Kericho governor gets Jubilant reception after London trip

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By TIMOTHY KEMEI
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Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony arrived Wednesday morning from Britain to a heroic reception by Kalenjin and Talai elders.

Prof Chepkwony had gone to assess the preparations of the filing of a compensation case against the British government for colonial era injustices against the two communities.

The governor declared that the much-awaited case will be filed in three weeks’ time.

The county government is seeking a total of Sh2 trillion as compensation.

The elders braved the early morning cold to wait for Prof Chepkwony at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi before escorting him back to Kericho where more celebrations awaited him.

Addressing journalists later in the day, renowned Talai elder Eli Sigilai said his people in Kericho and beyond will stand behind the governor in his quest to seek justice for the two communities which lost many lives as a direct result of the actions of the British who ruled Kenya until 1963.

“Many wrongs were committed against our ancestors and our wait for justice had been too long. At last today we can see some efforts being [made] by Governor Chepkwony to compel our oppressors to compensate us for the injustices they committed,” said Mr Sigilai.

In a telephone interview, Governor Chepkwony expressed confidence in winning the case, noting that Queens Counsel Karim Khan and Nairobi lawyer Kimutai Bosek, who are in London and will file the case in three weeks, have come up with a watertight suit against the British government.

“We met our lawyers who are poring over numerous documentary evidence as they are preparing to file the case in the next three weeks.

“I can confirm that I have seen light at the end of the tunnel. We will finally get justice because our lawyers have built a watertight case as new damning evidence on the injustices committed by the colonial masters has been uncovered,” he said.

Prof Chepkwony, who was accompanied by Kericho Speaker Kiptergech Mutai and Chepseon MCA Kiprono Chumo in the five-day London trip, added that unclassified documents and letters written by the British settlers and found by the county government’s lawyers in British archives had 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.

“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,” he added.

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 British colonialists by firing squad 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.

Mr Chumo said he is hopeful they will win the case adding that Mr Khan and Mr Bosek are expected to finish compiling the suit papers by February 14 and then file the case.

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 assembly allocated Sh40 million towards the matter during the 2016/2017 financial year with Prof Chepkwony assuring Kericho residents that the money will be spent wisely in the hope that the county will win the case.

But the governor has repeatedly assured multinational tea firms in Kericho County, including James Finlay, Unilever and Williamson Tea, that the case will not affect them in any way but will only focus on the historical injustices.


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