NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 11 – It was one of the British Empire’s bloodiest insurgencies, but the thousands killed, tortured and jailed in Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion were forgotten for decades.
Now, in a rare example of former rulers commemorating a colonial uprising, a British-funded memorial to all the victims is set to open on Saturday.
“This memorial is a symbol of reconciliation between the British government, the Mau Mau, and all those who suffered,” reads the stone plaque on the memorial in the capital Nairobi.
The Mau Mau, mainly drawn from the Kikuyu people, terrorised colonial communities with attacks from bases in remote forests, challenging white settlers for valuable land. But while attention at the time focused on 32 murdered white settlers, the number of Kenyans killed was far higher.
At least 10,000 people died – some historians say over double that – amid horrific abuses in the 1952-1960 struggle.
Thousands suffered horrific torture including sexual mutilation, and tens of thousands more were detained in shockingly harsh detention camps, including US President Barack Obama’s grandfather.
The memorial in the central Uhuru, or “Freedom”, Park, is hidden behind tin sheets until its unveiling. It features a statue of a fighter – complete with trademark dreadlocks and homemade rifle – being handed food by a woman supporter.