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Vol. 72/No. 12      March 24, 2008

Kenya I
The British policy of divide and rule favored settlers from England and didn’t benefit the Kikuyu.

In her popular book Imperial Reckoning: the Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya, for example, Carolyn Elkins states on page 12 that the Kikuyu were “the ethnic group most affected by the colonial government’s policies of land alienation, or expropriation.”

It must also be an oversimplification to state that the Kikuyu “have dominated the government since independence in 1963.” The Kenyan government was headed by Daniel arap Moi, a Kalenjin, from the death of Jomo Kenyatta in 1978 until 2002.

Eric Simpson
San Francisco, California
Kenya II
In several articles in the Militant on the current situation in Kenya you have stated that the Kikuyu “were favored by the British during colonial rule and ran many shops, restaurants, banks, and factories. They have dominated the government since independence in 1963.” It seems to me that statement is one-sided at best and not entirely accurate.

The Mau Mau movement, which fought against the British colonial rule, was predominantly Kikuyu. Some estimate that 50,000 Kikuyu or more were murdered by the British colonialists and their agents during the rebellion in the ’50s, not to mention the tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands who were detained, “relocated,” beaten, and worse. If that is being “favored” by the “civilized” British imperialists, god help those who are less favored.

Seth Galinsky
Des Moines, Iowa

The readers above are correct. Ten of thousands of Kikuyu—driven from their lands and herded onto reserves—became a key component of the labor supply for white-settler plantations. They were also given jobs as clerks, office workers, and minor administrative positions in the colonial government. The Militant will run a more in-depth background piece on the struggle for Kenya’s independence, and its relationship to developments there today, in the coming weeks.

—The Editor

The letters column is an open forum for all viewpoints on subjects of interest to working people. Please keep your letters brief. Where necessary they will be abridged. Please indicate if you prefer that your initials be used rather than your full name.  
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