Publication Date

April 2016


Laura Ann Twagira


History (HIST)


English (United States)


This work attempts to grapple with the fascination that surrounds the Mau Mau Rebellion, which occurred in Kenya in the 1950s. While studies of the history Mau Mau’s origins and its goals have been crucial to understanding the uprising itself, I argue that it has become more important to understand how and why memory of the rebellion has transformed over time. Rather than a historical event contained in the past, narratives of the movement reveal that the memory of Mau Mau changes to reflect the current context and issues facing society at a given moment. By analyzing memories of the rebellion, this work provides insight into contemporary Kenya. Specific interpretations of Mau Mau provide a medium through which Kenyans can voice their critiques of Kenya society. Furthermore, memories of Mau Mau can play an active role in society. The ability to claim ownership of the memory of the rebellion through various portrayals provides distinct advantages, such as moral authority, legitimacy, and political and economic power, depending on how it is used. Kenyans have used the debates surrounding the rebellion to begin discussions over how to solve present day problems. My work seeks to analyze how people have used the memory of Mau Mau to produce tangible advantages and what the presence of certain narratives reveal about Kenyan and Western societies.



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