 a.m. PST

I have been looking for a good book on the subject for some time since I purchased a Mau Mau medal in Kenya around 1992. It is engraved to the awardee on the edges but have found little on information about the award or campaign in print form.
VR
James Mattes

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