The Life and Times of General China: Mau Mau and the End of Empire in Kenya

Adobe Photoshop PDF“An important addition to the corpus on Mau Mau, this book will be a wonderful asset in the classroom, and will be welcomed by all those interested in Africa’s modern history.” — David M. Anderson, Professor of African History, University of Warwick
No episode in African history is more controversial than the Mau Mau Uprising, and within it, no figure more polarizing than Waruhiu Itote, or “General China.” China led Mau Mau guerrillas in a daring struggle against the British colonial government and its “loyalist” allies in Kenya during the 1950s, but he was spared the gallows because he turned government informant. China was a “collaborator” to his enemies but a “hero” to his supporters: they interpreted his change of heart as motivated by a desire to end the conflict and save lives and venerated China’s wholehearted service to the independent nation of Kenya after 1963.
The Life and Times of General China delves into the mind of this fascinating, complex, and ambiguous character. It brings together a rich collection of sources: an abridged version of China’s famous memoir “Mau Mau” General; the typescripts of China’s interrogation and trial at British hands; his 1993 eulogy by former district officer John Nottingham; and more. For the first time, readers can analyze the motivations of one of Africa’s most enthralling figures — a man who inspired the late Nelson Mandela to say that he was “influenced by the life and example of General China.”


Myles Osborne is Assistant Professor of African History at the University of Colorado Boulder. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2008. He is the author of Ethnicity and Empire in Kenya: Loyalty and Martial Race among the Kamba, c. 1800 to the Present (2014) and has published articles in a variety of journals, including the Journal of African History.