King Charles III and Kenyan President William Ruto in Nairobi on October 31, 2023. STATE HOUSE IN NAIROBI / VIA REUTERS
King Charles III passes through Nairobi on Wednesday, November 1, the second day of his trip to Kenya, the day after his remarks condemning the colonial abuses of the British in this East African country, without the request for forgiveness requested by certain communities.
The 73-year-old sovereign’s two-day program in the capital includes meetings with entrepreneurs, young people, a visit to a new museum dedicated to the history of Kenya and an elephant orphanage. He will then travel to the port city of Mombasa (south), where Charles, attached to environmental issues, will notably visit a nature reserve and meet religious representatives.
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On Tuesday, he laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier in a garden where the flag of Kenya was raised in December 1963, in place of the British Union Jack, and participated in a state dinner with President William Ruto.
“Heinous and unjustifiable acts of violence were committed against Kenyans as they waged… a painful struggle for independence and sovereignty. And for that, there can be no excuses,” Charles III said in a speech delivered Tuesday evening. “None of this can change the past, but by approaching our history with honesty and openness, perhaps we can demonstrate the strength of our friendship today and, in doing so, we can hopefully continue to build an ever closer bond for the years to come,” he added, without asking for forgiveness.
“First step towards progress”
Mr. Ruto, for his part, praised Charles’ “courage and will” “to shed light on uncomfortable truths” and which “constitute a first step towards progress going beyond the timid and equivocal half-measures of these last years “.
Many Kenyan veterans and human rights organizations were expecting an apology from the British authorities for atrocities committed during the colonial period (1895-1963). For the moment, in 2013, they simply expressed “sincere regrets” for the colonial violence in Kenya.
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In 2013, after years of proceedings, London also agreed to compensate more than 5,000 Kenyans victims of abuse during the Mau Mau uprising, which left more than 10,000 dead between 1952 and 1960. After deduction of legal costs , each had received around 2,600 pounds (3,000 euros).
Charles III’s four-day state visit to Kenya, his first as king to a Commonwealth country, comes just weeks before the country’s 60th anniversary celebrations on December 12.