Mau Mau’s Children: The Making of Kenya’s Postcolonial Elite

In This Review

Mau Mau's Children: The Making of Kenya's Postcolonial Elite
by David P. Sandgren
University of Wisconsin Press, 2012
184 pp. $26.95

As a young college graduate, Sandgren taught in a rural Kenyan school for boys from 1963 to 1967 before returning to the United States for graduate school and a career in academia. Most of his pupils had been affected in some way by the Mau Mau rebellion against the British colonizers in the 1950s. Following Kenya’s independence in 1963, many became part of the country’s first relatively well-educated indigenous elite and rose to prominence in government and business. Sandgren returned to Kenya in 1995 and interviewed 75 of the 90 or so students he had taught three decades earlier. This book is the fascinating result. Interesting details abound, including the fact that many of his students started their careers in the public sector but later left for the much higher wages available in business. Although Kenya was mired in a recession in the mid-1990s and some of his former students were nervous about the country’s future, they had generally ensured solid educational opportunities for their children, many of whom took university educations for granted.