Category Archives: Decolonization

General Alice (425)

That night we were divided into several groups. Then we went into the village and we started to attack.

Did you kill anybody?

During the fight, you know, I can’t tell you whether I killed anybody, but I certainly did attack. At the time there was no peace, it was just fighting. One bullet passed close to me. I shot twelve bullets. I was wounded three times. One here on my leg… One in my side… And one bullet passed this way… Another one just missed my head.

Was there no other way to get your freedom other than killing?

There was no other way. We had to fight to show we didn’t want to be colonized. There was nothing else we could have done.

What do you think about the British now?

I feel we are children of the same mother. Today we shook hands… And you are white! At the time we could not even touch each other.

What do you think about the time that the British were here in Kenya as the colonial government?

Apart from ruling us with an iron fist they helped develop this country.

Would the country have been better if they hadn’t been here?

At the time there was no school. I’ve never been to a class in my life. But now even young girls are in school.

Mau-Mau Docs (415/425)

You’ll be shocked to know that SFSU doesn’t have any substantial documentaries about the so-called Mau-Mau Uprising. Here are two films that look fairly useful. The first, from 1973, is the second episode of a series called Black Man’s Land. The second– Kenya: White Terror– is based in part on Caroline Elkins’s Imperial Reckoning, which documented British torture of Land and Freedom Army fighters.

Mau Mau Crisis:

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Mandela Uncut

I know you’re busy, but you might make the time to read this comment piece by Seamus Milne on the self-serving revisionist adoration of Mandela. Those who’ve read Ferey’s Zulu might be particularly interested:

Airbrushed out of the Mandela media story has been the man who launched a three-decade-long armed struggle after non-violent avenues had been closed; who declared in his 1964 speech from the dock that the only social system he was tied to was socialism; who was reported by the ANC-allied South African Communist party this week to have been a member of its central committee at the time of his arrest; and whose main international supporters for 30 years were the Soviet Union and Cuba.

It has barely been mentioned in the past few days, but Mandela supported the ANC’s armed campaign of sabotage, bombings and attacks on police and military targets throughout his time in prison. Veterans of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the ANC’s armed wing, emphasise that the military campaign was always subordinate to the political struggle and that civilians were never targeted (though there were civilian casualties).

“Mandela has been sanitised by hypocrites and apologists”

The Cinema of African Decolonization: Lumumba (HUM303/415/455/470)

For students of HUM455 Lumumba can be seen as the dramatization of the long term consequences of the Haitian Revolution as narrated by CLR James. Both Patrice Lumumba and Toussaint L’Ouverture were key figures in the struggle to attain independence, liberty, and dignity for their countries against colonialism.

For students of HUM303 Raoul Peck’s film represents the beginning of the end of the partitioning of Africa that we’ve been discussing in reference to King Solomon’s Mines.

For students of HUM 470, here is an example of a “biopic” that melds individual and national development. Collective and personal fortunes are closely linked.

For students of HUM415, this film represents the pre-history of the period we’re studying. Decolonization was a chain of events of world-historical significance.

Here’s the trailer: