State of Emergency: The Full Story of Mau Mau

State of Emergency: The Full Story of Mau Mau

State of Emergency: The Full Story of Mau Mau

State of Emergency: The Full Story of Mau Mau


Officially it started on 21 October 1952 when the newly arrived Governor of Kenya, Sir Evelyn Baring, in a broadcast to the colony, proclaimed a State of Emergency for which he had signed the appropriate document the previous evening.

In the early hours of that morning police arrested eighty-three Kikuyu including Jomo Kenyatta and other suspected Mau Mau leaders. The Lancashire Fusiliers began to arrive in Nairobi by air from Egypt. Six battalions of King's African Rifles stood by. The Police Reserve reported for duty.

This action, designed to bring a covert conspiracy into the open, and swiftly destroy it by cutting off its head by the arrest of its leaders did not achieve this result. The conspiracy was too well established, though as yet no one realized this. The conflict for which it had long been preparing was now to mature slowly but inexorably into a condition of war: war strange and anachronistic, but nevertheless war.

In the military sense it would be fought in the forests and mountains, in the African villages and settlements and on the European farms. It would be fought too across the floor of the House of Commons and in the Chamber of its Kenya satellite the Legislative Council. Some of its fiercest battles would be fought in the leader columns of the British press.

It was fought between mixed forces of orthodox and unorthodox military and police, esoteric private armies, European civilians and African tribesmen on the Government side, and on the other, tribesmen mainly of one tribe who managed to organize themselves into an array of guerrillas, supported by the mass of their own people.

At a time when the civilized world was contemplating weapons of war that could annihilate the human race, the government security forces included a large proportion of Africans armed with bows and arrows, knives and spears.

At the height of the Emergency the Government effort required the presence of eleven infantry battalions, heavy bombers, some 21,000 police of various kinds, in addition to a host of auxiliaries of the Home Guard type.

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