Mau Mau victims compensation: There could yet be headaches for the British government

Not all those who suffered have been appeased by William Hague's offer

Share
Related Topics

Yesterday’s move by the British Government to compensate some 5, 228 Mau Mau war veterans is bold and commendable.

The £2,600 individual restitution will serve as some closure for the elderly Kenyans who are all in their sunset days. Had the case been allowed to go to full trial, it would have taken a considerable amount of time to conclude.

It is anybody’s guess what would have happened to some of the claimants during this period.

In fact, one of the one of the four original claimants in the court case has since died. This prompted allegations that the British government was buying time with a protracted legal battle so that even when compensation is finally ordered by the court, there would be very few claimants remaining.

Thw najority of them might not have understood what William Hague told the House of Commons in English. They are also unlikely to grasp what the British High Commissioner to Kenya Christian Turner said at the press conference two days ago in Nairobi.

But through their educated children and grandchildren, they will know that London offered an apology – or something close to it. The money will then serve as evidence that indeed they have been compensated.

However, this is just one side of the story. In a case involving murder, rape, castration and detention, a figure of £2,600 is modest by any standards. Today this amount can buy just the roofing materials for a three-bedroom house in the rural areas in Kenya.

It cannot buy even a second-hand saloon car. If you want to start a business in a stall in Nairobi, you need twice that amount as goodwill to the landlord. To rent a stall in Nairobi costs an average of £460 a month. By the time you stock the shop, the £2,600 will appear as loose change.

From where I am seated, the offer to construct a multimillion-pound monument in honour of the veterans will be appreciated only at the national level. Most of the individual claimants will never see it since they live in various rural areas. My bet is it will be set up in Nairobi and very few of the veterans travel to the city.

In addition, thousands others are still disgruntled with the compensation deal. One of them is Eloise Mukami. This is the widow of Field Marshal Deddan Kimathi. Any Kenyan will comfortably tell you that she is the face of Mau Mau. She has not missed a single public holiday event where the independence heroes are honoured. Having a reserved seat close to the president has served to cement her place in the Mau Mau movement.

The chilling story of how Kimathi was hanged by the colonialists for his fight for independence is taught at the very elementary level in Kenyan schools. After the compensation story broke out a week ago, she addressed a press conference in Nairobi where she trashed the deal. That a deal to appease the Mau Mau left her out surprised many Kenyans. I believe there are many genuine cases which were sidestepped in this deal. That does not augur well for Her Majesty's Government.

Indeed, lawyers at Tandem Law (AVH Legal LLP), who are handling Ms Muthoni’s case and others, have already indicated stated that they would pursue their case to conclusion. Claims that these are opportunists have been diffused by the fact that Muthoni is one of their clients.

If they take time in arranging their case, I predict Tandem Law could end up with a strong case that might be a headache for the British government. Consequently, London could have taken time to seal a more comprehensive deal.

Kenfrey Kiberenge is a journalist for the Sunday Nation newspaper in Kenya

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Separate lives: Boston’s streets illustrate the divide between the town’s communities  

Migrants have far more to offer than hard work and wealth creation, yet too many exist in isolation from the rest of society

Emily Dugan
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has sold 40 million copies  

Go Set a Watchman: Harper Lee’s new novel is more than just a literary event

Joseph Charlton
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'