Kenya unveils memorial to Mau Mau people tortured during British rule | News | DW | 13.09.2015
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Kenya unveils memorial to Mau Mau people tortured during British rule

Thousands of people in Kenya have attended the ceremony to unveil a memorial to those killed, tortured and jailed during the emergency period of British rule. The statue formed part of a reconciliation agreement.

The statue shows a dreadlocked Mau Mau fighter armed with a homemade rifle being handed food by a woman supporter. Written on the stone plaque are the words: "This memorial is a symbol of reconciliation between the British government, the Mau Mau, and all those who suffered."

At the ceremonial opening on Saturday in Nairobi, Gitu wa Kahengeri, Mau Mau Veterans Association secretary general said "It is a special day," adding they "truly believe in reconciliation for a better future."

Many of the Mau Mau veterans, now aged more than 70 years old, wore T-shirts with the word "heroes."

The statue was commissioned following a June 2013 decision by Britain to compensate more than 5,200 elderly Kenyans tortured and abused during the insurgency from 1952 until 1960. Although the rebellion failed, Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963.

"The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice," Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) chief Makua Mutua said. He added that now "perpetrator and victim, colonised and colonisers, can be together."

The costs for the statue of £90,000 (124,000 euros) were paid by the British in addition to the £20 million paid to Mau Mau veterans following a four-year legal dispute. Several thousand Kenyans said they were beaten and sexually assaulted by officers acting for the British administration trying to suppress the Mau Mau rebellion.

"This memorial is about reconciliation, allowing us to discuss together the issues arising from a difficult period in our shared history, and to move forward together," British High Commissioner Christian Turner said. The Commissioner was applauded at the ceremony.

Kenya's founding president Jomo Kenyatta opposed the violence carried out by the Mau Mau and the group remained outlawed until 2003. Kenyatta's son Uhuru is the current president.

jm/bw (AFP, AP)