British Government finally apologizes, compensates Mau Mau

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mau5Yesterday, at the gardens of the British high commission is Nairobi sat thousands of Kenyans, most of whom members of the MAU MAU uprising. They had been here before, over half a century ago! The only difference was that this time round, these men and women who during the British colonial rule were castrated, sexually tortured, detained without trial, some killed and humiliated were there not to be interrogated and tortured but to hear the outcome of their lawsuit against an empire that had long ruled over them.

Their hope was a sincere apology that would somehow put their sorrows to rest! Others of course had bigger expectations and some had raised funds and travelled to London. They wanted to hear the verdict from the emperors own backyard. Late on the day, the U.K government announced that those who had survived their gruesome treatment would be compensated for their suffering and that a compensation package of about $31 million would be paid to more than 5,200 surviving Mau Mau men and women. The official statement from U.K foreign secretary William Hague to british lawmakers read  “I would like to make clear now and for the first time, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, that we understand the pain and grievance felt by those who were involved in the events”.

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The British government recognizes that Kenyans were subject to torture and other forms of ill treatment at the hands of the colonial administration. The British government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place, and that they marred Kenya’s progress towards independence.”

While the above gesture was absolutely and wholly appreciated by those who survived the empires atrocities and even by other Africans who went through the same experience under the colony, The british high commission for Kenya Mr Christian Turner noted that ‘while the empire had apologized, it was not responsible for the effect of torture’,  The Mau Mau case started back in 2009 when five members of the group flew to London to file the lawsuit. The U.K government fought the case at each legal stage, all the way to the court of Appeal but the case turned upside down when it gained international attention and the British government was forces to listen.

Describing the torture and humiliation they went through in statements issued to the courts, different members of the Mau Mau told of their tails. One Paulo Muoka Nzilil told how his castration left him destroyed. “I used to wonder, what am I for, what is my purpose?” Paulo is now about 85. “I would see people with children and think that I would never have any. I decided to stay away from people because it made me so sad.” Jane Muthoni Mara, another claimant, said in her witness statement that she was sexually assaulted by men who used a glass bottle filled with very hot water.“I was in so much pain and I could not stop crying and screaming. I felt utterly and completely violated by this sexual torture,” she said. “I saw this being done to . . . three other women. I had never seen anything so brutal and terrifying in all my life.”

According to the Kenya human rights commission, 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed during the Mau Mau revolt which started in the early 1950s and ended early 1960s. Those put in  jail included the founding father of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta whose son Uhuru Kenyatta is the current president of Kenya and US president Barack Obama’s grand father. The courts ruling has thus far been received in a positive way all around Africa and in all former British empire colonies as its seen as a positive precedent.

@RasMutabaruka

 

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