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It would be churlish to do anything other than welcome the announcement by the British government that it will pay Sh2.6 billion to Mau Mau veterans who suffered under colonial rule, or to accept British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s apology to those Kenyans who suffered torture and ill treatment at the hands of the colonial authorities but the Kenya Forum can’t help thinking that where’s there’s money there will be trouble.


Following successful legal action on behalf of some Mau Mau veterans in the High Court in London and the announcement by the British government last Thursday, some 5,228 Kenyans who suffered during the Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s will now share in the proposed payout. The amount they will each receive will be about Sh347,000 which is the Sh500,121 per head less the lawyers’ fees.

Some say that it is “Too little, too late” and perhaps it is both in terms of the amount to be paid and the apology. What’s for sure is that it is not the end of the matter, in more ways than one.


As The Nairobi Law Monthly has pointed out in its June issue (‘Scramble for Mau Mau billions’) other ‘veterans and law firms are after compensation and fees.

It is estimated that up to 13,000 more veterans are seeking compensation, represented by three British-based law firms. With the average payout expected to be around Sh5 million per head that’s a total of Sh40 billion for the 8,000 ‘victims’ represented by just one of the law firms involved, Tandem Law, who stand to make a tidy sum in fees.


So the cases will go on and then there’s the slight matter of those compensated and receiving, say, Sh350,000, returning home to find they have more friends and relatives than they thought!

Today’s Gado cartoon in the Daily Nation appears under the title of ‘More join the fight for Mau Mau compensation’ and depicts  line of lawyers, a shady businessman and a young lady in high heels and a short skirt, each with dollar signs in the eyes. The Kenya Forum fears that once again the great Gado is right.


There’s one other little matter that the lawyers, veterans and the media have been mute on. The Mau Mau fighters were also guilty of numerous atrocities. The most notorious was the attack on the settlement of Lari, on the night of 25–26 March 1953, when the Mau Mau herded Kikuyu men, women and children into huts and set fire to them, hacking down those who tried to escape with pangas before throwing them back into the burning huts.

Thousands died in the uprising, the vast majority of them Kenyans killed at the hands of the Mau Mau. Who will compensate them? Who will issue them with an apology?

Related news coverage:

The Star: ‘UK regrets torture of Mau Mau members’, June 7, 2013


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