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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Psychology of Rebellion: Colonial Medical Responses to Dissent in British East Africa
Author:Mahone, SloanISNI
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic term:Kenya
colonial policy
History and Exploration
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
About persons:Elijah Masinde (ca1910-1987)
Ndonye wa Kauti
Kiamba wa Mutuaovio
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/4100723
Abstract:This article opens with a retelling of colonial accounts of the 'mania of 1911', which took place in the Kamba region of Kenya colony. The story of this 'psychic epidemic' and others like it would be recounted over the years as evidence depicting the predisposition of Africans to episodic mass hysteria. This use of medical and psychological language in primarily non-medical contexts serves to highlight the intellectual and political roles psychiatric ideas played in colonial governance. The salience of such ideas was often apparent in the face of increasing social tension, charismatic leadership and a proliferation of East African prophetic movements. The article addresses the attempts by the colonial authorities to understand or characterize, in psychological terms, a progression of African 'rebellious types' in society that often took the form of prophets and visionaries, but were diagnosed as epileptic, neurotic or suffering from 'religious mania'. Besides Kiamba wa Mutuaovio, the main perpetrator of the 1911 outbreak, the article also discusses the cases of the prophets Ndonye wa Kauti, who caused another disturbance in 1922, and Elijah Masinde, who was diagnosed as a religious maniac in 1945. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]