Kenya’s independence struggle

Kenya’s independence struggle

Film and Clean Election Campaigns

Support during Kenya’s independence struggle

In Kenya in 1954, the Mau Mau rebellion against British colonial rule was in full flight. Thousands were killed, including many women and children. Each atrocity led to calls for retaliation and the violence was spiralling out of control. When the colonel in charge of the Mau Mau rehabilitation camp at Athi River apologized to the camp inmates for the arrogance and selfishness in people like himself which had given rise to the rebellion, and offered to work with anyone, black or white, who wished to rebuild Kenya on the basis of Moral Re-Armament (as IofC was then known), it led to a change in many of those interned in the camp. A year later, 600 of them had severed their Mau Mau connections, one of them saying that ‘If Moral Re-Armament can change hard-core Mau Mau like ourselves, who were full of hatred … it can change any sort of hard-core hearts’.

Two of these men visited Jomo Kenyatta in prison and showed him the film Freedom, written by Africans inspired by IofC. The film, set in an African country coming to independence, carries a message that a change of heart is possible and necessary to overcome the arrogance, political intrigues and tribalism in people of all races. Kenyatta asked that a Swahilli version of the film be made and used in Kenya. It was made, and in the months leading up to Kenya’s first elections Freedom was shown to nearly one million people, leading Nairobi’s The Reporter to write that ‘MRA has done a great deal to stabilize our recent election campaign’. In a conciliatory gesture after being elected President, Kenyatta asked the white settlers to stay to help build the country.

A few decades later, IofC activists launched a campaign in 1997 for clean elections without corruption. Civil society and churches joined the ‘Clean Kenya Campaign’ before the 2002 elections, which led to a change of government without violence. The campaign led thousands of Kenyans to commit to a strong and united Kenya, free from corruption, poverty, crime and poor governance.