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Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya

Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya - Caroline Elkins In the 1950's, before they were ultimately thrown out of Kenya, the British hoped to weaken the independence movement by turning the many Kenyan ethnic subgroups against each other. Part of this strategy entailed moving the Kikuyu ethnic group off their land and into detention camps, using various pretexts (something like land ownership disputes or eminant domain issues, as I recall) and then having them guarded by members of traditional rival ethnic groups. Kikuyu lived there- some for as long as eight years- in squalor. As planned, camp guards and other officials frequently exploited and brutalized the detainees. Most disturbing was the use of rape or the threat of rape as a tacitly sanctioned punitive option. This book pieces together the history of the Kenyan gulag with official documents, corraspondance between the Kenyan colonial government and London, personal letters, and personal interviews with former detainees. As happens so often, Britain was not censured for these activities since (1) the gulag were not widely reported, (2) those in a position to know of them (e.g. the U.S. government, the Vatican) did not wish to expend "political capital" on behalf of the Kikuyu (i.e. they wished to save their influence with England for issues they perceived to be "more worthwhile"). Once again, Expediency is the mortal enemy of Justice.