Mark Aberin

HIS1103 – OL51

May 13, 2019  


Primary Source Analysis: The Mau Mau Warrior Oath


This source, “The Mau Mau Warrior Oath” was derived from the autobiography “Mau Mau from within” by Donald L. Barnett and Karari Njama. It is a documented oath displaying the unconditional loyalty of a member to a nationalist group and presumably the general natives of Kenya. The extent of potential violence that the author was willing to exert upon colonists gives the reader a sense of their nationalism and hatred. It is not clearly disclosed in the source, but this oath was in opposition to British colonists as Mau Mau was considered a militant nationalist movement of the Kikuyu people of what was once British Kenya. Thus, the extremity of commitments in this oath must have played an important role in the rebellion of the Mau Mau against the British colony.


In the oath, the author explicitly mentions acts of raids, beheading of the enemy, and theft of weapons as displays of obedience to the nationalistic movement. The author of this source also repeats, “May this soil and all its products be a curse upon me!” emphasizing the acceptance of consequence in the case that loyalty is ever compromised. The author’s repetitive usage of the words ‘never’ and ‘any’ in this document shows the degree of accordance with the oath that members must pledge to. This clearly supports the idea of the level of nationalism that the Mau Mau possess. For members to undertake such commitments would require immense patriotism or being in an extreme state of despair.


From this brief construction of an oath, it is safe to assume that allegiance to the Mau Mau was nothing short of the uttermost level of nationalism. This source provides the reader with some insight on the situation in British Kenya. However, it does not provide any more information about prior or following events, therefore leaving the reader to assume that colonial rule took place with the reference of the ‘white man’ in Kenya. The significance of this piece of document changes substantially with background information on the events that unfolded up until Kenya’s independence from Great Britain.