A British lawyer, a Mr Dan Leader of Leigh Day and Company, a London law firm, has been in Kenya on a ‘special mission’ to seek out Kenyans who suffered under British colonial rule, with aim of winning them compensation from the UK government following recent ‘historic’ court decisions.
BRITISH HIGH COURT OPENS WAY FOR COMPENSATION FOR TORTURE
In October the High Court in London determined that the British Government must answer for the torture of Kenyans in the 1950’s during the Mau Mau uprising, opening the way for compensation payments for those who suffered (the British Government is appealing).
So along comes Mr Day to consider the claims of over 40,000 Kenyans who might be eligible for compensation. That is a lot people to get through but Mr Leader is armed with a questionnaire to ensure “that wherever genuine Mau Mau can be found, we will get to them” (we suggest you try up near Mount Kenya, Mr Leader).
‘NOT JUST ANY GREY HAIRED PERSON’ WILL QUALIFY
As the Sunday Nation put it, ‘not just any grey haired person who lived during those times will qualify’.
Since the court case began other organisations have arisen claiming to represent Mau Mau veterans and another British law firm, Tandem Law, is by all account interviewing potential claimants. Mr Leader, however, has ‘distanced his law firm from those other groups’. No doubt he has, it’s not just a potential pay day for the Mau Mau veterans, or are Leigh day & Co working on a pro bono basis?
KENYA’S WAR VETERANS AND THE STAR
Two weeks before Mr Leader’s visit to Kenya, war veterans from another era, together with the British High Commissioner Mr Christian Turner and other dignitaries, gathered at Nairobi’s war memorial to mark the ‘Remembrance Day’, in memory of those who died, particularly in the First and Second World Wars.
It is always a solemn occasion but this year there was a discordant note as reported by The Star in a report by journalist Ramadhan Rajab.
‘BRITAIN FORGOT US’
‘Britain forgot us, say war veterans’, was the headline in The Star on Monday 12 November. In the report Ramadhan Rajab wrote that Kenya’s ‘First World War’ veterans had accused the UK of ‘being insensitive to their plight’ and of having failed to compensate them adequately ‘for their role in World War I’ (our underlining).
Rajab quoted Mr Tago Athieno, aged 90, who chairs the Siaya War Veterans Association, declaring, “We have not seen a penny from them (the British)”, and a Mr Chepkonga Chemtwo, aged 86, another ‘First World War’ veteran, who complained, “They might be giving out money to some of us, but it never reaches our pocket”.
THE STAR ADVERTISES FOR SUB-EDITORS
Interestingly, over the last two week The Star has been running an advertisement ‘Calling all teachers!!’ asking secondary school teachers, or anyone with ‘an excellent command of the English language’ to consider a career at the newspaper as a sub-editor’, a job that will require them to ‘check the facts’.
It could be an interesting job requiring not just command of the English language, the Kenya Forum would suggest but also a knowledge of history might be helpful as well, a task much needed at The Star it seems.
WHICH WAR WERE YOU THINKING OFF?
Mr Ramadan Rajab, Star sub-editors, indeed the editor of The Star might like to consider this, for example: the paper’s report on Kenya’s disgruntled war veterans referred to ‘the First World War’ on more than one occasion. The war veterans quoted were reported to be aged 90 and 86. Memo to The Star: the ‘First World War’ ended in 1918… 94 years ago.
Well of course, The Star must have meant the Second World War – editor and journalists at The Star please note, that was 1939 to 1945.
The Kenya Forum’s advice to The Star is that they had better fill that sub-editor’s position with some urgency, and our advice to London lawyer Mr Leader is that ‘not just any grey haired person who lived during those [Mau Mau] times will qualify’, indeed, some of them might not have even be born!