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1952: Kenyatta arrested in security raid

Leading African nationalist Jomo Kenyatta has been arrested following the declaration of a state of emergency in the British colony of Kenya.

He was among about 100 prominent Kenyans detained in the past 24 hours as part of a clampdown on the rebel Mau Mau movement.

The Mau Mau is demanding immediate self-government and is blamed for the mounting "lawlessness, violence and disorder" in the colony.

Jomo Kenyatta stands accused of leading the extremist wing of the Mau Mau and of inciting hatred and violence against Europeans through a series of oaths of allegiance.


" Mau Mau terrorism is carefully planned, centrally directed and its object is to destroy all authority "

Secretary of State Oliver Lyttleton

Members are called on to steal firearms from Europeans, not to sell land to Europeans and kill Europeans when asked to by the leadership.

Government officials say 37 people have been murdered by the Mau Mau - and the vast majority of killings have taken place in the past three months.

Secretary of State for the Colonies Oliver Lyttleton told the House of Commons in London: "Mau Mau terrorism is carefully planned, centrally directed, and its object is to destroy all authority other than Mau Mau.

"Its leaders are establishing their own courts in their attempt to usurp the functions of government. Action against these leaders was imperative."

In a further sign of its concern at the growing lawlessness in Kenya, the government is deploying British troops in the region.

The 1st Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers have just arrived from the Middle East - although Mr Lyttleton stressed this was a precautionary measure.

Mr Kenyatta was arrested by Kenyan police at his home, where he had been asleep. He apparently made no attempt to resist arrest.

He was a student in London between 1929 and 1946, where he studied anthropology as a pupil of the renowned anthropologist, Professor Malinowski.

It was here he became a committed African nationalist convinced of the need to develop education.

Since returning to Kenya, he has established a school movement independent of the state and funded by Kikuyu tribesmen.

The Mau Mau has drawn its supporters from the Kikuyu people, the majority of whom live in the crowded reserves of Kiambu, Nyeri and Fort Hall.

They regard land as their only form of security and many now have too little to be able to make a living.

They resent the fact the Europeans farm the much more profitable and sparsely-populated so-called "White Highlands" and therefore have a much better standard of living.

The British Government had hoped the policy of arresting the Mau Mau leadership would put an end to the rising tide of violence.

But there have been warnings of retaliation. Another of the oaths taken by Mau Mau members is to follow Mr Kenyatta if he is arrested and try to free him.

In Context
Jomo Kenyatta strongly denied the charges against him but was sentenced to seven years hard labour on 8 April 1953 after a trial generally regarded by historians to have been rigged by the British.

He completed his sentence on 14 April 1959 and was freed from all restrictions in August 1961.

On 28 October 1961 he became president of the Kenyan African National Union (Kanu).

In June 1963 Mr Kenyatta took control as the first prime minister of a self-governing Kenya.

The following year Kenya broke its last ties with Britain and became a Republic within the Commonwealth with Mr Kenyatta as its president.

Mr Kenyatta's government included more people who had fought against Mau Mau than had participated in the rebellion.

The ban on the Mau Mau as an organisation was only lifted by the Kenyan Government in August 2003.

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http://www.kenya.go.ke/
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