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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Demography of Mau Mau: Fertility and Mortality in Kenya in the 1950s: A Demographers Viewpoint
Author:Blacker, John
Periodical:African affairs: the journal of the Royal African Society
Geographic term:Kenya
History and Exploration
Miscellaneous (i.e. Demography, Refugees, Sports)
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:This article examines the allegation by C. Elkins (2005) that up to 300,000 Kikuyu died as a result of the Mau Mau Emergency in Kenya in the 1950s. This figure was based on comparative numbers from the 1948 and 1962 censuses, but failed to take into account the changes in the tribal classifications and differences in the coverage of the two censuses. Using data from the 1969 Kenya census, the author has reconstructed the levels and patterns of mortality in the 1950s, and he shows that mortality of the Kikuyu was consistently lower than that of the Kamba, Luhya and Luo peoples. He has also used unpublished data from the 1948 census to estimate infant mortality among the Kikuyu, Embu and Meru prior to the emergency. Using this figure as an indicator of 'normal' mortality, he has compared it with the estimates derived from the 1969 census, and so calculated the number of 'excess' deaths. These amount to perhaps 50,000; more than half of them were children under 10. There is substantial evidence that the social and economic dislocation engendered by the emergency resulted in widespread malnutrition. The mortality impact of this will have been most severe on infants and young children. Given the fragile nature of the data and assumptions, the estimates are subject to large margins of error, but the evidence does not support the claims made by Elkins. The author concludes that her statements are based on a misunderstanding of the data. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]