Charles III continues his visit to Kenya after condemning colonial abuses
King Charles III greeted on Wednesday in Nairobi veterans of both world wars on their second day of visiting Kenya, after condemning the day before the British abuses of the colonial era in this East African country. The 74-year-old monarch stated on Tuesday that "there can be no excuse" for the atrocities committed by the British Empire in Kenya, but he refrained from formally asking for forgiveness, as some voices request.
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It is the first visit of Charles III as king to a Commonwealth country. It also comes before Kenya celebrates the 60th anniversary of its independence from the British crown in December. Accompanied by his wife Camilla, Charles III visited a military cemetery in Nairobi on Wednesday morning to pay tribute to the Africans killed by Britain in the two world wars, laying a wreath of flowers at their graves before greeting former Kenyan combatants. .
After concluding the two-day program in the capital, the royal couple will travel to the port city of Mombasa (southern), where Charles III – committed to environmental issues – will visit a nature reserve and meet with religious representatives. On Tuesday, the monarch laid a wreath on the tomb of the unknown soldier in a garden where the Kenyan flag was raised in December 1963, after the British "Union Jack" was lowered, and participated in a state dinner with President William Ruto.
Their Majesties both laid wreaths and met members of the local community at the site which commemorates 59 Commonwealth members of the Armed Forces who lost their lives in World War II. pic.twitter.com/OSkQnCI2Qi
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 1, 2023
"There were aberrant and unjustifiable acts of violence against Kenyans while they were fighting (...) a painful battle for independence and sovereignty," the monarch declared during dinner. "None of this can change the past, but by addressing our history with honesty and openness, perhaps we can show the strength of our friendship today, and by doing so, I hope we can continue to build an ever-closer bond in the years to come," he said.
Ruto highlighted that "the courage and willingness" of King Charles to "shed light on some uncomfortable truths" could be the first step to achieving "progress, beyond the hesitant and equivocal" measures adopted in recent years.
"Confronting the Empire's dark past," headlined the Kenyan newspaper The Standard on Wednesday.
The Star called demands for reparations "unrealistic." "What can King Charles repair today?" he added in an editorial, suggesting however that the sovereign could contribute to the restitution of looted property. Various Kenyan organizations of former combatants and human rights defense They expected the British authorities to apologize for the atrocities committed during the colonial era (1895-1963).
For the moment, they limited themselves to expressing their "sincere regret" in 2013 for the colonial violence in Kenya. After years of legal proceedings, London agreed in 2013 to compensate more than 5,000 Kenyan victims of violence during the Mau Mau insurrection, which left more than 10,000 dead between 1952 and 1960. After deducting legal costs, each received about 2 1,600 pounds (about 3,100 dollars / 56,645 Mexican pesos).
The German head of state, visiting the neighboring country Tanzania apologized on Wednesday for abuses committed by German colonial forces at the beginning of the 20th century.
"I bow to the victims of German colonial domination. As German president, I would like to apologize for what the Germans did to your ancestors here," declared Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
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