Amandla gathered, in virtual form, a very special panel of guests for the launch of the book Mau Mau, The Story of Kenya Land and Freedom Army From Within, which is a reissue of the seminal book originally published under the title Mau Mau From Within: An analysis of Kenya’s Peasant Revolt, by Karari Njama and Donald L. Barnett.
It is a gift to us all that Daraja Press has decided to breathe new life into this book, which, when originally published in 1966 broke new ground by turning the British colonial account of the so-called Mau Mau rebellion on its head and telling the story in compelling and intimate detail as the war of liberation that it was, a guerrilla war waged by the Kenya Land and Freedom Army. What allowed the book to so effectively tell that story was its oral history format. Anthropology student and founder of the Liberation Support Movement, Donald L. Barnett, conducted extensive interviews with Karari Njama, a Kenyan school teacher and guerrilla who had played a key role close to the leadership of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army, and was able to relate a remarkably detailed account of the struggle for emancipation and all of the heroism, passion, complexities, betrayals and brutal oppression that mark that path.
The panel was made up of:
Firoze Manji of Daraja Press is a not-for profit publisher that seeks to contribute to reclaiming the past, contesting the present and inventing the future. As Firoze so saliently points out in his opening note to the new edition: “For so long as the experiences arising from the struggles described in this book are perceived as merely “African” or Kenyan, it is not possible to grasp fully the contributions they have made to the struggle for a universalist humanity.”
Kamoji Wachiira contributed the Introduction to the new edition. Kamoji was a young child at the time the war of liberation was being waged, and grew up in a Kenya that reflected the ultimate betrayal of that movement, but also showed the courage of his revolutionary ancestors as he took up their torch and continued the battle for a progressive and free Kenya.
Ole Gjerstad was a member of the Liberation Support Movement, and a comrade of Donald L. Barnett. He is a distinguished documentary film maker and a frequent contributor to Amandla as well as a cherished mentor to us here on the show.