Kenya's independence: Uhuru Kenyatta in equality appeal

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Kenyans paid tribute to previous generations

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for Africa to be treated equally on the world stage as his country celebrates 50 years of independence from British rule.

Tens of thousands of Kenyans sang and waved the national flag as he spoke at a rally in the capital, Nairobi.

At midnight, the scene when Kenya gained independence was re-enacted.

British forces were accused of committing widespread atrocities during colonial rule.

In June, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said Kenya's Mau Mau fighters would receive payouts totalling $32m (£20m) as compensation for being tortured during colonial rule.

Mr Kenyatta said it was important for foreign powers to realise that Africa had come of age.

'Resist tyranny'

"We will embrace partnerships based on mutual respect and win-win scenarios. We will not accept partnerships that do not recognise we also have the intellectual capacity to engage on equal terms," he said.

"Africa has a voice. Fifty years after independence, Africa demands that its voice must be heard," the president added.

Media caption,
BBC Africa's Editor Solomon Mugera looks back at the key moments
Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Mr Kenyatta addressed the crowd like his father did

Mr Kenyatta is the son of Jomo Kenyatta, the first post-independence leader.

He was elected to office in 2012, despite being charged by the International Court (ICC) with crimes against humanity.

Many voters rallied behind him after accusing the ICC and Western governments, including the UK and US, of meddling in Kenya's affairs.

Mr Kenyatta is accused of fuelling violence after disputed elections in 2007. He denies the charges.

About 1,200 people were killed in the violence.

The ICC has resisted calls by Kenya and the African Union (AU) to suspend the trial until his presidential term ends.

It says it is pursuing justice for Africans who are victims of atrocities.

The Kenyan flag was raised in Nairobi's Uhuru (meaning freedom in the Swahili language) Gardens at midnight, re-enacting the moment when colonial rule ended.

Mr Kenyatta addressed the crowds, as his father did in 1963.

"From that night the Empire waned and a proud new nation was born... Finally Kenyans were masters of their own destiny," the president said, to wild cheers.

"I ask you this night to rededicate ourselves to defending that freedom and sovereignty that they secured at such great cost, and to resist tyranny and exploitation at all times," he added.

Thousands of people were killed during the Mau Mau revolt of the 1950s.

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