Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 29

The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History

ISSN: 0308-6534 (Print) 1743-9329 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/fich20

Sexual Threat and Settler Society: Black Perils in


Kenya, c. 190730

David M. Anderson

To cite this article: David M. Anderson (2010) Sexual Threat and Settler Society: Black Perils
in Kenya, c. 190730, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 38:1, 47-74, DOI:
10.1080/03086530903538194

To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/03086530903538194

Published online: 16 Feb 2010.

Submit your article to this journal

Article views: 795

View related articles

Citing articles: 11 View citing articles

Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at


http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=fich20

Download by: [Universit de Genve] Date: 23 November 2017, At: 05:19


The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Vol. 38, No. 1, March 2010, pp. 47 74

Sexual Threat and Settler Society:


Black Perils in Kenya, c. 190730
David M. Anderson
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

This essay deals with black peril scares in colonial Kenya, reviewing the evidence of
reported cases of sexual assaults to provide a detailed account of their social and cultural
resonance for settler society. Reported cases of assault were few in number and the outbreaks
of peril more sporadic in Kenya than in other settler societies in Africa, yet the exceptional
nature of individual reported incidents of sexual assault was highly significant in shaping
public perceptions of the real (or imagined) threat to white purity. Sexual assault of the
innocent and helplesschildren and the elderlysparked the most vociferous of Kenyas
black peril debates, culminating in 1926 in the introduction of legislation making the
rape or attempted rape of a white woman by a black man a capital offence in Kenya.
Fears and anxieties about the threat of African sexuality were incubated in the hothouse
of Kenyas small and insular settler community, but were also informed by a wider discourse
on social morality and miscegenation that looked to other parts of the British Empire,
especially Rhodesia and South Africa, and to Britain itself. Kenyas three black peril epi-
sodes1907, 192022, and 192426are examined in turn. The concluding discussion
then returns to broader questions of the explanation for and timing of the black peril
scares, setting the Kenyan experience in comparison with the other African cases.

The social morality of late-nineteenth century Britain is now a well-studied subject,


perhaps especially with regard to attitudes toward sexuality.1 Anxieties about private
sexual behaviour took on powerful public dimensions in Victorian and then Edwar-
dian society. Sexual restraint, purity and cleanness came to exemplify strength of
character in the individual, and these same qualities were seen as preserving the
vigour of the British race. Failure to avoid temptations of the flesh, which in an
earlier age would have invoked notions of individual sin and penitence, from the
1880s were more likely to exact punishment and disapprobation. Above all, the night-
marish spectre of sexually transmitted disease, especially syphilis, turned the afflicted
from victims deserving of sympathy into delinquents and deviants, whose personal
Correspondence to: David M. Anderson, St Cross College, 61 St. Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LZ, UK. Email: david.
anderson@africa.ox.ac.uk

ISSN 0308-6534 print/1743-9329 online/10/01004728


DOI: 10.1080/03086530903538194 # 2010 Taylor & Francis
48 D. M. Anderson
degeneration was symbolic of the threat to healthy British manhood. By the end of the
nineteenth century, the need to retain high moral standards to hold firm against the
threat of disease and degeneracy was widely accepted and attested in Britain.2
The high point of the purity campaign in Britain coincided with the period of the
most rapid imperial expansion, with arguments of racial superiority, of national vital-
ity and of social propriety taking on a particular immediacy when confronted by the
challenges of empire.3 Problems of disease and degeneracy could be seen to be at once
threatening to the maintenance of empire and fuelled by empire. The contraction of
syphilis by British troops serving in India was the most commonly cited example of
imperial pollution from the late nineteenth century,4 but, especially after 1900,
there was also a more pervasive anxiety over miscegenation.5 It was precisely in
those areas of empire where the settlement of Europeans among native populations
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

coincided with the emergence of a more puritan morality in Britain, principally in


eastern and southern Africa, that debates over sexual morality reached their loudest
pitch. Here the fear of sexual assaults upon white women was a recurrent theme in
moral discourse among Europeans. When confronted by these fears, settler rhetoric
invoked familiar defensive arguments of race and class: whites were urged to guard
against the polluting influence of black sexualityAfrican men were widely presented
as a diseased and degenerate menace, African women as wanton, lustful symbols of
uncontrolled sexual behaviour.6 The notions of disease and degeneracy so manifest
in settler speeches and writings on the subject of the black peril, as these fears of
assault came to be known, at once echoed and informed the concerns of contemporary
British society.
Yet among white societies in southern Africa, black peril scares have been widely
interpreted as a function of the political economy of settler colonialism. Following
van Onselen, who studied sexual moral panics on South Africas Witwatersrand,7 his-
torians have generally linked black peril either to the economic vulnerability of poor
whites in times of recession and hardship or to the manipulations of social forces
among settler communities to achieve group solidarity for overtly political ends.8
An alternative perspective has been offered by Jock McCulloch, whose analysis of
black peril in Southern Rhodesia emphasises the place of miscegenation, prostitution,
sexually transmitted diseases and the politics of concubinage in constructing a moral
settler world of virtue and cultural purity. Rhodesias settlers were driven by fear
to seek retribution against Africans who infringed these moral codes of purity,
McCulloch argues, using what leverage they could to consolidate their notion of
white virtue through legislation.9
This essay, focusing upon the case of black peril scares in colonial Kenya, follows
McCulloch in reviewing the evidence of reported cases of sexual assaults to provide
a detailed account of their social and cultural resonance for settler society. Though
it will be shown that Kenyas black peril scares were less substantive than those
in Rhodesia, in that the reported cases were fewer in number and the outbreaks
of peril more sporadic, the exceptional nature of individual reported incidents
of sexual assault was highly significant in shaping public perceptions of the real
(or imagined) threat to white purity. Unlike Rhodesia, in Kenya sexual assaults of
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 49
mature white women were rarely a feature of the black perils, the East African cases
thus provoking less discussion of white morality and sexual behaviour. Instead, it was
the sexual assault of the innocent and helplesschildren and the elderlythat sparked
the most vociferous of Kenyas black peril debates, building over time a strong social
consensus for the need to protect the vulnerable, culminating in 1926 in the introduc-
tion of legislation making the rape or attempted rape of a white woman by a black man
a capital offence in Kenya. It was not, then, the incidence of threat that mattered in
bringing about a political response to black peril in Kenya, but the perceived charac-
ter of that threat. Fears and anxieties about the threat of African sexuality were incu-
bated in the hothouse of Kenyas small and insular settler communitynumbering
only 12,529 by 1926, with one in three living in the municipality of Nairobi10but
were also informed, as we shall see, by a wider discourse on social morality and misce-
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

genation that looked to other parts of the British Empire, especially Rhodesia and South
Africa, and to Britain itself. In their desire to maintain high moral standards, Kenyas
Edwardian settlers were little different from their kinsfolk back home, while their
relative isolation, along with the smallness and social intimacy of their community,
worked to intensify and amplify the drama generated by perceived sexual threats.11
To make the argument, this essay will examine Kenyas three black peril episodes
1907, 192022, and 192426in turn. Though politics are not absent from these
narratives, emphasis will be placed upon the character of the cases at the centre of
each episode so as to better understand the social forces, fears and anxieties that
were triggered. The concluding discussion will then return to broader questions of
the explanation for and timing of the black peril scares, setting the Kenyan experience
in comparison with the other African cases.

I
The incident that sparked the black peril scare of 1907 involved the family of a pro-
minent European settler, Ewart Grogan.12 On the morning of 13 March 1907, Grogans
sister and a friend took the family rickshaw to the Nairobi hospital to visit Grogans
wife. According to the women, the three Kikuyu employed by Grogan as rickshaw-
boys were intoxicated, and on the journey they began deliberately to bounce the
vehicle and run it too quickly, throwing the passengers from side to side. When the
women complained a quarrel broke out, ending with the African men allegedly
pulling the women roughly out of the rickshaw and leaving them to walk home.
On returning to the family home in Chiromo that afternoon, the women told their
story to Ewart Grogan. He immediately set out to look for the rickshaw drivers,
armed with his whip, but failed to find them before darkness fell. When the three
reported for work the next morning, Grogan had them tied up and locked away
while he breakfasted. At this point, Grogan informed a European neighbour of his
intention to flog the offenders publicly, and sometime around 9.30 a.m. he set off
for the centre of Nairobi with his three prisoners.
When Grogan reached the front lawn of the Nairobi Magistrates Court at 10 a.m.,
a crowd of fifty or more settlers had gathered. The tale of the rickshaw incident
50 D. M. Anderson
had grown in the telling, and many assembled outside the courthouse appeared to
believe that a sexual assault had actually taken place. Grogan shouted to the
crowd that nothing indecent had happened, and then instructed a settler who
spoke some Kikuyu to explain to the rickshaw-boys why they were about to be
flogged. In Grogans own words, this was a warning to their people that white
men could not stand any impertinence to their women folk in any part of
the world. Disturbed by the commotion, the town magistrate, Mr E. R. Logan,
emerged from the courthouse and attempted to intervene, but was shouted down
by Grogan and others; Logan meekly returned to the sanctuary of his office.
Captain Smith of the Nairobi police also sought to halt the proceedings, forcing
his way through the crowd to lay his hand on Grogans arm. But at this point
others pushed him away. The mood of the crowd was angry, and Smith, deciding
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

that discretion was the better part of valour, beat a hasty retreat to seek reinforce-
ments. The three Africans, by now lying prostrate and bare-backed on the ground,
were then flogged in turn by Ewart Grogan and two other settlers, Bowker and
Gray. Each victim received twenty-five lashes with a kiboko, a whip made of hippo-
potamus hide.
In the months following these events the black peril scare gained momentum in the
columns of the Kenya press, with much discussion of the need to control African
insolence and to protect the rights of the European minority. As in all cases of
black peril in colonial Africa, rumour and the ambiguity of language added to the
perception of sexual threat. Editors of settler newspapers resorted to a highly general-
ised vocabulary. Attack, assault, peril, and outrage were all terms deployed in
relation to offences committed against European women, without specific distinction
between a simple act of insubordination, a robbery or attempted robbery (with or
without actual violence), common physical assault, indecent suggestion, indecent
exposure, attempted rape, or actual rape.13 Despite the furore in the press about the
protection of women, sexual assault actually played no role in the outbreak of
Kenyas 1907 black peril scare. The rickshaw incident itself had not involved any
assault; there was no reported assault upon any European woman in the East
African Protectorate in the period leading up to the flogging.14
The explanation for this black peril scare lies not so much in European sexual
anxieties per se as it does in their wider concerns about social order and racial
domination. There can be little doubt that Ewart Grogans actions were politically-
motivated. Famed for his journey on foot from Cape to Cairo at the turn of the
century,15 Grogan was respected by other settlers as a forthright spokesman for
their small community. He enjoyed a public role in Nairobi as a nominated
member of Municipal Committee, and as a visiting justice at the towns gaol. He
held properties of considerable extent and value in Nairobi, and was one of the
largest landowners in East Africa. His lands included part of the harbour frontage
at Kilindini, and a substantial forest concession in the western Highlands.16 Grogan
was a trenchant critic of colonial government, which he considered to be insensitive
to the needs of European settlers. In January 1907, Grogan was elected as president
of the Colonists Association,17 the self-proclaimed representatives of settler
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 51
opinion. From this political platform he was expected to spearhead settler criticisms of
government. It was a role Grogan appears to have relished.
The issues confronting the settlers at this time reflected the embryonic character of
the young colony. From 1905 the numbers of Europeans in East Africa had increased
sharplymany of the newcomers arriving from South Africaand by 1907 the Euro-
pean population was approaching 2000.18 As numbers increased, and critically, more
white women began to arrive, the demands for greater government protection of the
settler community grew louder. By the end of 1906, settler criticism of government had
come to focus upon three specific demands, each concerned with law and order.19 The
first was a demand that administration of justice in the colony should be radically
overhauled by abolishing the Indian Penal Codes and by removing the Court of
Appeal from Zanzibar. The settlers argued that Indian jurisdiction was inappropriate
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

to a white mans country such as East Africa.20 The second demand was more prosaic,
but also asserted the determination of settlers to preserve their racial superiority: it was
that the police should be augmented by further European recruits and that African
policemen (native askaris) should not be permitted to arrest Europeans. Failures in
policing were said to be responsible for the apparent deterioration of law and order
(especially in Nairobi) and the weakness of European law enforcement to be at the
root of the increasing insubordination of Africans.21 Although the numbers of Afri-
cans prosecuted by Nairobis court increased over 1906 and 1907, this reflected the
growth of the town and the consolidation of the colonial legal apparatus: there was
no urban crime wave.22 A close reading of the often vociferous settler press confirms
that it was an insubordinate attitude on the part of Africans, insolence and truculence
as Grogan himself put it,23 rather than actual acts of criminality, that lay behind Euro-
pean complaints; Africans simply were not subservient enough.
The third settler demand was for constitutional change, to create a legislative
council on which nominated settlers would have a role. This innovation had been
approved by the commissioner, Sir James Hayes Sadler (Old Flannelfoot, as the set-
tlers called him), in 1906, but the Colonial Office, reluctant to grant such powers to
so small a European community, had delayed implementation. All three of these
issues were debated at length at the meeting of the Colonists Association of 23
January 1907, at which Ewart Grogan was elected as president.24
Seen in the light of settler agitation over law and order, the flogging of the rickshaw
drivers therefore served to highlight settler complaints in both symbol and substance.
The perceived threat to European women was a potent symbol of the vulnerability of
the whole enterprise of settlement. Women were threatened because law and order was
lacking, and this had come about because government paid inadequate attention to
the needs of a settler society; moreover, the spectre of black peril was likely to gen-
erate an emotional reaction back in Britain, where the settlers hoped to win support
for their political cause. Other symbolism in the event was more transparent, and
self-consciously so. The act was committed by the political leader of the settlers on
Africans in his employ. If Grogan was asserting the property of European men in
European women against the threat posed by African males, he was also asserting
his property in African labour against the interference of government and its
52 D. M. Anderson
inadequate laws. In selecting the lawn of the magistrates court as the scene of the flog-
ging, he could hardly have issued a more direct challenge to the authority of colonial
justice. The whole incident was calculated for its political impact, both locally and
upon the Colonial Office in London.
Kenyas 1907 black peril might be dismissed as a piece of settler political theatre
were it not for the consequences of an actual case of sexual assault committed by an
African against a white female some three months after the flogging of the rickshaw
drivers. On 8 June 1907, the East African Standard carried a report of a sexual
assault upon a European girl of 6 years of age. The Kikuyu male found guilty
of attempted rapea bestial native, probably reeking of disease, asserted the
Standardwas sentenced to five years imprisonment, with twenty-four lashes, this
being the maximum sentence permitted under the law. Sparing its readers from
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

details of the case too revolting to publish, the Standard decried the leniency of
this punishment as yet further evidence of the inadequacy of justice in East Africa
and the Indian Penal Codes in particular.25 When the Colonists Association next
met, early in July, they passed a typically strident motion again demanding the abol-
ition of the Indian Penal Code and urging the imposition of the death penalty on all
Africans for acts of attempted rape or rape against European women.26 This marked
the beginning of a prolonged campaign that would span the next two decades.
Settler women were themselves provoked to public action. One week after the June
1907 court case was reported, a deputation of women descended upon Government
House to discuss their anxieties over black peril with Governor Sadler. In October,
the same deputation of white women founded the East African League of Mercy, dedi-
cated to protecting European women, and especially girls, from sexual perils of all
kinds.27 The mission of the League of Mercy was later absorbed within the East
African Womens League, and it was this organisation, led by the wives of prominent
white men among both settlers and colonial officials and including a majority of the
white women in the colony among its membership by the 1920s, that became the
mouthpiece for the white womans view in Kenya. With regular meetings in
Nairobi, and in the other main towns of the White Highlands, the Womens League
was by then a pro-active and engaged ginger group that took a particular interest in
the black peril menace.28

II
The sequence of events which raised public outcry over Kenyas next black peril
occurred between March and May 1920. Over a period of eight weeks, four cases in
which European children were allegedly the victims of sexual assault came before
the Nairobi courts. The first concerned the assault of a 5-year-old girl who had
been left in the care of an African houseboy for the evening while the mother went
to the pictures. The boy, a Kikuyu aged 15, was found guilty of attempted rape and
sentenced to five years imprisonment with twenty-four lashes. In the second case, a
European girl aged 6 had been left in the charge of an African houseboy who,
abetted by a friend, sexually assaulted the child. The Africans (both aged 15) were
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 53
found guilty of rape and each sentenced to four years imprisonment with twenty-four
lashes. European sensibilities were inflamed in this case by both the reason for the
mothers absenceshe regularly left the child at home in the care of the houseboy
while she went to workand by the fact that the unfortunate girl contracted gonor-
rhoea as a result of the assault. When the third case was reported, on 4 May, it was
apparent that European anxieties in Nairobi were running high. In this case a rickshaw
driver was accused of molesting a 3-year-old girl while lifting her onto the rickshaw
seat. The court acquitted the accused, a Kikuyu adult, despite the protests of the
childs mother. This case provoked settler criticism because it was apparent that the
evidence of the accused (an African) had been given precedence in the judgement
over that of a white witness (the mother). Furthermore, the judge fanned the fires
of public debate by declaring that he found the matter difficult to deal with under
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

the modesty laws because, in his view, a child of 3 years had no modesty to offend.
The implication that young European girls were thus not protected in law sparked
loud settler protests. The final case, reported one week later, again concerned European
children left in the charge of an African domestic servant, in this case a Kikuyu male
adult. Here the mother returned home to find her 5-year-old son and 4-year-old
daughter naked. The children explained that the accused had instructed them to
undress and to get into bed together. The servant was convicted of the abetment of
an act of indecency between the children, and sentenced to twenty-four lashes, a pun-
ishment that was derided for its leniency in the settler press.29
The concern of the European public about these unsettling revelations was quickly
made apparent in the pages of the local press and in the debates of Kenyas Legislative
Council. On 22 May, after the last of the 1920 child assault cases had come to court, the
East African Standards editorial summed up the climate of settler opinion:
Within recent weeks, several cases of ordinary assault on European women by
natives have been reportedapart from instances which we happen to know have
not been made publicand now a regular epidemic of disgusting crimes on
young children by natives is being revealed. . . . We know the temper of many settlers
on this matter, and we have no hesitation in saying that unless the Government acts,
and acts quickly, settlers and others might be encouraged to take the law into their
own hands, the results of which must be avoided at all costs. . . . There are women,
many with children, scattered about on farms all over the country, and whatever
happens they must be protected. . . . It is all very well to argue that children
should never be in the charge of natives, and that women should never remain
alone in houses with servants, but many people are so placedespecially those in
the country where ayahs are more or less unprocurablethat it is impossible to
do otherwise. . . . The penalty for such dastardly acts as those under review must
fit the crime, and the sooner the law of this country is brought into line with that
in South Africa, which punishes rape with death, the better for all concerned.30

Here were all the main elements of settler opinion: cases were on the increase and
many more actually occurred than were reported; women and children on farms
were most vulnerable, and they were in no position to heed the advice of worthies
who insisted they avoid employing male domestic servants; in the circumstances,
settler men might be expected to take whatever measures were necessary for the
54 D. M. Anderson
protection of their families, and lynch-law or vigilante actions could not be ruled out;
if the law inflicted the death penalty on those convicted of sexual assault many fewer
cases would occur.
Two days later, the Daily Leader, invariably a more strident mouthpiece of settler
views, issued a typically combative editorial: What man among us is so hardened
that he would not be prepared to strike a blow for the children? . . . Rape is an ugly
word . . . . It is symbolic of such a hideous crime that clean-minded men and
women avoid it as they would spurn the plague.31 It was time for Europeans to set
aside their sensitivities and make a public outcry against the rising incidence of
sexual crimes, continued the Leader. The language used to discuss sexual assaults
now became more explicit. Provoked by the horrors of child assaults, the European
community appears to have been jolted into confronting sexual matters more directly.
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

The Daily Leader, while apologising to its readers for the detailed discussion of sexual
assaults, argued that a full public debate was now essential, if this hideous crime was
to be nipped in the bud. Readers were encouraged to communicate their views to the
paper, and a stream of letters was published. Mothers were urged to put their duty to
the community above their fear of scandal and stigma, and to bring to the courts all
such cases. For its part, the government was urged to impose the death penalty upon
convicted offenders. One week later, the Daily Leader was championing the suggestion
that castration and branding was surely a more fitting punishment, holding greater
terror for the native mind than did death.32 European debate was fuelled as much
by the demand for retribution as by the perceived need for a deterrent.
Such attitudes were not unique to British East Africa. Kenyas white settlers com-
monly drew upon the experience of European communities in southern Africa to
set their own moral and political standards. Earlier black peril scares from Southern
Rhodesia, Natal and the Transvaal had been well-publicised in East Africa, and were
often mentioned in settler correspondence to the press during Kenyas 1920 scare.33
Cases of child assault had come to court in Southern Rhodesia during 1919,34 and
others were known from Natal prior to 1914. In all these examples, Kenyas settlers
liked to emphasise the importance for frontier societies to maintain social order
over other races, even where this might involve taking the law into their own hands.
The right to revenge was a strongly emotive element lingering around all discussions
of black peril, especially where children were the victims. The correspondence in the
settler press in Kenya during 1920 contained numerous thinly veiled hints at the moral
right of a European parent to exact revenge upon any offender.35
A particularly notorious southern African case from 1906, concerning the Dempster
family of Richmond, Natal, and their house servant, Mtonga ka Notshafula, was com-
monly mentioned in the Kenyan debates. Mrs Dempster had accused Mtonga of sexu-
ally assaulting her 4-year-old daughter.36 On finding a strange smelling stain on the
childs bedclothes, the Dempsters detained Mtonga and, with the help of several Euro-
pean neighbours, Mr Dempster exacted his own summary justice: Mtonga was
castrated with a sharp knife and a hot poker applied to the wound. Although the
medical evidence presented at Mtongas trial held that no assault had been committed
and the child had done nothing more than wet the bed, Mtonga was convicted by the
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 55
white jury of indecent assault. The verdict was overturned by the governor, and
Mtonga received a free pardon after serving only one month in goal. Incredibly
(though perhaps predictably), when Dempster and his accomplices were later tried
on charges of inflicting grievous bodily harm upon Mtonga, they were acquitted by
the white jury. This Natal case held many messages for Kenyas white settlers, and
the Nairobi police expressed serious concerns lest the example be followed.37
The report of transmission of disease to innocent child victims of assault was
another key element in Kenyas 1920 peril scare. This raised trickier issues than did
the simple demand for revenge. The European mother who wrote to the Daily
Leader asserting that the child victims of assault would be a danger to other little
ones. . . whom they may contaminate with their knowledge and accursed passions
could hardly have encouraged others to reveal the details of particular cases. But
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

her intervention was evidently public-spirited, all the same, invoking the spirit of
the 1907 black peril scare: Oh men of Nairobi, she concluded, for Gods sake act
(even if need be as Grogan acted) in defence of our helpless little children.38 Other
settler women attached blame to the mothers who left their children to the care of
natives,39 and even the president of the East African Womens League upbraided new-
comers to the colony for their ignorance in believing that the natives are merely
some kind irresponsible animal with neither guilt nor guile, whereas to the contrary
they are full of cunning, and possessed of the most unhealthy passions.40
In 1920, most Europeans in East Africa believed venereal diseases to be epidemic
among the African population. The incidence of gonorrhoea was reportedly increasing
rapidly in Kenya, while syphilis was thought to be especially prevalent in neighbouring
Uganda (although this was, in part, a misapprehension owing to the inability of
medical practitioners to differentiate between syphilis and yaws, a disease which
offered similar symptomatic presentation but not sexually transmitted).41 The preva-
lence of venereal disease in East Africa was generally attributed by Europeans to the
uncontrolled sexual behaviour of Africans. The African male was thought to be
both predatory and lustful, and was therefore both diseased and degenerate.42 His
ignorance was also perceived to pose a direct threat to Europeans, for it was widely
held in European society that Africans believed venereal infections could be cured
only by being passed on through intercourse with another person. The East
African Womens League propagated this view in its own literature to settler
women: the natives have a belief that when they are inflicted by venereal disease,
the surest means of cure is intercourse with a pure maiden child, so that when they
are infected they have an additional temptation to rape innocent children, and at
the same time indulge their passion and cure the disease.43
The origins of this settler myth are difficult to establish. The echoes of similar ideas
prevalent in Europe at other times in connection with the spread of syphilis suggest
that the association of this notion to African belief may represent a form of inver-
sion.44 Certainly, what limited information we have on African attitudes to venereal
disease provides little evidence to support the contention that any such belief was
widely held. Questioned by a high court judge about native superstition regarding
venereal diseases, the police surgeon, Dr Henderson, commented that he had no
56 D. M. Anderson
knowledge of any superstition that such acts were the cure for disease when perpe-
trated upon young children, although he` had heard of such beliefs at home and else-
where.45 Kenyas chief native commissioner reported that assaults upon children
within African communities were unheard of , and, while a survey of such cases
from Uganda in 1923 revealed examples in several districts, they were generally
viewed with abhorrence as an unnatural and serious offence.46 Cases from
Uganda clustered in the vicinity of Kampala, where Baganda leaders complained of
a slackening of morality in the colonial urban environment.47 In neither colony did
officials find that Africans generally believed sexual relations with innocents to be
a cure for venereal disease.48
In interpreting the findings of colonial surveys it is important to remember that
Europeans and Africans seldom held social categories in common. There existed con-
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

siderable scope for misunderstanding. In most African communities in the vicinity of


Kenyas White Highlands, social organisation was based upon age grades, with the
sharpest distinctions in sexual behaviour expected between pre-initiated children,
post-initiated youths and married adults.49 In the employment of domestic servants,
European settlers did not observe these organisational norms, mixing age grades by
placing young European girls (under 12 years of age) in the care of recently initiated
African boys (aged 12 to 18). In terms of legal interpretations of what offence might
have been committed, there were further complexities. As women were formally ident-
ified as items of property, belonging to their fathers until paid for in a transfer of
resources at betrothal or marriage, African elders could make no easy distinction
between the European ideas of rape and adultery.50 We therefore cannot be sure
that Africans questioned always understood the definition of an offence in European
terms. It was not, as many Europeans thought, that Africans had no rules governing
sexual morality, but that their rules were different.51 In place of evidence, white settlers
relied on rumour and supposition.
The investigation of the 1920 black peril scare would reveal the full extent of the
confusion in the minds of Kenyas white settlers on African sexuality. On the 11
June 1920, the Legislative Council suspended its normal business to discuss an emer-
gency question on the subject of sexual assault, tabled by W. J. Moynagh, an elected
member for Nairobi. The debate resulted in the appointment of a special committee
of the Legislative Council to enquire into the matter of sexual assaults of natives
upon Europeans. The committee members were selected with an eye to the mollifying
of settler anxiety. Judge Blackall took the chair. His appointment was warmly wel-
comed by settler opinion, as in May he had made public statements to the effect
that the death penalty should be introduced in cases of rape or attempted rape.52
He was joined by three officials and three elected members of the Legislative
Council. The officials were selected by portfolio; principal medical officer (Milne),
commissioner of police (Notley), and the chief native commissioner (Ainsworth),
whose task was to survey and report upon African opinion. The three settlers
appointed were Sir Northrup MacMillan, W. J. Moynagh, and T. A. Wood, all reput-
edly men of quiet discretion. The committee approached its difficult task with admir-
able thoroughness and sensitivity. Blackall was particularly concerned to address the
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 57
widely held settler view that many cases of sexual assault against European women and
girls went unreported. Strenuous efforts were therefore made to uncover hidden
cases. All medical practitioners in the colony were invited to submit anonymous
details of any past case brought to their attention. Notley undertook to compile a
report of all cases brought to the notice of the police since 1914, whether or not pro-
secuted. Papers for each case were called up and scrutinised by the committee in what
amounted to a judicial review. Blackall addressed an open letter to the press, inviting
submissions from the public and promising strict confidentiality. The committee also
accepted an offer from the East African Womens League to collect evidence about
cases which had not been brought to the notice of the police.53
The business of the committee was completed in a matter of weeks, and a report
tabled on 22 July 1920. The findings were quite unexpected, for the scale of the
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

problem appeared to be much less significant than had been supposed. Despite the
apparent furore surrounding the issue of sexual assaults in the press, not a single
member of the European public came forward to offer private information to the
committee. The earnest efforts of the East Africa Womens League did turn up
three previously unreported cases where European parents had accused Africans of
sexual assaults against their children, but in two of these cases the mothers had
since returned to England with the children and in the third the family refused to
offer any assistance to the committee, so the facts could not be established. The com-
mittee could not be sure whether other cases still remained unreported, but the lack of
evidence implied that suggestions of a greater number of cases resulted from rumour
and exaggeration.
For the ten year period from April 1910 to May 1920, the police records revealed only
sixteen cases where proceedings were initiated for sexual assaults. This compared with
figures from Southern Rhodesia of fifty-three assaults and two rapes from Bulawayo
alone between 1899 and 1906, and sixty-three cases reported from Salisbury between
1907 and 1914.54 If this low incidence was reassuring to Kenyas settlers, the character
of many of the reported cases was profoundly disturbing. In only three cases were adult
women the victims, and in none of these incidents had a sexual assault actually taken
placehousebreaking and robbery were the offences committed by the accused, but
they were also charged with intent to assault because in each case the accused had
entered the bedroom of the European woman. The remaining thirteen cases all involved
white children. In two cases the Africans accused were found innocent, and in two
further cases the accused were discharged because of the failure of witnesses to
appear for the trial. Of the nine cases where convictions were obtained, one was a
case of indecent exposure to a European girl of 15, and in another a European girl
(again aged 15) was found to have consented to intercourse with an African male of
her own age (the accused was ultimately convicted of a charge other than rape).
There were thus seven cases of sexual assault against younger European children,
ranging in ages from 2 to 7. In three of these cases the accused were convicted of inde-
cency, in three further cases they were found guilty of attempted rape and in only one
case was a rape judged to have taken place. Of the Africans convicted, only two were
adults; the others were boys aged between 10 and 15.
58 D. M. Anderson
The report gave pause for thought on several counts. First, not a single adult
European woman had been the victim of a sexual assault by an African over the pre-
vious ten years. Second, not a single African adult had been found guilty of the rape or
attempted rape of a European woman or child over that same period. Third, despite
popular settler mythology surrounding the vulnerability of the lonely woman on
the remote farm, cases of sexual assault were overwhelmingly concentrated in
Nairobi and its environs.55 Lastly, and most disturbingly, the reality of sexual threat
confronting the settler community appeared to derive directly from the practice of
leaving young African male domestic servants in charge of smaller European female
children.56 Criticism of settler parents was made explicit in the conclusion to the
report of the Special Committee, which warned Europeans of the grave danger of
entrusting little girls to the care of native boys at an age at which sexual instincts
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

are beginning to develop.57 The public moral panic thus appeared to have a simple
domestic remedy.58
With these revelations, the debate turned inward. Settlers looked for explanations
along the fissures of class and economy within their own society. A widely held view
was that the problem lay with the influx of Europeans of low social standing,
whose treatment of the African alternated between gross familiarity and coarse sever-
ity.59 The lack of female servants was offered as an excuse, but it is no excuse for the
haphazard methods in vogue for selecting personal servants in this country, wrote a
senior police officer in 1920. Another fruitful source of trouble, he continued, is
the parrot like cry for cheap labour, which resulted in the engagement of indifferent
servants at low wages, instead of really good types of boys, who naturally enough
command and deserve high rates of pay.60 In their choice of servants, in the closer
supervision of their children, and in the maintenance of standards of behaviour
that stood as a mark of class as well as race, settler women were urged to exert
greater care and vigilance.61 The emotional poignancy of the revelations about child
assaults had initially drawn Kenyas white women into the public debate, but those
mothers stung into action by the moral issues now retreated from the fray
perhaps fearing that it was their own parenting and domestic management that had
come under scrutiny, but perhaps also lacking the language and the courage with
which to discuss the intimate details of child abuse and its causes and consequences.
Shrinking back from the horrors revealed by the Special Committee report, public
discourse on black peril in Kenya now retreated into a more comfortably generalised
discussion of law and order. During 1921 and 1922, a rise in the number of incidents of
assault, robbery and burglary in Nairobi again gave opportunities for discussion of the
weakness of policing, the inadequacy of the legal system, and the apparent still growing
insubordination of the native races. This crime wave reached its height in the latter
part of 1922, with a spate of bag-snatches and jewellery thefts from white women. The
frankness encouraged in discussing black peril in 1920 was now forgotten as Kenyas
newspaper editors returned to veiled and ambiguous language, laced with strongly
implicit allusions to sexual threat. Commenting upon the prevalence of bag-snatching
committed upon unprotected European women, the editor of the Daily Leader
expressed the view that if such assaults may be carried out with importunity, it is
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 59
obvious that there remains a grave possibility of the objective assuming a character of a
graver and more revolting nature.62 In a petition to the governor, organised among
Nairobis white women by a Mrs Hill to press for a curfew in the town, an explicit con-
nection between actual robbery and potential sexual assault was drawn, the petitioners
warning that, unless action were taken to prevent such attacks, a woman might even-
tually be called upon to defend her honour with nothing more but her own strength
to call upon.63 Others were already prepared for any eventuality, according to The
Farmers Journal, which reported that some white women had taken to carrying
revolvers for their own protection while in Nairobi.64

III
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

There were in fact no cases of sexual assault reported during Nairobis crime wave of
1922, and relatively few reported cases of sexual assault against European females in
the colony as a whole over the next few yearstwo in 1923, three in 1924 and two
in 1925. Although the commissioner of police thought none of these to be of a
serious nature,65 many among the settler community took a different view. Of the
three cases to come before the courts in 1924, two were again particularly disturbing
child assaults and these sparked a renewal of settler agitation. The first concerned the
8-year-old daughter of a European working on the Uasin Gishu railway extension. She
was the victim of repeated assaults by a 30-year-old Swahili servant at the railway
camp, and although it was judged that she had not been raped, his several attempts
to commit the act resulted in the girl contracting gonorrhoea.66 The second case con-
cerned the 8-year-old daughter of a prominent Anglican clergyman, she being the
victim of an attempted rape by a domestic servant, a 25-year-old Swahili male.67
That this offence should have happened in so protective an environment, the
perpetrator a man who had long been a trusted servant of the family,68 weakened
the argument that only neglectful parenting and the poor selection of domestic
labour gave rise to such problems. The culprits in these cases were each sentenced
to ten years imprisonment with twenty-four lashes.
In reaction to these cases the East African Womens League took up the example of
Nairobis Mrs Hill and organised a further petition, this time colony-wide and specifi-
cally asking for the death penalty to be imposed in the more flagrant cases of assault
upon children. Settlers had anticipated that the report of the 1920 Special Committee
would open the door to capital punishment, and at the time some had persisted with
the argument that legislation was needed despite the lack of evidence of adult crimes,69
and in August 1920 the Convention of Associations passed a motion regretting that
the Special Committee did not see fit to recommend the institution of the capital
penalty.70 Echoing this sentiment, the Womens League petition of 1925 received
1,500 European signatories, and was duly forwarded to London by Governor
Coryndon.71 Only in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia did rape carry the death
penalty within the British Empire in 1925, and in both these territories the consti-
tutional position of the European community was much stronger than that of
Kenyas 12,000 settlers. Noting this, and expressing his concern to keep a grip upon
60 D. M. Anderson
the wilder political ambitions of Kenyas white highlanders, Coryndon declined to
support the petition. With this, officials in Londonhaving initially been prepared
to sanction the proposalallowed the matter to drop.72
The question of the death penalty came into sharper focus one year later, with a
brutal case of sexual assault upon an elderly European woman on 17 May 1926.
This was an exceptional and shocking assault, the ramifications of which were to be
profound. The victim was Mrs Julia Hepzibah Ulyate, a 69-year-old widow who
lived alone in her picturesque farmhouse less than half a mile from Kijabe railway
station, where she earned a small income from growing flowers and fruit. Mrs
Ulyates African assailant broke into her home in the dead of night, committing a bur-
glary, viciously beating Mrs Ulyate about the body and the head, stabbing her in the
neck with a fruit knife and raping her twice.73 The image of the vulnerability of the
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

lone settler woman in the remote rural district had long been a potent symbol of
the need for the protection of the European community. Here, in one isolated
incident, the settler nightmare had become reality.
The Kijabe Outrage, as the case became known, attracted widespread attention, not
only because of its horrific character, but because Mrs Ulyate took the unprecedented
step of speaking out about her ordeal. When news of the attack was first reported in the
East African Standard on the morning of 21 May, an otherwise highly detailed account
omitted any mention of the rape.74 The sexual nature of the assault was revealed only
three days later, at the specific request of Mrs Ulyate and her family, in the interest of
the younger generation and in order that justice may be done.75 Public concern over
the case was surely heightened by the fact that the Ulyates were long-established
pioneer settlers, having trekked to Kenya from South Africa in 1907. Mrs Ulyates
three married daughters lived in the Nakuru district, and her eldest son was a coffee
farmer and hotelier in the Arusha district of neighbouring Tanganyika.76 The settler
public rallied to the victims side. Throughout the colony, meetings of settler
farming associations called for stern government action to prevent crimes of this
type, and a group of Nakuru settlers put up the money to engage an advocate, Mr
John G. Kerr, to act on behalf of Mrs Ulyate.77 The president of the East African
Womens League even accused the police of withholding information about assault
cases in order to dampen public concern.78 Settlers fulminated against the insubordi-
nation of Africans and the failures of government to protect them. Some openly threa-
tened reprisals should any further cases occur.79 Only a few weeks before the rape of
Mrs Ulyate there had been another well-publicised attack, upon a young European
woman at dusk on a usually busy Nairobi street. The woman had fought off her
attacker, who was caught by the police later that same evening. On 11 May 1926,
Ndange Gichanga was brought before the Nairobi court and convicted of attempted
rape. He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment, less than the maximum ten-
year sentence and without the additional penalty of flogging.80 The unexpected mild-
ness of Judge Pickerings sentence gave rise to intense indignation throughout the
colony. Only ten days later the local press carried reports of the attack upon
Mrs Ulyate. Given these circumstances, explained Governor Grigg, it was not unna-
tural that public feeling should rise to fever heat.81 Amid the cacophony of protest,
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 61
demands for the introduction of the death penalty in cases of sexual assault against
Europeans again became vociferous and strident.
Sir Edward Grigg became governor upon the death of Coryndon in 1925. Generally
sympathetic to settler concerns, Grigg quickly adopted a conciliatory tone on the
subject of black peril. After a meeting with officials on 28 May, he cabled London
asking that flogging be made compulsory (rather than optional) in all convictions
for sexual assaults.82 He hoped this would be sufficient to allay the immediate anxieties
of the European public. But over the next week, with settler agitation mounting and
threats being made to lynch the next offender, Grigg became convinced that the impo-
sition of the death penalty was a necessary step in order to maintain respect for the law
if another offence is committed.83 According to the governor, matters were being kept
within reasonable bounds only through the assistance of prominent settler leaders
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

such as Lord Francis Scott. The East African Standard had been persuaded not to
report the many resolutions for direct action being passed by settler associations.
The owners and editor of the newspaper realise how near we stand to a precipice,
reported Grigg. As things are, any fresh crimes will precipitate a really dangerous
crisis.84
On 1 June, Grigg assured settler representatives on the Legislative Council that gov-
ernment would consider strengthening the law dealing with crimes of this nature.85
Within the week he issued a Manifesto to all sections of the native peoples on the
subject of assaults against European females. The text of this announcement was pub-
lished in both English and Swahili in all the newspapers of the colony. It was also cir-
culated to African chiefs and headmen and distributed to missionaries, who were
instructed to bring it to the notice of their African school pupils. The Manifesto
expressed the governors deep indignation and anxiety about recent crimes against
European women by African men. All young African men, continued the statement,
must be made to realise what shame and reprobation are brought upon their people
by the authors of these crimes. The disgrace spreads from the guilty to all their kith and
kin . . . . It is like the disease which enters one or two plants and injures the whole crop.
The final paragraph, printed in heavy capital letters, was as much for the appeasement
of the white community as it was for the Africans at whom the Manifesto was osten-
sibly directed: Government for its part will leave no stone unturned to bring all offen-
ders to justice. If the law as it stands is not a sufficient deterrent, its severity will be
increased. The interest of the whole Colony demands that crime of this character be
rigorously stamped out.86
The Ulyate case and its repercussions dominated Kenyas settler press throughout
June. A Kikuyu named Giathi Ribiro was arrested and charged with the assault
within a few days of the offence. His committal proceedings, conducted on the
verandah of the Kijabe Hotel, were given prominent newspaper coverage, detailed
descriptions of Mrs Ulyates ordeal stirring up further European anger.87 Increas-
ingly alarmed by settler threats, Grigg now pushed for the Colonial Office to agree
to the death penalty in time for him to make a speech on the subject to settlers at
Kitale on 15 June. Only the gravity of the situation, as described by Grigg, persuaded
a reluctant Amery (secretary of state for the colonies) to make so grave a concession.
62 D. M. Anderson
But in doing so, Amery made it clear to Grigg that he could go no further:
legislation which discriminated between the races would not be approved by the
Colonial Office, and the imposition of the death penalty must in all cases be left
to the discretion of the judge.88 Before a packed European audience at Kitale on
15 June, Grigg was able to assure settlers that the law will be changed, and changed
immediately.89
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance of 1926 came before an emergency
sitting of the Legislative Council on 1 July.90 The debate was short and remarkably
uncontroversial. The government proposed to introduce the death penalty for the
crime of rape, but not to invoke capital punishment for the lesser offences of
attempted rape and indecent assault. The amendment was to be applied without dis-
tinction between the races. The settler political leader, Lord Francis Scott,91 elected to
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

support the bill, but stressed that such reform did not go quite far enough. Dealing
with the question of race, Scott argued that behaviour between natives, who are
barely emerged from a state of savagery could not be judged by exactly the same stan-
dard of Europeans with hundreds of years of civilisation behind them.92 Paternalist to
the African, Scott condemned those Europeans who flagrantly betrayed the virtues of
white society. A European man who commits rape should be treated as anyone else, he
contended. Such a man can be of no use to this Colony and if he leaves it by the scaf-
fold or in some other way so much the better for the country.93 It was not the offence
itself, but the racial complexion of the parties that Scott was most concerned with. The
death penalty, he argued, should in practice apply only in cases where the assailant and
victim were of different races.
There is much evidence to suggest that a significant body of settler opinion took a
more reactionary and overtly racial line than did Lord Francis Scott. The notoriously
outspoken Capt. E. M. Vaughan Kenealy, the representative for West Kenya, ventured
to threaten the passage of the bill by advocating overtly discriminatory legislation:
In a native woman chastity is often considered unimportant. A European woman
would rather lose her life than her chastity . . . . [S]ince nature has made such mani-
fest differences between the races it is futile and hypocritical to ignore them. I main-
tain there should be racial discrimination not only in this legislation but in most
legislation. It is not a courageous act to ignore these manifest differences . . . .We
want legislation to protect our womenkind against the native; why obfuscate the
issue by pretending that there are other factors?94
Scotts political sophistication, eugenicist in implication, and Kenealys bluntness,
unashamedly and explicitly racist in intention, probably reflected the fair range of
settler opinion. While other settler members of the Legislative Council may have sym-
pathised with Kenealys position, they understood that London would not support
explicitly racist laws. They accordingly fell in behind Scott, and focused instead on
maximising the penalties for the lesser offences of attempted rape and indecent
assault, moving that the maximum punishment for attempted rape should be
increased from fourteen years imprisonment (with twenty-four lashes) to a life sen-
tence, and that the penalty for indecent assault be increased from ten years imprison-
ment (with twenty-four lashes) to fourteen years imprisonment (with twenty-four
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 63
lashes). Both these amendments were accepted by government, and the bill was
forwarded to London for approval.95
Though far from enthusiastic, Amery allowed the bill to stand.96 The statistical evi-
dence on sexual assaults no more suggested a need for legislative change in 1926 than
when investigated by the Special Committee in 1920 or in the wake of the petition of
1924. The character of the Ulyate case and the support of Grigg were the crucial
determinants. But it was clear to London that Grigg had bowed to settler pressure.
The governor had even repeated settler rumours in bolstering his arguments for
the amendment. Writing of the offences against young girls, which had aroused
widespread anxiety, Grigg justified the amended bill in terms that all settler politicians
would have applauded:
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

I am assured by men whose word I cannot doubt that not a few crimes of this nature
against young children, ranging from indecency to actual assault, are never brought
to the notice of the police for obvious reasons . . . . The difficulty of safe-guarding
children against immorality on the part of native houseboys and ayahs, even if it
be immorality only by suggestion and gesture, is one of the most powerful elements
in the demand for strong deterrent legislation. In a mixed community like this, it is
essential that the law should clearly reflect and express the special horror with which
society regards all sexual offences.97

Amery unwittingly repeated similarly rumoured allegations to the House of Commons


on 5 July 1926, when quoting one of Griggs telegrams on the Kenya situation in reply
to a parliamentary question.98
The passing of the bill into law provoked a brief and somewhat belated discussion of
the problem of white perilthe assaults on female Africans by white males. In all the
discussions among white settlers of black perils in Kenya, there was a conspicuous
silence about the predatory behaviour of white males. Summing up the furore of
1920, Kenyas commissioner of police, Notley, had privately commented upon the inci-
dence of rapes upon African women by Europeans:
That numbers of the European community are not usually guilty of such offences
against the native population in East Central Africa may be true de jure, but the
somewhat light-hearted manner in which the moral aspect of such affairs are
regarded by the natives, the age of the native girls concerned, their ready acquies-
cence to the wishes of their relations and the overwhelming pressure exerted auto-
matically by the disparity in status of the man and the girl, render these crimes de
facto of almost common occurrence.99

This internal report gave a frank assessment that white peril was a widespread but
largely unreported problem, but in public discussion Europeans were invariably
more guarded. Addressing the Legislative Council prior to the reading of the 1926
bill, Grigg permitted himself a veiled allusion to the dangers of white peril: [W]e
must be very sure that we ourselves conform in manners and in conduct to the
high tradition which should distinguish a governing race. Those who failed to live
up to the cleanest English code of behaviour, he continued, were traitors to the civi-
lisation in whose name this legislation is submitted.100 His concern was for the
maintenance of white prestige and virtue, rather than the protection of African
64 D. M. Anderson
women. From 1926, any European charged with the rape of an African before a
subordinate court would find the case referred to the Supreme Court, where the
judge might sentence the culprit to hang, regardless of his race.101
The change in the law came too late to affect the prosecution of the accused man in
the Ulyate case. The court found Giathi Ribiro guilty of rape and burglary, and he was
given the maximum sentence available under the old codes, a term of fourteen years
imprisonment with twenty-four lashes. The editor of the East African Standard was
satisfied with the outcome: no one who heard the evidence in the court, he asserted,
could doubt the guilt of the Native who has been punished for his abominable
crime.102 Yet the case had not been as transparent as this statement suggested. The
rival Nairobi newspaper, The Democrat, commented upon the many uncertainties of
the case, noting that on the judges own admission Ribiro had been convicted on evi-
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

dence of a circumstantial character only. Hinting that public indignation over the
Ulyate case had brought a great deal of pressure to bear upon the court, The Democrat
observed that the amended legislation would now condemn those found guilty of rape
under circumstantial evidence to hang by the neck: in cases of sexual assault upon
European women the settler public expected a successful prosecution and would
demand that the full rigour of the law be applied, putting police and the judiciary
under pressure to oblige. 103
Almost two years passed before the amended ordinance was first put to the test, and
then two prosecutions for the alleged rape of European women came before the
Supreme Court in quick succession. Both cases were heard in April 1928 before
Chief Justice Barth, who had also presided in the Ulyate trial. In the first case,
arising from an alleged rape at Sergoit in the Western Highlands, Barth acquitted
the accused of all charges, on the grounds that the evidence produced was circumstan-
tial and inconclusive, and that the accused could not be positively identified as the
assailant.104 The settler community had less than one week in which to speculate
upon whether the heavy burden of the death penalty might have made the judge
more cautious in reaching his verdict, before the trial of a second rape case began
on 23 April 1928. On this occasion the accused, a Luo male named Nyaduong
Owori, was found guilty of raping a young European woman, at dusk on 27 February
1928, as she walked home along the Lenana Road in Nairobis Kilimani district.105 The
crime had been witnessed by a friend of the accused and his unusual evidence played a
major part in securing the conviction. Chief Justice Barth was convinced of Oworis
guilt and imposed the maximum penalty. Under the simple headline The Kilimani
Crime Expiated, the East African Standard carried the news that Owori had been
hanged at Nairobi gaol at 8.00 a.m. on Friday, 29 June 1928.106
The imposition of the death penalty was paraded as a substantial political victory by
Kenyas settler politicians. The new legislation demonstrated their determination to
protect white women from the threat of black sexuality, and to preserve the divide
between the races. Behind the political rhetoric, the social realities were more
complex. The availability of the death penalty appears to have had no impact upon
the incidence of rape against European women. Cases continued into the 1930s at
much the same slow but sporadic rate of incidence as before 1926. In eight years
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 65
following the Ulyate case, Owori was the only African convicted of the rape of a
European woman.107 However, the increased legal penalties had more immediate
effect upon those convicted of lesser offences. The most spectacular example
concerned the prosecution, in February 1927 (in the backwash of the Ulyate case),
of a Kikuyu male charged with assault with the intent to outrage the modesty of a
white woman. According to the plaintiff, the man had come along the road with
his private parts exposed and in a state of erection, and had leered at her as he
passed.108 The man did not speak to his victim nor did he touch her. His defence
was that he had been suffering from an upset stomach, and had come out of the
bushes by the roadside fastening up his shorts when the European ladys carriage
happened to come along. For this crime, the man was sentenced to seven years impri-
sonment with twelve lashes. Though the sentence was subsequently reduced on review
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

to three years imprisonment, it was a striking indication of the new powers held
within the terms of the law to preserve the social distance and racial dominance of
white virtue.109

IV
How, then, can we best explain these outbreaks of black peril? Charles van Onselen
has demonstrated a correlation between black peril and economic recession on the
Witwatersrand from the 1890s to the 1910s, emphasising the importance of the con-
ditions of employment for African domestic servants and the political tensions sur-
rounding miners strikes in generating European anxieties.110 Fears about social
control here combined with challenges to the material interests of Europeans. Ether-
ington has found evidence of similar causes from Natal in the 1870s, while Kennedy
has noted a correlation between surges in white immigration and outbreaks of
black peril in Southern Rhodesia and Kenya.111 Each of Kenyas black perils has
also been attributed to political economy causes, although the evidence to support
this seems flimsy. In 1907, Grogans political manipulation of events bore little
direct relationship to economic conditions. And, although the settler politician Lord
Delamere saw later outbreaks of black peril simply as the crystallisation of a reaction
to labour shortage, while Redley has interpreted the 1926 episode as a delayed reac-
tion to the declaration of African paramountcy in the Devonshire White Paper of
1923,112 such explanations do not seem plausible. Questions of labour supply and
of political dominance were, of course, the bread and butter of settler politics, but
both are conspicuously absent from the debates surrounding the 1920s scares.
While there were periodic shortages of labour in the farm economy of the White High-
lands, the urban economy of Nairobi more frequently suffered from a surplus of
labour. And it was in the urban setting that black peril cases most commonly
arose. By 1926, 51 per cent of Kenyas settlers lived in the five largest towns,113 and
in Nairobi alone a European population of around 4,000 employed more than 5,000
domestic servants. More than twice this number were attracted to the town in
search of work in the domestic sector, but remained unemployed. The presence of
this surplus labour contributed to problems of law and order in Nairobi.114 In the
66 D. M. Anderson
Kenyan case, the functionalism of the political economy explanation obscures more
than it reveals.
Sexual panics were more closely connected to social and cultural challenges
confronting settler society. Economic downturn or political crisis was not so much
a cause of black peril scares as a conduit for anxieties that were already in place.
Characterising Natals rape scares in terms of Stanley Cohens depiction of moral
panics among dominant classes, Etherington has argued that they were born of a
broader fear of losing control, the manifestation of a constant undercurrent in the
thinking of the settler minority.115 In Natal, as in Kenya, the numbers of actual
cases was very small, and even in the Transvaal and Southern Rhodesia, where cases
were more numerous, public perceptions greatly exaggerated the threat of sexual
assault.116 McCullochs study of black perils in Southern Rhodesia emphasises that
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

the panics encouraged the drawing of a cordon sanitaire between the black and
white communities. White virtue in Southern Rhodesia depended upon maintaining
rules of social distance and intimacy, with peril accusations being driven by fear and
the desire for retribution and cleansing.117 Panics were thus part of the process
through which settler society was constructed and maintained, and this necessarily
involved the protection of white cultural and social interests.
Looking beyond African comparisons, the history of race and gender in the
American South offers suggestive insights. Examination of gender and sexual politics
during lynchings in the Southern states during the early part of the twentieth century
has convincingly shown that rape scares were not simply an excuse for racial repres-
sion. Jacquelyn Dowd-Hall has drawn attention to the importance of challenges to
white male notions of power and authority. Lynching, she argues, was a public
means by which men could display authority over their victims (persons of different
class and race) and over the white women whose bodies they claimed to protect. Lynch
victims did not need to be accused of sexual offence: their very presence was threat
enough, symbolic of the challenge to white male authority.118 Such issues held
appeal because they mobilised what Nancy MacLean has termed reactionary popu-
lism. MacLean, writing about the lynching of a Jewish factory owner accused of the
murder of a young working-class girl in Atlanta, Georgia, demonstrates how this
incident became a focal point for those who desired to maintain the existing social
hierarchies of Southern society.119 Looking at this with a South African eye, Hyslop
has commented that reactionary populism tapped the emotional fears of white
males about their declining authority over women and linked these anxieties to
their concern about the threat to racial control over blacks posed by urbanisation.120
Similar psychological and emotional fears were apparent in each of Kenyas black
perils, where cases were also predominantly urban. Settler attitudes towards race
and gender emerged strongly in the settler press during the 1920s scares, and were
proudly proclaimed at the trial of Grogan and his accomplices in 1907. One of the
accused, Russell Bowker, was disarmingly frank in his own defence: It has always
been the first principle with me to flog a nigger on sight who insults a white
woman, he told the court. Where natives are treated with laxity, he continued,
they become insolent, and when insolent to white women they go further and
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 67
attempt to commit graver crimes.121 After serving a sentence of one month for his
conviction, Grogan wrote of his pride in doing time for the flogging of a nigger
who had insulted a lady.122 The British press supported this: there was criticism of
whites for taking the law into their own hands, yet they were praised for their deter-
mination to protect white women from insults.123 In both colony and metropole,
strong ideals of racial superiority were combined with patriarchal attitudes which
recognised the right of men to protect their property in women. Here was Kenyas
own brand of reactionary populism, and its outlines can be seen in each of the
three black peril episodes.
Writing in the wake of the 1920 scare, Hildegarde Hinde, a leading light of the East
African Womens League, drew upon another aspect of reactionary populism when
linking black perils to the influx of new settlers. Newcomers from Europe, she
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

argued, were ignorant of Africa and prone to errors of judgement with their domestic
servants. New settlers needed to be educated.124 These arguments were a quest for class
solidarity: the problems of incorporating new caste members into such a small social
groupthere were still only 12,529 European settlers in Kenya by 1926were real
enough, and especially marked in the decade following the end of the First World
War. Of Europeans in the colony in 1921, only 47 per cent were still there ten years
later, and by 1931 over 50 per cent of the European population had been in the
colony less than five years.125 Reactionary populism here was also about asserting
and re-establishing the cultural and social values of an earlier era. Moreover,
Hindes intervention marked only one of several points at which white women were
actively engaged in debates on morality and virtue. With the formation of the
League of Mercy, and later through the East African Womens League, white women
organised in defence of their own interests. However, it was not always clear that
they could agree upon the common ground of these interests. In 1920 the assaults
upon children drew women into the public debate on morality because of their role
as mothers of the future generations of Anglo-East Africans, but they divided when
parenting was explicitly criticised as a contributory factor to the child assaults:
women who went to work allegedly neglected the care of their children. There can
be no doubt that the Womens League presented itself as the legitimate representative
of white women, and its leading membersmost of whom were wives of settler poli-
ticians and senior civil servantsseemed distinctly uncomfortable with attempts from
1920 to gather information on sexual assaults through other channels, opening up the
subject to a wider debate over which they had no control. Hindes article can thus be
interpreted as a deliberate assertion of the cultural values and social practice espoused
by the Womens Leaguea statement of commitment to reactionary populism in the
years between 1920 and 1926.
Finally, in each of Kenyas black perils public anxiety was heightened by false accu-
sation, by rumours and by the telescoping of events drawing distant incidents into the
current debate. But at the centre of each panic were cases of an unusual and pro-
foundly shocking character. The reported assaults upon white children by African
houseboys starkly revealed the vulnerability of settler society in its dependence
upon African labour. Any temptation to assess white panic by counting cases or
68 D. M. Anderson
assessing fluctuations in rates of incidence surely misses the point: how many con-
firmed cases of child rape, where the victim contracted venereal disease, were
needed to spark a moral panic? That settlers generally believed such cases to be
more common than the legal records suggest added to their anxieties, but this was
less important than the character of the offence. The rape of the elderly Julia Ulyate
in 1926 underlines the point. In settler self-perception, it was the lonely woman on
the farm who presented the stereotype of vulnerability. The horror of the case lay in
its exceptionality, yet, like the child assault cases, it preyed upon deeper anxieties
that were mobilised by a reactionary populism aimed principally at maintaining the
social hierarchies of colonial society. The danger in studying the history of sexuality
in the colonial situation therefore lies not in giving precedence to ideas of power
and domination, as Ronald Hyam once so misleadingly suggested,126 but in ignoring
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

them.

Acknowledgements
I am grateful to Richard Waller, Jonathan Hyslop, Diana Jeater, Gail Bueschel, Maryi-
nez Lyons and Justin Willis for their comments on earlier drafts of this paper. The
research was supported by grants from the Leverhulme Trust and the British Academy.

Notes
[1] Davenport-Hines, Sex, Death and Punishment; Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society; Bristow, Vice
and Vigilance.
[2] Davenport-Hines, Sex, Death and Punishment, Ch. 5.
[3] Many studies have now viewed this from an empire perspective, among them McClintock,
Imperial Leather; Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire; Strobel, European Women. For an
Indian case study, see Ballhatchet, Race, Sex and Class. For Australasia, see Inglis, The
White Womans Protection Ordinance; Bulbeck, Australian Women in Papua New Guinea; for
southern Africa, Walker, ed., Women and Gender in Southern Africa to 1945. Hyams Empire
and Sexuality and, more especially, his Empire and Sexual Opportunity, documented a
history of sexual relations but played down the importance of dominant structures of
power, race and class. For a vigorous response, see Berger, Empire and Sexual Exploitation,
and a rejoinder from Hyam, A Reply.
[4] Ballhatchet, Race, Sex and Class, introduction; Davenport-Hines, Sex, Death and Punishment,
175 81.
[5] For an instructive example, see Hyslop, White Working Class Women, 57 81.
[6] Vaughan, Curing Their Ills, 129 33, for a useful survey of early twentieth-century European
presentations of the sexuality of African women. For wider discussion of these tropes, see
Gilman, Difference and Pathology; de Groot, Sex and Race, 89 131.
[7] Van Onselen, Studies in the Social and Economic History, 45 60.
[8] The most relevant studies are: Riekert, Race, Sex and the Law, 82 97; Pete, Punishment and
Race, 102 6; Kennedy, Islands of White, 138 47 (who argues that black peril scares coincide
with peaks in white immigration); Etherington, Natals Black Rape Scares, 36 53; Posel,
Continental Women and Durbans Social Evil; Pape, Black and White, 699 720;
Schmidt, Negotiated Spaces, 622 48; Krikler, Social Neurosis, 63 97; Jeater, Marriage,
Perversion and Power; Cornwell, George Webb Hardys The Black Peril, 44153; Lubbe,
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 69
The Myth of Black Peril, 107 32. For the rather different example of West Africa, see Call-
away, Gender, Culture and Empire.
[9] McCulloch, Black Peril, White Virtue.
[10] Redley, Politics of a Predicament, 3.
[11] This point elaborates upon Campbell, Eugenics and Empire, and Kennedy, Islands of White,
138 47. For the only study to deal comprehensively with aspects of sexuality in colonial
Kenya, see Luise White, Comforts of Home. Weiner, An Empire on Trial, looks at the more
general issues confronting British justice in Kenya.
[12] The following account is drawn from the published Parliamentary Papers on the affair,
Correspondence Relating to the Flogging of Natives by Certain Europeans at Nairobi, Cd 3256
(1907); additional papers in British National Archive [BNA] CO 533/28, CO 533/29, CO
533/30 and CO 533/31; and Paices, Lost Lion of Empire, 21123. Two earlier biographies
of Grogan give highly romanticised versions of the incident: Wymer, Man from the Cape,
156 61; Farrant, Legendary Grogan, 115 27. For a critical account by a contemporary
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

observer, see Ross, Kenya from Within, 170 1.


[13] For examples, see the East African Standard (EAS), 16 March to 20 July 1907. The ambiguity of
language of accusation has also been noted by Etherington, Natals Black Rape Scare, 38 9
for Natal. See also Posel, Continental Women and Durbans Social Evil, 1.
[14] Hayes-Sadler to Elgin (Secretary of State for the Colonies), 18 June 1907, BNA CO 533/30.
[15] Grogan and Sharp, From the Cape to Cairo.
[16] Paice, Lost Lion of Empire, passim.
[17] Ross, Kenya from Within, 169.
[18] Kennedy, Islands of White, 197, table 3.
[19] For the relevant debates and motions of the Colonists Association, see EAS, 5 Jan. 1907, 7, 9,
and 25 Jan. 1907, 8.
[20] EAS, 9 March 1907. For the broader arguments surrounding the Indian question, see Ross,
Kenya from Within, 297 432.
[21] For example, the report of the arrest of a white law-breaker by a native askari, EAS, 5 Jan.
1907, 9.
[22] East African Protectorate, Annual Report for 1910/11, BNA CO 533/4, for details of court
returns back to 1905.
[23] Paice, Lost Lion of Empire, ch. 14.
[24] EAS, 25 Jan. 1907, 8.
[25] EAS, 8 June 1907, 3, 12.
[26] EAS, 6 July 1907, 11.
[27] EAS, 15 June 1907, 11, and 8 Oct. 1907. I am grateful to Gail Beuschel for these references.
[28] The Rhodesia Womens League played a similar role: McCulloch, Black Peril, White Virtue, 28.
[29] Compiled from case papers and press cuttings in Kenya National Archives [KNA] Pol 5/561.
[30] Editorial, EAS, 22 May 1920.
[31] A stitch in time, Daily Leader, 24 May 1920.
[32] To make the punishment fit the crime, Daily Leader, 31 May 1920.
[33] M. Cross to Commissioner of Police, 17 Feb. 1920, KNA Pol 5/561, referring to the dangers
of Kenya approaching a condition. . . which at one time confronted Natal.
[34] High Court Case 334/1919, Gwelo Criminal Sessions, 15 Sept. 1919, Zimbabwe National
Archives, Harare. Thanks to Diana Jeater for sharing her notes on this case. See also, Jeater,
Marriage, Perversion and Power, 189 90; McCulloch, Black Peril, White Virtue, Ch. 3.
[35] For example, Childrens Peril, Daily Leader, 9 April 1920; Two Tales of a City: What a Father
Thinks, Daily Leader, 24 May 1920; A Womans View, Daily Leader, 12 June 1920; Editorial,
EAS, 22 May 1920.
[36] The following summary is drawn from Riekert, Race, Sex and the Law, 82 97.
[37] For commentary to this effect, see Police Report: Black Peril, undated, KNA Pol 5/561.
70 D. M. Anderson
[38] The Rape Peril, letter to the editor, Daily Leader, 11 June 1920.
[39] A Womans View, letter to the editor, Daily Leader, 12 June 1920.
[40] Guarding Children, an appeal from the Committee of the East African Womens League, EAS,
26 June 1920.
[41] Vaughan, Syphilis in Colonial East and Central Africa, 269 302; Vaughan, Curing Their Ills,
132 40; Dawson, The Anti-Yaws Campaign, 41737. The problems of diagnosis in Uganda
were further complicated by the presence of endemic, non-venereal transmitted syphilis:
Davies, A History of Syphilis in Uganda, 1041 55; Doyle, Crisis and Decline in Bunyoro.
[42] Vaughan, Curing Their Ills, 140 44, for a discussion of the importance of the idea of degen-
eracy in European perceptions of East African societies in the inter-war period.
[43] Guarding Children, EAS, 26 June 1920.
[44] Davenport-Hines, Sex, Death and Punishment, 4 and passim.
[45] Rape Charge, Daily Leader, 30 June 1920.
[46] Report of the Special Committee on Sexual Assaults of Natives upon Europeans (Nairobi, 22
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

July 1920), para. 7, KNA Pol 5/561; Rape of Small Children, 1923, Uganda National Archives
(UNA), Entebbe, Native Affairs, File 7949. Thanks to Maryinez Lyons for this source.
[47] Provincial Commissioner, Buganda, to Chief Justice, Entebbe, 7 Dec. 1923, UNA, Native
Affairs, File 7949.
[48] However, it was reported from the outlying districts of Ugandas Northern Province that the
belief was associated with gonorrhea, not syphilis: Acting Provincial Commissioner, Northern
Province, to Chief Justice, Entebbe, 5 Oct. 1923, UNA, Native Affairs, File 7949.
[49] Kenyatta, Facing Mount Kenya, Ch. 6 and 7; Leakey, Southern Kikuyu; Langley, Nandi of Kenya,
70 72.
[50] For example, Report of the Special Committee, para. 7. A similar point is made by Jeater,
Marriage, Perversion and Power, Ch. 7.
[51] Thomas, Politics of the Womb. See also, Shaw, Colonial Inscriptions.
[52] Editorial, A Stitch in Time, Daily Leader, 24 May 1920; Hope at Last, Daily Leader, 12 June
1920.
[53] Report of the Special Committee, tabled before Legislative Council, Nairobi, 22 July 1920,
KNA Pol 5/561; An Appeal on Behalf of an Appeal, Daily Leader, 6 July 1920; Guarding Chil-
dren, Daily Leader, 26 June 1920.
[54] McCulloch, Black Peril, White Virtue, 18.
[55] In addition to the assault cases identified, four local medical practitioners revealed twelve
cases of`unexplained venereal diseases in children, all arising in the Nairobi area. The circum-
stances in two cases were thought to merit the involvement of the police. Without further
documentation, it is unclear what interpretation should be attached to this, but the difficulties
in diagnosing venereal diseases at this time need to be borne in mind.
[56] Report of the Special Committee, 2, KNA Pol 5/561.
[57] Ibid., final para.
[58] Hinde, The Black Peril, 193 200. The earnestness of this article becomes apparent only when
it is read in the light of the 1920 child assault scare. Cf. Kennedy, Islands of White, 140, n. 50.
[59] Police Report: Black Peril, undated, para. 5, KNA Pol 5/561.
[60] Ibid., para. 7.
[61] Hinde, The Black Peril, 193 7. For southern African discussion of servants, see Hansen,
Distant Companions; Cock, Maids and Madams.
[62] Protecting White Ladies from Assault, Daily Leader, 16 Oct. 1922.
[63] Assaults on Women, Daily Leader, 28 Sept. 1922.
[64] The Farmers Journal, 29 Sept. 1922, 9 10, KNA Pol 5/561.
[65] Spicer to Chief Secretary, 21 June 1926, KNA Pol 5/561. Spicer replaced Notley as commis-
sioner of police in 1925.
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 71
[66] Precis of Police Criminal Case 126/1923 (before Judge Maxwell, Supreme Court, 4 March
1924), enclosure in Grigg to Amery, 13 July 1926, BNA CO 533/612.
[67] Precis of Police Criminal Case 38/1924 (before Judge Maxwell, Supreme Court case 15/1924),
enclosure in Grigg to Amery, 13 July 1926, BNA CO 533/612.
[68] Grigg to Amery, 13 July 1926, BNA CO 533/612.
[69] Letter from Portia, The Black Peril Commission, Daily Leader, 2 Aug. 1920.
[70] Grigg to Amery, 13 July 1926, BNA CO 533/612.
[71] Grigg to Amery, 17 July 1926, BNA CO 533/612, discussing the original petition, which had
been sent by Coryndon, despatch no. 19, 19 Feb. 1925.
[72] Grigg to Amery, 17 July 1926, BNA CO 533/612. The Colonial Office had been prepared to
sanction the imposition of a life sentence for rape in 1925, but Coryndon elected not to act
upon this. See minute by Strachey, 8 June 1926, BNA CO 533/612.
[73] For the committal proceedings, see Story of the Kijabe Case, EAS, 21 June 1926; for the
Supreme Court trial (Supreme Court, Nairobi, Case 60/1926), see The Kijabe Outrage
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

Case, EAS, 4 Aug. 1926, and subsequent reports in the same newspaper for 5, 7, 9 and 13
Aug. 1926. The police case papers, including Mrs Ulyates statements, are to be found in
KNA AG 5/2630.
[74] Terrible Outrage and Editorial: The Kijabe Outrage, EAS, 21 May 1926.
[75] Full Horror of the Kijabe Story, EAS, 24 May 1926.
[76] Ray Ulyate had built and owned the Kijabe Hotel: Story of the Kijabe Case, EAS, 21 June
1926; Gillet, Tribute to Pioneers.
[77] Kerr to Bown (Solicitor General), 28 July 1926, KNA AG5/2630.
[78] President, EAWL to Commissioner of Police (Spicer), 27 May 1926, KNA Pol 5/561.
[79] Kijabe Outrage, EAS, 10 June 1926.
[80] Precis of Police Criminal Case 193/1926 (Supreme Court, case 30/1926), enclosure in Grigg
to Amery, 13 July 1926, BNA CO 533/612.
[81] Grigg to Amery, 13 July 1926, BNA CO 533/612.
[82] Grigg to Amery, 28 May 1926, BNA CO 533/612.
[83] Grigg to Amery, telegram 5 June 1926, BNA CO 533/612.
[84] Grigg to Amery, telegrams 5 and 12 June 1926, BNA CO 533/612.
[85] A Stronger Law for Violent Crimes, EAS, 1 June 1926.
[86] For the full text, in both languages, see Crimes of Violence, EAS, 5 June 1926.
[87] Story of the Kijabe Case, EAS, 21 June 1926.
[88] Grigg to Amery, telegram 12 June 1926, and reply 14 June, BNA CO 533/612.
[89] Text of Kitale speech by Grigg, 15 June 1926, BNA CO 533/612.
[90] Kenya Hansard, vol. 1, 1926, Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 1926, 242 57.
[91] Lord Delamere was at this time visiting London. Scott contacted him to discuss the situation,
and Delamere went to the Colonial Office to give his views. Minutes by Bottomley, 19 June
1926, BNA CO 533/612; 6 July 1926, BNA CO 533/352.
[92] Kenya Hansard, vol. 1, 1926, 244.
[93] Ibid., 246.
[94] Ibid., 247 48.
[95] Ibid., 255 57. For full details of the amendments in law, see Criminal Law Amendment Ordi-
nance, 5 July 1926: Repeal of Sect. 376 of Indian Penal Code, Kenya Acts 1924 26, BNA CO
630/5.
[96] Amery to Grigg, 3 Sept. 1926, and related papers, BNA CO 533/612.
[97] Grigg to Amery, 13 July 1926, BNA CO 533/612.
[98] Grigg to Amery, 28 May 1926, claiming that, as well as the two attacks upon settler women, there
had been others of which the police were aware but were unable to prosecute because the victims
and their families were not prepared to give evidence. Amery quoted this to the House of
Commons on 5 July 1926; all in BNA CO 533/612. Correspondence between officials in
72 D. M. Anderson
Kenya contradicts this. East African Womens League to Spicer (Commissioner of Police), 27
May 1926, asking for details of cases known to police, but not made public; Spicer to Governor,
1 June and 12 June 1926, giving details of all recent cases; and Spicer to Chief Secretary (Nairobi),
21 June 1926, specifically denying police knowledge of any further cases; all in KNA Pol 5/561.
[99] Police Report: Black Peril, para. 3, KNA/5/561.
[100] Speech by Lt.-Col Sir Edward Grigg, before Legislative Council, 30 June 1926 (Nairobi, 1926),
extract from Kenya Hansard, vol. 2, in BNA CO 533/612.
[101] No such case was ever to come before a colonial court. It was not until 18 Aug. 1960 that the
first white man was hanged in KenyaPeter Poole, for the murder of an African who had
thrown stones at his dog.
[102] Editorial: The Kijabe Case, EAS, 13 Aug. 1926.
[103] Editorial: The Kijabe Outrage, The Democrat, 14 Aug. 1926.
[104] Verdict in the Soy Assault Case, EAS, 17 April 1928. For full case papers, see KNA AG 5/2629.
[105] For reports of both the committal proceedings and the Supreme Court trial, see KNA AG 5/
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

2627.
[106] The Kilimani Crime Expiated, EAS, 30 July 1928.
[107] Judicial Department, Annual Reports 192539.
[108] Judge to Grigg (Governor), 23 March 1927, AG 4/5172.
[109] Supreme Court, Nairobi, Case 136/1927, v. Karioki wa Kanyuoti, 7 Feb. 1927, KNA AG 4/
5172. He was convicted under Sect. 354 of the Indian Penal Code. Other cases of a similar
nature are discussed in the same file.
[110] Van Onselen, Studies in the Social and Economic History, 45 60.
[111] Etherington, Natals Black Rape Scare, 50 52; Kennedy, Islands of White, 14546.
[112] Redley, Politics of a Predicament, 160.
[113] Ibid., 6.
[114] Minutes and correspondence, Registration of Domestic Servants, 1928, BNA CO 533/377/1;
Kenya Hansard, 1927, Registration of Domestic Servants Bill, 1927, 331.
[115] Etherington, Natals Black Rape Scare, 36, 50 51; Cohen, Folk Devils and Moral Panics.
[116] Etherington, Natals Black Rape Scare, 41 47; Van Onselen, Studies in the Social and
Economic History, 50 53; Kennedy, Islands of White, 138.
[117] McCulloch, Black Peril, White Virtue, 11.
[118] Dowd-Hall, Revolt against Chivalry.
[119] MacLean, The Leo Frank Case, 917 48.
[120] Hyslop, White Working Class Women, n. 9.
[121] Correspondence Relating to the Flogging, Cmd 3256. Also quoted in Kennedy, Islands of White,
143.
[122] EAS, 13 July 1907, 7.
[123] Daily Mail, quoted in Wymer, Man From the Cape, 160; The Press on the Unlawful Assembly,
EAS, 27 April 1907, 6.
[124] Hinde, The Black Peril, 193 200.
[125] Redley, Politics of a Predicament, 12, 54.
[126] Hyam, Empire and Sexuality, 214.

References
Ballhatchet, Kenneth. Race, Sex and Class under the Raj: Imperial Attitudes and Policies and their
Critics, 1793 1905. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing, 1979.
Berger, Margaret. Empire and Sexual Exploitation: A Review Article, and a rejoinder from Hyam, A
Reply. Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 17 (1988): 83 98.
Bristow, E. J. Vice and Vigilance: Purity Movements in Britain since 1700. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan,
1977.
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 73
Bulbeck, Chilla. Australian Women in Papua New Guinea: Colonial Passages, 1920 1960. Melbourne:
Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Callaway, Helen. Gender, Culture and Empire: European Women in Colonial Nigeria. London:
Macmillan, 1987.
Campbell, Chloe. Eugenics and Empire: The Kenya Casebook. Manchester: Manchester University
Press, 2003.
Cock, Jacklyn. Maids and Madams: Domestic Workers under Apartheid. London: The Womens Press,
1989.
Cohen, Stanley. Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of Mods and Rockers. London: Routledge,
2002 [1972].
Cornwell, Gareth. George Webb Hardys The Black Peril and the Social Meaning of Black Peril in
Early Twentieth Century South Africa. Journal of Southern African Studies 22 (1996): 44153.
Davenport-Hines, Richard. Sex, Death and Punishment: Attitudes to Sex and Sexuality in Britain since
the Renaissance. London: Fontana, 1991.
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

Davies, J. N. P. A History of Syphilis in Uganda. Bulletin of the World Health Organisation 15 (1956):
104155.
Dawson, Marc. The Anti-Yaws Campaign and Colonial Medical Policy in Kenya. International
Journal of African Historical Studies 20 (1987): 41737.
Dowd-Hall, Jacquelyn. Revolt against Chivalry: Jesse Daniel Ames and the Womens Campaign against
Lynching. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979.
Doyle, Shane. Crisis and Decline in Bunyoro: Population and Environment in Western Uganda, 1860
1955. Oxford: James Currey, 2006.
Etherington, Norman. Natals Black Rape Scares of the 1870s. Journal of Southern African Studies 15
(1988): 36 53.
Farrant, Leda. The Legendary Grogan: Kenyas Controversial Pioneer. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1981.
Gillet, Mary. Tribute to Pioneers. Oxford: privately published, 1986.
Gilman, Sander. Difference and Pathology: Stereotypes of Sexuality, Race and Madness. Ithaca, NY:
Cornell University Press, 1985.
Grogan, Ewert S., and A. H. Sharp. From the Cape to Cairo. London: Hurst & Blackett, 1900.
de Groot, Joanna. Sex and Race: The Construction of Language and Image in the Nineteenth
Century. In Sexuality and Subordination, edited by Susan Mendus and Jane Rendall.
London: Routledge, 1989, 89 131.
Hansen, Karen. Distant Companions: Servants and Employers in Zambia 190085. Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Press, 1989.
Hinde, Hildegarde Beatrice. The Black Peril in British East AfricaA Frank Talk to Women Settlers.
Empire Review (1921): 193 200.
Hyam, Ronald. Empire and Sexual Opportunity. Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 14
(1986): 34 90.
. Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience. Manchester: Manchester University Press,
1990.
. A Reply. See Berger above.
Hyslop, Jonathan. White Working Class Women and the Invention of Apartheid: Purified
Afrikaner Nationalist Agitation for Legislation against Mixed Marriages, 193439. Journal
of African History 36 (1995): 57 81.
Inglis, Amirah. The White Womans Protection Ordinance: Sexual Anxiety and Politics in Papua.
Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1974.
Jeater, Diana. Marriage, Perversion and Power: The Construction of Moral Discourse in Southern
Rhodesia. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.
Kennedy, Dane. Islands of White: Settler Society and Culture in Kenya and Southern Rhodesia, 1890
1939. Durham, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1987.
Kenyatta, Jomo. Facing Mount Kenya: The Tribal Life of the Gikuyu. London: Secker & Warburg, 1938.
74 D. M. Anderson
Krikler, Jeremy. Social Neurosis and Hysterical Pre-cognition in South Africa: A Case Study and
Reflections. South African Historical Journal 28 (1993): 63 97.
Langley, Myrtle S. The Nandi of Kenya: Life Crisis Rituals in a Period of Change. New York: St Martins
Press, 1979.
Leakey, Louis S. B. The Southern Kikuyu before 1903. 3 vols. New York: Academic Press, 1977.
Lubbe, H. J. The Myth of Black Peril: Die Burger and the 1929 Election. South African Historical
Journal 32 (1997): 107 32.
MacLean, Nancy. The Leo Frank Case Reconsidered: Gender and Sexual Politics in the Making of
Reactionary Populism. Journal of American History 78 (1991): 91748.
McClintock, Anne. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Imperial Contest. New York:
Routledge, 1995.
McCulloch, Jock. Black Peril, White Virtue: Sexual Crime in Southern Rhodesia, 19021935.
Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2000.
Paice, Edward. Lost Lion of Empire: The Life of Cape-to-Cairo Grogan. London: HarperCollins, 2001.
Downloaded by [Universit de Genve] at 05:20 23 November 2017

Pape, John. Black and White: The Perils of Sex in Colonial Zimbabwe. Journal of Southern African
Studies 16 (1990): 699 720.
Parliamentary Papers. Correspondence Relating to the Flogging of Natives by Certain Europeans at
Nairobi. Cd 3256, 1907.
Pete, Steve. Punishment and Race: The Emergence of Racially Defined Punishment in Colonial
Natal. Law and Society Review (Natal) 1 (1986): 10206.
Posel, Ros. Continental Women and Durbans Social Evil, 1899 1905. Journal of Natal & Zulu
History 12 (1989).
Redley, Michael. Politics of a Predicament: The White Community in Kenya 191832. PhD thesis,
University of Cambridge, 1976.
Riekert, Julian. Race, Sex and the Law in Colonial Natal. Journal of Natal & Zulu History 6 (1983):
82 97.
Ross, W. MacGregor Kenya from Within: A Short Political History. London: Frank Cass, 1968 [1927].
Schmidt, Elizabeth. Negotiated Spaces and Contested Terrain: Men, Women and the Law in
Colonial Zimbabwe 18901939. Journal of Southern African Studies 16 (1990): 62248.
Shaw, Carolyn Martin. Colonial Inscriptions: Race, Sex and Class in Kenya. Minneapolis, MN:
University of Minnesota Press, 1995.
Stoler, Ann. Race and the Education of Desire: Foucaults History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of
Things. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995.
Strobel, Margaret. European Women and the Second British Empire. Bloomington, IN: Indiana
University Press, 1991.
Thomas, Lynn. Politics of the Womb: Women, Reproduction and the State in Kenya. Berkeley, CA and
Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2003.
van Onselen, Charles. Studies in the Social and Economic History of the Witwatersrand 1886 1914, 2
Vols. New Nineveh. Harlow: Longman, 1982.
Vaughan, Megan. Curing Their Ills: Colonial Power and African Illness. Oxford: Polity Press, 1991.
. Syphilis in Colonial East and Central Africa: The Social Construction of an Epidemic. In
Epidemics and Ideas: Essays on the Historical Perception of Pestilence, edited by Terence
Ranger and Paul Slack. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992, 269302.
Walker, Cheryl , ed. Women and Gender in Southern Africa to 1945. London: James Currey, 1990.
Weeks, Jeffrey. Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality since 1800. London: Longman, 1981.
Weiner, Martin J. An Empire on Trial: Race, Murder, and Justice under British Rule 18701935.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
White, Luise. Comforts of Home: Prostitution in Colonial Nairobi. Chicago, IL: Chicago University
Press, 1990.
Wymer, Norman. The Man from the Cape. London: Evans Brothers, 1959.