On Friday, King Charles and Queen Camilla wrapped up a four-day royal visit to Kenya that raised concerns about Britain’s colonial past. They visited the oldest mosque in East Africa and a historic fort.
Charles visited Fort Jesus, a 16th-century Portuguese fortification, and had meetings with traditional religious leaders from Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and African conventional faiths in Mombasa. The royal couple could not travel between locations in an electric tuk-tuk due to heavy weather.
Charles made his first trip to a former British colony since taking the throne in September of last year. The visit was centered on the two nations’ strong collaboration on problems of security, climate change, and economic growth.
Though he did not extend the apology that many victims and their descendants had demanded, he did express his “deepest regret” for the carnage experienced during Kenya’s independence fight.
During the 1952–60 Mau Mau uprising, British soldiers massacred, tortured, and imprisoned tens of thousands of Kenyans. During their almost seven decades in power, the colonial government took large swaths of agricultural land throughout the nation.
President William Ruto of Kenya praised Charles’ statements as a positive beginning, while German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier made different sentiments this week when visiting neighboring Tanzania.
Steinmeier expressed regret for the ruthless repression of the Maji Maji insurrection in 1905–19007, which resulted in up to 300,000 deaths, and prayed for forgiveness on behalf of the victims of Germany’s colonial power in that region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Mombasa artist Derrick Amuli stated, “Given Germany the chance to beg Tanzanians for forgiveness, that is a very big step in admitting that they actually wronged our African brothers.”
However, while it appears that we are pressuring them to apologize, the British have not realized that they must apologize to us. Like everyone else, they must apologize,” Amuli remarked.
In 2013, the UK government granted over 5,200 survivors of abuses during the Mau Mau uprising an out-of-court payment of 20 million pounds ($24 million). However, the government has not apologized and has rejected claims from other groups.
According to the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Charles’ apology would put his nation in “difficult legal territory” last week.