5 DECEMBER 1952, Page 5

Talk about the land question being at the root of

the Mau Mau outrages may have some element of truth in it, and it is certainly of the first importance that the Royal Commission over which Sir Hugh Dow is to preside should be completed and begin its work of mvestigating claim's and alleged grievances as soon as possible; but some of the news to be found in the Nairobi papers shows how completely remote that cause is from immediate events. Take for example the dis- turbance at Kirawara, in which fifteen tribesmen were killed. The assembling of the crowd was apparently due to stories of a youth, previously regarded as a mute, who had had a vision and would proclaim it in Kirawara market-place. He did so, declaring that any bullets fired by the police at the crowd Would turn to water, that all the shops at Kirawara would be moved down the hill, that all bridges would collapse and that God would arrive at 1 p.m. Hence the congregation of some 2,000 Kikuyu in the market-place in a state of uncontrollable excitement, and the choice left to the police between firing on the mob after repeated warnings and being torn to pieces themselves. The relation between that kind of mass-hysteria and land reform is not close.

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