Anybody who tries to keep up with the way British history is written sooner or later will experience a sense of deja vu.  This comes from the way the British every so often rediscover something about themselves that has in fact been known about all along.

The latest Mau Mau revelations are a case in point.  Anybody with even the slightest knowledge of British colonial history in Africa will have known about the brutal way in which the British suppressed the Mau Mau revolt in the 1950s and how this was covered up at the time.  There were in fact courageous British MPs and journalists who were telling the truth about the Mau Mau revolt as it was actually taking place.  The brutal nature of its suppression has been universally accepted amongst academic historians of the late colonial period since at least the 1970s.  The latest revelations drawn from formerly secret Foreign Office files provide some new details but they do not in any way change the overall picture.  I am therefore at something of a loss to understand all the excitement and I suspect that quite a few of those who write professionally about the subject are as well.   


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