In the days before the State of Emergency was declared the ceremonies which accompanied the administration of the Mau Mau oath were simple and relatively harmless when compared to the many new, more elaborate and bestial accompaniments of the oath which have since been instituted.
Today there are at least seven, perhaps eight, grades of oaths and all the higher grades involve concomitant acts of incredible beastliness and depravity. Before passing to these advanced stages of the oath and of their effect upon those who are subjected to them, I must outline, a little more fully than I did in my earlier book, how the 'first oath' is administered and how it worked.
There are of course many legal and recognised forms of Kikuyu oath which are taken openly and in accordance with Native Law and Custom, in connection with litigation.
Quite apart from the fact that the Mau Mau oath, even in its simplest 'first oath' form, is illegal--through having been declared so by Government, it was also illegal from the point of view of Native Law and Custom. It borrowed elements and ideas from many recognised oath ceremonies, but it differed from all recognised oaths in so many ways that it could not be said to conform to Native Law and Custom in any way at all. The whole object of the first oath--an oath which the leaders intended should be administered to every single Kikuyu--man, woman, and child--was to obtain such a hold over each person through psychological fear, that they would at least be passive and not do anything in open opposition to Mau Mau, even if they did nothing to help it.