A comment in the Independent today (9/12/2008) includes a revelation that the British imprisoned and tortured Barack Obama’s grandfather in Kenya. As the author points out it should be a lesson for Obama and all of us of the excesses of imperial rule. He gow on the point out that these are often replicated under the guise of anti-imperialism.
The arrest of Obama’s grandfather preceded the Mau Mau uprising. If nothing else it brings an opportunity to look back and reassess a period of history portrayed at the time as violent and murderous, particularly towards Europeans. This view was replicated in subsequent movies on the subject affecting and reinforcing racist attitudes in Europe and the U.S.
The main victims as ever were black Africans. The Europeans killed were evidently relatively few but of course when it happened it became front page in Western media. Barbarism was portrayed as existing among the black population compared to the “civilised” white economic migrants. The myth of Mau Mau was born.
Clearly there was barbarism in black treatment of black, but the methods used by the occupying forces were also barbaric. Whatever the truth we know that the struggle led to independence of Kenya under Jomo Kenyatta.