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Rose Miyonga

History, University of Warwick

Thesis title:

Forgive and Forget? Mau Mau and the Making of Memory and History in Post-Colonial Kenya

My project looks at the dynamics of popular history- and memory- making of the Mau Mau War in post-independence Kenya. I am particularly interested in understanding what popular memories of Mau Mau looked like in the years of political ‘forgetting’ between 1964 and 2004. The project, therefore, will examine the ways that individuals and local communities sought to remember Mau Mau, and where these memories were stored. Connected to this, I am interested in questions of land justice and how this has been a key contingency in the way that histories of the Mau Mau War have been imagined by veterans, by communities, and by the Kenyan nation as a whole.

The study hopes to go beyond the existing historiography by taking Mau Mau veterans’ memories themselves as a subject of study, and by looking specifically at the ways that these memories were negotiated in the years before they became of interest to researchers and activists. As such, it will explore what history-making looked like ‘from below’ in post-independence Kenya. 

My research centres around oral histories with Mau Mau veterans and their descendants, as well as a critical exploration of the archival fragments of the War in both the UK and Kenya. My methodology is influenced by feminist theories on participatory research interviews, and seeks to view oral histories not as static collection of data, but as dynamic parts of the history-making process themselves. 

Research Area

  • History
  • Imperial/Colonial History

Other Research Interests

  • Memory studies 
  • Heritage studies 
  • Post-colonial studies 
  • Oral history
  • Participatory research methodologies 
  • Land justice/restorative justice 

Professional & Academic Background

I completed an MA in Race and Resistance at the University of Leeds in September 2021. My dissertation, titled â€˜We Are the Ones Who Remember’: Mau Mau, memory and history in post-colonial Kenya' used oral histories and material fromt the Kenyan National Archives to explore how female veterans have remembered the Mau Mau War. 
I also hold a BA in Spanish and Portuguese with Latin American Studies from University College London. 

Before taking up my MA studies, I worked as a teacher in Kenya. 

Prizes and Awards

Leeds History Masters Scholarship, 2019/20
UCL Dean's List, 2018