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    Monumental histories: commemorating Mau Mau with the statue of Dedan Kimathi

    Coombes, Annie E. (2011) Monumental histories: commemorating Mau Mau with the statue of Dedan Kimathi. African Studies 70 (2), pp. 202-223. ISSN 0002-0184.

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    This article is a meditation on the nature of commemoration in a period of renewed interest in the concept of ‘national history’ in Kenya just prior to and during the 2007 election campaigns and the violence which erupted in its wake.1 I am interested in the extent to which commemorative initiatives, while often promoted (as in this case) as inclusive nation-building exercises, ultimately highlight the intractability of certain divisions. The article focuses on the commissioning of the first statue to a Mau Mau leader since President Mwai Kibaki's unbanning, in September 2003, of the guerrilla movement, which many historians consider to be a major force responsible for the country's liberation from the clutches of British colonialism. I want to suggest that the statue of Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi Wachiuri, unveiled on 18 February 2007, on the 50th anniversary of his execution by the British, becomes the conduit for the circulation of competing debates around the nature of history writing, the concept of national memory, the ideal of patriotism and the establishment of criteria to identify heroes and heroines as role models for the next generation. The commission is at the centre of a fraught discussion in the media concerning the question of who might merit the title of national hero or heroine and emerges at a time when the figure of Kimathi for one reason or another is susceptible to appropriation by a number of competing and often incompatible causes.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Heroes and Heroines Commission, Dedan Kimathi, monuments, Kenya, Mau Mau veterans, Heroes’ Acre, commemoration, National Museums of Kenya, Kapenguria Six, heritage
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2013 10:52
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:02


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