/ 1 September 2003

Kenya lifts ban on Mau Mau

Kenyan National Security Minister Chris Murungaru said on Sunday he had removed a clause in the penal code outlawing the country’s independence movement, Mau Mau, 53 years after it was enacted.

”The government has finally lifted the clause in the laws of Kenya that outlawed the independence movement Mau Mau and gazetted the withdrawal,” Murungaru said.

Murungaru said the legislation, introduced in 1950 to stem mounting dissent against the British occupation of Kenya, became obsolete after Kenya gained independence in 1963, and ”it was time to recognise men and women who suffered for us to get independence”.

The government pledged in June to withdraw the clause before December 12, when Kenyans will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Kenya becoming a republic after independence from British colonial rule.

Murungaru regretted that the government of founding president Jomo Kenyatta and his successor, Daniel arap Moi, who retired last year, had ignored calls from surviving Mau Mau members to lift the ban on their movement.

The Mau Mau fighters have since 1963 been seeking recognition as a registered society in order to obtain compensation from the British government over the atrocities and other forms of maltreatment they received while in British detention camps in the East African nation.

The Mau Mau, with backing from the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, have instructed British lawyer Martyn Day, who specialises in personal injury claims, to seek compensation.

The clause was put into Kenyan legislation in 1950, two years before the then British governor in Kenya, Sir Evelyn Baring, declared a state of emergency throughout the country after Mau Mau fighters had stepped up their attacks on white settlers they accused of stealing their farmlands. — Sapa-AFP