During his upcoming Kenya tour, King Charles needs to apologize for the bloody destruction perpetrated by British overlords as they crushed the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya between 1952 and 1960—one of the bloodiest episodes in colonial history, a Harvard academic has told the Telegraph.
Caroline Elkins, a Harvard professor of history whose book about the brutal suppression of the Mau Mau uprising, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya, won a Pulitzer Prize, said it was “a start” that the King—according to Buckingham Palace—would acknowledge the “more painful aspects” of the UK’s shared history with Kenya. “But there is one word that he really needs to say—sorry. We are sorry. That is what needs to come, he needs to do that. This happened on his mother’s watch.”
As The Daily Beast reported Friday, many influential Kenyans also want a full apology. Dominic Kirui, a Kenyan athlete and double Olympian turned writer, told The Daily Beast: “A royal visit in itself is not something that many Kenyans would have wanted or needed, because it awakens thoughts and feelings about the colonial past that many people have buried and never want exhumed.”
Kirui comes from a region in the Rif Valley where, he says, “the scars of colonialism can still be felt and seen. The people in Kericho were driven out of their homes and their ancestral lands and forcibly resettled in Nyanza, on lands that were infested with the tsetse fly, which it was hoped would kill them. A royal visit only serves to remind people about the injustices that were committed and the pain they suffered, so I cannot believe it is something Kenyans would be eager to see or witness.”
“The people whose land was stolen… still live among the farms,” Kirui said, adding, “I see the visit by the royals as a way of the colonists saying to Kenyans, ‘We are still around. You are not as sovereign as you think you are.’”
Kirui dismissed the generalized expressions of contrition made by Charles’ office saying that what was needed was “reparations to ensure people are compensated.”
Asked about the prospect of an apology, a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said that as the king is traveling to Kenya “at the request of the British Government” questions about an apology “would be a matter for them.” They directed the Daily Beast towards the text of the 2013 apology. (The Foreign Office did not respond to a request for comment.)
An official source in the king’s office said: “The visit will acknowledge the more painful aspects of the U.K. and Kenya’s shared history. His Majesty is fully aware of the context and will take time during his visit to hear from Kenyans who experienced, or whose loved ones experienced, the wrongs of this period first hand, to deepen his understanding. As well as acknowledging the wrongs of the past, the visit will look to the future, celebrating the strong and dynamic partnership which exists between Kenya and the U.K.”