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King Charles III acknowledged the atrocities committed by British colonial authorities against Kenyans during their fight for independence in the 1950s, but stopped short of issuing a full apology, CNN reported.
The British monarch’s statements came during a four-day state visit to Kenya, which was marked by mounting calls for a formal apology and reparations to the former British colony.
During a banquet Tuesday, the king issued a statement about the “abhorrent and unjustifiable acts of violence committed against Kenyans” in their struggle for statehood, adding, “there can be no excuse.”
He said that by addressing the history and relationship between the two nations, “we can, perhaps, demonstrate the strength of our friendship today.”
The king’s comments come as Kenya prepares celebrations to honor its 60th anniversary of independence from the United Kingdom in December.
Kenya gained independence in 1963, a little more than a decade after Mau Mau freedom fighters – originating from the country’s largest ethnic Kikuyu tribe – rebelled against the British.
Colonial authorities declared a “state of emergency” during the 1952-1960 uprising that saw thousands of Kenyans detained and subjected to torture, including castration and sexual assault.
The Kenyan Human Rights Commission (KHRC) estimated that around 100,000 people were tortured, maimed or killed during the eight-year period. Before the king’s visit, the commission urged the monarch to issue “an unconditional and unequivocal public apology” during his trip.
However, observers said it was not in his power to give an apology because it falls under the jurisdiction of the UK government rather than individual members of the royal family.
Even so, Kenyan President William Ruto welcomed the monarch’s “exemplary courage and readiness” to recognize “uncomfortable truths.” Meanwhile, members of the Mau Mau community said they will keep fighting for reparations.
The king’s trip is the latest from the past few years in which British and other European royals are confronted with the legacy of their countries’ imperial pasts and ties to slavery in the former colonies.
The king and queen of the Netherlands visited the Slave Lodge in Cape Town, South Africa, last month where Dutch colonists once enslaved thousands of Africans and Asians. They were confronted by the leaders of two Indigenous groups that were displaced from the locale 350 years ago by Dutch colonists, and who are asking for an apology and reparations, the New York Times reported.
Meanwhile, Caribbean nations such as Grenada and Barbados are preparing formal letters demanding that the British royal family, Lloyd’s of London, the Church of England and other entities apologize and make reparations for their past roles in the slave trade, the Guardian reported.