From daily News Line in Britain:
Friday, 4 September 2015
Memorial to Mau Mau freedom fighters
A MEMORIAL will be unveiled at 07:30am (GMT) on Saturday 12th September 2015, at Freedom Corner in Uhuru Park, Nairobi to remember the many thousands of Kenyans who suffered torture and abuse at the hands of British forces at the end of the colonial era (1952-1960).
In 2013, following a legal case brought against the UK government by law firm Leigh Day on behalf of 5,200 Kenyans, the then Foreign Secretary, William Hague, expressed ‘sincere regret’ that thousands of Kenyans had been subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of the British colonial administration during the Kenya Emergency.
Attending Saturdays’ ceremony will be representatives of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association as well as representatives from Leigh Day, the British High Commissioner and UK government officials. Daniel Leader, a partner at law firm Leigh Day, who will be attending the ceremony on behalf of Leigh Day, said: ‘This memorial represents the first apology by the UK government for abuses by the British during colonial rule.
‘Crimes such as castration, rape and repeated violence of the worst kind were inflicted upon thousands of Kenyans by British colonial officials in detention camps. Many of those who suffered had little or nothing to do with the Mau Mau insurgency.
‘This memorial, along with the apology given in 2013, has gone a long way to lifting the cloud that has hung over those Kenyans tortured by the British for so long.’
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Monday 25th January 2016
posted by Morning Star in Arts
British Counterinsurgency by John Newsinger (Palgrave Macmillan, £18.99)
TAKING the conventional assessment that the British are masters in counterinsurgency to account, in this book historian John Newsinger catalogues the series of post-war campaigns which marked the collapse of the British empire, exploring their method and madness as he does so.
From Palestine, Malaya, Kenya and Cyprus to perhaps lesser-known wars in South Yemen, Oman and Dhofar, through to Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq, Newsinger offers an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses, along with the successes and failures, of British and insurgent forces.
The language is not overly academic and a strength of the book, with its concise contextualisation and detailed yet swift narratives of the campaigns themselves, is its accessibility.
Though at times there could be a little more clarity on some of the intricacies of political developments, primarily on the insurgent side, by and large those narratives are easy to follow.
Writing of “hearts and minds” campaigns — a critical aspect of counterinsurgency — Newsinger observes that they “are not soft-hearted exercises in sentimentality carried out by social workers in uniform.
“Alongside the reforms and concessions, the material advantages, that are intended to win over the ‘hearts’ of the local population, there is the use of force to focus their ‘minds’.”
Consequently, the book catalogues much abuse and atrocity, though it never sensationalises the violence. One form of force is torture, a crime that ran right through Britain’s post-war counterinsurgency campaigns.
In Aden sensory deprivation, later employed in Northern Ireland, was used, while in Cyprus journalists themselves referred to interrogators as HMTs — “Her Majesty’s Torturers.”
Drawing on contemporary and recent scholarship, the author cites numerous first-hand accounts of those involved in the wars as well as academic studies with a similar focus.
In the process, British policy is castigated. Support for despotic rule in Oman, crucial to the regime’s survival, remains “one of the most unsavoury episodes in post-war British foreign policy.”
And one has to go back to the suppression of the Great Indian Revolt of the 1850s to encounter such murderous methods as those used in Kenya which, argues Newsinger, can only be explained by racism.
With British Counterinsurgency, he provides a comprehensive but accessible history of Britain’s imperial decline, successfully challenging the old myth that the process — comprised of savage small-scale wars — was humane and conducted with minimum force. Highly recommended.
Review by Josh Watts
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