Brian Inganga Associated Press King Charles III (on the photo) of the United Kingdom at a state dinner on Tuesday hosted by Kenyan President William Ruto.
Hillary Orinde – Agence France-Presse and Tanya Willmer – Agence France-Presse in Nairobi
King Charles III affirmed in Nairobi that there could be “no excuse” for the atrocities of British colonization committed against Kenyans, without however asking for forgiveness as some demanded.
“Heinous and unjustifiable acts of violence were committed against Kenyans as they waged […] a painful struggle for independence and sovereignty. And for that, there can be no excuse,” the British sovereign said at a state dinner on Tuesday with Kenyan President William Ruto.
“None of this can change the past, but by approaching our history with honesty and openness, perhaps we can demonstrate the strength of our friendship today and, in doing so, we can hopefully continue to build an ever closer bond for years to come,” he added.
For his part, Ruto said the colonial power's reaction to self-determination movements in Kenya had been “monstrous cruelty”, up to “the worst excesses of colonial impunity”.
Charles' “courage and willingness” “to shed light on uncomfortable truths” is a first step toward “progress beyond the timid and equivocal half-measures of recent years.”
Charles III had previously symbolically visited the site of the proclamation of Kenya's independence, on the first day of his visit to this East African country, where demands for apologies multiplied.< /p>
This four-day visit, a few weeks before the 60th anniversary of the independence of this former colony, is Charles III's first as king to a Commonwealth country.
This trip by Charles, 74, and Queen Camilla, 76, underlines “the strong and dynamic partnership between the United Kingdom and Kenya,” said the British embassy. But Buckingham also said it would be an opportunity to discuss “the most painful aspects of the common history” of the two countries.
One of the deadliest episodes was the Mau Mau revolt, whose repression by the British colonial power left more than 10,000 dead between 1952 and 1960. Thirty-two colonists were also killed.
Many Kenyan veterans' and human rights organizations expected more from the British authorities, who have so far simply expressed “sincere regret” for colonial violence in Kenya in 2013.
The NGO Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) on Sunday called on the king to “present an unconditional and unequivocal public apology” for atrocities committed “during the entire colonial period” (1895-1963). The KHRC also requested reparations.
In 2013, after years of litigation, London agreed to compensate more than 5,000 Kenyans who were victims of abuse during the Mau Mau uprising. After deducting legal costs, each received approximately 2,600 pounds (nearly 4,400 Canadian dollars).
Without mentioning this issue, William Ruto highlighted “the historic ties between Kenya and the United Kingdom” and the “steady progress in trade and investment”, in a message on “X” (formerly Twitter).
Trade between the two countries represented approximately 1.2 billion pounds (more than 2 billion Canadian dollars) annually at the end of March 2023.
The royal couple is expected to stay for two days in Nairobi with on the agenda meetings with entrepreneurs, young people, visit to a forest and an elephant orphanage…
He will then travel to the port city of Mombasa (south), where Charles, attached to environmental issues, will notably visit a nature reserve and meet religious representatives.
He will not go to Nanyuki, a town where is based at the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (Batuk), at the heart of recurring controversies, between accusations of rape, murder and the presence of unexploded ordnance which mutilates local populations.
After visits to Germany then to France, marking a desire for rapprochement with its European allies, this trip marks a royal orientation towards the Commonwealth.
The sovereign begins a “mission to save the Commonwealth” in Kenya, estimated the British daily Daily Mail.
This vestige of the British empire which brings together 56 countries, most of them former British colonies, is weakened by increasing criticism. more vivid on the United Kingdom's colonial past.