CAUSES OF THE MAU-MAU REBELLION
It was due to unemployment of the ex-soldiers who had been promised jobs after the World War II, but instead were made porters on European-estates. Similarly, people were retrenched, traders pushed out to business by Asian retail trade monopoly and European settlers. Therefore by 1952 the young energetic African went to the forests of Abadare and Mountain Kenya Rift Valley and waged a violent offensive against the British hoping for a change.
Africans wanted their land especially the Kikuyu who had been displaced from the fertile Kenya highlands. The European had used the support of the colonial government to take away land including the ancestral land to which they attached great value. Many were pushed into reserves and camps were they suffered from congestion, starvation and diseases like typhoid, cholera.
It was a reaction against the Kipande system. This was a method of identity cards imposed on Africans to restrict them from unnecessary movements. The kipande system required moving with a ‘PASS’ which was big a metallic card carried in the neck of the African.
The introduction of racial discrimination in Kenya. This was discrimination according to colour. The Europeans equated the black colour with low intelligence, uncivilized, barbaric and a backward race. All the best hotels, restaurants, schools, recreational centres and most fertile soils in Kenya were reserved for the whites only.
Africans were fed up of heavy and harsh taxation by the Europeans. Failure to pay tax was punishable by taking away the land or even imprisonment. So the Africans were forced to go and work under harsh condition and for long hours, yet poorly paid. This forced them to join the uprising.
The dominance of the economy by the Asian and white settlers. The Africans were not allowed to take part in meaningful business, were not given positive consideration in awarding jobs. The whites upheld the view that blacks were only fit to work as Shamba boys on the colonial farms or maids in the European and Asian homes. To this end, the Africans revolted so as to change the situation for the better.
They also wanted to be exposed to the social services e.g. education. The white settlers feared the educated Africans for losing their white color jobs in the government as well as losing unskilled African labour on their farms. In this respect they discouraged African education. In so doing, they worked to frustrate the African efforts to set up schools even the few educated Africans were not employed in the civil service. So these unemployed Africans fought for the preservation of their right as an educated class.
Africans feared a gradual destruction of their culture by the whites e.g. the missionaries were totally against the circumcision of women among the Kikuyu and the traditional view of twins.
Africans wanted a fair share in the administration of their country (Parliament). For a long time many Kenyans were excluded from decision making and political participation the whites and Asians in the Legislative Council did not represent their interests.
The return of Jomo Kenyatta in the 1950s’ after his studies in Europe, he came back with a wider vision in politics after participating in various conferences(Manchester conference of 1945) therefore this made enabled him convince the Kenyans about their rights and they therefore united and rebelled.
The role of educated Kenyans ;this group of people by nature of their education became aware of their rights as citizens of Kenya and it is along that they started campaigns of educating the people about their place in society. This prompted them to rebel against the whites.
The colonial policy discouraged Africans from growing cash crops like coffee, tea, cotton, pyrethrum for fear of competition with the Africans. They feared that they would grow rich and challenge the colonial administration. This led to too much poverty so they joined the rebellion hoping to find a solution.
Forced labour on white man’s plantations led to Mau Mau: Africans were obliged by colonial law to offer labour on the plantation this was to be done forcefully with out offering any payments. This kind of new slavery inspired the occurrence of the Mau Mau rebellion as the first violent revolt against the British after World War II.
Influence of the Second World War many Kenyans who participated in this war discovered the weakness of the white man and the loopholes in their systems of administration. These included General China, Didan Kimathi among others. These people had acquired good military skills, enjoyed high standards of living, realized that some Africans were braver then some whites. These joined together with the unemployed Kenyans with a hope of gaining their Independence.