Interpreting Participation in Resistance: Memories of the Mau Mau War

Article excerpt

This dissertation investigates the memories of the people who participated in the Mau Mau "Land and Freedom Army" during the 1950s freedom struggle in Kenya, dubbed the Mau Mau war. The Mau Mau war between Kenyans and the British colonial government lasted between 1952 and 1960. The freedom fighters were mainly based in the forests of Mount Kenya and Nyandarua Range of mountains. This dissertation explores the way the former men and women fighters remember their 1950s lived experiences in present-day Kenya, how they define themselves and each other, and the factors that seem to largely shape their memories of the freedom struggle.

Talking to Kenyans today, one gets the impression that the ghost of Mau Mau is still current in the people's every day. For this reason, this dissertation interrogates the present social-political circumstances in Kenya and how these resonate with the former fighters' representations of Mau Mau. I investigate the relationship between the contemporary Gikuyu memories of 1950s Kenya and global sociopolitical and economic constructions: can the current memories of Mau Mau be understood merely as a local occurrence, fully independent of on-going global socio-political events? …