King Charles III privately meets the families of freedom fighters

"The discussion... provided an opportunity for the King to hear first-hand about the violence committed against Kenyans during their struggle for independence," the statement by the United Kingdom High Commission issued Wednesday evening read in part.

It highlighted Charles' remarks during Tuesday's State banquet that the "wrongdoings of the past are a cause of the greatest sorrow and the deepest regret."

Hours before the statement came out, the 74-year-old King honoured some surviving Kenyan World War veterans with medals. The King and Queen Camilla laid wreaths at the graves of Kenyan soldiers who fought alongside the British at the Kariokor Commonwealth Graves.

On the first day of his four-day State visit to Kenya, Charles toured Uhuru Gardens, a colonial concentration camp where thousands of Kenyan freedom fighters were detained and tortured, and some killed. He laid a wreath on the tomb of the unknown warrior, even as he toured the museum set up to honour Kenya's heroes, immortalised in the tunnel of martyrs.

Charles' meeting with the families of Kenya's leading heroes is significant, given their grievances against the UK.

"The meeting was significant because those personalities played an important role in Kenya's struggle for independence. They form our history," said Timothy Onduru, who teaches history at Moi University.

However, Dr Onduru argued that without offering reparations to victims of colonial brutality, the kind that President William Ruto called for on Tuesday, the King's meeting would "not be very helpful".

"He should try to appease those families and other victims who lost their lives and land. That would be a gesture of sincerity," Onduru added.

More than 60 years after Kimathi was executed for possessing a firearm, his family has yet to accord him a befitting burial. Kimathi's burial site at the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison remains a secret of the colonial regime.

Efforts to have Britain reveal the revolutionary leader's resting place have been futile, plunging his family into untold agony.

In May, Kimathi's widow Mukami died without getting the much-desired closure: giving her husband a decent burial or knowing where his bones were. Mukami, a former detainee for her role in the independence struggle, spent most of her adult life futilely pushing the State to locate her husband's grave.

Kimathi's killing by the colonialists is especially painful not only to his family but also to all Kenyans because he led the military struggle against the barbaric colonial rule. Although planned by British police officer Ian Henderson, Kimathi's capture in 1956 by a fellow African, a policeman called Ndirangu Mau, and subsequent sentencing by an all-black jury, are widely considered acts of betrayal.

Mau, and others who captured Kimathi, betrayed Kenya's struggle for a bounty of about PS500, which has a current value of PS2,973.29, adjusted for inflation (the amount is worth approximately Sh547,000 with the current exchange rates).

Mau shot a defenceless Kimathi in the leg on October 1, 1956, ending his hunt by the British. In his testimony in court, Kimathi swore that he wished to surrender, raising his arms when he saw Mwau draw his gun. He had been sitting under a castor tree when he was ambushed in the Karunaini forest.

More than a century after his assassination in 1905, Koitalel's skull remains detained by the British, who have over the years shown a reluctance to repatriate it to his family.

Respected by all in his clan, Koitalel offered spiritual and military leadership to the Nandi.

While some of Koitalel's artefacts have been returned, Nandi elders from the Talai clan insist that the most important of them all, his skull, must be repatriated for the leader to earn a befitting burial. They made such demands ahead of and during the King's visit.

Although she died of natural causes in 1924, Giriama warrior Mekatilili bore the brunt of Britain's cruelty. Fierce as she was passionate about maintaining her community's independence, Mekatilili led Giriama's resistance against British occupation.