My Week: Gitu Wa Kahengeri
The Kenyan campaigner on filing a lawsuit at the Royal Courts of Justice, taking a petition to No 10 – and being stopped by Customs
Saturday 27 June 2009
We arrived in London by plane after an eight-hour flight from Nairobi. It was a pretty gruelling journey for a lot of us who have never been on a plane before. I was stopped by Customs because I was looking after one of the other men's bags.
When the immigration officer asked me if I knew what was in it, I said "no" because my friend had packed it and it wasn't my business to look inside his bag. They asked me lots more questions and I had to be searched.
We rested in the hotel for most of the day. I was feeling tired after the long flight and so didn't get the chance to see much of London. It's my first time here. I come from Thika in north Kenya where I worked as a farmer before I retired. In the 1950s I was part of the Mau Mau freedom movement and took the oath to support this cause. But I was arrested with my father and we spent seven years in prison on Manda Island, off Kenya's east coast. It was a terrible time for us because they made us do hard labour.
We went to meet our lawyers and discussed the lawsuit that we were going to take to the Royal Courts of Justice the next day. Our case is one for the Kenyan people and we are here asking the British Government to pay us reparations for what the colonial rulers did to us when they were running the country. Later we went to the BBC and were interviewed for the Outlook programme on the radio. We also recorded an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
We all went to the Law Society for a press conference in Chancery Lane. There were lots of journalists there and some TV cameras. I was one of the speakers addressing the conference. I said that we have no hostility to the British people and all we want is justice. Some of the others told the journalists what had happened to them during the Kenyan emergency. It was terrible – some of them who refused to say they supported the Mau Mau were castrated. The women suffered the worst kind of sexual abuse. Later we launched the lawsuit.
We presented a petition to the office of the Prime Minister which was well received. Before the meeting we went for a walk around Downing Street. As we left we started singing freedom songs because we had come so far.
We met our lawyer, Martyn Day, again and talked about our case.
I am going to Oxford Circus with my son before I leave tomorrow. I will buy anything that's of interest to the people from the delegation. I'm tired but I'll go back with a great sense of pride.
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