On Pro-Colonialism

Yglesias writes:

Dinesh D'Souza is right, like many American liberals including Barack Obama, I think British colonialism in East Africa was morally wrong and that the movement for Kenya's independence was correct. Do conservatives disagree?

Somehow I missed the implicit notion in D'Souza's piece that resisting British colonialism in Kenya was a bad thing. That's probably because it's such a ridiculous idea that I just disregarded it. But it's the unavoidable meaning of slurring Obama as a Kenyan anticolonialist. In which case it's always good to have a reminder of what, precisely, colonialism in Kenya meant.

From commenter Baiskeli, himself (or herself?) Kenyan:

Not to go too deep into it, but Colonialism was horrible. In Kenya, blacks were forced off their lands (there is a reason the most agriculturally productive part of Kenya was called 'The White Highlands'), subjected to harsh rules (pass laws, head taxes, enforced segregation, concentration camps etc), and during the Emergency, an estimated 70,000 - 200,000 blacks were killed (torture, malnutrition disease in concentration camps etc). I could tell you my parent's stories and my relatives stories, but that would take too much time. A good book on this is Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya - Caroline Elkins 

And just because D'Souza is Indian does not mean he has the first clue about African Colonialism. There are some similarities between African and Indian colonization but given the fact that the British had a racial hierarchy (whites, indian and then blacks at the bottom) means there are things the British did in Africa that they never would even have considered doing in India. 

Suffice it to say Colonialism was truly evil. Essentially Britain treated Kenya and Kenyan people as possessions to be exploited by any means possible. The only reason that Britain let Kenya go is that after WW2 Kenya begun being a net drain due to the Mau Mau uprising (whose core group was formed by African WW2 veterans who has been conscripted into WW2 on Britain's side and learned military skills and lost their awe of the white man once they saw that he too could be killed just like any man). And even then, they handed the country to people they knew who would be friendly to their interests (Jomo Kenyatta etc). 

At independence, most of the wealth and the land in Kenya was in white hands. The Kenyan govt, over the next few years, took ruinious loans from Britain to buy back the land from those same British land owners. Keep in mind that this is land that had been previously stolen from us. In addition, a huge part of the Kenyan economy has been (and is still) foreign owned leading to a huge outflow of capital.


To pull a few quotes about what the British did. This are from Wikipedia but they're originally from Elkin's book.

A British officer describes his exasperation about uncooperative Mau Mau suspects during an interrogation:

I stuck my revolver right in his grinning mouth and I said something, I don't remember what, and I pulled the trigger. His brains went all over the side of the police station. The other two Mickeys [Mau Mau] were standing there looking blank. I said to them that if they didn't tell me where to find the rest of the gang I'd kill them too. They didn't say a word so I shot them both. One wasn't dead so I shot him in the ear. When the sub-inspector drove up, I told him that the Mickeys tried to escape. He didn't believe me but all he said was 'bury them and see the wall is cleared up.'

Some settlers took an active role in the torture of Mau Mau suspects, running their own screening teams and assisting British security forces during interrogation. One settler helping the Kenya Police Reserve's Special Branch described one interrogation which he assisted: "By the time I cut his balls off he had no ears, and his eyeball, the right one, I think, was hanging out of its socket. Too bad, he died before we got much out of him."
[E]lectric shock was widely used, as well as cigarettes and fire. Bottles (often broken), gun barrels, knives, snakes, vermin and hot eggs were thrust up men's rectums and women's vaginas.The screening teams whipped, shot, burned and mutilated Mau Mau suspects, ostensibly to gather intelligence for military operations and as court evidence.
Caroline Elkins

I'm Kikuyu, my parent's generation lived through the Kenyan Emergency during Colonialism, my family is from Nyeri (the 'White Highlands') land they were kicked out of. 
the stories I've been told would chill you to the bone. Crushing testicles and cutting off genitals and for women stuffing broken bottles up the vagina seems to have been the British torture of choice.

I think the basic point about just ramming together words which conservatives don't like says a lot about D'Souza's approach. It's amazing how actual humans get lost in all that.