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Fake historian who framed Kenyatta 'death leader' tag

Supporters greet Jomo Kenyatta's motorcade with one-finger salutes during a past event. [File, Standard]

Towards the end of the state of emergency in 1957, the colonial government in Kenya hired the services of a retired civil servant, FD Corfield, to compile a historical survey of the circumstances in which Mau Mau grew.

A natural science graduate of Exeter College, London, Corfield had worked in Khartoum, Ethiopia and Palestine before retiring in Karen, Kenya, where he took up government assignments.

In his report Historical survey of the origins and growth of Mau Mau, Corfield blamed everyone for Mau Mau uprising except his appointing authority, the colonial government.

He concluded that the African, “in his primitive state life was highly insecure, but he achieved a sense of security by strict adherence to traditional rules”.

“The comforting cloak of his tribalism is fast disappearing - he has become rudderless, and it is too easy for him to identify his troubles with the Europeans,” he said.

Far from blaming his appointing authority, Corfield decorated the colonial government according to Africans' immense liberties which powered Mau Mau.

Jomo Kenyatta addresses a rally at Tamayota settlement scheme in Molo, Nakuru County. [File, Standard]

"Without the freedom afforded them by a liberal government, Jomo Kenyatta and his associates would have been unable to preach their calculated hymn of hate," it said.

He nevertheless admitted, a little, to Africans being handicapped by poverty, lack of education and malnutrition. This is the closest he came to blaming the colonial government. Not even the colonial government was impressed, with Ian Buist, a colonial office official remarking:

“Corfield is not a trained historian but an administrative officer.” He said the result of it all was “obvious bias towards the government sources in question.”

Yet Governor Patrick M Renison had wanted to release the report for a reason; to lay the basis for his public conclusion that Jomo Kenyatta was “the African leader to darkness and death".

Officials in London were however not so keen with such a description given that Kenyatta was nearing release and reality was dawning that they would have to deal with him somehow.

But Renison stuck with it, threatening to resign unless he was allowed to use the particular phrase. London capitulated, and Renison made his remarks.

"I regarded him as a rather silly man," Colonial Secretary Ian Macleod later wrote of Renison.