For the magnificence of the protocols that would be expected to be pertinent to the first foreign tour of the King of England, King Charles III’s visit to Kenya was notable for its modesty.
Ever self-effacing, King Charles III did not display any of the majestic splendor that that we all know the English monarchy for. He came in quietly and Kenyans woke up to hear that he was in the country. He rode in the official car of the High Commissioner and you barely noted any traffic jams arising from his commute around town.
Kenyans were surprised also by the way he carried himself at a personal level. There were no royal guards hanging around him or palace page boys in waiting. He and his Queen held their own umbrellas and they both dressed very commonplace.
King Charles III was during his visit to Kenya the Prince the world knew him to be; humble, open-minded and open-hearted.
He was therefor very believable when he expressed his personal “greatest sorrow and deepest regret” about what Kenyans had experienced during the colonial era. And he went out of his way to listen to relatives of persons who had been victim to the excesses of the colonial administration.
For a moment, we seemed to be getting somewhere; until some bloke went on SKY TV and blasted the King for “groveling” to Kenyans.
“I wish the King had more pride; pride in Britain. Every time King Charles visits the West Indies or Africa, he has to crawl, he has to grovel, he has to apologise for Britain’s wicked colonial past and pretend that it was one hundred percent evil”.
I was not piqued by the bloke, and the guest he interviewed to support his case, for being racist. Rather, it was for being such blockheads. I’m always buzzed by the intellect of British wit so I was gravely appalled by the horrendous display of stupidity by SKY TV.
Let’s go down the list of the reasons why British colonial pat was not, according to the two nincompoops, one hundred percent evil.
The British stopped inter-tribal slaughter in Kenya
If my history serves me right, I remember learning that by the time the British colonialist came to East Africa, the communities living here had largely settled their boundary disputes. So much so that the colonial administration comfortably partitioned its administrative districts along these boundaries and they have held till today.
The conflicts we know were those that were instigated by the British themselves as part of their infamous “divide and rule” tactics. The tribalism we know today was designed and inculcated in Kenya by the British.
Our historians and political scientists have documented this matter through numerous research and analysis and it is rich of the British to now claim they saved us from inter-tribal conflict.
Not to say there were no conflicts. Conflict follows human society. Indeed, for centuries, the British were part of the European wars that were nothing but tribal conflicts. During their colonial rule in Kenya, they even recruited local people to assist them in these wars; something King Charles III had the decency to thank the local veterans for.
The British gave Kenya democracy and the Rule of Law
I do not know what aspects of democracy we are supposed to have been taught by the British but England’s political architecture is based on an absolute monarchy that ruled through feudal lords. While the people in ancient Greece were running democratic institutions, those in England were under a ruthless serfdom under which they had no rights.
England did not create democracy; they borrowed it. Neither did they create any of the democratic institutions we know today nor any of the principles of democratic government.
What they did was to uproot the democratic institutions we had and impose their model on us, a tragedy for which we pay so dearly today.
This boast that England gave us democracy is particularly insulting when we remember that for all the time England ran a colonial administration in Kenya, there existed an apartheid system under which Kenyans were not entitled to the same rights as English men.
Kenyans had no representative institutions, no right to “trial by jury” and no right to self-rule. It is only when it became clear that colonialism had to end did England quickly conjure up these institutions and principles for us and then claim they had given us democracy.
Let’s not even mention that as this was being done, we were still not regarded as competent to run a democracy and we were given independence on the condition that we became a dominion with the English monarch as our Head of State.
And let’s not even mention that the English continued their “divide and rule” tactics in independent Kenya and undermined our democracy from the first day, keeping us under the control of dictatorial regimes that they supported. And till today, they keep interfering with our elections.
England gave us “the gift of the English language”
This claim makes it sound as though Kenyans had no language. Indeed, had no speech. We communicated through signing like chimps and the English taught us how to talk and gave us our first language.
While we would not be so rude as to claim that English has not eased our international relations, we also reject the innuendo that had it not be for English, we would be without these relationships.
England is not the first foreign state Kenya dealt with. The Arabs have been here and we traded and intermarried. The Portuguese were here. Even the Chinese were here. We related with many foreigners long before we ever heard of England. And we’ve always had Swahili as our common language.
While most of what the SKY TV twats said was just arrogant, this claim was specifically racist.
“The world has been very lucky to have Britain”
This was actually said with an addition that England has been a gift to the world. I do not know whether this view is shared widely around the world, of at least the Commonwealth, but I do know many people who would not share that view. The Palestinians for example, who England arrogantly dispossessed off land and has been happy to watch as they are wiped out the face of the earth.
Or the aborigines in Australia and New Zealand. Or the native Americans. Or the Bengal populations in India that Winston Churchill starved to death. England has done many evil things around the world that can be aptly described, using the words of King Charles III, as “abhorrent and unjustified acts of violence”.
Britain has developed Kenya
Each of the pillocks on SKY TV claimed that Kenya had benefited immensely from Britain with one of them saying;
“I have been to Kenya and looked around and said ‘wow’! If the British had not been here, this place would not be quite as good as it is”.
The other talked of the millions of pounds Kenya has received from Britain as aid.
It is now known that what has always been praised as development assistance has been a scam. With the connivance of the countries that gave the foreign aid, a lot of this money ended up in the pockets of kleptomaniac leaders and found its way back to financial institutions in the countries that donated the money.
There is no coloration between the amount of money given as foreign aid and the level of development largely because the purpose of the money was not to develop the country but to placate local dictatorships and create client states in the international power games.
But beside that, for many years, Britain has made a great return for itself for every pound it has purported to give Kenya as development assistance. When we became independent, there were British procuring agents that procured for the Government of Kenya a lot of its goods and services. All these goods and services came from England and were procured at exorbitant prices.
It is only when President Mwai Kibaki came to power that we witnessed that breaking up of these systems that kept us buying expensive goods and services while there were cheaper alternatives, cheaper by far, around the world.
Our relationship with Britain has not been one based on charity. It has been mutually beneficial. But before the Chinese came in, we were always made to feel that we were being done a favor every time a British company invested here.
Still when I look at the Nairobi skyline today, and at the economy generally, I don’t see what that pillock at SKY TV purports to see that tells him how lucky we have been to have Britain. Britain is a major trading partner for Kenya, as is United States of America, China, the European Union, India and the United Arab Emirates.
Kenyans are looking for free money
Lastly, it was claimed that Kenyans are looking for free money.
Firstly, it is not Kenya or Africa that came up with the concept of reparations. It is western democracies led by countries like Britain that came up with the concept and made it part of international law and practice. Kenyans are simply telling Britain to put its money where its mouth is.
But is it fair, one of the pillocks asked, that Kenya should seek compensation from England while the English themselves could not claim compensation from the Normans and the Vikings that had conquered them?
But Kenyans are not seeking compensation for being conquered or colonized. They are seeking compensation for being abused. The Normans and the Vikings did not purport to have a moral code or a humanitarian standard. The English did and we want them to pay for violating their own humanitarian standards.
Any other view on the issue of reparations would amount to hypocrisy at the least and racism at the worst. It’s no wonder that China and Russia are making headway around Africa simply by telling the continent that they never colonized them.