Bildad Kaggia
The Roots of Freedom 1921 - 1963
East African Publishing House, 1975, 196 pages, index.

In 1985 two friends and I took a journey north of Nairobi to a tiny market station at the junction of two roads.  We walked inside a bare concrete building, lit by a bare bulb.  In one corner was an old wooden table, covered in a pile of paper back books.  Behind it sat a middle-aged Kenyan, a deeply worn face topped by a knit cap.  He spoke softly, carefully.  This was Bildad Kaggia, and in an honest universe, he would have been president of Kenya.

He, along with Jomo Kenyatta, were among those arrested by the British in 1952 in an attempt to suppress the simmering independence movement.  After that failed, and Kenya became independent in 1963, Kaggia became Minister of Education.  But, he had a fault: he was an honest man, and one that wanted the new state to serve the rank and file Kenyans.  Soon he was fired and, later, after joining the opposition party, imprisoned by Kenyatta.

In 1979 he retired from politics and tended a posho mill.

The first part of his autobiography was published, the second, more critical part dealing with independent Kenya was suppressed.  Rumors circulated among the expat community of manuscript copies that were never seen – exposing the book would mean expulsion from Kenya or worse.

And so I met him, in a little mill, in a place as obscure as it could be.  I was very honored that he autographed my copy of his autobiography.

Bildad Kaggia died in 2005 at the age of 82.



David Maugham-Brown
Land, Freedom & Fiction
Zed Books, 1985, 260 pages

Uses the lens of fiction (including by Kenyans and expats) to understand how the ideology of Mau Mau and colonialism work.





David W. Throup
Economic & Social Origins of Mau Mau
Heinemann Kenya, 1988, 300 pages

I was privileged to know David when I was in Kenya and knew him to be a careful researcher and someone with a sincere interest in the well-being of the ordinary Kenyan. This is his heavily documented study of the origins of the war for independence.

Last modified 9/1/08; posted 12/25/06; original material © 2008, 2006 John P. Nordin