The monarch’s presence elicits mixed reactions among Kenyans even as he expresses regrets for colonial violence.
Nairobi, Kenya – A five-day visit to Kenya by Britain’s King Charles III is unearthing memories of atrocities committed during the six-decade colonisation of the East African country.
According to the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), the colonial administration masterminded the extrajudicial torture and killings of 90,000 Kenyans during that period.
As King Charles landed in Nairobi on Tuesday for his first state visit to Africa since becoming king after Queen Elizabeth II’s death last year, some Kenyans were waiting for him to formally apologise for the “acts of violence” as Charles described them.
But the monarch stopped short of doing so.
“There were abhorrent and unjustifiable acts of violence committed against Kenyans as they waged … a painful struggle for independence and sovereignty. And for that, there can be no excuse,” he said at a state banquet hosted on Tuesday by Kenyan President William Ruto.
The monarch was accompanied by Queen Camilla to the country, which is a member of the 56-member Commonwealth, a group of mostly former British colonies.
After a welcome by Ruto at the State House, Charles headed to Uhuru Gardens National Monument and Museum, where he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. The royal couple also walked through the Tunnel of Martyrs, a visual retelling of the stories of those who died in a number of national events, including the independence struggle.
On Wednesday, the king and queen met Kenyan war veterans who fought for the British in World War II as part of the King’s African Rifles at the Kariokor World War II Commonwealth Cemetery.
Memories of a massacre
Charles’s presence has elicited mixed reactions among Kenyans.
Some see it as a reminder of the dark colonial past, during which thousands of people were tortured and killed as they fought for the country’s independence. Others say the visit should be viewed as a new chapter in the two countries’ relationship.