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CWGC Director General reviews Non-Commemoration work in East Africa

Claire Horton with the Nairobi Governor H.E. Johnson Sakaja meeting members of the Lands and Culture Teams at Kariokor.

Last month – between 20 April and 25 April – CWGC’s Director General, Claire Horton, visited sites across Kenya to review the significant progress made in addressing issues of unequal commemoration for African soldiers and porters following the First World War (1914 -1918).

The trip marked an important point for our team who are focused on ensuring the sacrifice and stories of Africa’s soldiers, carriers and porters are truly remembered. Claire was accompanied by the Rt. Hon. David Lammy MP whose original Channel 4 documentary, Unremembered, was broadcast in 2019 and did much to draw attention to these inequalities. David’s continued interest, enthusiasm and connection to our work are greatly appreciated.

Maintaining a dialogue

The National Museums of Kenya team and CWGC agree a process to protect and secure First and Second World War grave sites found by the Programme.

We had positive working meetings with the Governor of Nairobi City County, the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Heritage in Nairobi and Taita Taveta, the National Museums of Kenya, and the British High Commission. A new Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed between the Commission and the National Museums of Kenya to secure and protect First and Second World War African graves and likely First World War burial sites found by the project team." We also joined ambassadors from around the world to mark ANZAC Day at a dawn service in the beautiful setting of Nairobi War Cemetery.

Forming heritage and education links

Director General Claire Horton with Nairobi Governor H.E. Johnson Sakaja at Kariokor.

Our visit took us to Mombasa, Kwale and Voi where, as well as sharing our research and approach to finding likely burial sites, we heard from numerous heritage partners and community groups on how they can engage with this history. We gained feedback on new education engagement plans at sites including Fort Jesus in Mombasa and Mkongani village. Back in Nairobi we also heard how our work is provoking thoughts in the minds of learners. We met a small group of creative motion and animation students from the Technical University of Kenya who is co-creating an animation that will tell the story of the carriers, helping others understand the price that was paid and the indignity created.

The visit was a positive opportunity to have an open dialogue with the myriad of partners, community groups, government officials and ministers in Kenya who support and aid our work. Claire said:

“I am deeply moved and impressed to see how much progress we have made in the two and a half years since we started this project. This was an opportunity for us to see first-hand the work we are doing to honour the memory of those who died and were not given the commemoration or recognition they should have been. This is part of my professional and deep personal commitment to right the wrongs of the past. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the people of Kenya for their warm welcome and their ongoing support for our work. There is more to be done – not least on education programmes that will build a meaningful dialogue to fully engage young people in this history – but together we will honour those who died and were not remembered at the time.”

The Rt. Hon. David Lammy MP with Nairobi Governor H.E. Johnson Sakaja and David McDonald, CWGC Operations Manager at Kariokor.

Claire and David were joined by CWGC’s Regional Manager for East Africa Daniel Achini and key members of the Non-Commemorations Programme team delivering our work in Kenya: Patrick Abungu, Heritage Manager, Heritage Supervisors Mercy Gakii, Jaffer Gulamhussein and Operations Manager, David McDonald.

Tags Non-Commemoration Non-Commemoration Report