December 15, 2021
From Wessex Solidarit (UK)

Book Review: Mau Mau, the story of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army from Within, by Don Barnett and Karari Njama.

Anarchy in the Sticks!

This book, first published in 1966, has been out of print for decades. Originally titled “Mau Mau from Within, an Analysis of Kenya’s Peasant Revolt” The new edition was tweaked to reflect that there was no such organisation as “mau mau”. Although the term remains in widespread use it does not exist in Swahili or Kikuyu. Most likely it was a European corruption of muma, meaning oath. The taking of the Oath of Unity by all Africans was central to the philosophy of the resistance, a commitment to the armed struggle, a rejection of colonial authority and its religious justifications in favour of allegiance to the organisation and one’s comrades, on pain of death.

Such oaths have long been a mark of rebellion including mediaeval European heretic movements, pirate crews, Luddites and Captain Swing, and they strike terror into the ruling classes. It was an illegal oath that sent…

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