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  • A file image of President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and British Prime Minister Borris Johnson. PSCU 

    The United Nations (UN) directed the United Kingdom’s government to issue a public apology and compensate 500,000 members of the Kipsigis Community for colonial atrocities.

    The intergovernmental organization declared that Britain was obligated to issue reparations parallel to the grave harm it inflicted on the Kipsigis people of Kenya in the early 20th century.

    The declaration further broke down the compensation to include restoration of land, compensation, rehabilitation and guarantees of non-repetition.

    This ruling is a result of early petitions by Kericho’s Governor Paul Chepkwony since 2014. In 2018, he successfully lodged a complaint with the UN Special Rapporteur in Geneva. 

    Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony addresses the media in June 2018
    Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony addresses the media in June 2018. TWITTER

    The Human Rights Council acknowledged indeed that multiple indigenous people, especially the Kipsigis of the Talai clan, severely suffered gross violations of human rights including, sexual violence, torture, murder and untried detention, displacement among other atrocities.

    Led by Major Pope-Hennessy, the British colonial government massacred 1,800 Kipsigis men, women and children of the Talai Clan. 

    An image of Boris Johnson
    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at the Conservative Party's headquarters in central London on Tuesday 23rd July 2019. NPR

    However, one violation that stood out was the appropriation of extensive fertile agricultural land by international tea companies. The land, 90,000 acres, was confiscated and handed to white settlers through the Crown Lands Ordinance of 1902. 

    About 115,000 people were forcefully ejected from their ancestral lands by the British colonial army.

    Those who were displaced were reportedly forced into reserves where they perished en masse due to diseases, attacks from wild animals and harsh climatic conditions.

    In 2019, the National Land Commission intervened and called on the British government to admit their misdeeds including illicitly acquiring agricultural land and apologize to the Kipsigis. Moreover, Britain was asked to avail reparations.

    The National Land Commission also dictated that land with expired leases would not be renewed without the concurrence of the Kericho’s county government where the land is domiciled. British multinational firms would also be required to lease land from the Kericho and Bomet county governments at commercial rates.

    Additionally, the commission advised that the government should identify and acquire adequate and suitable land to resettle members of the Kipsigis. This would bring an end their perennial landlessness.

    This would be done through the Department of Adjudication and Settlement, a subsidiary unit under the Ministry of Land.

    Ardhi House, Lands Ministry headquarters in Nairobi. FILE

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