The county government of Kericho is seeking a total of Sh2 trillion as compensation from the British Government for the “many wrongs which were committed against our ancestors,” during the British colonial rule.
Kericho County Governor Paul Chepkwony says documents and letters written by the British settlers and found by the county government’s lawyers in British archives recorded the abuses which occurred and would form part of the evidence to be presented to the London High Court when the case is filed.
He said the county government had engaged lawyers and a case would soon be filled in London for the compensation.
“They believed that Africans would never learn to read or write and so they saved most of their secrets in letters which we found at the British Museum of History in London and which proved that the government of Queen Elizabeth II was fully aware of what was happening in Kenya during that dark era,” Prof. Chepkwony said.
The governor said one of the discoveries which would be used in the case was the murder in cold blood of 1,900 Kipsigis adult men by firing squad of the British colonialists with the aim of wiping out the community which at the time had only 8,000 men.
“The men were lined up and shot dead using two machine guns. This was a genocide by all definitions and it happened under the watch of the British government,” he added.
Governor Chepkwony accuses the British colonialists of many historical injustices including massive transfer and displacement of people through forceful evictions to create land for huge tea estates.
The County Government is spending Sh40 million in the case.
Kericho is Kenya’s most important tea growing area and there have been fears that many tea growing multinational companies might scale down their operation, bring chaos in the County’s economy which is heavily dependent on the tea industry.
The governor has assured, however assured the multinationals which include James Finlay, Unilever and Williamson Tea, that the case will not affect them in any way but will only focus on the historical injustices.
Last year Chepkwony invited – a psychiatrist from the United Kingdom – Prof Cornelius Katona – to carry out tests on victims of the said historical injustices.
The psychiatrist, whose report was to be used as evidence before the British court, reportedly collected evidence from members of the Talai and Kipsigis communities in Kericho town.
More than 150,000 members of the Talai and Kipsigis communities have officially applied to take part in the process that they hope will grant them justice from the British Government.
The two communities were allegedly thrown out of their ancestral land in the late 1800s and early 1900s to create room for large-scale tea farming