Mau Mau compensation is a Christmas-come-too-late
By Joseph Ngugi;
| June 16th 2013
By Joseph Ngugi
Since the British government announced it was to compensate the Mau Mau victims of torture during the war of independence, my phone has not stopped ringing from my villagers hopefuls that Lady Luck had finally smiled on them.
You see, these were not calls from every Tom, Dick and Harry. They were calls by the Mau Mau generation from my village right down the Subukia Valley, who believed they too needed a share of the cash windfall offered by their former colonial tormentors.
Since the introduction of mobile phones and internet technology, the Mau Mau generation from the valleys too has become a technology savvy generation.
This technology was used well to follow the legal feat by another group of former fighters who took their half a century old grievances all the way to the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
Modern technology signified affluence and sophistication and these were two things the Mau Mau generation in my village was not known for prior to the arrival of the discovery of microchips and fibre optic cables. This technology came in hardy and it wasn’t therefore a surprise when I received that lengthy Skype call immediately after the British government admitted wrongdoing by terrorising the entire community in the name of crushing the Mau Mau uprising.
The people wanted to whether some of them – in fact all of them- who now claimed to have taken part in chasing the white settlers away from their land - would be paid for the job well done.
The Sh2.8 billion windfall by UK was a well-deserved Christmas-come-too late for the former Mau Mau fighters. Some are now too old to enjoy quality life on the fruits of their pains. In fact it is too little too late.
However, the Skype call from my villagers was not just a mere display of suaveness. They had wrongly believed that just because I lived near the source of the British justice, I was in a better position to know whether each of them stood to be rewarded or not.
After a lengthy narrative on how fierce the war against the British was, I realised the night was going to be long with people who sounded like a long playing record. It was time to calm down the exasperated villagers.
After they had shouted their bits on the matter compensation, it dawned on me that indeed it was me and not the British government, who as a matter of fact would carry the heaviest burden of this Mau Mau generation. This group counted on their wrongly perceived beliefs that their son in the faraway places was full of wisdom. I now had the burden of explaining the long and winding intricacies of law.
While doing this, I had to strike the balance between not giving them unrealistic hopes on money matters but again not to sending them early on the path to their grave with hopelessness. If this happened, I would stand banished from the only place I call home. What confused me most was the fact that my villagers, even those born long after the last Mau Mau homemade gun fell silent now claimed to have fought in the uprising and wanted recognised and compensated.
Looking back to the time I was growing up in the valleys, the Mau Mau tales were only told in third party forms and nobody ever claimed to have been one of them then. This newly found excitements and quest for recognition was baffling. Top on the things that my villagers wanted to know from me was whether they had a chance in regards to sharing of the the Sh.2.8 billion pay out they now claim to have won from their former enemies. Although both sides always claims to have won the war, the wind fall pay out strengthen the claim by the Mau Mau that indeed the British has lost both the war and the battle to Kenyans.
My loyalty to the villagers, therefore, demanded that I tell hard truth. I Started by telling them nobody gets compensated if at all he was not party to a case. Since the villagers were not part of the 5,200 members who had subscribed to the London case, their win did not mean the money was to be shared by the entire world.
It was only villagers who had been tortured to confess involvements with the Mau Mau who could sue. They needed to prove that they had been mistreated either during the arrest, the interrogations, or while in the colonial jails.
The children of the Mau Mau, although not tortured, might have suffered psychological trauma witnessing horrid mistreated on their parents. This group too could sue in tort for nervous shock.
My villagers should therefore sue - jointly and severally - everybody that was involved in Mau Mau mess. These people included the British and all their agents, some who are still alive and wealthy.
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