HI32B, Kenya’s Mau Mau Rebellion, mock exam paper, 2014 To replicate exam conditions you should take 20 minutes of reading time before starting. Students sitting a 2 hour paper should answer the question in section a and one from section b or



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HI32B, Kenya’s Mau Mau Rebellion, mock exam paper, 2014
To replicate exam conditions you should take 20 minutes of reading time before starting.
Students sitting a 2 hour paper should answer the question in section A and one from section B OR C. Students sitting a 3 hour paper should answer the question in Section A and one from EACH of B AND C.
Section A

Comment on any four of the following:




  1. The history of Kenya for many years has been the history of African frustration, issuing, in Kikuyu, in violence. There will only be further frustration, perhaps further violence, perhaps the emergence of a European oath, if the lesson of Mau Mau cannot be learnt and all together work for a common worthwhile end.

Kikuyu, Embu and Meru Students Association, Makerere College, ‘Comment on Corfield’, November 1960.


  1. On a comprehensive survey of the position we see little reason to suppose that the present squatters on European lands left the reserve because of difficulties connected with the tenure of land. The desire to find better pasture for cattle is generally considered to have been the motive power behind the movement and, grazing in the reserve being common, that is a consideration which affected all classes alike. Generally speaking any squatters in the settled area must be held to have gone there of their own free will with a view to better themselves and not as a result of any economic pressure, except such as is connected with shortage of pasture.

Report of the Kenya Land Commission, September 1933.


  1. If you refuse to work, you will be valueless among the community. And if you fail to do good work, you would not find any happiness if you happen to be an intelligent person. But if you are an ignorant person, you could not be expected to understand what is good work and what is bad work. … From what we have been saying, we can conclude that the measure of a person is love for his work and the energy he puts into it are what makes him a success of failure. … But if you are lazy, or have a distaste for work, there is no need for you to blame God for your own miserable condition and say it is He who has made you poor. It is you yourself who lacks self-respect because of your own attitude to work and life in general.

Henry Muoria, ‘What Should We Do for Our Sake?’, pamphlet, 1946.


  1. Dear Mathenge,

I have called a general meeting to be held at Nguthiru (Moorlands) on the banks of the Mwathe stream. I am coming there with all the leaders from Fort Hall, with many of their warriors. I expect to meet you there with all the Nyeri leaders. … In short I expect all the leaders in the Nyandarua [Aberdares] Forest. The meeting would start on 16/8/53 to the 20th. … As this would be the first general meeting for all the warriors in Nyandarua Forest, I think we should: (1) Elect a Kenya-wide Council; (2) Make rules and regulations; (3) Instruct our leaders and warriors; (4) Make plans on raids; (5) Issue out ranks; (6) Discuss any other arising matter…

Thaai (Peace)

Dedan Kimathi Waciuri



Letter from Kimathi to Stanley Mathenge, 3 August 1953, reproduced in Donald Barnett & Karari Njama, Mau Mau from Within (New York & London, 1966).



  1. The basic problem as we see it is this:-

    1. The great majority of the Nairobi Kikuyu are either active or passive supporters of Mau Mau, or are in tacit sympathy with the movement’s aims.

    2. The Kikuyu constitute 75% of the working population of Nairobi, and their numerical ascendancy is enhanced by the rule of fear imposed by the immediate presence of the gunmen and the distant threat of the terrorists.

    3. In order to re-establish the rule of law in the city and to restore confidence in those who look to us for protection, it is vital that this domination should be broken.

    4. To achieve this end there must be expelled from the city a number of Kikuyu sufficient to relieve the tension caused by the numerical preponderance of this tribe. Only by the removal of the conditions which encourage terrorism and intimidation can we restore to other tribes and to the potentially loyal Kikuyu their confidence in the Government and their willingness to co-operate.

The UK National Archives, CO 822/796, ‘Operation Anvil: Outline Plan by Joint Commanders’, 1954.


  1. I was stripped and given twelve strokes by a Mkamba sergeant. These were just about the most painful ones I ever received and they drew much blood from my buttocks. When the detainees saw my body, which was thin and bruised with the treatment we were receiving in Compound 6, they buzzed with anger like a swarm of bees. I was given strength to endure all these things because I knew that I was right and that all the other detainees thought I was doing right. This is the sort of strength that no amount of beating can weaken. When will people realize that such beatings only stiffen the resolve of the victim?

J.M. Kariuki, “Mau Mau” Detainee (Oxford & Nairobi, 1963).


  1. As you are probably aware, practically all over the Central Region, there are threats of ex-terrorists rising against the loyalists on the Independence Day. Although there are two or three genuine cases here to which some attention must be given, from investigation I feel the security situation in the Division is a little exaggerated by those who are guilty-conscious. These three are (a) Headman Jimna of Gathera Sub-Location in Chinga, Headman Taiti of Kagere and Headman Kariuki of Mahiga Location. These three – among many others – have received some threating letters that [sic] their heads would be chopped off on the Independence Day. The Police have confirmed that these Headmen have some very bitter enemies here and that it is likely something wrong could very easily happen to any of them.

Extract from Kenya National Archives, VP/9/102, ‘Handing Over Report – Othaya Division, Mr J.N.A.R. Okumali to Mr D.S. Mwangi’, 2 December 1963. Note that Othaya Division is in Nyeri and the document is a report prepared by an outgoing District Officer to his replacement.


Section B

1. How useful is the Corfield Report to understanding the causes of the Mau Mau rebellion?

2. Assess the historical value of at least one of the feature films made about Mau Mau.

3. What do Ngugi wa Thiongo’s novels and/or plays tell us about the ways in which Mau Mau has been remembered in Kenya since independence?


Section C

4. Is Mau Mau best understood as the result of the failure of non-violent nationalism?



5. To what extent was the conflict between loyalists and Mau Mau insurgents a result of colonial policy?

6. Explain the violence of the colonial counterinsurgency campaign.


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