Go to AfricaBib home

Go to AfricaBib home AfricaBib Go to database home

bibliographic database
Previous page New search

The free AfricaBib App for Android is available here

Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them: Government Cleansings of Witches and the Mau Mau in 1950s Kenya
Author:Luongo, Katherine
Periodical:History in Africa
Geographic term:Kenya
colonial policy
Mau Mau
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
Ethnic and Race Relations
Abstract:During the mid-1950s British administrators in the Machakos District of Kenya enlisted categories of Kamba occult 'experts' - 'witchdoctors' and 'cleansers' - to cleanse local 'witches' and migrants from Nairobi who were believed to have taken the Mau Mau oath. A compendium of colonial documents concerning the 'cleansing' campaigns illustrates how and why the sociohistorical context of Mau Mau-era Machakos drove the colonial administration to break with its long-standing de facto policy of not officially combating supernatural challenges to State authority with supernatural means. An anthro-historical approach to understanding Mau Mau in Machakos shows that, while the cleansings constituted a group of 'critical moments' at which British colonial officials could argue that they had dealt with supernatural challenges to State authority by rendering them 'knowable', the cleansings also demonstrated the degree to which State authority became situated in Kamba colonial officials and the extent to which the implementation and interpretation of British colonial cleansing policies depended on these local authorities. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]