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British government to set up fund for Africans who died during World War 1

A  hundred years after the end of First World War, the British government has disclosed plans to set up a fund to assist families of African soldiers and porters who perished during the war.

Speaking on Friday at Voi Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, British High Commissioner to Kenya, Nic Hailey said Commonwealth War Graves Commission would set up the fund which would be used to assist the families of African soldiers whose lives were lost in the war.

Hailey  was amongst dozens of other dignitaries who converged in Taita-Taveta County to commemorate the end of World War 1 in Africa.

The envoy added that a comprehensive process to trace, identify and verify the identity of the relatives to the soldiers and porters would be done to ensure their contribution was also appreciated.

“We are focusing on reconciliation and making peace with all people involved in the war,” said the envoy.

The  German Ambassador, Ms. Annete Gunther and Australian High Commissioner, Jonathan Ball were also present during the event that saw a wreath being laid on the graves.

The event that was also attended by several senior Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) officers was boycotted by the county government.

Taita-Taveta County  was a flash-point in the war that pitted Germans and British in a bloody campaign that started in 1914 and ended in 1918. Some of the sites which saw fierce battles included Salaita Hill in Taveta, Mwashoti Hill in Mwatate and Picket Hill inside Tsavo Park.

It  was estimated that over eighteen million people died in the war among them over three million Africans.

Ball noted that the war had a huge impact on the lives of thousands of local residents while Ms. Gunther said there was need to spread the spirit of reconciliation among people affected by the war. “We want healing and forgiveness to spread to all people involved in this war,” she stressed.

The  KDF performed a mini-parade at the cemetery. The three day event will end tomorrow (Sunday). Today, the envoys will visit Taveta’s Salaita Hill and war cemeteries where a full military parade would be conducted.

By  Wagema  Mwangi

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