Moral Low Ground


Kenyans– Including Obama’s Grandfather– Tortured, Raped, Castrated in British Death Camps

Shocking new accounts of extremely brutal torture, including widespread and systemic castration and rape, by British colonial forces in Kenya have emerged in secret government documents as four elderly Kenyan victims prepare to go before the High Court in London, seeking redress for their unspeakably horrendous ordeal.

According to the Daily Mail, the four claimants (a fifth has died since the suit was filed) allege they suffered this hellish treatment in British-administered concentration camps during what is known as the Mau Mau uprising– an indigenous revolt against British colonial rule that ended a few years before Kenyan independence in 1963.

Among those imprisoned and tortured was Hussein Onyango Obama, grandfather of current US President Barack Obama, who died in 1979. He was rounded up in 1949 and locked up for two years in a high security prison. According to his third wife Sarah Onyango, Obama’s jailers squeezed his testicles with metal rods and pierced his nails and buttocks with pins. Others were not so lucky as to escape with their scrotums still attached. “Abuse included whipping, beating, castration and sexual abuse of men and women,” the claimants’ complaint reads. “In many cases, the abuse and torture was so brutal and dangerous that the detainee died.”

Court case: (left to right) Ndiku Mutua, Paulo Nzili, Jane Muthoni Mara, Gitu Wa Kahengeri and Wambugu Wa Nyingi are taking the British government to court over alleged torture during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya. (Photo: Daily Mail/Getty Images)

Indeed, according to the BBC the death toll from this British barbarity ranges anywhere from 12,000 to 90,000, with 160,000 detained, without trial, in horrific conditions. Just 32 white settlers were killed during eight years of emergency rule.

The Mau Mau insurgents, mainly from the Kikuyu, Kenya’s major ethnic group, rose up against British colonial rule following many years of economic marginalization. White settlers stole their land, often the most fertile and productive in the colony. Nationalist leaders such as Jomo Kenyatta (who would later become independent Kenya’s first prime minister) of the Kenya Africa Union (KAU) pressed their colonial masters in London for greater political freedom and land reform– all to no avail. By 1952, the more militant among the Mau Maus were attacking white farms, killing their livestock and waging war against their political enemies. This prompted the British to declare a state of emergency and as the conflict drew on, British counter-insurgency tactics increased in brutality.

The British utilized the Africa Home Guard, loyalist local forces, to control the Kenyan population. The Home Guard was encouraged and rewarded whenever they terrorized the Mau Mau and pillaged their property. Whole Kikuyu villages were forcibly relocated.

Round up: Members of the Lancashire Fusiliers flush out a Mau Mau suspect from a hut in Kikuyu village in Nairobi. (Photo: Daily Mail)

Others were imprisoned in concentration camps. Solicitor Martyn Day of London law firm Leigh Day & Co., which is representing the Kenyan claimants, told the BBC: “They were put in camps where they were subject to severe torture, malnutrition, beatings. The women were sexually assaulted. Two of the men were castrated. The most severe gruesome torture you could imagine.” Women reported being sexually assaulted with broken glass bottles and other objects.

Claimant and former herdsman Ndiku Mutwiwa Mutua says he was arrested, repeatedly beaten and castrated by British officials, who left him without medical attention afterward, in 1957. A second claimant says he was also castrated. A third claims she was sexually assaulted with bottles filled with hot water. Claimant Wambugu wa Nyingi says he was “suspended by his feet from [a] hut roof, then subjected to a severe beating over a period of about 30 minutes, while cold water was poured on to his face and into his mouth so he could not breathe.”

“A lot of the officers involved were white, they were controlling the violence against these Mau Mau,” Day told the BBC. “It wasn’t just isolated individual officers. It was systematic. The whole purpose was to break the Mau Mau.”

But the British government incredulously and ludicrously claims it is not responsible for the barbarity since so much time has passed since then. London claims any liability rested with Kenyan authorities.

South African Archbishop and Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu does not agree. “In my view, the British government’s attempt to pin liability on Kenya for British colonial torture represents an intolerable abdication of responsibility,” he told the BBC. “Britain’s insistence that international human rights standards should be respected by governments around the world will sound increasingly hollow if the door is shut in the face of these known victims of British torture.”

According to the Daily Mail, colonial officials were very keen to remove any documentary evidence of their conduct as it became apparent that Kenya would soon win its independence. On December 3, 1963– just nine days before independence– 1,500 documents were flown out of the country. The Kenyan government asked for their return in 1967, but was predictably denied. Since then, “these documents have been hidden away to protect the guilty,” David Anderson, an African history professor at Oxford, told the Times of London. Now the full scope of the depraved barbarism of the British colonizers is finally out in the open. And London is scared– word around town is that there are more “secret papers” detailing British atrocities in Cyprus, Nigeria, Malaya and Palestine, all former colonies or dependent territories.

Al-Jazeera report from 2009, when the Kenyans’ suit was first filed:

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