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Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 19:44 GMT
Monuments for the Mau Mau
Daniel Arap Moi
President Moi: Opponents say it is an election ploy
By Cathy Jenkins in Nairobi

Nearly 40 years after Kenya won independence from the old colonial power, Britain, some of the important sites in the battles of the Mau Mau freedom fighters are to be turned into national monuments.

Mau Mau veterans have complained for years that their role in the independence struggle was never fully recognised, but the move is being criticised by some as a political ploy by the government anxious to win support ahead of elections next year.

The struggle of the Mau Mau against the British colonists in Kenya brought independence in 1963.

But it is only now that some of the Mau Mau's significant sites are being recognised and signs put up to explain to people what exactly happened.

Dead Kikuyus
The British killed thousands during the Mau Mau rebellion
The sites include a fig tree which the fighters used as a post office.

They hid letters and requests for supplies in a hollow in the trunk.

There is also a cave where the fighters lived, a mass grave and also a trench where the renowned Mau Mau leader, Dedan Kimathi, was shot, wounded and finally captured.


After independence many of the Mau Mau fighters returned from the forests and mountains to find themselves much poorer than before.

Jomo Kenyatta
Kenya's first president was jailed in the 1950s as a Mau Mau leader
Many had lost their land and as the country moved forward under its new political leaders, the Mau Mau felt they were quickly forgotten.

The national museums of Kenya, which will be responsible for the upkeep of the new national monuments, says it is high time that Kenya remembered what they sacrificed and achieved.

National Museums Director-General George Abungu says that people must be brought together to share their common history to enable them to move forward.

"Kenya is made up of many languages and ethnic groups. What we are calling for is to recognise that there are people who fought for a united country and that our children should also know that this is something that was bought by blood and that it is only through diversity and unity that we can have a nation."

But the creation of the monuments has not been welcomed by everyone who think it is a government ploy to win votes from a section of the population which generally supports the opposition.

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See also:

10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Kenya
10 Jan 01 | Africa
Timeline: Kenya
24 May 00 | Africa
Kenya's Asian heritage on display
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