South African Military History Society

News-sheet No. 101. DURBAN BRANCH January 1982.


The guest speaker at our January get-together, Mr. C.A.G. "Bob" Oliver, MPC, recalled memories of some thirty years ago, when, as a young man, he joined the security forces to put down the Mau Mau rebellion of 1952. After some initial training in Salisbury he served as a patrol leader in the Aberdare region of Kenya.

The Central Province of Kenya, as it was then, lay over 5 000 ft above sea-level in the centre and west, where it was dominated by Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare range with its vast, damp and chilling forests. The Kikuyu lived especially in three of the seven districts, viz. Kiambu, Fort Hall and Nyeri; the Embu and Meru occupied districts which bore their names; while Manyuki and Thika and parts of Kiambu and Nyeri were the sites of European settlements. The population in 1952 was about 1 368 000 including 3 000 Europeans and some 6 000 other non-Africans.

The outbreak of the Mau Mau rebellion in October, 1952, seriously hindered the development of Kenya. The Mau Mau, a Kikuyu secret society, believing their tribe to be unfairly restricted in its need for land, and resentful of the presence of Europeans in Kenya, launched a campaign of terrorism against the settlers, the Government and any Kikuyu who remained loyal to the administration. Incredible atrocities were committed towards white and black people and domestic animals. The Kikuyu were predominantly an agricultural people, they nevertheless attached great importance to owning stock and cattle and goats played an important role in their economy. The cruel mutilations of these dumb and helpless creatures had a deep mystic significance for the Kikuyu people.

The Government proclaimed a state of emergency and army units were brought in to reinforce those already in the country in order that effective action might be taken against the Mau Mau operating under the leadership of Jomo Kenyatta and his henchmen, backed up by the insidious influence of witchdoctors and their, not only bloody but blood-curdling, oath-taking ceremonies.

But the end came into sight when Mau Mau commanders, such as the infamous "General China", switched from guerilla to more conventional tactics. Bv Sentember 1953 some l4 000 terrorists had been accounted for and a great many were undergoing rehabilitation. By mid-1956 the emergency was virtually over and the army withdrew from active operations.

After a lively question time Ken Gillings moved a unanimous vote of thanks.


Programme of Monthly Get-togethers


March 11th April 15th May 6th (Please note that this is the first Thursday in the month), June 10th July 8th August 12th September 9th October l4th The venue for all meetings will be the Lecture Room, 'SB' Bourquin Building, the Port Natal Administration Board's head office, on the corner of Jan Smuts Highway and Buro Crescent, at the foot of Mayville Hill, on the second Thursday in the month (unless otherwise announced) commencing at 8 p.m. There is ample parking under guard in the grounds. Glasses and ice will be supplied so please bring your own canned or bottled refreshments. Friends and interested persons are welcome to come along.


1982 subs (R7,50 Single membership, Rl0,00 Family membership) are now due. Please post cheques/postal orders to the Hon. Treasurer, S.A. Military History Society, Box 52090, Saxonwold, Tvl, Postal Code 2l32. All paid-up members should have received their December 1981 copies of the S.A. Military History Journal. If you have not received your copy and you think you are in good standing with respect to your subs, please contact the Hon. Treasurer at the above address so that the matter may be rectified.

(Mrs) Tania van der Watt,
Secretary, Durban Branch,
S.A. Military History Society,
Box 870, HILLCREST, 3650.
Tel. (031) 742970.

* NOTE* Fast mirror and backup site      BOOKMARK FOR REFERENCE     Main site * NOTE*

South African Military History Society /