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More Needs to be Done by the Monarch than Acknowledgement

The Monarch acknowledging the painful aspects of colonial rule in Kenya and leaving it at that feels like a slap in the face. Picture a toxic ex being conscious of their actions towards an ex-lover rotting away in the grave. Better still, picture an Israeli ruler, 60 years from now, acknowledging Israel’s inhumanity against Gaza.


Kenyans salute the King and the Queen for coming all the way to Kenya. It is a gesture that portrays sincerity in the King’s heart to make amends with this nation, clear the air, and move forward. The King’s visit to Kenya comes as the country prepares itself to celebrate 60 years of independence. However, Kenyans were hoping that the King would do more than just acknowledge painful past events.

The Monarch: Britain’s King Charles III and Queen Camilla wave from the Buckingham Palace balcony
The Monarch: Britain’s King Charles III and Queen Camilla wave from the Buckingham Palace balcony after viewing the Royal Air Force fly-past in central London on May 6, 2023, after their coronations. Photo| Getty Images


King Charles to Acknowledge Colonial Britain’s Atrocities in Kenya

According to most Kenyans, demanding an apology from King Charles III and Queen Camilla at this moment is actually silly. In spite of that, Kenyans need the King to facilitate the provision of full closure regarding the 1952 Operation Jock Scott. Although it sounds retrogressive to make inquiries into the past, the only way a country can swiftly move on is by understanding where it came from.

Kenyans need to know whether the history of their land and independence is a fabricated story. This is because a huge portion of the files containing details of the 1952 State of Emergency were destroyed by the colonial government. It is evident that the King has enough power to order an inquiry into the details or whereabouts of the files. Doing this would be acknowledgment enough, otherwise, any other type of acknowledgment feels like a PR stunt.

Members of the Kikuyu tribe are held in a prison camp in Kenya on Dec. 3, 1952. British authorities held a blanket suspicion that members of the tribe were part of the Mau Mau rebellion. |Getty Images

Things between Kenya and Britain have been going smoothly despite their intertwined painful past. A formal acknowledgment from the Monarch with the aim of building solidarity with Kenya is not proper. Kenyans need to know to whom this acknowledgment is being directed and whether or not they will honor it. Attaching this acknowledgment with a request or “polite demand” low-key takes Kenya back to its colonial days.

A visit during Madaraka Day, Mashujaa Day, or Jamuri Day would have made more sense. Nonetheless, Kenya is honored that the King and Queen spared their time to make this trip. However, the King’s visit to the country on a random Tuesday to solidify trade relations should be termed anything else but an acknowledgment of past suffering. Although Kenyans still feel the negative impacts of the colonial rule, they decided to soldier on and leave the past behind.

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Now, since the past has been revived for reasons that are not worthy enough, it is only right that Kenya gets full closure. The apology ought to be as loud as the disrespect. If not, the story being sold to Kenyans about the Monarch acknowledging painful aspects of Britain’s colonial rule should be scrapped. After all, Kenyans do not really need that type of acknowledgment. Kenyans have been doing fine without Britain’s realization of their past actions and will keep on doing fine.

However, if this acknowledgment really has to take place, then a number of specific people need to meet with the King. Unfortunately, most of these people are dead, and the surviving ones were shunned by the government ages ago. The rebellion group behind Kenya’s struggle for independence was for a long time branded a criminal group. A judgment that began with the colonial government and ran through till 2003 when President Mwai Kibaki put an end to it.

The then-Prince Charles met with Kenya’s President Jomo Kenyatta in 1971. Kenyatta had been one of the leaders of the Mau Mau uprising. Photo| Wikimedia

The Monarch needs not to apologize, but it needs to do more than acknowledge painful aspects of Kenya’s colonial past. Additionally, the Monarch needs to answer an inquiry that the Kenyan parliament launched in August. Kenyans are yet to understand the activities of the British Army based in the outskirts of Nanyuki. This is after the body of a 21-year-old woman, Agnes Wanjiru was found in a septic tank. According to reports, Agnes was last seen alive in the company of some British soldiers.

Details surrounding Wanjiru’s death were met with more questions than answers. Instead of asking for handouts in the name of apology and acknowledgment, Kenyans should ask the right questions. What does this royal visit mean for Kenya and its people? Did Agnes Wanjiru get the justice she deserves? Was her family given the closure it needs? Is Kenya’s history of independence truly as it is told? Or is there more to this history than what most Kenyans know?

In a show of good faith, the Monarch ought to assure Kenyans that come what may, Kenya will never go through what it went through in their hands 60 years ago. The Monarch actually ought to bring President Ruto into questioning regarding the continued suffering of the Kenyan people. 60 years ago, Kenya was oppressed by white men. 60 years later, it is still under oppression.

If this visit was primarily about acknowledging the painful aspects of the colonial past, then some focus should also be put on the painful aspects of present governance. After all, it is right to say that we are partly in this current mess because of the harrowing aspects that the past colonial powers put us through.

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Lastly, was the Monarch actually invited to make this visit, or did it just say it would, and Kenya had to abide? All in all, for whatever reasons the Monarch had for making this acknowledgment after 60 years, Kenyans hope that it births something fruitful and substantial.


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