Groups pile pressure on King Charles to apologise for colonial atrocities

Brutal treatment

"We call upon the King on behalf of the British government to issue an unconditional and unequivocal public apology for the brutal and inhumane treatment inflicted on Kenyans during the colonial period and thereafter, to date," said KHCR Executive Director Davis Malombe.

But UK High Commissioner to Kenya Neil Wigan during an interview on Spice FM on Tuesday only expressed "regret," saying issuing an apology "is a difficult thing to do."

Wigan said legal implications remain a hindrance to offering an apology as demanded by victims of the injustices perpetrated by the UK government.

"We choose the language carefully. We have expressed deep regret and have said it in our Parliament in the most public way. We have engaged very closely with the Mau Mau veterans who were affected and have not only paid compensation individually but also helped arrange for the monument that now sits in Uhuru Park," he said.

KHRC head of programmes Annet Nerima said the King's visit would make less impact without addressing issues of land alienation and violations of human rights committed by British soldiers in the British Army Training Unit Kenya camp.

The Nandi have called on the King to facilitate the return of Koitalel arap Samoei's skull as well as 'stolen' cultural artefact.

Samoei's skull is believed to be in a museum in the UK. The skull was reportedly taken away by the colonialists after he was killed. The community is demanding its return to Kenya so that they can accord him a decent burial in line with Nandi traditions.

Samoei, one of the most celebrated Kenyan heroes who had waded a successful 10-year resistance against the British was duped into a peace truce before being gunned down by one of Kenya's most disgraced Kenya African Rifle (KAR) soldiers Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen.

He innocently walked to the meeting at Keptabarak in what is today referred to as Bears Club accompanied by 24 people, among them close relatives.

Unknown to Samoei, Col Meinertzhagen was accompanied by over 70 heavily armed men. At 11am when he extended his hand for a handshake he was blasted away by Meinertzhagen. He was killed together with everyone who had accompanied him but only one survived to narrate the ordeal.

The Nandi community is also demanding the return of his attire, including Sambut (gown made from monkey skin), a sword and other ornaments taken away after his killing in 1905.

The treaties that rendered the Maa community landless are also an issue that the community hopes to be addressed.

Pan African Living Cultures Association has, through the British Embassy in Kenya, petitioned the King to help them reclaim their heritage.

Maa Community Secretary General Daniel Kipiloshi said their claims are based on a series of events that consist of Maasai-British agreements of 1904 and 1911 which were done without the community's proper representation and consent.

This resulted in the dispossession of their ancestral lands, displacement of indigenous settlers, severe economic challenges and disintegration of their cultural heritage.

"These agreements were entered into without proper representation from the Maasai people. They led to the disposition of significant portions of our ancestral land," he said.

In 1904 the British forced the defeated Maasai to vacate the fertile grazing land of the Rift Valley and to move to the Southern Reserves in Narok. It was agreed that the Maasai would vacate the entire Rift Valley so that the government could use it for European settlement.

In return, the Maasai would migrate to two new settlements, which would be reserved for their use only and to the exclusion of Europeans or other settlers.

Former Kajiado Central MP David Sankori explained that the appeal is not limited to the forceful eviction, loss of lives and livelihood, or separation of clans and families.

He said the injustices ranged from forceful Samburu eviction from Laikipia African Reserve in 1920 to the lower lands, deportation and disappearance of the Samburu leaders in 1934 to the killing of those resisting eviction.

"The Kedong massacre of 1895 forced the removal of the Samburu from Laikipia Africa reserve to the lower land which denies them the best grazing land," he said.

Sankori further cited historical reports which estimated that close to two-thirds of the Maasai and 90 per cent of livestock perished from diseases attributed to foreign contact which was suspected to be chemical warfare committed by rogue officers due to eviction resistance.

Samburu Council of Elders Patron Col (Rtd) Richard Leiyiagu petitioned King Charles III to review their grievances and address their petition to allow the Maasai to sign independence documents and reopen the Lancaster House documents for signing.

"The agreements were made in the name of the crown, this, therefore, your majesty, places you in a unique position to address and put this matter to rest. We ask you to accept our petition to review and address the grievances of the Maasai community," he said.

Leiyiagu appealed to the King to consider the request of the Maasai in Tanzania by extending his influence on Commonwealth nations to stop Tanzania's government from dispossessing them of land in Ngorongoro.

"These are legacies that were left behind by the colonial government who dispossessed lands such as Serengeti and parts of Ngorongoro," he said.

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