Guest Author - Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu
The women in the Mau Mau movement played a large role in helping the men hide from the British. Some fought along side the men while others brought food and weapons to the men. Women fighting alongside the men was possible as the Mau Mau had a strict rule about rape. Rape was punishable by death.
The women also let the men know what the British were doing. While they did this they managed to keep their farms going and raise their families.
The British moved some villages into camps were the women were beaten, harassed, raped, and forced into 'communal labor'. The communal labor was really forced labor. Everyone had to work from 7am to 5pm. Curfew was at 6pm. All the cooking and cleaning supplies had to be gathered in that hour. The women worked out a system where some would gather the wood, some would get the water, and so on. They worked together so everyone had what they needed to survive. Even so, they managed to keep their families together and help out their men.
At times women would hide the Mau Mau fighters in their homes. This was a dangerous thing to do for if they were caught they were sure to lose their lives and also put their families and even village at risk.
The women would make extra food for the men and bring it to them at night. The British patrol had a habit of falling asleep after midnight and the women took advantage of this.
While the Mau Mau fighters rested in a home of a sympathizer, they were generally working on a plot to attack the British. Sometimes they plotted to attack the post set up in the very village they were staying.
The women were clever enough to keep up the appearance of normal everyday life even though they may have been hiding Mau Mau fighters or even involved in a plot themselves.
These women were also able to save up enough money to send some of their children to other countries for education. They had them smuggled out of Kenya and into Europe with the hopes that their children would come back and help lead a free Kenya. Many of these children did come back.
The women who belonged to the Mau Mau were strong and continued to work for the freedom of Kenya no matter what the odds were against them. Although the Mau Mau movement was crushed a few years before independence, these women accomplished a lot for the freedom of Kenya.