In the late 19th century, Britain established a protectorate over Kenya, then known as British East Africa. The British colonial government took over the land from the indigenous people and gave it to European settlers, leading to the dispossession of millions of acres of land from the Kikuyu people.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the Kikuyu people organized to resist colonial rule, and in 1944, a political movement called the Kenya African Union (KAU) was formed to demand political representation for Africans. However, the British government banned the KAU in 1950, fearing that it could become a nationalist movement.
In 1952, a group of Kikuyu fighters, known as the Mau Mau, began a campaign of violence against British colonial authorities and European settlers. Made up of dispossessed Kikuyu farmers, laborers, and veterans of World War II.
The Mau Mau targeted European settlers, as well as Kikuyu people who cooperated with the colonial government, such as chiefs and police officers. They also carried out attacks on infrastructure, such as bridges and power stations.
The British government declared a state of emergency in Kenya in October 1952, and the British army was deployed to crush the rebellion. The British used brutal tactics to defeat the Mau Mau, including torture, mass arrests, and forced resettlement of Kikuyu people into detention camps.
The Mau Mau fighters largely defeated by 1956. The uprising officially ended in 1960. However, the legacy of the Mau Mau Uprising had a profound impact on Kenyan society.
The Mau Mau Uprising played a significant role in the decolonization of Kenya. The brutal tactics used by the British colonial authorities to suppress the rebellion drew international attention to the injustices of colonial rule in Africa, and it contributed to the rise of nationalist movements across the continent.
In Kenya, the Mau Mau Uprising sparked a political awakening among the Kikuyu people and other ethnic groups in the country. The uprising led to the formation of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), which became the dominant political party in Kenya after independence in 1963.
The Mau Mau Uprising also had a lasting impact on the Kikuyu people. Who subjected to decades of land dispossession and economic marginalization. In 2013, the British government agreed to compensate Mau Mau veterans who tortured and abused during the uprising.