29 JANUARY 1960, Page 8

Kenya and the Kikuyu

By T. R. M. CREIGHTON MR. PETER KOINANGE means a good deal more to the Kenya African elected mem- bers than simply a bargaining counter. If the African elected members hanker after him, and after Kenyatta, it is because they identify them not with Mau Mau but with the old spirit of Kenya Africanism, from the days of the Kikuyu separatist churches, independent schools and the Kikuyu Central Association of 1922. Europeans may see Koinange as a symbol of Mau Mau, but for most Africans he symbolises the aspira- tions of Kenyatta and Harry Thuku before European hostility and aversion divided them and drove their movement out of control into tragic and repugnant ways.

Everyone, in fact, during last week's wrangling was looking over his shoulder to Kenya quite as intently as towards the conference table in Lancaster House. The African elected members' delegation contains two groups—the Kenya In- dependence Movement (Mboya) and the Kenya National Party (Muliro)—which are united over independence but not over all domestic issues. No one member can count on undivided support from all Africans—not even Mboya, whose hold in some districts is uncertain. As a group they needed to demonstrate their absolute unity in London precisely because the two parties are brave and democratic enough to be prepared to find themselves opposing each other over domestic issues in the days ahead—and make n3 secret of this. They needed also to enlist the confidence of the Kikuyu, the pioneers of pre- Mau Mau Africanism, by a sign that their unique contribution is not overlooked by a delegation on which they are in a minority. The delegation is well aware of the danger of inter-tribal jealousies and disharmonies; there was more than mere tactical intransigence in their demand for Koinange.

Mr. Blundell cannot have thought it mattered much where Koinange sat; but he must have known that his supporters in Kenya have diffi- culty in distinguishing between Africanism and Mau Mau terrorism. Blundell must feel that to make any sense of his presence at the conference or any use of its results for his cause afterwards he cannot afford to alienate a single follower. He must trim to please them, and this means trimming to the Right. It is enormously to Mr. Macleod's credit that he was reluctant to give him room to trim far, and broke his predeces- sor's habit of pandering to European prejudice.

The New Kenya Party members' strongest ob- jection at home to anything approaching recog- nition of Mr. Koinange is that it will intensify the rift between `loyalists' and 'Mau Mau sup- porters' within the Kikuyu people, and alienate those Africans who sided with the Government in the emergency. But the loyalists, brave though some of them were, no more represented the majority of the people than the Mau Man did; and the need for their services in the future would postulate the continuation of an alien regime for Them to be loyal to. The real rift among the Kikuyu, and all Kenya Africans today, is between the few who were actively committed on either side in the emergency, and the many—especially younger people—who suffered bitterly from both, and who look forward to a future where such divisions will not occur.

The ugly memories of the younger Africans emerge dramatically from accounts of their ex- periences, two of which, written down for roe by young Kikuyu a year or two ago, may be considered representative: One evening Mr. Chuma has been telling us of the old peaceful days before Europeans came. I wondered whether they were really as happy and blessed as Mr. Chuma and my grand- father said. What of the enemy's sharp spear and poisoned arrow? Perhaps they did not worry them at all. They had their own and could defend themselves. I wanted to hear it again from Mr. Chuma's mouth. 'Did you say you knew peace once, Mr. Chuma?' He had no time to answer and I no need for his answer. The wicker door was rudely opened and in rushed an officer with a troop of my own people at his heels. We all stood automatically, fumbling for our papers. But they were not needed. Heavy blows rained on every part of our bodies. Children cried and shrieked as their mothers were beaten. Chicken, goats, sheep and • cattle were killed to feed the men of war. We were all prisoners in our own land. Some of us , have come back to the place of desolation, ragged and broken hearted. Others will never come back. Old Mr. Chuma will never come back. Perhaps he has found peace. As for as, the living, shall we ever find peace?

Mau Mau, of course, was worse, as a secoad Kikuyu recalled : My parents and sisters were telling me about Jesus. I did not believe in him and they were bent on convincing me, when there was a loud knock at the door. My father opened, and to his great surprise my uncle stepped in. He was a notorious Mau Mau oath administrator. We were afraid. His words were few and to the point. He told us our days were numbered. 'Take the oath now—or never. If you -don't you will be dead in a few minutes' These words were' not said in jest. I told my family to save their lives, but in vain. They would not renounce their faith in Jesus Christ. • My uncle whistled and our little round but was crowded with very rough and stinking men, armed to their ears, with long beards and shaggy hair. Their swords were long and their eyes were penetrating. They offered no hope of mercy. My uncle gave orders and there before my eyes my parents were hacked into pieces. My three sisters were dragged out of the hut—what became of dial remained a mystery to me.

The majority of the Kikuyu, and of all Kenya Africans, are neither loyal' to the British n9r in favour of Mau Mau. How could they be They want to enjoy freedom and opportunity, in peace and without violence. The objection to Mr. Koinange—even if he were an instigator of Mau Mau and not 'a man Of great vision.' as John Gunther calls him—assumes a continuation of conflict between Europeans and Africans; but if the causes for conflict can be eliminated, 0111Y the lunatic fringe will desire to renew it.

In this sense, the United Party and the 'hard core' Mau Mau join hands. What Mr. Blundell hopes to achieve is less clear; but he has the same opportunity as Mr. Todd in Rhodesia : to move much closer to the majority of Africans, taking such Europeans as will follow him: or to rely upon Europeans and go under. Nothing could be more encouraging than the evidence of the last ten days that the Colonial Secretary seems aware of this.