Ideas, Material Culture And The Mau Mau Liberation Struggle
Kenyan born artist Tajender Sagoo is inviting artists, activists, journalists, thinkers and citizens to contribute to a depository of experiences, reflecting on life in the British colony of Kenya, especially during the Emergency 1950 – 1960 and the Mau Mau liberation struggle.
The Land & Freedom Depositions project seeks to explore the silences present in the ongoing British narrative of Kenya via the construction of a new visual dialogue. Sagoo aims to create a space for untold stories. The deposition project will become part of an exhibition to be held in London at the end of the year.
“Listening to my father talking about the reality of living and working in British Kenya made me realise how much the British state have hidden from us,” says Sagoo.
All types of *physical or non- physical items and ideas can be deposited in the project. It can be text based, oral or a photograph of an object or a copy of a Kipande (pass card) or a Loyalty certificate. (Other items might be essays, articles, diaries, schoolbooks, adverts, tickets, domestic items, textiles, recipes, songs, poetry etc.) Or you may want to present a talk or event that can be recorded for the depository.
*(please do not submit original material).
Deposits submitted to the project will undergo a system of classification where they will be divided into a white, grey or black group, (in reference to the classification system used in the internment camps).
For more information about making a deposition please contact the artist.
In October 1952 the British declared a state of emergency in Kenya to suppress a growing independence movement commonly known as the Mau Mau war of liberation. (Mau Mau was also referred to as the Kenya Land and Freedom Army).
There are many people living today who were in Kenya during the Emergency period, in which the British administration operated a colour bar system, racially segregating the African, South Asian and European communities.
The Kenya Emergency was a brutal campaign of detention without trial characterised by a system of punitive punishments put in place to counter the calls for independence. Communities were interned in camps and underwent a system of “cleansing” called the Pipeline. People were classified into White, Grey or Black groups according to how loyal to the Kenyan State they were. White being the most loyal and Black being ‘Mau Mau’.
Recently, in a case spanning 10 years, three Kenyans Jane Muthoni Mara, 73, Paulo Muoka Nzili, 85 and Wambugu wa Nyingi, 84 took legal action against the UK Government for the torture they suffered at the hands of British officials during the Mau Mau uprising between 1952 and 1960.
In an historic judgment (October 2012), the High Court rejected the British Government’s attempt to strike out the claims of the three Kenyan victims of British Colonial torture on the grounds that the claims were time barred.
In June 2013, the British government announced an out of court settlement with the torture victims.
Born in Kenya, Tajender Sagoo is an artist / weaver and curator of the Pop Samiti project based in London. Her practice uses textiles in a multi disciplinary approach. She has a strong interest in using pattern and colour to investigates the relationships between objects and the ideas that they express in the historical and modern experience.
Saleh Mamon is co- curator of the Kenya Land & Freedom Depository project. Born in Kenya he is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the Goldsmith Centre of Culture Studies. He witnessed the forced removal of Kenyan African men by armed soldiers on open trucks in Nairobi at the age of twelve. He is interested in the ‘hidden’ history of the Third World. In the mainstream discourse the violent process of colonisation and suppression of resistance by armed force remains largely erased. He believes strongly that this production of history needs to be challenged and an alternative explored to reveal the experience of the colonised peoples.
This is an independent project, it is not funded by any organisation or institution.
If you would like to make a deposition or make an enquiry contact: