STAY-ALIVE RUNS AWAY


SYNOPSIS: In 1954 Jonas Forbes becomes a Police Inspector in Kenya, then struggling in the Mau Mau Emergency. Police and army may have a high degree of integration in this struggle but sometimes their objectives differ markedly. Stay-Alive Johnson is a soldier so troubled by the crimes of some of his fellows led by a sociopathic sergeant that he runs away. Jonas leads a patrol to recapture the deserter, which includes some with a special reason for hunting him down. Johnson is recaptured and dies in suspicious circumstances. Meanwhile the fight against Mau Mau goes on, with some mistreatment of the civilian population and isolated settlers being butchered in an atmosphere of terror. Many victims of Mau Mau are native Africans and some are forced into joining through demonic oath-taking ceremonies. Disunion, distrust and rivalries – within the police, between white settlers, among the native peoples and even between Mau Mau leaders leads to tragedy and for the survivors, including Jonas Forbes, a lesson in survival.


EXTRACT: 'Now the atmosphere had changed. When any unit went into action against Mau Mau each Askari wanted to be able to count on their comrade, and in the case of Stay-Alive they weren’t quite sure. Traditional soldiering skills, like target practice, wrestling or jumping through hoops (literally on the obstacle course), left Stay-Alive clearly among the ‘also-rans’, not the sort you wanted to have watching your back. With the arrival of Sergeant Henriquez the style expected of Askari troopers took a giant step AWAY from Stay-Alive. Some turned their backs on him and a couple of the ‘harder cases’, such as the Swahilis Abdilatif Said Abdulla and Mzee Hamis Ridhiwani, pushed him just about as far as they could, but always he gave way, demonstrating patience rather than cowardice. Everyone knew that, at least before Sergeant Henriquez arrived, to lay hands on a fellow-Askari would be seen as a serious breach of discipline. After Henriquez had his made his mark at Gilgil Stay-Alive had been assaulted on two occasions and had reported having several ‘nasty falls’.




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