Nairobi’s capital came to a halt on Tuesday due to the security cover imposed by UK King Charles III’s state visit to Kenya.
As motorists, pedestrians, and others complain about city road closures, traffic re-routing, and increased security checks, particularly along the routes and sites the Monarch and his entourage are likely to visit, it is important to remember the messages that he, as the Head of the UK Government, and indeed the current Kenyan Administration, are likely to observe.
According to Buckingham Palace, King Charles will “acknowledge the more painful aspects of the UK’s and Kenya’s shared history including the Emergency (1952-60) … [taking] time during the visit to deepen his understanding of the wrongs suffered in this period by the people of Kenya.”
Apart from being curious as to where he will deliver these sentiments – a State of Address to Parliament is preferable when offering his apologies to the Kenyan people – I would expect the King to unconditionally order the Foreign Office to release documents pinpointing the exact location of Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi’s burial site at Kamiti Maximum Prison in Nairobi.
This will be the clearest indication yet that he, and indeed the UK Government, are deeply sorry for the “abhorrent violations of human dignity that Kenyans were subjected to at the hands of the colonial administration,” as former Foreign Secretary William Hague put it in his June 6, 2013, address to the House of Commons. Anything short of that will be a continued affront to Kimathi and the tens of thousands killed and displaced during the 80-year British occupation of Kenya and subsequent struggle for independence.
While we value and recognise our two countries’ defence agreements and cooperation, particularly in counterterrorism, this collaboration with the British Army Training Unit Kenya should not have protected British soldiers accused of murder, sexual abuse, and environmental degradation of land, including the abandonment of unexploded ordinances in Laikipia County.
It is also critical that a formal statement be issued, including a follow-up to the 2019 inquest in Kenya, which ruled that British soldiers were guilty of the 2012 murder of 21-year-old Agnes Wanjiru. Wanjiru’s family is entitled to answers, and her killer(s) must be brought to justice.
As Prince of Wales, Charles visited Kenya three times: in 1971, 1978, and 1987. It is significant and historic as this is his first visit to Kenya as King following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, who ascended the throne here in February 1952 following the death of her father, King George VI.
It is not lost on me that the four-day programme reflects causes and interests that he has long been known to advocate. However, without a full and unequivocal apology to the Kenyan people, the discovery of Kimathi’s burial location, and a promise from the UK Government to bring the killer(s) of Wanjiru to justice, I believe that this voyage will be a failure.
-Mr Kalonzo is the Wiper Party leader