Revolutionary Papers

Revolutionary Papers is a transnational research collaboration exploring 20th century periodicals of Leftanti-imperial and anti-colonial critical production. Read More

Mwanguzi / Cheche / MWAKENYA Manifesto

The Kenya Land and Freedom Army (KLFA) or Mau Mau is it is more widely known as across the world was the cornerstone of the anti-colonial movement in Kenya and presented perhaps the most revolutionary fight against imperialism in the country. After Kenya’s independence from the British in 1963, there were hardly any substantial changes to the inherited colonial structure, specifically on land questions, and the Mau Mau movement itself as well as its leaders were ostracized.
The MWAKENYA – December Twelve was a Marxist-Leninist (Maoist) underground movement formed in 1974 to counter the reactionary Kenyan comprador bourgeoisie and its global imperialist alliance and importantly, to fulfil the revolutionary goals of the Mau Mau. In 1975 under the banner of the Workers Party of Kenya (WPK) the movement established an underground proletarian press in their own words “…to educate the masses and expose the regime’s puppetry to the global imperialists…”. The party secretly printed and distributed monthly newsletters, leaflets and pamphlets such as Mwanguzi, Cheche and the MWAKENYA Manifesto among others – which were distributed nationally to the Kenya’s working class, peasantry, university students and other militants. Internationally they were distributed by exiled militants, Left-leaning supporters and comrades and some were even reprinted by Zed Press, London.
The struggles over land, were central to the MWAKENYA-D12 movement and the intersections of these fights (squatters, labor struggles in foreign owned plantations, imposed industrial agriculture over subsistence farming, the peasantry and the impact of structural adjustment programs) were a core concern for them and they featured prominently in most of their publications.
This presentation is an attempt to critically engage the politics and articulation of Kenya’s land questions by the MWAKENYA – D12 underground movement – through its official publications produced in the period between 1974-2002. What does it mean to claim the legacy of a revolutionary anti-colonial peasant movement in a post*-colonial world? What does it mean to be a bridge, to offer continuities and discontinuities between the past and present? Importantly, what revolutionary futures were being willed into existence in the space (from political education, to printing and distribution) created by these radical texts? What meanings did these texts hold for the militants of the MWAKENYA-D12 underground movement and the oppressed Kenyan masses who came into contact with them?

Ruth Nyambura

Ruth Nyambura is a Kenyan feminist and organizer whose research interests are primarily on the agrarian political economy and ecology of Africa, as well as other parts of the Global South. Nyambura has written extensively on various aspects of the current agrarian transformations in Africa with her overall work focusing on the ideological underpinnings of […]