World issues in the news, past history, health issues, and ongoing wickedness examined
in the light of the King James Bible

Steve Van Nattan






A tale of God's protection during the
Mau Mau days in Kenya

By Steve Van Nattan




For this story I need to give a very brief introduction so you learn more about the the Mau Mau "Emergency" of 1952 -1957. The British Government, which ruled Kenya as a colony much on the order of New England in the early days of US History, did not want to call Mau Mau a revolution or a war. It was one tribe rising up against British rule. None of the other tribes in Kenya took the Mau Mau oath or joined in the fighting against the British.

In fact, several tribes were only too pleased to serve in the British African military and fight against the Kikuyu tribe, or the Mau Mau. In particular, there was no love lost between the Kikuyu and the Luo tribe who lived at the north end of Lake Victoria.

The Mau Mau oath was said, by Kikuyu tribal elders, to be a resurrected rite from the ancient past. It was an extremely vile and powerful oath, and it was very Satanic. The power the oath had over the mind of the oath taker was amazing. Jomo Kenyatta was the figure head of the Mau Mau, though it can be argued that he did not approve of the extreme aspects of the uprising. He later became the nation's first President, and he forbid the restoration of any Mau Mau activity.

The Mau Mau followed the Maoist text book as to revolution. They tried to force all Kikuyu people to take the oath. And, they killed thousands of their own tribe who refused to take it. They also killed many Christian Kikuyu out of white hot hate for the Gospel. But, the Mau Mau seldom killed White British settlers or missionaries. The reason for this was to keep the world press from talking about Mau Mau and causing some other nation to come help the British deal with the "Emergency."

To illustrate the pure hate and vengeance the Mau Mau took out on anyone who refused to take the oath, especially Christians, the pastor of the African local church on Kijabe mission station, along with his wife and baby, were ambushed in the forest by Mau Mau on the way to church one Sunday morning. Two Mau Mau grabbed their baby and held it by the head and feet, and another Mau Mau chopped the baby in half while the parents watched.

Did this cause the Kikuyu Christians to act in fear and terror?

Answer: The pastor and his wife went on to church, and the pastor preached his sermon for the morning. The Christians were electrified by this man's zeal in Christ. The next Sunday the church was packed, standing room only, and out onto the hillside. Soon the church had to start meeting outdoors and use amplifiers because of the church's growth. Remember this please when we get to the second guards discussed on this page.

Rift Valley Academy, where I went to school in Kenya, had about 100 missionary kids in it, and the school was in the virtual heart of Kikuyu country. It is 100 years old this year, 2009, and the corner stone was laid by Teddy Roosevelt while he was on a hunting safari in Kenya. The school was located on a 700 acre mission station named Kijabe, a mission station of the African Inland Mission. Many missionaries and hundreds of African students lived on the station along with us kids.

The main building, built in 1909, is seen in the photo at the upper right.

When the big bell on a huge tower rang at any hour other than 7 AM and 5 PM, it meant a Mau Mau presence had been detected. Missionaries would go inside and lock doors, and we kids at the school were to go upstairs (hopefully below gun fire) and keep our heads down. The missionaries on the station had nearly no defense against an attack, should it come. We kids were another case. The mission and the government considered us kids a prime target for attack. If we kids were killed it would be a severe moral factor with all Whites in Kenya.

To keep us aware that there was a real bush war going on, we used to stand on the verandah on the front of the main building and watch across the Rift Valley as Lancaster bombers bombed the caves around Mount Longonot where the Mau Mau would hide.


Guardian One- The most obvious
The King's African Rifles

So, we were guarded 24 hours a day by a platoon of the Kings African Rifles. They lived in a basement area beneath the main building of the school. They were almost all from the Luo tribe and had two British officers in command of them. Almost all had served in WW II in Belgium or Burma or both. In Burma they were the terror of the Japanese who thought they would be cannibals and eat their prisoners.

The King's African Rifles solder at the left was clearly a sergeant of some rank. The medals were probably earned in Burma and Belgium during WW II. The certificate is very likely enrolling him into the "Queen's Royal Body Guard," a very prestigious honor only for those who distinguished themselves in the perils of the front lines. There were three famous national combat soldier units in the British Empite, the Sudanese Regiments, the Guerkas of Napal and India, and the King's African Rifles of Kenya. These were the soldiers that guarded my school during the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya.

The Sergeant Major of the platoon told me that when he and his soldier friends got to Burma they heard of all the torture tricks of the Japanese, and they came up with a plan. The first time they caught a couple of Japanese soldiers, they set a big cooking pot on a fire filled with water. They then put one of the two Japanese soldiers into the pot and started lighting a fire under it. They purposely neglected the other Japanese soldier who decided to make a break to escape, which they let him do. That soldier went back to his Japanese friends and told them they boiled their enemy captures and ate them. I believe the British in charge rescued the victim and shipped him far away to a prison camp. The Sergeant Major told me they never again saw a Japanese soldier no matter how hard they looked for them. This article is the first time and place where this story has ever been told as far as I know.

In any case, the passion for the battle was in these men, so if our school had ever been attacked, they would have been a very fierce enemy for the Mau Mau. In the photo below you see the gate in the barbed wire fence around the school. There were also bright night lights, and a swath of bamboo pointed punji sticks was in front of the barbed wire fence. You can see a sand bag machine gun bunker in the background behind some of my school mates. The fence and gate were much more substantial by the time I was there.

I owe my life to the Lord who used those soldiers to intimidate the Mau Mau. They were always full of fun and easy going. When the big bell rang, that meant there had been Mau Mau spotted in the area. We kids would run inside the 12 foot barbed wire fence and punji stick barrier and those Luo soldiers came out of their quarters like raging loepards. The search lights came on, all the barbed wire gates dropped, posts were dropped in holes in the road to stop motor attacks, and the Luo were in their sand bag bunkers with their rifles and machine guns ready....., nay, EAGER!

But, the man of distinction was not the British Lieutenant in command-- it was the Luo Sergeant Major. He was a vet from Burma and Belgium, dead serious day and night, and feared and respected by his men. He was decorated until the left side of his tunic was completely covered with medals, and he was a member of the Queen's Personal Body Guard (if she visited Kenya).

What was his weapon? A Bren machine gun mounted in a custom shoulder stock. A Bren gun is made to be fired laying down. It has two bi-pod legs attached to the front of the machine gun which take 80% of the recoil. Here is a video of a Bren gun being fired the normal way. Photo at right also. Used by the British Army from 1930 to 1991.

The 1950s Bren gun took a 7.62 by 51mm cartridge, which was greatly downsized later. Can you imagine the recoil that gun would have if you took off the bi-pod legs and mounted it in a custom wood shoulder stock and stood up to fire it? When the Sgt. Major fired it to prove he could handle it, we kids were in awe, as were any missionary military veterans standing around. The trick was to take the horrible impact of the kick AND keep the gun from climbing as he fired it.

As he fired the gun he would stand on a gravel parking area, rigid as steel, and his whole body slid along backwards as he fired it. To show his strength, he would hold a .303 British Army rifle by the end of the barrel in his huge fist and hold it out straight and level with the ground for long enough to make your teeth crawl. A Luo? Not someone to take lightly. We were all quite proud of our guards, and they did give us a sense of safety.

But, there were other guards, not as conventional, whom the Lord used to defend us.



Ex-Mau Mau gang members on the left serve as pseudos along with a white "Mau Mau" pseudo in African disguise. The White pseudos had to almost always be sons of British settlers, in which case they knew Kikuyu fluently by growing up in Kenya. It was a totally secret operation that even the King's African Rifles did not know about, and they risked being shot by British soldiers. This was possibly one of the deepest secret operations ever. It would be like an American soldier going underground in Afghanistan and joining Al Qaeda.


Guardian Two-- The less obvious
Lest Thou Dash Thy Foot Against a Stone...

I had posted my memories of the following account, but a Rift Valley Academy student who was older than I was, and who was on the scene before I arrived there, tells the story much better than I can. So, here is her account:

The Story, As I Lived It

By Joyce Baker Porte

I was thirteen when it all started..... with a bang, literally. One of the first affects of the budding Emergency was the formation of an NRA chapter at our boarding school, RVA, in Kijabe, Kenya. It was enthusiastically endorsed and run by Roy Shafer, where we were taught to shoot rifles. At one point the British commander of the KAR troops brought his machine gun and we were all instructed on its use, including us girls. I saw through the pseudo-cheerful charade and realized that we were being taught to use these guns on people, not targets. To this day I dislike guns.

We had left Africa in 1946. Since it had been a long-delayed furlough and my parents, support had dropped to 1/3 the required amount, it took us two years for them to re-establish support and return to Africa in 1949. I was 12 by then, pretending to be 16.

Tension already ran high among the Kikuyu people. About 1950, nasty things were happening all around RVA's vicinity and our field trips and impromptu hikes were curtailed for our safety. By 1951, when the British Government formally declared an Emergency, we had barbed wire and pointed sticks surrounding Kiambogo, the school's main building, and Kings African Rifles soldiers were living in the basement under the porch.

There was no similar protection for the high school girls' dorm, the attic area over the tichies's (lower grades) schoolroom, or the high school boys who lived at Danny's Den with the Shafers at the end of the road up by the railroad tracks.

The situation under discussion started when one of our senior girls crawled through the dirty crawlspace to a spot just under the staff room to hear what the staff discussed. This portion of the crawl space could only be accessed from the girls' side of the building (at that time, boys and girls had distinct sides and were only allowed to enter the others' side at certain events). She shortly crawled out with a distressed look on her face, and we clustered around her to hear the news.

While the staff discussed usual events: who was misbehaving and their proper punishment, who would go into Nairobi to get supplies and take kids to the dentist, etc., the door flew open and a station missionary filled in the gathered staff with terrible news. Somehow, word had come that at least 300 Mau Mau were massing in the forest above Kijabe waiting for dark when they planned to swoop down and kill every one of us, as well as attack the African agricultural school and the African girls' school and those who ran them. This was about 4:00 in the afternoon, and only two or three hours until dark.

The school staff had previously planned for this possible event. Evacuation. A large cave nearby had already been stocked with food and water and blankets. There were two large lorries (trucks), enough to load all the students and carry them to the cave. But there was a problem. One truck had been loaned out and wasn't on the station. The other was broken down and waiting for parts.

There weren't enough private vehicles to carry all 100 students, much less their teachers. The only thing was to pray, and the staff fell on their knees in prayer. This was when our informant crawled out. We were terrified. Should we tell anyone what we knew? Should we tell the boys, since Danny's Den dorm was so vulnerable and they would be first to go? We decided no to both questions.

After supper, we went to our dorm that was located just below the old hospital. I couldn't study and neither could anyone else. We decided to wear our jeans to bed, and we wrote letters to our parents and sewed them into our jeans in case our dead bodies were someday found. Perhaps we were being melodramatic. But many of us prayed and re-dedicated our lives to the Lord.

Miss Johnson, one of our house-parents, came up for devotions, her eyes bugged out and barely able to contain her fear, though she never let on to us, nor we to her, that something big was going to happen. We crawled into bed that night wondering if it would be our last night. Not everyone in the dorm knew what we older ones knew. Our group was seventh grade through twelfth.

The station settled down and everything was quiet. My bed was next to the only window in the dorm, and I sat there and looked out. It must have been full moon because the whole area was bathed in bright moonlight. I imagined terrorists hiding in the deep shadows under the trees and bushes.

I don't know what time the alarm bell rang. The tall fire bell tower was put up ostensibly to warn of fires, but also to warn of attack. Its toll could be heard all over the 700-acre station. It was also the signal for each house or building to blow the automobile horn they had in their attics. Each one had a code so others would know which building it came from, the same code as the telephone party line. The idea was to go around the station, starting with Danny's Den dorm and finishing at Teasdale's at the bottom of the station by the printing press. Each beep would be an all-clear signal, and we counted the beeps as we huddled under the window. The omission of a horn meant trouble at that spot, and on the second round the hospital did not give their signal. They had sighted the terrorists.

As I looked out the window, I saw our brave King's African Rifles troops, about 20 all together, march up the hill toward the hospital. After a short while, we heard a number of rifle shots, then just quiet. Soon the troops marched back down the hill to their quarters. Later, they said they did not fire the shots we heard- there was no one there. The fire bell sounded an all clear. And that was it, until some weeks later when we heard the real story. A Mau Mau was captured and interrogated, and also asked about the purported attack. He told the following story.

Indeed, a large number of Mau Mau had gathered in the forest above the school intending to attack the mission at night and kill us all. They had taken a vile, satanic vow to do that.

But when they came down to attack the hospital first, they found men standing all around the station perimeter. Thinking they were soldiers, they shot at these men, but they didn't die even when it appeared they had been hit. They decided that the mission had stronger magic than the Mau Mau had, so they turned and ran. After this event, we were "blessed" with a full contingent of Lancashire Fusiliers, British soldiers of distinction, who camped in tents on the lower soccer field until some time after I graduated.

I am sure it is not coincidence that so many of my "age mates" returned to Africa as missionaries, or became preachers or some other fulltime work for the Lord. Knowing God's miraculous protection had a deep impression on me in particular, and I believe that my prayers that night were a turning point in my life. But I often puzzled why God would protect us so miraculously when so many Christian Africans were slaughtered. White skin is no better than black skin in His eyes.

I asked Him why, and He finally gave me the answer: He was not only protecting us, He was protecting the African girls in their school, the African seminary students, the agricultural school, the printing press that disseminated the Word of God throughout Kenya, and the many missionaries who were overseers of those works. In fact, more of His black children were protected that night than white ones. This was a personal turning point for more than just me. The book by Dorothy W. Smoker, Ambushed by Love, tells of many African Christians who were individually protected miraculously during these stressful times.

Joyce Baker Porte: Also author of WHERE LIONS STILL ROAR and ROGUE LIONESS, vols. 1 & 2 of THE TANGANYIKA TRILOGY, and STORMBIRD OF THE SERENGETI, a short story collection. See my website at

Thanks Joyce for the graphic account of God's protection of his people.

Now, I want to make some observations. Here is a verse that indicates that the above account is consistant with the Word of God and God's protection of his people by using his angels.

Psalms 91:11 (KJV) For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

Why did the Lord let us learn about it?

Perhaps there were those among the missionaries and school kids who were in terror and doubt as to God's attention to them, and they needed to learn that God WAS indeed caring for them. Perhaps God wanted to show the British commander, Lt. "Chips", that the reality of being totally committed to Christ manifested itself in very literal ways in a Bible believer's life. Perhaps "Chip"s later made a decision that will bring him to our side at the throne of God one day.

One more thought: Have you dedicated your home and real estate where YOU live the Christ. Those angels were not standing at our doorways-- they were protecting the people AND the mission station. It was GOD'S turf, and the battle was waged at the property line. Please remember that the African church was growing like wild fire as the Mau Mau persecuted them. God had decided the Mau Mau had gone too far. Also, some of us at our school were not born again I am sure. They too benefited from being with the people of God. They lived to have another chance to confess Christ as their Savior.

Food for thought, right?

Never before or since have I been absolutely sure angels were involved personally in watching over me. God seldom lets his angels show themselves. But, thank God, they are real, personal, and we will be one with them in the Glory some day. What stories we will hear then!

Hebrews 11:32 (KJV) And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Little children also receive special attention from "their angels."

Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Every little kid, who has not yet reached the age of accountability, has his own angel watching over him. When a baby is aborted, we do not offend God only. We offend the child's angel. Satan is only too eager to kill every baby he can, and it may well be that those kids' angels are critical to see that those kids reach the age when they can understand the Gospel and believe in Jesus Christ.

This thought is not literally from a text in the Bible, but I have to wonder..... Is it possible that when you see a little baby look away and smile, which I have seen myself many times, that baby is really seeing someone? And, at what age are those angels relieved of that duty? No one knows. I fully expect that, when we get to Heaven, we will hear some hair raising tales from our angel who watched over us when we were little. So, for now, we walk by faith, and we thank our Savior that he will never leave us or forsake us.

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.



My wife Elizaabeth, when she was in school in Rift Valley Academy, was in my class. That is how we first met. I was very impressed, but I was terrified to let her know. The social mix at Rift Valley Academy was a bit warped by the culture of missionary thinking. So, I did not let her know my thoughts until college. I have thought it was best that way.

The photo at the right shows Elizabeth, then Hoover, as she looked at the time of this account.

Well, Elizabeth was in on the Mau Mau Emergency just before I arrived in Kenya in fifth grade. She tells below of her experiences. Her experience below happened shortly after that of Joyce Porte above.

Elisabeth Van Nattan's account:

During the Mau Mau they had secured Rift Valley Academy with African and British military guards and barbed wire. We were not allowed out of the Kiambogo building after dark. The doors were all locked so no one could get in or go out, or so they thought.

One night Miss Bellinger, one of the staff, was checking the little girls for the night and she heard the door open at the top of the fire escape. She hurried to see who was going out. I was on my way out walking in my sleep.

She pulled me back in and locked the door again, but she realized that I could try it again later. She got me back in bed. I'm not sure she slept very well that night knowing that I could do it again, but I didn't. Next day she had a slide bolt put at the top of the door so this sleep walker couldn't reach it. I was in the 3rd or 4th grade.

I also remember another night when the horns went off and we all had to get down on the floor below the windows. Somebody had heard a gun shot and set off the alarm thinking that there were Mau Mau on the mission station. There were some of the girls who wanted to see if they could see what was going on outside and they kept getting up to look out the window. They saw nothing and we found out later that it was a false alarm.

We were not allowed out side after dark but we had one girl who did go out one night. She had had an argument with a room mate, so she grabbed her slippers and threw them out the window at the end of the building. Later she was repentant and decided to go get the slippers.

She snuck out the fire escape door, which we used all the time, and ran around the end of the building, grab the slippers and ran back up the stairs. A guard had seen her and started yelling for her to stop but she was scared and kept on going. She got inside and locked the door. The guard must have sensed that it was one of the girls so he didn't fire at her, but she could have been in big trouble.

One day Mr. Downing, our school principal, got word from the British officers guarding us that the Mau Mau were going to attack our station and kill all the RVA kids because they figured if they killed us they would get rid of the missionaries.

So the one morning after breakfast we were told to get packed. We all had to leave Kijabe that day. We would be assigned to go with somebody going towards where each one lived. Tanzania kids went with people from the Kisumu area. Some kids were picked up by parents and friends to be taken home so that there were none left in the school. The only kids left were the ones whose families lived on the mission station, Kijabe.

I went along with Anita Francis when we were put on the train west, and I think there were a couple other girls with us. I think it was a Tuesday or Wednesday so we had to stay with them near Kisumu until Saturday when the lake steamer left for the south end of Lake Victoria near my parents' mission station.

Anita and her parents were really good us and we had a lot of fun during those days with them. Those of us from Tanzania wondered how and where we would go because the train always went through at night. But Mr. Downing had it all planned.

The missionaries in the western Kenya near the port city of Kisumu, on Lake Victoria, would take those of us who went home to Tanzania. They would help us get onto the lake steamer since tickets could not be bought in advance. Mr. and Mrs. Hess from Tanzania were in Kenya at the time and offered to make arrangements for us to go on the lake steamer even though they were booked up. Hesses were going home from a holiday. No one in our mission could coax officials to bend rules and make special arrangements like Uncle Charlie Hess.

We were all able to go. The captain of the ship, with Charlie Hess's encouragement, simply made it work. The girls all slept in the lounge of the ship, and the boys on deck. We all thought it was great fun! When you are a little kid you don't see a grave situation like grown ups do.

When we got to Mwanza there was somebody from the mission there to meet the Hesses. Were they ever surprised to see all the RVA kids on the ship. I don't remember how we all got out to the mission headquarters at Makongoro. What I do remember is that Dr. Bill Barnett was in Mwanza and was going home that day to Kola Ndoto where my parents lived. He loaded my brother Don and I and his daughter, Ruth, into the car and took us to Kola Ndoto.

Our parents were not expecting us home from school for another two weeks when our normal vacation would start. Mother was teaching Bruce at home and trying to finish up before lunch when I rushed in, threw my arms around her neck, and shocked her. They had heard nothing about the kids being evacuated from Kijabe, so were very surprised to see us and thankful for the care those in charge had taken to get us out of the danger.

To me that was one of the most fun things that happened. The whole trip home was fun for me and I didn't realize the gravity of it for a long time. This is another way in which the Lord takes care of His children.

He leadeth his sheep forth.....



When things are going badly, or even when things are the opposite and getting dull and too mundane, it is so easy to wonder if God is really watching over us. Tales like this story are also given to us so that we can all take courage and go on with life believing that God sees the end of the journey and is very much in charge.

Psalms 4:3 But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.
4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.
6 There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

So, when life seems dull and slow, or when we have served God, and nothing seems to be happening, we should at least praise him that the enemy has been restrained and God is in charge after all.






This article fails to tell that many Christians lived in Lari, and that is one of the main reasons the Mau Mau chose that village to massacre. Missionaries who went up from Kijabe mission station early in the morning, hoping to help survivors, said the blood was literally flowing down the path from the hill from the victims of the Mau Mau who tried to flee as their homes burned. There were almost no survivors.

Joyce Baker Porte's comments on the Lari massacre:

Roy Shaffer knows it best, I believe. I remember, too.

We saw the fire in the sky that night from Kiambogo porch. It seems very close. We heard that the Mau Mau came at night, wedged boards against the door of all the houses, and burned them down with the people unable to escape. Most of the people in the village were Christians.

A few days later (it could have been the next day) we saw bedrolls against the walls of our classrooms, as they were opened up to Africans to spend the night in the safety of the school. By day, they went to their work and fields, and at night came back to the classrooms. We were ordered, practically under threat of death, to not pry, or disturb, or touch their belongings. I believe no one did.

We saw, too, the fires over by Logonot where settlers places were burned. We heard about how the ranch cattle had their lower legs cut off and were left to die slowly, unable to move (poor cows:how were they responsible for anything?). Some of the girls who volunteered at the hospital saw the people with hands cut off (children, too), and people with their eardrums pierced to keep them from hearing the white man's lies. Elizabeth was a tichie then, and I don't know how much they were informed of what was going on. What does she remember?

Some years later I read a book by the American ambassador to Kenya in Nairobi, mostly a self-serving book (what a wonderful person I am, I did all these wonderful things in Africa they would never do for themselves). In it, he said his response to requests for aid to a possible attack at RVA was that missionaries were basically despicable people, and if they chose to put their children in harm's way, then so be it. So the Lord had to step in and save us all!

Still, it was the Africans who suffered the most.