The religious factor- in mau mau with particular reference to Mau Mau Oaths.
Githige, Renison M
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Mau Mau was a nationalist movement which spread in Central and Rift Valley areas of Kenya between 1948 and 1956. The aim of the movement was to fight against colonialism. The movement had a strong religious factor which was expressed in various beliefs and practices, including songs, prayers and oaths. This study addresses itself to this religious factor, with special reference to Mau Mau oaths. The oaths were used in the movement so as to initiate members as well as to strengthen their commitment to the liberation struggle. The organization and format of the study is quite simple due to the nature of the work covered. In the first chapter, some views on the Mau Mau movement are analyzed. Most of the material in this chapter is collected from written work. Three views are looked at. First is the view that Mau Mau was a religion; second is the view that Mau Mau was more of a nationalist movement; and finally is the view that Mau Mau was a syncretist movement. Each of the views is discussed here in the way that it relates to the religious factor in the Mau Mau movement. Chapter .one ends with an assertion that there was a religious factor in the movement, a factor whose nature and significance has not been thoroughly investigated. After the first chapter, the study narrows down to the question of Mau Mau oaths. Chapter 'two looks at three somewhat isolated issues of the movement and each of them is shown to be connected (iv) to Mau Mau oaths. The first part deals with the possible origins of the name 'Mau Mau• The second part deals with the initial target or aim of the movement and the third part looks at the religious factor in Mau Mau ideology. Chapter three explores the nature and religious significance of traditional Kikuyu oaths and curses. The ceremonies are described and some examples given where possible. This chapter gives the basic background information which is useful in a study of Mau Mau oaths. An attempt is made to show the link between the traditional 0aths and curses on the one hand and the Mau Mau oaths on the other. Chapter four surveys the two main oaths used by the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA). The first oath is seen to have been syncretistic. The second oath is seen to have been of a similar nature to traditional Kikuyu oaths. The relationship between the second KCA oath and the first Mau Mau oath is here examined. Chapters five and six concentrate on the two main Mau Mau oaths, the oath of unity and the oath of war. In these two chapters, great emphasis is laid on the description of the nature of each oath. An analysis of the symbols and rituals in each ceremony is attempted. The ways in which these two oaths differed from traditional oaths are also explained. The concluding chapter analyzes the relationship between the nature of Mau Mau oaths. KCA oaths and traditional Kikuyu oaths. The effects of Mau Mau oaths on the movement are also explained. And finally, the questions raised at the start of the study are here looked at in line with the conclusions which have been reached at the end of each chapter. The study ends with an appendix in which some of the Mau Mau songs quoted in this study are written in full. Both the Kikuyu version of the songs (as sung by informants) and the English translations (by the writer) are given. (vi)
CitationA thesis submitted in paraxial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of master of arts
Arts, University of Nairobi