Mau Mau Uprising

Wind of Change

Sub-Saharan Africa 1953.0325

Mau Mau Uprising

Africa after World War II, African independence (25 March 1953)

Historical Map of Sub-Saharan Africa

By the early 1950s the failure of native attempts to extract political reforms from the white elites in the British colony of Kenya prompted more militant Kenyan nationalists to launch the Mau Mau movement. In a campaign of violence against both settlers and natives, the Mau Mau forced the British to declare a state of emergency but were unable to capture widespread support.

Main Events


The Estado Novo regime in Portugal rejected the concept of a Portuguese colonial empire, proclaiming that Portugal was a transcontinental country and that the overseas territories formed a unitary nation-state with the homeland. In this vein, the Portuguese possessions of Angola, Guinea, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, Cape Verde, Macau, the Estado da India, and Timor were all declared Portuguese overseas provinces. This action was largely in response to international pressure to end European colonialism.

Libyan independence

The United Nations administration of Libya under the United Kingdom and France came to an end, giving the country independence as the United Kingdom of Libya. A federal monarchy, the kingdom was headed by King Idris - chief of the Senussi Order and former Emir of Cyrenaica - with the location of parliament alternating between the joint capitals of Tripoli and Benghazi. Idris would abolish the federal arrangement in 1963, after which the kingdom would be renamed to just the Kingdom of Libya.

Ethiopian–Eritrean Federation

Upon approval of the Federal Act in Ethiopia and the Eritrean Constitution, British administration ended in Eritrea and the country became federated with the Ethiopian Empire. Although the act placed Eritrea under the sovereignty of the Ethiopian crown, it retained autonomy as the Eritrean Autonomous State until Ethiopia fully annexed it as a province in 1962.

Mau Mau Uprising

Following British failure to loosen political and economic restrictions on natives in Kenya, the secretive Mau Mau movement began a campaign of violence in Nairobi and among the Kikuyu population. In response, the British government declared a State of Emergency on 20 October 1952 and launched Operation Jock Scott - the mass arrest of Mau Mau suspects - the following day. Further operations eventually led to the capture of rebel leader, Dedan Kimathi, on 21 October 1956, although sporadic Mau Mau attacks would continue until the early 1960s.

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