In late September 2013, four militants associated with the Somali insurgent group al Shabaab walked into an upmarket shopping centre in Nairobi. Armed with automatic weapons and grenades, the gunmen made their way through Westgate Mall firing on those trapped inside. They claimed that their actions were retribution for Kenya's military operations in Somalia and the recent assassinations of Kenyan Muslim clerics. The attackers would kill more than sixty people at the mall, including the nephew of Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta
It was the combined effect of these factors – the
problem of cost, the limitations of care and the widely-held belief in
the harmful effects of the tropical climate – that led authorities
to envisage the transfer of mentally ill Europeans out of Kenya as the
only viable solution to the problem of the European insane. Legislation
passed in 1918 allowed for the removal of European
‘lunatics’ to South
The unburied victims of Kenya’s
Mau Mau Rebellion: where and when
does the violence end?
David M. Anderson and Paul J. Lane
All over central Kenya, the bones are coming up. Travelling around
the countryside of the Kikuyu-speaking areas of these intensely
farmed and closely settled fertile highlands, there are strange
patches of uncultivated land to be seen: places where local farmers
have found the remains of their kith and kin, those who were killed
during Kenya’s bloody rebellion against colonialism in the 1950s.
At Othaya, where the bitter war raged
A tradition of Royal Navy recruitment was thus
already embedded in East Africa and from 1919 this would be
supplemented by an officer class. The 1926 census revealed that not
one of the country’s white population over twenty-six had been
born there. African unrest following the First World War made
Kenya’s European community fearful of their minority position.
In January 1931, Dr H. L. Gordon,
President of the Kenya branch of the British Medical Association, made a
speech at the organisation’s Annual Dinner which was a powerful
plea for the use of eugenics in colonial development policy. He argued
that the promotion of education and physical health in Africa were
potentially irresponsible objectives if undertaken without due regard
The politics of African nationalism
in Kenya is a topic that has not lacked for scholarly attention.
Alongside the many contemporary, or near contemporary studies, of the
Mau Mau rebellion and the political process of the transfer of powers
which followed its suppression, a spate of recent literature has
excavated new sources, re-examined old arguments and presented new
The subject of law and order looms
larger in the history of Kenya than in that of any other British
colonial possession in Africa. This fact arises not merely from the
‘Mau Mau’ Emergency of the 1950s, which drew direct
attention to the problems of social control and the methods of law
enforcement employed and condoned by the state; even from the early
years of the century
Kenya Colony, for the British at least, has customarily been imagined as a place of wealthy settler-farmers, sun-lit panoramas and the adventure of safari. Yet for the majority of Europeans who went there life was very different. This book offers an unprecedented new account of what was – supposedly – the most picturesque of Britain’s colonies overseas. While Kenya’s romantic reputation has served to perpetuate the notion that Europeans enjoyed untroubled command, what the lives of Kenya’s white insane powerfully describe are stories of conflict, immiseration, estrangement and despair. Crucially, Europeans who became impoverished in Kenya or who transgressed the boundary lines separating colonizer from colonized subverted the myth that Europeans enjoyed a natural right to rule. Because a deviation from the settler ideal was politically problematic, therefore, Europeans who failed to conform to the collective self-image were customarily absented, from the colony itself in the first instance and latterly from both popular and scholarly historical accounts. Bringing into view the lives of Kenya’s white insane makes for an imaginative and intellectual engagement with realms of human history that, so colonial ideologies would have us believe, simply were not there. Tracing the pathways that led an individual to the hospital gates, meanwhile, shows up the complex interplay between madness and marginality in a society for which deviance was never intended to be managed but comprehensively denied.
This book tells the story of a short-lived but vehement eugenics movement that emerged among a group of Europeans in Kenya in the 1930s, unleashing a set of writings on racial differences in intelligence more extreme than that emanating from any other British colony in the twentieth century. By tracing the history of eugenic thought in Kenya, it shows how the movement took on a distinctive colonial character, driven by settler political preoccupations and reacting to increasingly outspoken African demands for better, and more independent, education. Eugenic theories on race and intelligence were widely supported by the medical profession in Kenya, as well as powerful members of the official and non-official European settler population. However, the long-term failures of the eugenics movement should not blind us to its influence among the social and administrative elite of colonial Kenya. Through a close examination of attitudes towards race and intelligence in a British colony, the book reveals how eugenics was central to colonial racial theories before World War II.