Andrew James John Mackenzie
an historiography
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Cave Girl Comics and the ‘Mau Mau Killers’

In similar reaction to the growing fears of Communism in the United States of America, a number of extreme publications were written, denouncing the spread of decolonisation and the wake of revolutionary uprisings against the British Empire. Following the ‘Red Terror’ comics of the 1940s/50s, particularly the publication of Is This Tomorrow: America Under Communism, a propagandistic comic strip concerned with Communism in the United States (See blog article, “Is This Tomorrow?”), a number of comics were produced in reaction to the Mau Mau rebellions in Kenya, against the British colonial government.

Between 1952 and 1960, the Mau Mau Uprising was a conflict that took place in Kenya, a British African colony, involving a Kikuyu-dominated group against colonialism. According to historian, David Anderson, British troops were deployed to put down the unrest and were often met with strong resistance:
"...the insurgents lack of heavy weaponry and the heavily entrenched police and Home Guard positions meant that Mau Mau attacks were restricted to nighttime and where loyalist positions were weak. When attacks did commence they were fast and brutal, as insurgents were easily able to identify loyalists because they were often local to those communities themselves. The Lari massacre was by comparison rather outstanding and in contrast to regular Mau Mau strikes which more often than not targeted only loyalists without such massive civilian casualties. Later regretted by the Mau Mau command due to its negative impact on the indigenous insurgency support “even the attack upon Lari, in the view of the rebel commanders was strategic and specific (Anderson, 2005: p. 252).”

Media reaction to the events in Kenya was mostly critical of the Mau Mau rebels, slamming them as bestial aggressors, as mere natives. Crass, racist and dismissive, British commentators purported the view that the Mau Mau insurgents were an irrational cult of evil, their goals expressed and directed through tribal emotion. In 1954, the comic book series, Cave Girl, published an issue concerning the Mau Mau uprising entitled “The Mau Mau Killers” in issue 13 (Jul-Sept.). True to form, buxom blonde bombshell, Cave Girl, fights off Mau Mau rebels and the “terror from knife and club [and] from the threat of being ‘chopped’ by insane killers.” With blonde, blue-eyed baby in hand, Cave Girl fights the rebels off successfully, protecting Kenyans and, in turn, British colonial interests from the terrorist onslaught.
The following images detail the eight page comic in full:

Gardner Fox and Bob Powell, “The Mau Mau Killers!” Cave Girl, 13 (Jul-Sept. 1954). Copyright © 1954 Gardner Fox and Bob Powell / Magazine Enterprises.
David Anderson, Histories of the Hanged (2005). Copyright © 2005 David Anderson / W. W. Norton & Company.
Brian Desmond Hurst (dir.), Simba, Mark of Mau Mau Poster (1955). Copyright © Brian Desmond Hurst / Empire / Universal Pictures. Copyright © (2012) Getty Images.
All copyrighted material used in this article or cited by this website is the property of their respective owners and in no way accepts any responsibility for an infringement on one of the above. Copies of the copyrighted material have been reproduced for entertainment and informative purposes only.
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