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The lives of Kenya’s White insane
Author: Will Jackson

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.