Customer Review

26 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a challenging read, 28 Sept. 2005
This review is from: Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya (Hardcover)
Anyone who has lived in the U.K. since 1960 will recognise the way in which the phrase Mau-Mau can strike fear in the hearts of children. This book aims not to dispel that myth but to uncover some of the reasoms why the whole story of the British suppression of the Mau-Mau uprising was, and could, never be told. The almost unendurable accounts of torture and brainwashing under the colonial power were the reason for the silence. This material provided the basis of a BBC programme in 2002 at the time when Kenya had just gone through elections which seemed to offer the possibility for the truth to be told at last. It would appear, on the evidence of this book, that claims for compensation are not likely to be forthcoming. Elkins does not seem to have any political agenda ; however she is convinced that the silence which followed Independence was more a result of British tactics of divide and rule than an absence of dissent in the indigenous population. She cites Ngugi as one of the few who dared to question the official line of the Moi regime, for which he was imprisoned. I am constantly reminded of his prophetic line in "From the barrel of a Pen" that the British would only quit their colonies when thay had taught the people how to oppress themselves.
Elkins has produced a monster of a book which will haunt the fainthearted. Somehow i fear that the enormous amount of research which went into it's making may slide, like the terrible truth which it unfolds, into the mists of time because it is too blatant to confront. Anyone who has not read the account of restorative justice in South Africa by Desmond Tutu will perhaps not grasp my point. Ultimately this book asks you to judge for yourself - if you dare.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Aug 2014 20:00:42 BDT
A Customer says:
I know an old gentleman who served as a 22 year old National Service officer in Kenya. He never saw action because there was very little but a regular job was for him and 5 men to take a 9 year old boy to football practice. One afternoon he was not at the pick up point so they went to the farmhouse to check and they feared the worst but before they went in his Sargent said; Its OK Sir if you want to stay outside. But he went in and quote "The place was like a butchers shop" The freedom fighters had tied his parents up and made them watch while the chopped the boy up 3 to 4 inches at a time starting at his feet. They then got the same treatment but he did not say if his mother was first staked out and gang raped in front of her husband as happened elsewhere. I heard of one settler who lost his wife in this fashion said; Don't tell a Mau Mau 20 into 1 will not go because he can tell you it will.

It is interesting when they were all in London getting compensation their supporters kept saying "But they only killed 28 Europeans!" They did not say that in one attack they burned 120 African old men woman and children in a single night but I guess Africans burning Africans is not worth a mention. Why settle out of Court - Guilt? Concealing the truth? I go for the second because race relations are edgy enough in the UK and better the embarrassment of paying them off quietly without the possible backlash against elderly gang rapists and arsonists.

I happen to have read the armies post-campaign appraisal that concluded "It was a very low key affair because the brutality of Mau Mau meant they got no outside help"

I wonder about the motivation of this book coming out as one Senator Barak Hussian Obama was making his run for the White House. His father was to some degree involved in Mau Mau and any connection with blood drinking gang rapists would not do him any good. What better way to divert attention than a good British Colonial atrocity story?

60 years ago Mau Mau behavior was considered savage everywhere but now they are good old anti colonialist freedom fighters. That's progress.
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