Author: changabula

What the British did to Africa [Copy link] 中文

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2008-12-21 23:22:58 |Display all floors
    They wouldn’t say a thing, of course, and one of them, a tall coal-black bastard, kept grinning at me, real insolent. I slapped him hard, but he kept right on grinning at me, so I kicked him in the balls as hard as I could. He went down in a heap but when he finally got up on his feet he grinned at me again and I snapped, I really did. I stuck my revolver right in his grinning mouth and I said something, I don’t remember what, and I pulled the trigger. His brains went all over the side of the police station. The other two Mickeys were standing there looking blank. I said to them that if they didn’t tell me where to find the rest of the gang I’d kill them too. They didn’t say a word so I shot them both. One wasn’t dead so I shot him in the ear. When the sub-inspector drove up, I told him that the Mickeys tried to escape. He didn’t believe me but all he said was ‘bury them and see the wall is cleared up.’


The significant thing here (apart from the refusal of the three prisoners to co-operate) is that the officer had no qualms about describing all this.
the anglos are rsponsible for ...

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2008-12-21 23:23:15 |Display all floors
Elkins has been criticised in some reviews for using the analogy with Nazism too freely. But nearly all the references in her book to ‘concentration camps’, the ‘Gestapo’ and so on come from contemporary accounts. Most were by critics, including some inside the system, but not all. In March 1953 a British policeman wrote a letter to his buddies back at Streatham police station bragging about the ‘Gestapo stuff’ that was going on in his new posting in Nyeri. All this happened a few years after the war, so such analogies came quickly to mind. The critics – many of whom had fought against Nazi Germany – knew what they were talking about. One relatively liberal police chief in Kenya claimed that conditions in the detention camps were far worse than those he had suffered as a Japanese POW. Comparisons were also made with the Soviet gulags, and, later on, by a former defence lawyer for the Mau Mau, with ‘ethnic cleansing’. The accepted view of Britain’s decolonisation hitherto has been that it was done in a more dignified, enlightened and consensual way than by other countries – meaning, of course, France. It will be difficult now to argue this so glibly. Kenya was Britain’s Algeria.
the anglos are rsponsible for ...

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2008-12-21 23:23:34 |Display all floors
Was it typical? Possibly not. Anderson makes a big point of Kenya’s ‘exceptionality in the use of judicial execution’ compared with other British colonies, as well as in other ways. Elkins doesn’t entirely agree – ‘it was there,’ she says, ‘that Britain finally revealed the true nature of its civilising mission’ – but even she acknowledges that Kenya ‘stands apart’ from Britain’s other colonies in many respects. This had partly to do with the nature of the Mau Mau phenomenon, misunderstood at the time by those who refused to acknowledge the Kikuyus’ huge grievance about the land expropriated from them, which both these authors agree was at the root of the revolt. Mau Mau was described instead in terms of a disease (even by Kenyatta), or seen as an example of a peculiarly African, ‘primitive’ psychopathology. Elkins points out that this was the view in the United States. Perhaps there was a racist element to this kind of analysis, though many of the early manifestations of Mau Mau genuinely were savage: Mau Mau had many of the characteristics of a secret society – members had to swear a ritual oath and the punishment for breaking ranks, or even refusing to take the oath, was death. The Daily Mail did not make it all up.
the anglos are rsponsible for ...

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2008-12-21 23:23:51 |Display all floors
Anderson gives more detailed attention than Elkins to all this: to the much publicised killings of white men, women and children around the turn of 1952-53; to the original massacre of Kikuyu ‘loyalists’ by Mau Mau at Lari in March 1953 (even more brutal loyalist reprisals followed); or to the practice of clitoridectomy among the Kikuyu, which was one of the main issues between them and the Christian churches early on. Mau Mau violence, as he points out, was more often directed against other Kikuyu – ‘traitors’ – than against the British authorities or the Kenyan settlers. To this extent the rebellion was also a civil war. Although Elkins denies none of this – ‘we should not romanticise the anti-colonial struggle,’ she says at one point – she doesn’t elaborate on it, which makes it difficult when reading her book to understand the panic that took hold of the settlers, the colonial administration and the African loyalists. The impact of Mau Mau terrorism can perhaps be compared with the effect of Hamas suicide bombings on Israelis today. It did not make a calm and considered response to the rebellion very likely.
the anglos are rsponsible for ...

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2008-12-21 23:24:11 |Display all floors
Not that the white population of Kenya was likely to respond calmly and with consideration in any case. It is well known that settlers are generally the most problematic of colonists. (Again, look at Israel.) In Kenya this was exacerbated by their class origins. Most were upper middle class or even aristocratic; on their uppers before they left Britain, possibly, but social status in Britain has never been measured by wealth. A surprising proportion had been educated at public schools, including Eton. This is unusual in the history of British emigration. In Kenya, settled on fertile land taken from Africans, and with a huge pool of cheap African labour to work on their farms and as domestic servants, these odd characters could live the sort of life that their better-off chums in ‘socialist’ Britain were increasingly struggling to afford. The hedonistic, decadent lifestyle of many of them remains notorious today – ‘Happy Valley’ and all that. This may have been overplayed. More important, however, is the fact that they were cut off culturally from the majority of society in Britain, ‘strangely out of step’, as Anderson puts it, ‘with everywhere else’, with the exception perhaps of the white-dominated countries to the south of them. They were very often arrogant and brutal, and long before the Mau Mau revolt were accustomed to treating their ‘natives’ like dirt. It was they who started the violence. Their upper-class kin in Britain, on whom the settlers relied to defend them in Kenya (Elkins calls them the ‘Old Pals Protection Society’), ultimately lost patience with them. Churchill thought they were as much ‘the problem’ in Kenya as Mau Mau. (Churchill had a surprisingly favourable view of the Kikuyu: ‘not the primitive cowardly people which many imagined them to be’, he told one of the settler leaders, ‘but people of considerable fibre, ability and steel’.) The man he sent to sort the settlers out in 1953, General ‘Bobby’ Erskine, soon got the measure of them: ‘I hate the guts of them all,’ he wrote to his wife just a few months later. ‘They are all middle-class sluts.’ (How they would have hated that ‘middle-class’.) Kenya was ‘a sunny land for shady people’. By 1960 even the most reactionary of the upper classes back in Britain were ‘too embarrassed’ by their ‘excesses’ to defend the settlers any longer. The final nail in their coffin – though it turned out to be a pretty comfortable coffin, with Kenyatta letting them stay and hold on to their farms if they wanted – came when Lord Lambton, about as kosher an aristocrat as you could find in Britain, turned against them over Hola.
the anglos are rsponsible for ...

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2008-12-21 23:24:29 |Display all floors
The puzzle is why they were allowed to get away with it for so long. It was not as if there were no protests in Britain. The British people have never been terribly interested in their empire, so a huge surge of feeling on the Kenya issue was unlikely. But the colony had more than its fair share of coverage in this period, both in Parliament (spearheaded by Barbara Castle, ‘that castellated bitch’, as a Kenyan attorney-general called her) and in the left-wing press. Castle and the others were helped by a stream of testimony from whistle-blowers in Kenya itself, which suggests a real unease there, among people who were decent (they would have said ‘British’) enough to object to what was going on. These included missionaries, as one would expect, although Elkins is critical of their unwillingness to speak publicly, mainly, she feels, because they needed government co-operation for their work of saving Mau Mau souls, and she accuses the Catholics of backing the colonial authorities. A number of judges, especially appeal court judges, spoke up. So did several soldiers and senior policemen, mainly those who had been sent in from Britain. Administrators like the Quaker Eileen Fletcher and even a few liberal settlers also raised their voices. They were not in time to save tens of thousands of African (and a few European) lives, though it was not for want of trying.
the anglos are rsponsible for ...

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2008-12-21 23:24:45 |Display all floors
The critics lacked leverage over the Colonial Office, especially when the duplicitous Lennox-Boyd was in charge – a state of affairs compounded by the Colonial Office’s own lack of leverage over what was happening on the ground. This is an important and often underestimated factor in British imperial history. One thinks of an ‘empire’ as a system of control before anything else, but in Britain’s case, running its empire on a shoestring, the reality of control was very often compromised by the need to rule through – or at least with the passive connivance of – people on the ground. In Kenya, neither major group – the shady settlers or the aggrieved Africans – was an ideal vehicle for ‘indirect’ rule. The result was, as district officer Terence Gavaghan (nicknamed ‘Big Troublemaker’ by the Africans) put it, that ‘the gap between the supreme policy-makers with their grave political concerns, and the actions of local functionaries in a small remote place, was too wide for mutual comprehension or proper control.’ In other words, London would have found it difficult to change things even if it had wanted to.
the anglos are rsponsible for ...

Use magic tools Report

You can't reply post until you log in Log in | register

BACK TO THE TOP
Contact us:Tel: (86)010-84883548, Email: blog@chinadaily.com.cn
Blog announcement:| We reserve the right, and you authorize us, to use content, including words, photos and videos, which you provide to our blog
platform, for non-profit purposes on China Daily media, comprising newspaper, website, iPad and other social media accounts.