Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History




The general public seldom, if ever, has access to government documents until many years after an event. The public's attitudes and ideas are molded by exposure to various points of view and interpretations expressed in novels, personal memoirs, and newspaper accounts. For many years the interpretations of the causes, the growth, and the activities of the African revolutionary group known as Mau Mau in Kenya have been shaped by novels and personal memoirs written by Americans, Europeans, and white Kenyans. Generally, these persons were opposed to Mau Mau. In recent years, especially since Kenyan independence in 1963, more novels and personal memoirs written by black Kenyans involved in Mau Mau or having knowledge of it have been published. Only by examining selected writings of both groups may one have some approximate concept of this very important event in modern history. Personal memoirs and novels concerning Mau Mau written by both groups have been selected. There is no attempt to examine all personal memoirs or novels. In examining each work, the author's nationality and the publication date are noted. Each author's interpretation concerning the background, causes, activities, leadership results, and nature of the Mau Mau is examined.

Each author's conceptualization of Mau Mau--its development, causes, tactics -- is greatly affected by his background, his educational, sociological, and more particularly, his racial background. Differences in racial background explain the basic misunderstandings, points of view, attitudes, and interest. There were basically two points of view -- that of the white, i.e., the white settler, the European, and the American on the one hand, and that of the black Kenyan, on the other. The blacks' points of view were not afforded exposure through personal memoirs, novels, movies, television news broadcasts, although the whites' were. Access to media and the media themselves were controlled by whites. The whites concentrated on the horror of the Mau Mau in order to rationalize their own behavior and that of their government. The blacks may have violence as the only means that would convey to the whites the blacks' feelings and ideas. The blacks felt that only their skin color prevented them from participating in the white society, government, and economy. The blacks were utilizing force to bring about change while the whites were utilizing force in an effort to maintain their status quo.



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