Talk of Africa to a native and an ‘outsider’ and the picture that comes to the mind of the two is totally different. An ignorant person would tell of a dark continent with natives that are reclusive and unknowledgeable about the world. The Bloggers Association of Kenya Dedan Kimathi Chapter was happy to participate in the International Conference on African liberation Efforts. We arranged a Blogathon where we were able to engage people on an online platform to increase awareness about the African story as told by Africans themselves.We were glad to have worked with Zawadi Society , Mr Mbua,Madam Catherine the Public Relations Officer, Madam Jane from marketing and the MauMau veterans (in pictures) General Karari,Lawrence Mathenge, Theuri Gitonga and Hannah Wangui.
From an African perspective, the African story is different. As an African I know its history as well as its present. I can tell the struggles it has undergone to gain its independence from colonial control and its current issues as well. I can bravely testify of how far education and technology has contributed to these changes. African countries started getting independence from as early as 26th July 1847 (Liberia) to 24th may 1993 (Eritrea).As late as the 20th century, Africa had barely developed hence education and technology had not been very established. Only the wealthy and those close to power benefited and in return they were solely in charge of almost everything that the uneducated Africans wouldn’t handle. For example in Kenya the MauMau were left out after the struggle for independence was over. Most leadership positions were given to the elite. Some of the fighters were even left in the forest for years because they didn’t know that the fight was over since there was no proper means of communication. The exact origins of the inherently secretive Mau Mau movement are uncertain, as the Mau Mau were only ever loosely organized, and most of their actions were opportunistic in nature. In any case, properly organized military resistance was impossible, given the extent to which the British controlled Kikuyu territory and the reserves. The name “Mau Mau” itself was never used by the freedom fighters themselves, and did not exist in their language. One theory says that the name was invented by the British as part of an attempt to demonize the Kikuyu people, though exactly how this would demonize them – if no one knew what the name meant – is unclear. Oral tradition has is that MAUMAU was an acronym for ‘Mzungu Arudi Ulaya Mwafrika Apate Uhuru. When the staunch British loyalist Kikuyu Chief Warihiu was assassinated on 7 October 1952, the government saw the movement as the first serious threat to colonial rule in post-war Africa. Two weeks later, on 20 October, a state of emergency and martial law was imposed, which was to last until 1960. Despite the fact that Kenyatta had repeatedly denounced Mau Mau publicly and advocated peaceful change, the British remained convinced that he was the man behind Mau Mau. Other than firearms captured from raids on police stations, their weapons were traditional – clubs, knives, spears and arrows. As these would have been no match in an open confrontation with the colonial army, the Mau Mau engaged in guerilla warfare and terrorism. Based in the thick jungly forests of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares, they launched raids on neighbouring settlers’ farms, post offices, police stations, as well as on Kikuyu perceived as being loyal to the regime. The Mau Mau were composed of urban workers, agriculturalists, the unemployed, World War II veterans, labourers, and unionists. They also included women, apparently often women with powers of prediction, who worked directly with platoon commanders. Dedan Kimathi, the forest fighters’ general, recommended the admission of literate women into the forest fighting force. Other women joined Mau Mau fighters to avoid being sold off by their fathers as wives to pro-British ‘homeguards’ or ‘loyalists.’ Mau Mau were also supported by civilians who supplied them with food, medicine, arms and intelligence. Ten days into the start of emergency rule, almost 4,000 Africans had been arrested, but that was only the start. On 24 April 1954, the police rounded up all the African inhabitants in Nairobi – around 100,000 people. The 70,000 Kikuyu were separated and screened. Of them, up to 30,000 men were taken to holding camps, and the families of the arrested were pushed into the already overcrowded native reserves. It is said that when, in 1953, the Mau Mau uprising was covered across the world’s media newsreels showing dreadlocked forest fighters defying the white man. Jamaican Rastafarians adopted dreadlocks as a symbol of brotherhood in the fight against racial injustice. The symbolism of long hair and dreadlocks has a long and complicated history. The British burned a lot of documents before they left as well as holding some abroad,what kind of information could be contained in those documents and how would they impact on our colonial narrative?
Here is a copy of a letter said to have been writen by Dedan Kimathi addressed to a Catholic priest. Dedan Kimathi University is in the process of building a MauMau Education Center which is going to have a museum to keep documentation that is currently being collected.
A century later, a lot has transformed. Technology has helped create wealth, alleviated poverty and given African countries a floor to compete with other countries from the rest of the world. We are no longer struggling to be independent or build a collapsed economy but rather to ensure majority of the people are educated and acquire understanding of how to use technology. Major tech firms have now seen Africa as a potential investment region with many like Samsung developing products specifically tailored for the African market. In recent years African government have learnt to reconsider deals before entering into any with the west not like before where they would be duped for not understanding the stated terms and conditions. It’s amazing that even when African leaders do not agree with the rest of the world about a matter they ‘stick to their guns’ instead of following blindly. This is what liberation should be like. Education for Africa will promote peace, justice, innovation, advancement and positive self-sustaining growth. Despite the far we have come because of education, we do not ignore the extra miles we can go if we improve our education systems. For the technology, the most affected continent with brain drain is Africa .A lot of educated Africans leave to where they’ll earn better wages and unfortunately it’s to the developed countries they go. Hence our own people create the same technology that we buy from those continents. We could be the ones selling the technology if only we can create a conducive environment for these foresighted professionals and innovators. It is time we stopped being labeled as a third world country we are definitely better than that as much as whatever measures are used to label us find us deficient or lacking of whatever they are looking for.
Photography Courtesy of Sam Kairu
Authors:Dr Waweru, Nancy Savannah