Kikuyu Women, the Mau Mau Rebellion, and Social Change in Kenya

TitleKikuyu Women, the Mau Mau Rebellion, and Social Change in Kenya
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsPresley, Cora Ann
Number of Pages213
PublisherWestview Press
CityBoulder, CO

Based on rare oral data from women participants in the Mau Mau rebellion, this book chronicles changes in women's domestic reproduction, legal status, and gender roles that took place under colonial rule. The book links labor activism, cultural nationalism, and the more overtly political issues of land alienation, judicial control, and character of the colonial administration in an analysis of the impact of colonial policy on Kikuyu society, and especially its negative consequences for women. Dr. Presley argues that women's involvement in anti-colonial activities began during the World War I era when the state forcibly recruited women into a wage labor system characterized by physical and sexual abuse. Women took part in all facets of the increasingly violent nationalist movement, including serving in the guerilla army. This book is an important addition to the Mau Mau debate, offering a careful exploration of the effect of colonial social policy on women and making a valuable, original contribution to the literature on African peasant women and their involvement with a major liberation struggle.

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