British Empire Article

Courtesy of OSPA

by Bill Jackson (Survey Dept, Kenya 1950-63)
Recent publicity about the Emergency in Kenya (1952-60) has focused on allegations of torture and ill-treatment, harsh conditions in detention camps, repressive measures by the colonial government, and so on. Much of this is distortion, and the ordinary work of Government departments still carried on, though often with adjustments to meet the Emergency situation. As an example, here is a report which I submitted to the Director of Surveys, describing conditions in the Karatina area of Central Province when I was assigned to be a member of the Kenya Regiment Mapping Unit. My colleague and friend was the late Robert Caukwell, who sadly died in February 2015. He was a keen mountaineer who later made the first ascent of the west face of Mt. Kenya.

The Unit's task was to add information to the outline maps which had been compiled from RAF aerial photography. In short, to travel over every road and track, locate every village, obtain place names, and in the case of European farms record the owner's name. As well as the outline maps themselves, and the aerial photographs, we were also provided with a Sten gun and two grenades each.

Survey Work in the Kenya Emergency

Colonial Map
1955 Map of Nairobi and Central Kenya
Colony Profile
Originally Published
OSPA Journal 111: April 2016


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