18 May 2010

Pep Talks

From Elspeth Huxley: A Biography by C.S. Nicholls (2002):
[David Waruhiu] was a padre at the huge Athi River Mau Mau detainee camp, run on Moral Rearmament lines. The MRA was influential in Kenya, Nell Cole and Tuppence Hill-Williams being among its original members, and had created the Torchbearers, an inter-racial society. At the Athi River camp, where Tuppence was in charge of five hundred women, Elspeth found the MRA workers very sincere and devoted, although she doubted whether they cuold really change black hearts. The inmates were rather fat, because they were fed on Geneva Convention rations four times as heavy as the normal Kikuyu diet. At intervals they were given pep talks and called to God.
From Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya by Caroline Elkins (2005):
Former detainees scarcely recall Athi River as a site of spiritual awakening, perhaps because they were cycled through an endless regime of physical and psychological coercion. [Alan] Knight [leader of the MRA in Kenya and camp commandant at Athi River] himself insisted, "Rigid discipine is the keynote of Athi, and hard work the basis of everything....A man whose body is disciplined and subject to control, will be more open to subjecting his mind to control." Detainees were forced to work, and if they refused, their rations were reduced. They might spend days with no food and then, half starved and dehydrated, they could be subjected to hours of preaching and lectures on Christian ethics and the virtues of Britain's civilizing mission. Camp officials also imported scores of Home Guards from the Kikuyu districts, who took to the camp broadcasting system, denouncing the Mau Mau and publicly dividing detainees into "murderers, thugs, leaders, and fellow travelers," according to Father Colleton. Screening teams, led by Mtoto wa [David] Waruhiu, himself an ardent MRA convert, worked the detainees over as well, interrogating them incessantly.
Elkins quotes a man who was held at Athi River for over a year:
Waruhiu would stand outside of a compound and shout, "People who killed my father, you come with me." The person singled out would then be taken for screening. When my turn came, they beat me with kicks, a hose, and anything else they could get their hands on. They jumped on me, while Waruhiu would demand to know what I knew, telling me to confess. The whole time making fun of me and laughing at my suffering. After that I urinated blood for several days. Because I refused to talk, I was again forced out to work, which I did so they would feed me.