Decades after enduring detention, torture, and suffering during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, Gitu Wa Kahengeri, now in his nineties, seeks justice, an apology, and compensation from the British government. This push for reconciliation comes ahead of King Charles III’s visit to Kenya, where he plans to acknowledge the painful aspects of colonial history. Gitu’s involvement in the Mau Mau rebellion stemmed from his anti-colonial beliefs.
The Mau Mau, a group of guerrilla fighters, resisted British colonial rule and the appropriation of fertile land by settlers. This period was marked by brutality, with tens of thousands of Kenyans subjected to detention camps, torture, and violence.
Gitu Wa Kahengeri’s harrowing experience included seven years of detention on a remote Indian Ocean island. The Mau Mau uprising led to the death of more than 10,000 people, with many others enduring abuse, including torture and sexual mutilation by security forces.
While Buckingham Palace has stated that King Charles III and Queen Camilla will address the painful aspects of colonial history during their visit, Gitu Wa Kahengeri, a former legislator, calls for a deeper acknowledgment and sincere reconciliation. He urges the return of artifacts taken from Kenya and additional actions beyond a public statement of regret. While a 2013 settlement compensated some Mau Mau victims, Gitu emphasizes the need for more comprehensive reconciliation efforts.
Kenya’s treatment of Mau Mau veterans also faces criticism, with many feeling neglected by successive governments. Despite the scars of their struggle, Gitu and fellow veterans assert that they are not begging but demanding their rights and recognition.