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King Charles, Queen Camilla visit Kenya amid calls for colonialism

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King Charles III and Queen Camilla embarked on a four-day state visit to Kenya on Tuesday.

The royal visit, which has been hailed as an opportunity to strengthen the modern-day ties between the UK and Kenya, is also marked by widespread calls for an apology from Britain for its colonial past.

This visit is significant as it is King Charles’s first visit to an African and Commonwealth nation since ascending the throne in September last year.

Kenyan President William Ruto welcomed the royal couple at a formal ceremony in Nairobi.

Ruto emphasized the visit as a “significant opportunity to enhance collaboration” across various fields.

While the British High Commission noted that the tour would highlight the strong partnership between the UK and Kenya, it would also address the more painful aspects of Britain’s historic relationship with Kenya.

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This year marks the 60th anniversary of Kenya’s independence from British colonial rule.

One of the most contentious periods was the “Emergency” of 1952-1960 when British colonial authorities brutally suppressed the Mau Mau guerrilla uprising, resulting in the deaths of at least 10,000 people, primarily from the Kikuyu tribe, and the detention of tens of thousands more without trial.

Despite the program’s focus on various fields like the environment, creative arts, technology, and youth, Buckingham Palace has stated that King Charles intends to use this visit to deepen his understanding of the wrongs suffered by Kenyans during colonial rule.

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The Kenya Human Rights Commission called on the King to make an “unequivocal public apology” for the “brutal and inhuman treatment inflicted on Kenyan citizens” during colonial rule, as well as to pay reparations for colonial-era abuses.

In 2013, Britain agreed to compensate over 5,000 Kenyans who had suffered abuse during the Mau Mau revolt, though it did not offer a full apology.

During the visit, the royal couple is expected to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Uhuru Gardens, the site of Kenya’s declaration of independence.

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The UK and Kenya share a key economic partnership, with two-way trade totaling around £1.2 billion over the year ending in March 2023.

Additionally, the presence of British troops in Kenya remains a source of tension, with accusations of misconduct by soldiers, including rape and murder, and harm to civilians caused by munitions. An inquiry into the activities of the British army in Kenya was initiated by the Kenyan parliament in August.

This visit comes amid growing calls in some Commonwealth countries, particularly in the Caribbean, to remove the British monarch as the head of state, with some nations opting to transition to republics.

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