Passbook Number F.47927

An account of the sacrifices that women had to make to ensure children were fed, farms tilled and the fighters taken care of in the forest. That these sacrifices are glossed over in most of the accounts of the Mau Mau period is unfortunate

This book is a record of the freedom struggle in Kenya. Unlike many accounts of the freedom struggle by many writers, this one focuses more on the suffering and participation of women in the struggle. 

Imagine for a minute what would have become of the freedom struggle if the fighters in the forest were not facilitated in all sorts of ways; there were women who labored day and night to ensure that food and medicine was delivered to the fighters. Women were also very active in passing information to the fighters in the forest. In fact, some women decided to join their male counterparts in the forest. 

The role played by the women has been downplayed in the whole effort of documenting the struggle.

This book attempts to give the reader a glimpse of what it meant to live during the emergency. The despicable acts of the home guards and the brutality meted out on the African people by the white man are well laid out. The draconian policies of the colonial government affected women most. Considering there were no men in the homesteads, women became the breadwinners of their families and the forced communal labour meant that they could not fend for their children. They only had one hour after the communal work before the curfew came into force. As a result, women suffered a lot in figuring out how to take care of their farms and animals while at the same time adhering to the regulations that severely curtailed their movement.

The book enables the reader to meaningfully trace the origin of certain traits of certain groups of people. Take for instance, the hardworking spirit of the agikuyu woman. We realize that the hardship the kikuyu women went through during the emergency molded them to be the industrious women they are today. The difficult circumstances spawned a kind of love and care for one another; women used to help one another to get water, firewood and food for their children. This sense of unity brought out by their mistreatment is evident in the
present day.

There are certain trends in the city of Nairobi and other towns that came about as a result of colonial subjugation. We get to learn of the brutal interrogation tactics of the colonial authorities towards Africans. It is this same bullying tactics that our policemen subject innocent citizens to. This brazen arrogance and cruelty to the citizens by the police has its foundation in those draconian practices of the colonial officers with the help of home guards.

When you read Passbook F47927, you get to appreciate the deprivation of some of the Kikuyu families. Thousands of people were uprooted from their ancestral homes and dumped into unknown areas. This is the one injustice that led to the displacement of thousands of families. No wonder, the problem of IDPs has its foundation in these heinous acts of the colonial administration. You get to understand the genesis of the problem of street children commonly known as chokora.

Passbook number is an account of the sacrifices that the women had to make to ensure that their children were fed, their farms tilled and the fighters taken care of in the forest. That these sacrifices are glossed over in most of the accounts of the Mau Mau period is unfortunate. Indeed it would not be far fetched to opine that had it not been for the effort of women, the freedom struggle would have come a cropper.

It is not difficult to see how the cancer of tribalism afflicted Kenya as a country. The deliberate balkanization of the GEMA community by the colonial authorities explains the tribal divisions that occasion ethnic violence in the city of Nairobi during elections; that there was an area earmarked for people from Kikiuyu, Meru and Embu informs why there are certain places in Nairobi where there is hostility against certain tribes

This book is a reminder that history dictates the trajectory of a nation.Perhaps, at this time when Kenyans are debating over the constitutional framework, it may be a better time to ponder over how to deal with these past atrocities. From the stories in the book, one can see that there are still a lot of unresolved issues as a result of the colonial misrule that disenfranchised thousands of people from the Mount Kenya region. Hence, the most sensible way to deal with such weighty issues is by implementing the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission report pronto.

Passbook number F47927 will go down in history as the most authoritative account of the contribution of women to the freedom struggle and more importantly, the hurdles that women had to overcome so as to achieve the dream of liberation for our country. In fact, the present challenges, compared to what women had to go through during the freedom struggle, are quite surmountable given that we live in a united country beset by problems that can easily be ironed out as long as we are focused on building a more united nation.

This book highlights the bravery that was exhibited by women during the freedom struggle. The story of Nyanjiru and her defiance towards the colonial administrators is an inspiration to many women today to fight for their rights irrespective of the hurdles that they may be facing along the way.

Actually, even the emergence of the African elite has a lot to do with women. The author narrates how women would organize themselves to fundraise for their sons who were going abroad for further studies. Those baby steps are what led to the emergence of the educated African elites who took over most of the responsibilities of leadership soon after independence. However, very little has been said about the role of women in pioneering of education in Kenya. The author sets the record straight by narrating how women did whatever was possible to raise funds for their sons’ education abroad.

This book is very important for all Kenyans who want to know more about the history of the colonial Kenya and how it impacts the lives of Kenyans, particularly those from the Mount Kenya region. Most people, even from this region are clueless about the origins of their present circumstances.  

Sign Up