With its arid lands and vast natural resources, Kenya was considered one of the British colonial empire’s “crown jewels” in the early 20th century. During this time, approximately 50,000-60,000 British settlers moved to Kenya and were gifted Kenyan land from which native Kenyans were displaced. Indigenous Kenyans—whose ancestors lived on this land for generations—were forced to move to slums. During WWII, thousands of Kenyans were conscripted to fight under the British flag alongside their colonizers. Upon their return, Kenyan veterans witnessed living conditions in the slums deteriorate—the tangible divide between the Indigenous population and settlers became increasingly pronounced and oppressive. Veterans from the Kikuyu set out to expel Europeans from Kenya, destroying property and livestock in what came to be known as the Mau Mau rebellion. Because of this turmoil, in 1952, the British government declared a state of emergency. British troops descended on Mau Mau homes, land, and livestock—setting fire to Indigenous properties as their occupants watched helplessly. Now homeless, the Kikuyu people were rounded up and sent to live in barbed-wire villages. By 1960, nearly the entire population of 1.5 million Kikuyu were detained, tortured, or murdered, and countless homes and communities were destroyed. The Mau Mau case demonstrates how domicide can be weaponized as a method of punishment in the context of state violence.
Kenya Domicide Resources