Saturday, April 23, 2011

Embarrassing files flown out to Britain

Kenya Television NetworkThe Standard GroupPublishers Distribution ServicesRadio Maisha 
 Sunday, 24th April 2011

By Amos Kareithi As the British rule in Kenya neared its end, a crafty plan was plotted where all the documents with embarrassing and sensitive information were destroyed or carted away.
The secret files released by the British government under the nudging of the court lays bare the elaborate plan which involved flying out some of the documents, either for safe keeping or burning.
Even as the administrators tried to belatedly clean up their act, there were attempts by the colonial administration to offer immunity to its officers who had perpetrated heinous crimes against Kenyans.
Some of the files which were destroyed related to details of the release of Jomo Kenyatta, dossiers compiled on prominent personalities such as Daniel arap Moi, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Gama Pinto, Senior Chief Koinange and Michael Blundels Daniel.
The files contained titbits compiled by the Special Branch during public meetings of the politicians while others covered mundane topics like development plans of 1960-1963.
As Kenyans were gearing towards elections and the inevitable self-rule, the administrators were busy destroying evidence of their decades of misrule.
Secret filesDetails emerging from some of the secret files, which have been released, indicate that some documents were flown to as far as Zambia, then known as Northern Rhodesia, for destruction.
On October 8, 1963, four months after Kenya had attained her internal self-governance, some files with intelligence committee monthly appreciations, were destroyed in Lusaka.
The destruction certificate was signed by administrative secretary to the governor of Northern Rhodesia, certifying that he had destroyed the documents, covering up to the March 1963, as requested by Kenya’s Ministry of Defence.
However not all documents were destroyed as those found crucial but explosive in the hands of the incoming government was flown to Britain.
A flurry of telegrams took place between Nairobi and the Colonial Office in London to secure safe custody for the documents.
On October 18, 1963, five wooden crates full of documents were flown from Nairobi’s, RAF Eastleigh Air Base, aboard Britannica Flight No.6037 to Lyneham.
According to the telegram dispatched by the then acting governor, the documents flown from Eastleigh were classified as historical.
Further correspondence show that minutes of meetings to prepare for the London Conference were not spared as some authors jostled for a piece of Mau Mau files in the hope of penning a book or two.
One such author was Margery Perham of Oxford who wrote to the governor, Nairobi, requesting some of the Mau Mau documents.
But PM Renson informed Perham that such papers were so sensitive that they could not even be entrusted to the incoming government.
"We cannot say at this stage where these papers will be ultimately stored, but I have noted for future reference considerations your suggestions that they be stored in Bodleian library," noted Renson.
Long before the state of emergency eased, there has been a plan by some panicked administrators who feared being prosecuted for their brutality against Kenyans sought some blanket immunity.
An exchange of informal letters by administrators show how some planned to frustrate inquiry into their past activities.
Earlier in 1955, the governor had issued an amnesty, insulating officers serving in Central Kenya from prosecution with a caveat that those who persisted after January 18,1955 would be punished.
The officers had panicked after an ex MP, Dingle Foot and CID investigators uncovered how scores of people had been killed and secretly buried by security agents for flimsy reasons. 

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