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Why UK Won’t Apologize Over Colonial Abuses – Envoy

Why UK Won’t Apologize Over Colonial Abuses – Envoy
A caricature drawing of the UK King. Courtesy: The Africa Report

NAIROBI – Oct 24London will not apologize to Kenya for the atrocities committed during colonization, UK High Commissioner to Kenya Neil Wigan reiterated.

Speaking on Kenya’s Spice FM on Tuesday ahead of King Charles III’s visit to Nairobi on October 31, High Commissioner Wigan said they haven’t made an apology in any context, as “it is a really difficult thing to do”. 

“What we think we want to do is acknowledge the difficult bits of our history and talk about them openly to the countries affected, the individuals, and the communities,” he said in the interview. 

When asked what is difficult about making an apology, the diplomat said they choose the language carefully, and that is why the UK expressed deep regret in Parliament “the most public way”. 

“An apology starts to take you to a difficult legal territory, and the settlement we made was out of court, so it showed our sincerity and openness in recognizing the abuses that were committed. That was the route we chose and accepted to the Mau Mau Veterans Association,” the envoy said. 

He added that they have engaged closely with the Mau Mau veterans who were affected, paid compensation individually,and helped put the monument at Uhuru Park.  

“We have been very open about those difficult bits of history,” he added. 

During the King’s visit, the UK government said he would “acknowledge the more painful aspects of the UK and Kenya’s shared history”, which includes the violent and bloody Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s. 

“His Majesty will take time during the visit to deepen his understanding of the wrongs suffered in this period by the people of Kenya,” the statement said. 

The UK in 2013 said it expressed its “sincere regret” for the atrocities committed to the Mau Mau during the colonial period, as it agreed to compensate some 5,228 survivors 

“We understand the pain and the grief felt by those who were involved in the events of emergency in Kenya. The British government recognises that Kenyans were subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of the colonial administration,” Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons at the time. 

“The British government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place and that they marred Kenya’s progress to independence. Torture and ill-treatment are abhorrent violations of human dignity which we unreservedly condemn,” he added.  

UN investigators on the treatment of Kenyans by the British colonial authorities in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries established there was cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and punishment during the colonial period.  

The UN special rapporteurs said they were disappointed that there was no apology for what had happened. 

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