It really sticks in my craw. But that’s all right. I have a large craw. I suck it down and then I spit it out.
I spit it out: the legacy of colonialism and how conservative elements in the West obscure and deny it.
According the The Times (behind paywall) of London last week:
"Government efforts to cover up one of the worst episodes in British colonial history have been revealed by the discovery of a vast cache of documents relating to the bloody Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya.
The papers, documenting efforts to put down insurgency, were spirited out of Africa on the eve of Kenya’s independence and have been held in secret government archives for half a century.
The files were unearthed only this year after four elderly Kenyans sued the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, claiming that they were tortured during the rebellion against British rule in Kenya between 1952 and 1960.
The claimants allege that they suffered “unspeakable acts of brutality, including castrations and severe sexual assaults”, under a system of torture carried out against the Mau Mau rebels by the British colonial authorities."
The truth of the rebellion against British colonial rule in Kenya is not newly revealed. In 2005, Harvard’s Caroline Elkins’s published Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya.
The Times reports:
"At least 12,000 rebels were killed, but atrocities were committed on both sides, and an estimated 70,000 Kenyans were held in prison camps as the British tried to quell the uprising."
Yet according to Elkins, the entire nearly 1.5 million Kikuyu population of Kenya was interned and “screened” and in many cases tortured, with many tens of thousands, perhaps 300,000, dead.
Wrote The Times’ Ben Macintyre:
"The documents appear to have been removed from Kenya as part of a policy of extracting sensitive or incriminating files from former colonies. Historians believe that similar files relating to Cyprus, Nigeria, Malaya, Palestine and other former dependent territories may also be held in secret."
Not really surprising, one might think, beyond the always vital particulars and trenchant human meaning of colonial history – if one has already acknowledged the truth of that history. Ah, but there’s the stick in the craw. Everyone has not. Does not.