Kenya’s Talai clan petitions Prince William over land eviction

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Mau Mau suspects in a prison camp

The UK has recognised the abuses carried out against the Mau Mau during the Kenyan struggle for independence

A group of more than 100,000 Kenyans from the Talai clan has written to Prince William to seek an apology, and his support for reparations for human rights abuses they say they suffered during the British colonial settlement.

The letter, a copy of which the BBC has seen, says the British government has declined to engage with the clan’s representatives and they’re therefore reaching out to the prince “because Kenya is special to him”.

A request for comment has been sent to both the Royal Family and the British Foreign Office.

The Talai say the British government has declined to recognise the suffering of its members during the colonial era.

A UN inquiry determined last year that gross human rights violations, were committed specifically against the clan murder, sexual violence, torture, and arbitrary detention and displacement.

Five UN Special Rapporteurs then wrote to the British government regarding public apologies, reparations and remedy. In response, the UK said it had already issued a public apology and settlement in 2013 of claims made by Kenyans who lived through the emergency period and the Mau Mau insurgency, from 1952 to 1963 when Kenya gained independence.

The Talai however insisted that the case the British government referred to in its response is a separate case.

Prince William in Kenya

Prince William has spoken of his fondness for Kenya

“Despite our immense suffering under British rule, the British Government has refused to acknowledge this fact or meet any of us, let alone apologise,” the group says.

So they’ve turned to Prince William for help because of his personal connection to the country. “You proposed to your wife there and when your Grandmother became Queen, she was visiting Kenya – which at the time was one of the colonies.”

“We inherited the pain, you inherited the profit,” reads their letter to the prince.

“Many of our group are very elderly so the urgency of this is paramount. We cannot let another victim of this time pass away still longing for their dignity to be restored.”

Advocates for the Talai community outside Kensington Palace

Three representatives of the Talai clan are in London to argue their case

The clan says its members were forcefully evicted from fertile land in the highlands of the Rift Valley to pave the way for tea plantations, some of which still exist and are owned by UK-based multinationals.

The Talai held a leadership role among the Kipsigis ethnic group in Kenya and led the resistance against European settlement.

To quash it, every member of the Talai clan was forcefully moved to detention in a tse-tse fly and mosquito infested valley near present day Lake Victoria. The conditions there are recorded to have been so harsh that many of them died and women suffered miscarriages. They also lost their livestock in large numbers.

When Kenya gained independence in 1963, the survivors left detention and returned to what they considered their ancestral land. But they never recovered it. They say they’ve lived alongside the tea estates as squatters ever since.

Three representatives of the clan, including the current Governor of Kericho where the Kipsigis live, are currently in London to meet MPs and civil society representatives to argue for their claim.

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