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What was the mau mau revolution in Kenya about?

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January 26, 2011 3:04PM

The Mau Mau Rebellion occurred in Kenya, then a British colony, between 1952 and 1956 in an attempt to permit native Africans to access the Kenya highlands which were mostly owned by white settlers. The British government had provided land in Kenya to veterans of World War Two and the local populations felt dispossessed.

The rebellion pitted Africans against Africans and Africans against British government forces. Some ethnic groups sided with the British, others sided with the rebels. Many acts of violence and retribution for violence occurred.

This rebellion was supported politically by the Kenya African Union, led by Jomo Kenyatta who became, at the time of Kenya's independence from Great Britain in 1963, Kenya's first Prime Minister and subsequently its President.

While some Mau Mau veterans may claim that they achieved independence for Kenya, their case is somewhat exaggerated. The rebellion may have supported the movement for independence, yet starting in 1957 (in Ghana, then Gold Coast) the British began granting independence to its African colonies. The days of the British Empire were already numbered by 1963.