'Africans make up stories." I heard this refrain over and again while researching imperial history in Kenya. I was scarcely surprised when it came from former settlers and colonial officials living out their days in the country's bucolic highlands. But I was concerned to find that this position took on intractable proportions among some historians.
At the time of decolonisation, colonial officials destroyed and removed tons of documents from Kenya. To overcome this, I collected hundreds of oral testimonies and integrated them with fragments of remaining archival evidence to challenge entrenched views of British imperialism.
My methods drew sharp criticism. Revising the myths of British imperial benevolence cut to the heart of national identity, challenging decades-old scholarship and professional reputations.… Seguir leyendo »