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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The intellectual lives of Mau Mau detainees
Author:Peterson, Derek R.ISNI
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic term:Kenya
Subjects:Mau Mau
About person:Gakaara wa Wanja~uISNI
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40206614
Abstract:This article examines the intellectual lives of Gikuyu detainees in Kenya's Mau Mau detention camps in the 1950s. It illuminates the creative intellectual and social projects in which Mau Mau detainees were engaged. It draws on the private papers of Gakaara wa Wanjau (1921-2001), a Gikuyu writer who during his eight years of detention composed several plays, wrote ethnography and poetry, and carried on an extensive correspondence with his family. Gakaara and other detainees were doing more than defending a Mau Mau ideology. They were involved in a moral project, not in a straightforward political war between two sides. Gakaara and other entrepreneurs were opening up new ways of doing Gikuyu culture, holding wives and children accountable, and representing themselves to a British public that could, they hoped, be brought round to their side. The article begins by examining detainees' family lives. Confronted with a world where kinspeople seemed dangerously unaccountable, detainees managed their homes through the postal system. The second section shows how detention camp petitioners generated evidence of their maltreatment. The third section concerns the key moral quandary that detainees faced: whether or not to confess to their involvement in Mau Mau. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]