Calls have been made for Britain’s King Charles III to issue an apology for the historical wrongdoings during the colonial era in Kenya, as he is scheduled to visit the country later this month. Buckingham Palace announced that Charles and his wife, Queen Camilla, would be visiting Kenya from October 31 to November 3. This marks his first visit to a Commonwealth nation since ascending to the throne last year and his fourth official visit to Kenya.
A 53-year-old accountant, John Otieno, expressed that Charles should only visit if his purpose is to apologize for the past atrocities committed against Kenya. Buckingham Palace stated that the visit is intended to celebrate the “warm relationship” between the two nations as Kenya approaches the 60th anniversary of its independence from Britain in December. The trip is also meant to acknowledge the more painful aspects of the shared history between the UK and Kenya, including the “Emergency” of 1952-1960, which refers to the violent uprisings against colonial rule.
The palace further explained that during the visit, “His Majesty will take time to deepen his understanding of the wrongs suffered during this period by the people of Kenya.” Approximately 10,000 people lost their lives during the brutal suppression of the Mau Mau uprising, which was one of the bloodiest insurgencies in the British Empire’s history. In 2013, Britain agreed to compensate over 5,000 Kenyans who had suffered abuse during the revolt, in a deal worth nearly 20 million pounds (approximately $25 million at current exchange rates).
Evelyn Wanjugu Kimathi, the daughter of prominent resistance leader Dedan Kimathi, expressed her hope that the visit would lead to a national apology and contribute to a sense of closure. She also hoped that the UK would assist Kenya in identifying the graves of “freedom fighters,” including her father, whose remains have yet to be located.
Some Kenyans see the visit as an opportunity to reset relations with Britain, hoping that it can be focused on shared development and the future rather than the colonial past. There are also concerns regarding alleged abuses by British soldiers at a training camp near Nanyuki, with the Kenyan parliament launching an investigation into their activities, including the high-profile killing of a young mother in 2012.
In the latest developments, the family of Agnes Wanjiru, whose body was found in a septic tank after an evening with British soldiers, has launched a lawsuit in Kenya to compel the British government to provide information about the status of its investigation and possible prosecution of the perpetrator.
While some remain skeptical about the impact of the royal visit, others are hopeful that it can bring about positive changes and address lingering issues.