Britain’s King Charles said on Tuesday he felt the “greatest sorrow and deepest regret” for atrocities suffered by Kenyans during their struggle for independence from colonial rule.
But in a speech at the start of a four-day state visit to Kenya, he stopped short of making a full apology called for by survivors of that period and local rights groups who are pressing for reparations from the British government.
“The wrongdoings of the past are a cause of the greatest sorrow and the deepest regret,” Charles said during a state banquet.
“There were abhorrent and unjustifiable acts of violence committed against Kenyans as they waged… a painful struggle for independence and sovereignty and for that, there can be no excuse.”
Many citizens of former British colonies, including leaders of Kenya’s Nandi people, want Charles to directly apologise and endorse reparations for colonial-era abuses, including torture, killings and expropriation of land, much of which remains in British hands.
During the 1952-1960 Mau Mau revolt in central Kenya, some 90,000 Kenyans were killed or maimed and 160,000 detained, the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) has estimated.
Britain has previously expressed regret for those abuses and agreed a 20 million pound settlement in 2013.
President William Ruto praised Charles for his courage and readiness “to shed light on uncomfortable truths that reside in the darker regions of our shared experience”.
“The colonial reaction to African struggles for sovereignty, and self-rule was monstrous in its cruelty,” Ruto said.