Photo Courtesy: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
By: ‘Mtoto wa Katama’
I remember when I was young, I was a penchant for the history of the world. Tales of ‘great men’, colonizers, freedom fighters, wars, politicians so on and so forth. If it wasn’t for the skewed education system in my country, probably right now I would be ‘languishing’ in the department of history in a university somewhere in the world. My love for history and how society came to be was greatly influenced by my father. A confusing character I must say, I would be convinced if someone confronted me and told me that my father lived a double life. He was an introvert by nature, and you could probably tell he had a ‘blast’ during his teen years, the endless stories of how he was the ‘coolest teen’ among his entourage. Yes, he had an entourage and one of my uncles who happened to be Mr. Kenya was part of his crew, and you can imagine the crew back in the 60’s.
Back to the endless stories, my father would narrate to me about the world war 1 and the sequel of it, and how Africans fought in the two wars which had nothing to do with them, imagine being ‘kidnapped’ a thousand miles away from your family, in the middle of nowhere standing with a rifle being ordered by someone who considers you his ‘subject’ to fight for your ‘freedom’. My father would just make you look stupid by asking you questions randomly in between the narrating like who Otto von Bismarck was, and while your just wondering trying to figure who the hell the guy was, he would pump you with ‘intel’ about the guy he just mentioned and heartily would sympathize with himself for paying school for a person who didn’t know who Otto van Bismarck was, but deep in my heart I knew he was doing all of that on purpose and probably found joy in making people look stupid by claiming that he is all knowing.
I remember this one time I was watching television with him, and all of a sudden a reggae music concert is aired on the television. My father with a lot of confidence he said that he knew the reggae artists, and they came from Taita Taveta, a local town just kilometers away from the city of Mombasa and that the television guys were not being honest for claiming that the guys came all the way from Jamaica. And there after he gave us a proper ‘lecture’ about fraud in the music industry during the yester years and how he gave a local promoter a beating of his life for failing to bring a Congolese artist after luring him to buy tickets for the whole of his crew for the concert and brought a quack artist, I can definitely picture what the guy went through, believe me when I say it was horrible. Later I came to found out through my brother who was an adherent fan of ‘Rastafarians’ who later was given the option to be a Muslim or Rastafarian after my father found that Rastafarianism was indeed a religion practiced by native Ethiopians that indeed the reggae artists truly came all the way from Jamaica but my father would not concede defeat and kept on to his word and even went further to claim that he even knew each artist and their whole clan. And that was my first disappointment with my first history teacher.
Through the years I came to learn that never learn about history through the society including my father but rather through the lenses of the society. This was evident in the history that I learnt in school about my country, its founding fathers, its heritage, its people and if I were to keep that and probably claim to be ‘educated’ I would have end up to be the greatest fool of all time but I hear they don’t give awards for that title. One thing I came to learn is that every society ‘sanitizes’ its own history according to its own political ambition and even betraying its own, I am not saying that we should not learn history from our own communities but rather we should hold its contents with a question mark and not subject it to total credence. Because overtime we have come to learn true ‘history’ after being fools for many years. Like back in junior school, we were taught to believe in that the Mau Mau literary fought the colonial masters and defeated them and such we became a free country, leading to our independence. With all the due respect to Mau Mau for their courage and valor, they were part of the struggle of the dream to liberate themselves and they paid it with blood, sweat and tears. A price so heavy that when we never taught in schools how they paid it in order to be politically correct and preserve diplomatic ties with your former ‘master’. I came to learn of the British transgressions after the former Mau Mau remaining members chose to sue the British government for damages and demanding recognition of the transgression, they were not able to mount a criminal case per say since the claimed transgressors who were acting under the orders of the Kingdom which is still in existence were not alive. I was overwhelmed with sadness for days, after reading through the atrocities committed especially against the women. But one thing that should not obscure our minds is what really happened, during the 60’s and the activities that lead to our independence.
During the early 60’s many African countries were gaining independence and it was by design, like in Kenya that transition was well organized and ‘peaceful’, it was a wave of independence glaring over Africa especially for the so called ‘African nationalists ‘who some neither never participated in any warfare but rather had the privilege to be learned others even in some foreign countries and assumed the realm of power. If Mau Mau so called ‘guerrilla warfare’ was solely responsible for the gaining of independence, why didn’t some of their ‘field Marshalls’ assume positions of power not even a single Mau Mau freedom fighters that I know of came even near to an influential post in the post-colonial government. It was because Mau Mau was not a nationalist movement but rather an ethnic block which mainly constituted of ethnic Kikuyus and they had harbored no nationalist’s ideologies, their only agitation was to get their ‘fertile’ lands and protest their economic deprivation. Let alone the British, the Mau Mau never came near to defeat the home guards who were mostly Kikuyus and some even considered to be more ruthless than the white colonizers. Their uprising was short-lived and what followed was inhumane crackdown on Mau Mau followers which led to the arrests and detention of many ethnic Kikuyus which some other central and lower eastern tribes. With the continued state of emergency and ruthless crackdown some high profile Mau Mau leaders came out of hiding with the lure that they will be granted amnesty only to be arrested and executed after flawed court hearings.
By the time Kenya was gaining independence through ‘political goodwill’ from the colonial master, some remnants of Mau Mau were still hiding in the bushes not fighting but rather escaping arbitrary arrest and execution. And only after the assurance by the ‘founding’ father that they will be granted amnesty and a promise of having their land back which was the initial reason for uprising, they came out of hiding, and had ‘stints’ with the founding father and after a while their joy was short-lived, even the founding father held them with suspicion and did not want them in any process of engineering the country through self-rule. The questions to ask are if the Mau Mau uprising solely led to the independence of our country? And if yes, why did they come out ‘weaker’ from the bushes unlike other popular uprisings? Like the Spanish and Napoleonic wars, with the likes of Simon Bolivar. If the Mau Mau were the political factor that lead to lead to self-rule, why did they become political weaker after independence.
The only reason why the Mau Mau were recognized was to hide the shame of the ethnic community which has already produce three presidents and hundreds of influential political leaders, they ‘sanitized’ their own history of betraying the Mau Mau and accorded them statues like Dedan Kimathi and a national holiday called ‘Mashujaa Day’. And forcing millions of Kenya through our education curriculum to learn that our independence was literary fought with armed resistance until we ‘defeated’ the British colony blinding the descendants of Mau Mau that their fathers and grandfathers blood was not spill in vain while they still languish in poverty. The British were so ‘defeated’ by the Mau Mau and thus leading them to ‘humbly’ invite our nationalists leader, the likes of Jomo Kenyatta, Oginga Odinga to the Lancaster house to discuss how they will approach self-govern. It would have made more sense if the representatives in the Lancaster house were the Mau Mau leaders. Long live the Mau Mau for standing and fighting for your land as and being heroes for your own communities. Your struggle shall never be forgotten and never be ‘sanitized’ to fit the political will of those who betrayed you.