Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mau Mau and British Colonial Violence

Despite attempts to rehabilitate British colonialism in the age of American neo-imperialism, history refuses to exonerate "liberal empire" in Africa as it will condemn equally the US's invasion and occupation of Iraq. Radio Bandung explores the violent history of "decolonization" in Kenya where British authorities and colonial settlers waged a brutal war against the so-called "Mau Mau". While the "Mau Mau" are synonymous with violent terror in Anglophone popular culture, in fact British officials mercilessly detained, tortured and killed thousands of Kikuyu demanding "Land and Freedom" and an end to British colonialism. Prof. Caroline Elkins of Harvard University (http://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/~history/facultyPage.cgi?id=39) catalogues this horrific history and discusses her important book, which has been a lightning rod for right-wing criticism particularly in Britain, "Imperial Reckoning: the Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya." We discuss the reception of the book and its resonances with contemporary debates about imperialism.

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