10.11.2023 Author: Simon Chege Ndiritu

King Charles III in Kenya and Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Tanzania: European Leaders Returns to Africa with Colonial Mentality

King Charles III in Kenya and Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Tanzania: European Leaders Returns to Africa with Colonial Mentality


The workweek beginning on 29th October and ending on the 3rd November 2023 is historically significant as European powers return to Africa, in a miniaturized recast of the Berlin conference. Germany and the UK seem to seek to mark territories while offering little to Africans. Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Nigeria and Ghana, the German president toured Tanzania and Zambia and the UK’s King Charles III toured Kenya. The visits show a scramble for Africa as an economic and political resource base with no developmental needs.

British and German leaders flew to engage with some African countries, but with a colonial mentality of the 19th century, as they pushed for things that benefit their countries and ignored Africa’s history and developmental needs. King Charles III of England flew 6819 km to Nairobi but could not apologize for the atrocious terror meted out by the British colonial Government on Kenyans. He proceeded to give a lengthy, tangential speech about how his family values Kenya and that he and his mother had visited Kenya. He also mentioned that Kenya and the UK had shared values. It is hard to know what these values could be, as his country engaged in the slave trade, colonialism, murder, and torture while Kenya did not. His country continues neocolonialism, with the UK military committing crimes in Kenya to date. His speech suggests that he thinks that Africans can be impressed by talk without actions.

The History does not Matter?

King Charles III was not sincere to Kenyans as he could not address real issues of atrocities of the British government, despite the Western media suggesting that Kenyans would demand answers from him. He is III could only express sorrow and regret as quoted in ABC News, “King Charles III has expressed ‘greatest sorrow and the deepest regret’ for the ‘abhorrent and unjustifiable acts of violence’ committed against Kenyans as they sought independence”. The statement is also half true, as British atrocities began as soon as colonialists and settlers arrived. The king could not admit fault or apologize, meaning he and his country were not repentant and could repeat such crimes. His lack of sincerity is also noted in how he feigned a lack of adequate knowledge about British colonialism and its effects as CNN quoted; “It matters greatly to me that I should deepen my understanding of these wrongs, and that I meet some of those whose lives and communities were so grievously affected”. Also, he did not propose any restorative measures, making his feelings of ‘sorrow’ and ‘regret’ highly questionable.

No Economic Vision for Africa from Charles or Steinmeier

King Charles demonstrated no economic vision, even amidst the realization that his was a state visit, loaded only with symbolism. He could only invoke Kenya’s role in the commonwealth, a body that has no practical benefits to Kenyans but is an avenue for projecting British neocolonial influence, in that Kenya largely votes alongside the UK on key international issues. He also stated how he was proud that the King’s cross will be used as a symbol for  Central Railway Station, CBC, a highly overvalued train station proposed to be built in Nairobi, at a cost similar to the 8-12 lane, 50 kilometer Thika Super Highway build by the Chinese. Therefore, the possible overvaluing of projects to exploit Kenyans in favor of the UK is noted, which constitutes neocolonialism. In addition, the decision to use The King’s symbolism to mark Kenyan infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. A similar symbolic visit (without economic benefits) was occurring in Kenya’s southern Neighbor as German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Tanzania.  However, the German Leader demonstrated courage and apologized for his country’s massacre of locals during German colonization. He also proposed making additional efforts to find the truth about these atrocities and promote ‘communal healing’. However, symbolic events were only occurring in East Africa, as the German government delegation headed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz had landed in West Africa with economic proposals.

Scramble for Africa

The German chancellor’s and King Charles III’s visit revealed a 19th-century colonial attitude.  During the Berlin Conference of the 1880s, the British and Germany visited Africa because they were trying to use Africa for their economic and political ends.  A sense of Scramble was brought out in the media sphere, with Anglophone media amplifying German colonial crimes and playing down Britain’s. CNN in an article published on 1st November 2023 (here) details how the German president apologized for colonial atrocities including the killing of 300,000 Tanzanians severing local chiefs’ heads and taking them to Germany. Dharmakshethra (here) reported how the British killed over 300,000 Kikuyus in Kenya and also engaged in other diabolical acts including crushing and ripping testicles and breasts and chopping off ears and fingers, among others. The British colonial government also severed and carried the heads of African chiefs, as this article (here) shows. CNN does not refer to the UK’s crimes but trumpeted that the king recognized the atrocities, but did not apologize (here). Also, the media viewed negative efforts to put the UK Monarchy to task over such crimes in the past. It stated how a meeting between Prince William and Caribbean legislatures seeking answers from the former was awkward, in a way that reveals Anglo-Saxons perceived supremacy over other peoples’ rights. CNN (here) proceeded to claim that only 100,000 Kenyans were tortured or killed, which seriously downplays the murderous British colonialism. The UK’s king seems to lack any courage to confront the past but is ready to read long speeches to clinch Kenya’s vote at the UN.

Resource Curse’ mentality

“Resources become a curse when in Africa’s hands” seems to be Olaf Scholz’ and King Charles’ conviction as they tried convincing Africans to stop using petroleum-based energy while Europe continued expanding the use of the same. Olaf Scholz’s visit to Nigeria was accompanied by efforts to seek opportunities for German investors in Nigeria, including those making Green Nitrogen while seeking to buy Nigerian Gas, as explained in the DW article (here).  Similarly, King Charles III, despite promising nothing in economic engagement, lauded Kenya’s efforts in “fighting climate change, hosting of the first Africa Climate Summit, and future participation in COP 28 UAE”. He would also praise how Kenya derives 90% of its energy from renewable sources, which, while laudable, must not be used to curtail future needs to use fossil energy. Some industries will need coal or petroleum, and Africa must not be limited from using these energy sources for whichever reason. One notes Europe’s tradition of using gas, oil, and even coal (Germany is reviving coal plants) while purporting to advise Africa to avoid these sources. Scholz primes Nigeria to use green hydrogen. Similarly, the UK’s high demand for oil and its involvement in destroying countries for oil shows that Europeans are only interested in keeping Africans from using oil and hence developing industries. Also, Africa’s glaring infrastructure gap was one thing that the UK and Germany did not address, which suggests interest in keeping Africa as an underdeveloped resource base for Europe.


Simon Chege Ndiritu, is a political observer and research analyst from Africa, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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