In view of the recent launching by Mau Mau of a campaign to re-oath its adherents and to enclose in its net an ever-greater number of African followers, not only of the Kikuyu tribe, and in view also of the increasing bestiality of the oath ritual, it is timely and necessary to appreciate anew the significance of Mau Mau ceremonial practices and to review the extent and type of atrocities perpetrated by members of the movement.
Much has been written from time to time about the significance of tribal oaths, some seventy in number, in the life of the Kikuyu, still held as he is in the grip of pagan superstitions and ideologies. The originators of the Mau Mau movement chose the more powerful features of those many oaths to ensure that the Mau Mau version was supremely powerful - as it has since proved to be, despite the fact that in three ways it transgresses Kikuyu custom, which prohibits the administration of oaths by night, by force, and to women.
The original aim of Mau Mau, as expressed in the words of the oath, was secretly to unite, discipline and foster political consciousness among the Kikuyu, with the ultimate object of satisfying the political aspirations of its leaders, if necessary
by force. The terms of the original oath were as follows:
(a) If I ever reveal the secrets of this organisation, may this oath kill me.
(b) If I ever sell or dispose of any Kikuyu land to a foreigner, may this oath kill me.
(c) If I ever fail to follow our great leader Kenyatta, may this oath kill me.
(d) If I ever inform against any member of this organisation or against any member who steals from a European, may this
oath kill me.
(e) If I ever fail to pay the fees of this organisation, may this oath kill me.
As the Mau Mau campaign gained strength and the advocates of violence came to the fore, the terms of the original oath were amended to include the following new clauses, inter alia:
(a) If I am sent to bring in the head of any one and I fail to do so, may this oath kill me.
(b) If I fail to steal anything from the European, may this oath kill me.
(c) If I know of any enemy to our organisation and I fail to report him to my leader, may this oath kill me.
(d) If I ever receive any money from a European as a bribe for information, may this oath kill me.
(e) If I am ever sent by a leader to do something big for the house of Kikuyu, and I refuse, may this oath kill me.
(D If I refuse to help in driving the Europeans from this county, may this oath kill me.
(g) If I worship any leader but Jomo, may this oath kill me.
With the advent of these new terms there came an increase in acts of violence by Mau Mau.
The oath so far described is the general, or 3rd grade, oath from which no Kikuyu man, woman or young person is exempt, and which may be taken again and again by the same person. Its effect has been to create a mass of violent-minded, often bewildered people, chained by superstition and fear to the commands of their unscrupulous leaders. In the early days
the ritual was primitive but not bestial, its symbolism alone being sufficiently powerful to bind initiates to the terms of the ghastly oath. In more recent times bestial practices and numerous stages of ceremonial have embellished the ritual in certain areas, particularly Meru.
With the launching of the violent campaign came the need for leaders of gangs, committees and other Mau Mau organisations. To them was administered a stronger, or 2nd grade, oath in the following terms:
(a) If I fail to lead the children of Mumbi in a proper manner, may I die.
(b) If I fail to support the Independent School movement, may I die.
(c) If I betray the leaders of the Kenya Africa Union, may I die.
(d) If I fail to support this organisation until the day of independence, may I die.
(e) I must sacrifice my blood and the blood of Kikuyu for freedom.
There is a third, or 1st grade, oath taken only by leading political agitators. The terms of this oath are political and vary from time to time in accord with circumstances. It is significant that no instances have come to light of its being administered since the declaration of the state of emergency when the principal political agitators were arrested and detained on account of their complicity in the Mau Mau movement.
Apart from these three basic oaths, two new versions have been devised to meet the needs of the terrorist campaign. The
first, called the "Githaka" or "Forest" oath, is administered by forest gang leaders to their followers; the second, the "Batuni" or "Platoon" oath, the most recent innovation, is gradually being administered to all Mau Mau "soldiers" and "soldier recruits". By taking the "Batuni" a man becomes a full-blooded terrorist. The following are some of the common features of the "Batuni":
(a) To burn Europeans crops and kill European-owned cattle;
(b) To steal firearms;
(c) If ordered to kill, to kill no matter who is to be the victim, even one's father or brother.
(d) When killing to cut off heads, extract the eyeballs and drink the liquid from them.
(e) Particularly to kill Europeans.
It must be seen from the foregoing that the terms of the Mau Mau oath have become increasingly more violent and bloodthirsty, envisaging even the killing of father by son and brother by brother. It is not perhaps surprising, therefore, that with this increased emphasis on brutality and murder in the words of the oath, a corresponding increase in bestiality should have invaded the ritual of oath ceremonies, thus forcing the initiates to reach the necessary pitch of blood lust and degradation to make it possible for them to pronounce the ghastly words of the oath itself.
The only possible deduction to be drawn from the details of the bestiality and perversion connected with the ceremonies is
the horrible one that we are now faced in Kenya with a terrorist organisation composed not of ordinary human beings fighting for a cause but of primitive beasts who have forsaken all moral codes in order to achieve the subjugation of the Kikuyu tribe and the ultimate massacre of the European population of the Colony.
That these terrible rituals and oaths drive the participants to honour their vows is only too apparent from the lurid list of atrocities committed by Mau Mau. Such atrocities include:
(a) The Lari massacre;
(b) Decapitation and general mutilation of victims;
(c) Bodies bound up in sacks and dropped into wells;
(d) Torture before murder;
(e) Exhumation of bodies and eating the putrefied flesh;
(f) Drinking of human blood - (ex-chief Luka's child was cut in half, its blood drunk, and the two halves of the body were flung
at the mother, who was then killed);
(g) Death by hanging;
(h) Pregnant women split open along the stomach;
(i) Victims held down while their heads are slowly sawn off with pangas;
(j) Maiming of cattle by hamstringing;
(k) Cutting off the ears of persons who have not taken the oath so as to identify them in the future as Government loyalists.
These and similar atrocities have been perpetrated against people of all races in Kenya.
Growing up side by side with and immersed in these horrors is the new generation of Kikuyu youth, which ever since reaching the age of reason has been indoctrinated, largely through the Kikuyu Independent Schools, with a hatred of the European, a fanatical admiration for Kenyatta, and a disregard for parental and tribal authority. These young men are the backbone of Mau Mau terrorism, and they owe no allegiance to the ordinary dictates of either Christian or pagan ethics.
Such then is the problem of Mau Mau. The gradual extermination of terrorists will in the end undoubtedly sway the majority of the Kikuyu tribe against terrorism as a means of achieving an end. There will remain, however, the need to lead the debased and unruly youth of the tribe to a better way of life. There is now, also, the need to dissuade the youth of other tribes from following the downward path of their Kikuyu counterparts. Normal means of rehabilitation unlikely to succeed until the common law of discipline been instilled and is obeyed.