By Derrick Kiplagat
The memorial to Kenyans killed and tortured by British forces during the Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s was unveiled on Saturday in Nairobi. The monument is part of a 2013 out-of-court settlement by the United Kingdom where it agreed to pay £20 million in compensation to the Mau Mau veterans, in a bid to show it’s ‘sincere regret’ for the abuse, pain and affliction caused during the colonial rule.
Thousands of Kenyans alongside surviving freedom fighters flocked the memorial site in Nairobi to witness the historic event.
Thousands of Kenyans were held in detention during the State of Emergency declared to counter the Mau Mau campaign, which saw many lives lost in the fight for the independence of this sovereign state. Many Kenyans during the movement suffered heavy beating, rape, castration and hard labour.
“The memorial stands as a symbol of reconciliation between the British Government, the Mau Mau and all those who suffered during the emergency period,” Christian Turner, the United Kingdom’s High Commissioner to Kenya said.
Thousands of veterans and their families crowded Nairobi’s Uhuru Park and were clad in T-shirts printed “Shujaa wa Mau Mau” the movement that fought the British colonial rule. At the center of the monument, is a sculpture depicting an armed Mau Mau fighter receiving food from a woman in a traditional “kiondoo” basket. Their faces are turned away from one another so they could not reveal the other’s identity if caught by the British soldiers.
Thrilled veterans and their families surrounded the monument as soon as it was unveiled to take pictures. Many had that look of satisfaction on their faces, for them the event being a symbol of reconciliation.
According to the Kenya Human Rights Commission, over 90,000 Kenyans were executed or tortured and 160,000 people were detained in inhumane living conditions.