Mau Mau (mouˈ mouˌ) [key], secret insurgent organization in Kenya, comprising mainly Kikuyu tribespeople. They were bound by oath to force the expulsion of white settlers from Kenya. In 1952 the Mau Mau began reprisals against the Europeans, especially in the "white highlands," claimed as Kikuyu lands. The settlers retaliated and non-participant Kikuyu were killed by the Mau Mau. Jomo Kenyatta and other nationalist leaders were imprisoned. By 1956, however, British troops had hunted down the Mau Mau in the mountain forests. Most leaders were captured and executed. Later the entire Kikuyu tribe was resettled within a guarded area. The state of emergency decreed (1952) in Kenya was ended in 1960 and Kenyatta was released; he subsequently became prime minister (1963) upon independence, and president (1964) when the country became a republic.
See study by D. Branch (2009).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.