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Mau Mau Memoirs: History, Memory, Politics

Marshall S. Clough
ISBN: 978-1-55587-537-4
1997/284 pages/LC: 97-36869

"To scholars of Kenyan history and especially to those interested in Mau Mau, this book must be read."—David P. Sandgren, The International Journal of African Historical Studies

"Clough’s mastery of the sources means that even Mau Mau experts will learn from him, while his clear and systematic approach makes Mau Mau Memoirs an ideal introductory guide for novices.”—John Lonsdale

"A humane work of penetrating intelligence that contributes greatly to the continuing debate over the meaning of the Mau Mau revolt.... Clough provides a sophisticated and compelling internal account of Mau Mau, the way in which participants conducted warfare, and the detention experience; he also succeeds remarkably in lifting his intrinsically fascinating material to a higher level of comparative understanding.”—Robert L. Tignor


The still contentious issues of the Mau Mau revolt are thrown into stark relief by the Mau Mau Memoirs, personal accounts by Kenyans of the events of that violent period. Marshall Clough deftly analyzes these memoirs, making a strong case for not only their historical value, but also their role in the struggle to define Mau Mau within Kenyan historiography and politics.

Systematically studying thirteen memoirs as a group, as a kind of "discourse" about the revolt, Clough demonstrates that the recollections of their authors—whose experiences ranged from organizing the secret movement, to supplying the guerrillas, to active fighting, to resistance in the British detention camps—serve to refute both the British version of the revolt and that of the leaders of the independent Kenyan state. They also point unequivocally to the importance of Mau Mau in the making of modern Kenya.


Marshall S. Clough is professor of history at the University of Northern Colorado. He is coeditor of A Bibliography on Mau Mau and author of Fighting Two Sides: Kenyan Chiefs and Politicians, 1918-1940.


  • Introduction.
  • Mau Mau and Its Interpreters.
  • The Mau Mau Version.
  • The Movement and the Oaths.
  • The War.
  • The Ordeal of Detention.
  • Politics: Past and Present.