NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 11 – The British government is set to establish a memorial in honour of Kenya’s freedom fighters, the Mau Mau, as Kenya marks 50 years of independence.
Britain’s Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds made the revelation on Wednesday when he launched a competition for its design in conjunction with the Mau Mau War Veterans Association.
“As part of this we also recognised that Kenyans were subject to torture and other forms of ill treatment at the hands of colonial administration, and we expressed sincere regret that these abuses took place,” he stated.
He also relayed a congratulatory message from Queen Elizabeth II who ascended to the throne while on a trip to Kenya when her father, King George VI, passed away.
“My family and I have enjoyed a special and significant relationship with Kenya over the years and across generations. The links between our two countries have depended and matured since Kenya’s independence and long may that continue,” she stated at a time when Kenya seems to be looking more East than West for future partnerships.
Simmonds, who will be representing the monarch at the [email protected] celebrations, however took the opportunity to underscore the benefits Kenya enjoys as a result of its cordial relations with its former colonial masters.
“The facts speak for themselves. The biggest private sector employers in Kenya are British companies. More than half of the biggest taxpaying companies in Kenya are UK based,” he stated.
While recognising Kenya’s long-standing relationship with Britain, the Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Arts Hassan Wario – himself a recipient of a British scholarship – welcomed the memorial.
He went on to state that the Kenyan government was looking into the possibility of establishing a National Monument Fund that would ensure the relics Kenya inherited from its colonial masters are preserved.
“We’ve lost the Nairobi House for example. We’ve lost so many historical buildings. Can you imagine Kenya in the next 20 years without Kipande House or the old PC? It could not happen if we are not vigilant enough,” he cautioned.
He went on to encourage Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero to exempt such historical sites from land rates as incentive to preserve them.
“Because you’re denying yourself 10 stories with which you could get millions and you’re conserving two stories on behalf of Nairobi,” he put forth.
In preparation for the [email protected] celebrations, the National Government has already undertaken a facelift of the Uhuru Gardens memorial and erected a waterfall topped off with a miniature Mt Kenya at the Intercontinental-Holy Family Basilica roundabout.-