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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Mau Mau Oathing Rituals and Political Ideology in Kenya: A Re-Analysis
Author:Green, MaiaISNI
Year:1990
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Volume:60
Issue:1
Pages:69-87
Language:English
Geographic term:Kenya
Subjects:rituals
oaths
ideologies
Mau Mau
nationalism
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
colonialism
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1160427
Abstract:The Mau Mau movement in Kenya used a campaign of ritualized oath taking to gain the support and cooperation of the Gikuyu masses. The oaths remain a continuing source of controversy in the literature on Mau Mau. This article offers a tentative resolution to that controversy through an anthropological analysis of Mau Mau oathing rituals in the light of contemporary theories on the relation of ritual to ideology. The author argues that the oathing rituals are to be understood as part of the ideological apparatus of the movement, along with rallies and songs. Although a continuity between the oathing rituals and those associated with the legitimation of traditional authority is strikingly apparent, the success of the former as a medium for political recruitment is to be explained in their relation to ideology, and in the essential ambiguity of the central tenets of that ideology - 'land' and 'freedom'. 'Land' and 'freedom' implied constitutional democracy under majority rule, and the freedom to hold land individually, on the one hand, and free access to land, on the other. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French.
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