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    Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta

    Theresa May Meets Kenyan President Whose Father ‘Betrayed' Mau Mau Rebels

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    Theresa May is the first British prime minister to visit Kenya since Margaret Thatcher in 1988 and Nairobi is the last stop on a three-day tour which has been seen as an attempt to boost trade with Africa in a post-Brexit world.

    Kenyatta Talks Post-Brexit Trade 

    May has arrived in Nairobi to meet Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. Sputnik looks at the secret land deal which Kenyatta's father did with white settlers in the 1960s.

    President Kenyatta welcomed Mrs. May and offered kind words about Anglo-Kenyan trade.

    "I don't believe Brexit is going to dent our ability to further strengthen and deepen both trade and investment between the two countries," Mr. Kenyatta said on Thursday.

    The British Empire controlled Kenya from 1895 until 1963 when it became independent under its first president, Jomo Kenyatta.

    Kenyatta's son Uhuru has been President since 2013, the same year the then British Foreign Secretary William Hague issued a formal apology and agreed to pay £19 million (US$25 million) to former Mau Mau rebels who were tortured by the British imperial authorities in the 1950s.

    The Mau Mau were drawn mainly from Kenya's largest tribe, the Kikuyu, and in 1952 they rose up and tried to kick the British and their settlers out of the country.

    Kenyatta, who formed the Kenya African National Union (KANU) in 1948, was one of the most prominent Kikuyu leaders and in 1952 he was convicted of leading the Mau Mau and was sentenced to years of hard labor.

    Jomo Kenyatta's Secret Land Deal

    But in the early 1960s Britain decided to grant independence to Kenya and began looking around for a pliable and moderate leader who would allow white settler farmers to keep their land and their fortunes.

    In 2008 the Sunday Nation newspaper revealed details of a secret pact which had been agreed between Kenyatta, the British, a white settler leader, Sir Michael Blundell.

    Papers belonging to Sir Michael, who acted as the liaison between Kenyatta and the British government, revealed he had given his blessing to Kenyatta as the first President of Kenya.

    In return Kenyatta, who was freed from prison in 1961, agreed not to demand the return of the white farmers' land, even though it had been illegally seized from its original owners.

    Sir Michael's papers corroborated the account of Kenya's second vice-president, Joseph Murumbi, which are deposited at the Kenya National Archives. 

    White Settlers Farmed 10 Million Acres

    As part of the deal, Kenyatta agreed not to seize the 10 million acres of arable land occupied by white settlers.

    Murumbi wrote that Kenyatta agreed with Sir Michael and the British that "all land in the country would change hands only on a willing-seller-willing-buyer basis."

    Kenyatta "had no political will to direct the Settler Transfer Fund to benefit millions of landless Africans as had been stated in the Kanu manifesto at independence," wrote Murumbi, who resigned in disillusionment in 1966.

    On Sunday, August 26, Kenyan journalist Boniface Mwangi, interviewed one of the original Mau Mau rebels, Gitu wa Kahengeri.

    Mr. Mwangi, writing on his Facebook page, said Mr. Kahengeri repeatedly said Jomo Kenyatta had "betrayed" the Mau Mau with the land deal.

    "During our discussions, we agreed that had Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi become the president of the republic, he would never have accepted for Kenya to buy back the land from the British. Instead, he would have reclaimed it for its rightful owners, Kenyans," wrote Mr. Mwangi.

    'You Shouldn't Buy Back What Was Stolen'

    Kimathi was a Mau Mau military leader who was captured and executed by the British in 1957.

    "The British had stolen it and you shouldn't have to buy back what has been stolen from you. Mzee (Jomo) Kenyatta agreed to buy back the land because the British bribed him with ‘free' land and the presidency gave him a chance to grab more," Mr. Mwangi wrote, quoting Mr. Kahengeri.

    In Sir Michael Blundell's papers he mentioned another Kenyan politician and described why he did not see him as a suitable leader of independent Kenya.

    "(The) demagogic Oginga Odinga who held great charm with the rural African folk but was clearly in the payroll of the Soviets," wrote Blundell.

    Tribal Rivalries in Kenya

    Odinga — who was from the Luo tribe — eventually became Kenya's first Vice President but fell out with Kenyatta and went into opposition.

    His son Raila Odinga claims he has been cheated out of the presidency in several elections, including one last year.

    In 2007 hundreds of people were killed when Kikuyu supporters of Mr. Kenyatta clashed with Luo and Kalenjin tribesmen who claimed Mr. Odinga had been cheated of election victory.

    Nowadays British Army officers are training Kenyan troops who are fighting the Islamist militants of al-Shabaab near the border with Somalia.

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    Tags:
    white farmers, British Empire, uprising, rebels, Uhuru Kenyatta, Theresa May, United Kingdom, Kenya
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