Calls for King Charles to apologise on Kenya visitWed, 11 Oct 2023 15:10:49 GMT

Britain’s King Charles III faced calls Wednesday to apologise for colonial-era atrocities in Kenya when he visits the country later this month.Buckingham Palace said Charles and his wife Queen Camilla will visit the East African nation from October 31 to November 3, his first trip to a Commonwealth country since becoming king last year, and his fourth official visit to Kenya.”If he is not coming to apologise for the atrocities they did to us then he should not come,” 53-year-old accountant John Otieno told AFP.Buckingham Palace said the visit was aimed at celebrating the “warm relationship” between the two countries as Kenya prepares to mark the 60th anniversary of independence from Britain in December.It said the trip would also “acknowledge the more painful aspects of the UK and Kenya’s shared history including the Emergency” in 1952-1960, a reference to bloody rebellions against colonial rule.”His Majesty will take time during the visit to deepen his understanding of the wrongs suffered in this period by the people of Kenya,” the palace said.About 10,000 people were killed during Britain’s brutal suppression of the Mau Mau uprising, one of the British empire’s bloodiest insurgencies.Britain agreed in 2013 to compensate more than 5,000 Kenyans who had suffered abuse during the revolt, in a deal worth nearly 20 million pounds (almost $25 million at today’s exchange rates).”We are hoping that he will bring a national apology,” Evelyn Wanjugu Kimathi, the daughter of top resistance leader Dedan Kimathi, told AFP, saying she hoped the visit would lead to “closure”.”Once we have the goodwill from the UK government, everything else will be okay,” said Kimathi, who heads a foundation that looks after the interests of veterans of the independence war as well as campaigning on environmental issues.She also voiced hope that Britain would help Kenya identify graves of the “freedom fighters” including her father, who was hanged in 1957 at Nairobi’s Kamiti Maximum Security Prison but whose remains have yet to be located.- ‘Reset relations’ -Other Kenyans voiced hope that the visit would forge a new path for relations with Britain.”He is very welcome to Nairobi but as someone we can negotiate shared development with, not a colonial master who wants to take more from us,” said teacher Kamau Njoroge, 49.”Hopefully the visit will not be about our past but on our future. This is an opportunity to reset our relations,” added businessman Kelvin Njuguna, 28.”I pray that it will change the issues we have been seeing in Nanyuki,” he said, referring to allegations of abuses by British soldiers at a training camp near Nanyuki, a town about 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Nairobi.”They continue to do bad things to our people in Nanyuki and go unpunished,” added accountant Otieno.Kenya’s parliament announced in August an investigation into the activities of the British troops, including the high-profile killing of a young mother in 2012.The body of Agnes Wanjiru, 21, was found dumped in a septic tank after she reportedly went out partying with British soldiers at a hotel in Nanyuki.In the latest development in the case, her family last week launched a lawsuit in Kenya to compel the British government to inform them about the status of its investigation and possible prosecution of the culprit.Mwangi Macharia, chairman of the African Centre for Corrective and Preventive Action that filed the case on behalf of the Wanjiru family, said he would be “seeking justice”. He said he wanted King Charles to be informed about the Wanjiru case and a 2021 fire in an area used for training by the British troops that ravaged about 12,000 acres (4,800 hectares) of land.Student Emma Orido, 25, said she did not think the royal visit would “have any impact”. “He will likely be guarded and will not go back to UK (understanding) the feelings of normal Kenyans,” she said.