Kenya urges Britain to apologise for colonial brutality

Kenyan Justice Minister Kiraitu Murungi has urged Britain to formally apologise for the brutality it committed against the country’s independence fighters, Mau Mau, during the colonial period.

“I call upon the government of the United Kingdom, as a civilised nation, to do the honourable thing and issue a formal apology to the Mau Mau, their families and the people of Kenya for these barbaric crimes against humanity,” Murungi said.

Murungi was speaking on Thursday during the launch of a book, Britain’s Gulag: The brutal end of empire in Kenya, by Caroline Elkins of Harvard University, who argues that tactics used by the British in their crackdown on the Mau Mau rebellion amounted to crimes against humanity.

Elkins writes that London’s “draconian response” to the independence fighters was to “treat and portray them as sub-human savages”.

“We want the British government to acknowledge their wrongdoing and say sorry. It’s only that way that we can say that our humanity is recognised,” said Paul Muite, a Kenyan lawmaker, who is among a team of lawyers preparing to sue Britain for compensation.

The freedom fighters have vowed to sue London for compensation for the torture and atrocities inflicted during the brutal repression of the Mau Mau rebellion a half century ago.

Crushed testicles, weeks of starvation, being tossed into hot water and onto ant hills, being smeared with blood and released to dogs, beatings, nakedness and having soil stuffed into their rectums were just some of the litany of horrors the Mau Mau claim to have been subjected to.

The Mau Mau, which started as a grassroots movement among the Kikuyu tribe to recover arable farmlands appropriated by British colonial settlers, evolved into a brutal full-fledged rebellion in 1952 that demanded Kenyan independence.

Its hit-and-run tactics against white settlers prompted a heavy-handed response from colonial police and allied home guards and thousands of young Kikuyu men were rounded up and died amid horrific brutality and torture.

In late 1952, the colonial authorities declared a state of emergency that led to the detention of several members of the Mau Mau political wing, including Jomo Kenyatta, the man who at independence in 1963 became Kenya’s founding president. - Sapa-AFP


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