King Charles and Queen Camilla announce visit to Kenya where they will address legacy of Empire head on – after Kate and William’s Caribbean tour was criticised for ‘colonial overtones’

The British colonial presence in Kenya formally began in 1895, when white settlers were given huge tracts of rich farmland. Kenya became a British colony in 1920.

Settlers arrived in increasing numbers as tales of Kenya’s cocktail hour ‘Happy Valley’ lifestyle reached British shores. It was a time of dispossession and violence for the Kenyan population. Calls for Kenyan independence grew – led by the anticolonial party Mau Mau, which is said to mean ‘get out, get out’. 

In 1952, the British declared a State of Emergency after a spate of strikes and violent attacks. 

Up to 80,000 Mau Mau supporters were arrested in one month alone and up to 25,000 people are estimated to have died as Kenyan militants revolted against the British Empire in their quest for self-rule.

The United Nations has said more than half a million Kenyans from the Kericho area suffered gross violations of human rights including unlawful killings and displacement during British colonial rule, which ended in 1963.

During the uprising, detention camps were set up by the British authorities. They have been described by some historians as ‘Kenya’s Gulag’.

At the height of the rebellion, an estimated 71,000 Kenyans were held in prison camps. The vast majority were never convicted in court.

Kenyans were beaten and sexually assaulted by officers acting for the British administration trying to suppress the ‘Mau Mau’ rebellion.

In 2013, Britain agreed on a multi-million dollar compensation settlement for those Kenyans tortured by colonial forces during the uprising.

Many Kenyans continue to suffer economic consequences from the theft of their land, the United Nations has said, even as that same land has become profitable for multinational companies.

The 12th of December 1963 saw the African country of Kenya gain independence from the British.

According to Britannica, African demands for more involvement in political processes were denied until 1944, when an African was included in the legislature.

Despite this, disputes over land and cultural traditions continued, movement against colonial rule grew and the uprising of the militant nationalist group, Mau Mau, in the 1950s resulted in the country being forced into a state of emergency. 

However, this saw African political participation increase in the early 1960s and Kenya gained independence in 1963. A year after the first Jamhuri Day, Kenya was admitted into the Commonwealth as a republic in 1964 with Jomo Kenyatta as president.