It is better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees. – Emiliano Zapata (Mexican Revolution, 1910).
The Kenya Land and Freedom Army (KLFA) was an organized army that fought against the British colonialists from 1948 -1958. They were the military arm of what had began as a diplomatic arm in the 1930s under various political organizations.
Official figures show that more than 15,000 Kenyans lost their lives in the war, between 1952 and 1960. It is estimated that the State of Emergency cost the British Government about 700M Pounds by today’s estimates.
The war entailed:
- Villagisation (Reserves)
- Mass Detention
- A Special Kikuyu Tax
- Random Bombings from Military Planes
- 23 Hour Curfews
- Collective Fines
- Confiscation of Land
1090 Freedom Fighters were executed by hanging. During Operation Anvil (April/ May 1954) 24,100 Kikuyu males, half of the Kikuyu population in the city were imprisoned without trial. To read more about this, see “The Killing Fields of Kenya 1952 – 1960: British Military Operations Against the Mau Mau” by Anthony Clayton
For further reading on the hierarchical order and organization of the army, see: “Kenya’s Freedom Struggle: The Dedan Kimathi Papers” by Prof. Maina wa Kinyatti
Below are a few of the faces and some of the details of their story.