Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

No Easy Walk (Kenya)

  • Rating: ***
  • Audience: Jr. High to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $395.00 Series (public): $1000.00
  • Date: Copyright 1987. Released 1988.
  • Descriptors: Kenya - History. Africa - History. Imperialism.
  • Production Information: Live action, Film transfer. Produced by J. Edward Milner. Color, b&w. Includes Study guide. 60 min.
  • Production Company: Acacia Productions
  • Available from: Cinema Guild 1697 Broadway, #506 New York, NY 10019 (212)246-5522
  • Cataloging: 967.6203 Kenya - History -to 1963||Kenya - Politics and government -to 1963
  • Awards: National Educational Film & Video Festival Silver Apple award, 1989.
  • Print Entry #: 1:463
  • Reviewer: Will K. Covington

    Before the coming of the white man, land was the most important possession in Kenya - " . . . the land is the source of all livelihood" (Oginga Odinga, former Kenyan vice president). Land meant freedom, and land became the focal point of the struggle between white settlers and indigenous Africans. Kenya, the second program in the three-part series No Easy Walk, traces the sociopolitical history of that East African nation from the arrival of the first colonialists in the late 19th century through independence in 1963. While not as vibrant as the other programs, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, the production nevertheless succeeds at portraying the evolution of resistance from peaceful protest to armed confrontation.

    From the annexation of the land surrounding the Kenya-Uganda railroad to the declaration of Kenya as a British colony in 1920, usurpation of native property and rights proceeded unabated. With the enactment of the Native Registration Act in 1921, British East Africa (As Kenya was then known) began to resemble South Africa's apartheid state. Not only were there pass laws, but separation of the races (which included Asians who had come to work on the railroad) was strictly enforced. The landless Africans were left to labor for the Europeans in order to pay the government-imposed taxes and to purchase food and other goods. Early rebellions by the Kikuyu and other tribes had been crushed in so-called "punitive expeditions." Still, leaders such as Harry Thuku and Jomo Kenyatta arose to take up the banner for reason and justice.

    World War II propaganda and the works of Marcus Garvey, W. E. B. Du Bois, Indira Gandhi, and others inspired Pan-Africanist feelings and renewed desires for independence. With the return of Jomo Kenyatta from England in 1946, the sides were clearly drawn pitting the white settlers, the government, and tribal loyalists against Kenyatta and many supporters among the major tribes, particularly the Kikuyu. A parallel freedom movement emerged in the form of the Land and Freedom Army, referred to in the video only by the contemptuous term "Mau Mau." The ensuing struggle would last more than 15 years and cost the lives of thousands of Africans, giving poignant meaning to the statement of Jawaharlal Nehru as quoted by Nelson Mandela, "There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere."

    Because the political and social aspects of the Land and Freedom Army were not understood at that time, much of the material concerning the "Mau Mau" is depicted through excerpts from a 1955 feature film, Simba. This is not entirely negative as it demonstrates the level of misrepresentation and disinformation perpetuated during the African peoples' battles for independence. Newsreel footage from Pathe and other British-based media companies is interspersed with interviews with Kenyatta, some of his contemporaries, and certain equivocating colonial officials. While these interviews and excerpts do not detract from the visual quality or continuity, some of the accents are difficult to understand. Though the study guide provides a great deal of useful information, it is primarily supplementary and does not feature the unfamiliar terms used in the program.

    Both this program and the series are recommended for libraries that maintain collections concerning Africa, especially African sociopolitical history in the 19th and 20th centuries. Can be used at the high-school level and above to complement other programs dealing specifically with Kenya (Black Man's Land Series, Films Inc., 1973) or Africa in general (Africa series: Programs 5, 6, and 7, Films Inc., 1984).

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