Kenyans say British colonisers stole land for tea

Kibore Cheruiyot Ngasura was just a small boy when his family was violently expelled from their ancestral land in Kenya’s lush tea-growing western highlands by British colonisers.

Eighty-five years later he still bristles at the memory, recalling the fear and confusion as his community was marched to a distant, unfamiliar place, and people around him begged their white overseer for answers.

“They asked him, ‘What wrong did we do? Why are you punishing us like this?” said 94-year-old Ngasura, the only living survivor of a mass deportation in 1934 from Kericho, where rolling green hillsides ripple with Kenya’s world-famous tea.

It is a question those forced off their land over decades in Kericho have been asking ever since.

Fed up with being ignored, the Kipsigis and Talai peoples have urged a UN special investigator to open an inquiry into their plight.

British and Kenyan lawyers representing the victims will make their first visit to Kericho since filing an official complaint with the UN, accusing the UK government of failing to account for this colonial-era injustice.

They allege that the British army and colonial administrators deployed rape, murder and arson to seize swathes of arable land in Kericho from its traditional owners.

The victims want an apology, and reparations for their homeland being usurped and reallocated to white settlers, who turned the fertile soils to cultivating tea.

Kericho boasts some of Kenya’s most profitable agricultural land — but the Kipsigis and Talai say they reap none of the benefit. The land today is largely owned by corporate giants such as Unilever, which sources tea from Kericho for some of its best-selling brands like Lipton.

The alleged expropriation of land began in the early 20th century but accelerated from the 1920s, after Kericho’s exceptional suitability for tea was realised.

Today, many Kipsigis and Talai live as squatters, humiliated and landless, generations after their forebears were exiled from Kericho’s verdant slopes, land known locally as the ‘White Highlands’.

Most possess nothing more of their past than chunks of pottery and other fragments, unearthed surreptitiously from beneath the tea fields: proof that their people once lived there.

“It is very bitter, to see where you used to live, and (know) you were chased away,” said Joel Kimutai Kimetto.

A spokesman for Unilever Kenya Ltd said they would not comment on colonial-era claims against the UK. Williamson Fine Tea, and James Finlay Limited, two other multinationals with major tea estates in Kericho, did not reply to requests for comment.

“They need to acknowledge that it is stolen property,” said Kericho County Governor Paul Chepkwony, who has fought for reparations for years.

In March, they scored a rare victory when Kenya’s National Land Commission ruled that the Kipsigis and Talai did suffer injustices, and recommended the UK to apologise.

But efforts to broker dialogue have not been successful, said Joel Kimutai Bosek, a Kipsigis lawyer representing his people.

The UK has faced a slew of compensation claims from across its former empire, including from Kenya.

In 2013, the government paid reparations to victims of its bloody crackdown on the 1950s Mau Mau rebellion against colonial rule in Kenya. But similar appeals have failed. – AFP

Froome survives first race since crash

SAITAMA (Japan): Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome successfully completed his first competitive ride since his horror crash in June on Sunday before hot-tailing his way across Tokyo to watch the Rugby World Cup semi-final.

The 34-year-old took part in a team time trial run round a single lap at the Saitama Criterium meet with 2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal and Ineos teammate Jonathan Castroviejo playing bodyguard.

The time trial was on the undercard for main event, the Saitama Criterium, and Japanese ace Yukiya Arashiro soaked up local adulation after winning.

In the time trial, Froome led the trio out to enthusiastic applause from a Saitama public that the Briton had worked
hard to win over this week with visits to schools and social events.

The PR exercise ended with Ineos rolling home second last as local cycling team Saitama Project won the time trial in 4min 20sec.

It was clear Froome’s right-leg was a long way off fitness, with surgery to remove a plate on his hip set for December.

The Briton is still in recovery after sustaining dreadful injuries in June when he hit a brick wall at high speed, fracturing ribs, a femur, and an elbow after taking his hands off the handlebars to blow his nose.

Froome left quickly at the end of the race without talking to the media in order to get to Yokohama around 60 kilometres away in time for the kick-off of the Rugby World Cup semi-final between Wales and South Africa.

The Kenyan-born Froome went to school and university in South Africa while his wife is a South African of Welsh origin, although he was coy about who he was supporting. – AFP

Tanak seals first World Rally title in Catalonia

PARIS: Ott Tanak sealed his first World Rally title when he finished second to Thierry Neuville in the rally of Catalonia on Sunday.

With one race to come in Australia, from 14 to 17 November, and a maximum of 30 points to be won, Tanak can no longer be caught in the driver standings.

Tanak was ecstatic about breaking 15 years of French domination.

“Feels good,” said the Estonian after winning the final power stage. “It’s difficult to say the pressure I felt this weekend – it was next level.”

Tanak’s second place on Sunday and his victory in the final power stage put him 36 points ahead of Belgian Thierry Neuville.

“To manage all this and get through it has been the target of my life,” Tanak said. “When you are on the verge of this you cannot imagine it.”

“I never wanted to take risks but my mother said yesterday evening that if I want something I can make it happen. I just had to make it happen.”

Tanek is the first non-Frenchman to win the title
since Norwegian Petter Solberg in 2003. Sebastien Loeb won it nine years straight with Sebastien Ogier winning the last six.

The battle for second and third in the championship, will continue in Australia.

Neuville, who drives a Hyundai, jumped to second in the standings, ahead of six-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier who is in his first season back at Citroen.

“We did what we could this weekend,” Neuville said. – AFP


Cannavaro on the brink at Guangzhou

SHANGHAI: Fabio Cannavaro’s two-year reign as Guangzhou Evergrande coach appears to be all but over after captain Zheng Zhi took temporary charge of the Chinese Super League leaders yesterday.

The club made the announcement following a 2-2 home draw on Sunday against mid-table Henan Jianye, cutting Guangzhou’s lead at the top of the CSL to one point.

The 46-year-old Italian did not attend the post-match press conference and his side have now won just one match in nine games in all competitions.

On Wednesday, Guangzhou went out of the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League 3-0 on aggregate to Japanese side Urawa Reds.

In a brief “special announcement”, the seven-time CSL champions said that the 39-year-old skipper Zheng would take charge on Monday while Cannavaro attended “corporate culture training.”

The club did not explain the move or give further details on Cannavaro’s status.

The World Cup winner was seen on video shaking hands with people and saying goodbye as he left the stadium.

If Cannavaro is sacked by Guangzhou — as seems likely — it will be the second time, following a failed stint there in 2014-2015.

It has been a turbulent seven months for the former Real Madrid and Juventus defender. – AFP

Manchester City look to Spurs

LONDON: Manchester City have the chance to exert some short-term pressure on runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool this weekend as Manchester United look to end their away day blues. Jurgen Klopp’s side saw their long winning streak ended by a hungry United in a draw at Old Trafford last week but still have a comfortable six-point lead over second-placed City.

Guardiola’s defending champions can cut that gap to just three points, at least temporarily, if they beat Aston Villa at home on Saturday, while Liverpool have a trickier-looking tie against Spurs the following day.

Frank Lampard’s young Chelsea side travel to Burnley on the back of a six-match winning run in all competitions while third-placed Leicester visit Southampton on Friday. Manchester United will be desperate to put more distance between themselves and the relegation zone but travel to Norwich without an away win in the Premier League since February.

Liverpool go into their home match against Tottenham after falling one game short of matching Manchester City’s record 18-match winning run in the Premier League.

The European champions, on a 44-match unbeaten run at home in the league, have forgotten how to lose at Anfield but will be facing a Spurs team buoyed by a 5-0 victory at home to Red Star Belgrade in midweek. Erik Lamela, who scored against Red Star on his 200th appearance for Spurs, said the size of the victory had given the struggling team an injection of confidence.

“Our confidence is better after winning the game 5-0,” said the Argentine. “We need to take this game, keep going, try to get better and better and now focus on Liverpool.” Spurs are seeking revenge for defeat in last season’s Champions League final, but the odds are stacked against them. Tottenham have won just once in 15 matches against Liverpool and have not won away in the Premier League since January. – AFP

Atletico Madrid hope Simeone has answers

MADRID: Atletico may need time to adjust after a summer of change but even this early in the season old problems are casting doubts over their Spanish title challenge.  After 77 attritional minutes at the Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday, Alvaro Morata darted to the near post and headed in Renan Lodi’s cross for a 1-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League that all but secured qualification. 

After the game, Morata delivered a firm response to those criticising the team and their coach, Diego Simeone. 

“People on the outside say we are going through a bad time,” said Morata, who arrived on loan in the summer. “But in La Liga we are three points off the top and in the Champions League we have seven points from three games. If this is a bad time, I wish all the bad times were like this.” 

Yet there was enough in Morata’s celebration, a raging run down the sideline to the bench, where he hugged Koke, who had just been whistled by the frustrated home fans, to suggest this was a win the players needed too. 

Simeone is almost beyond reproach at Atletico, a club he led to the title in 2014 and where he has performed miracles on a budget roughly half that of Barcelona and Real Madrid. 

When Koke was jeered as he trudged off, Simeone flapped his arms in disgust, demanding the fans applaud instead. Most duly did. – AFP

VAR confusion reigns in Premier League

LONDON: Three months into the Premier League’s first season using VAR, confusion and anger abounds, from managers, players and fans, at the inconsistent use of the technology. England’s top flight was the last of Europe’s big five leagues to implement VAR, with the objective of observing and learning from mistakes made elsewhere.

However, the desire not to re-referee games or overly disrupt the flow of matches by encouraging referees to come to the side of the pitch to review incidents on monitors has led to an inconsistent application of the rules.

Offside decisions do not fall into the category of needing to be a “clear and obvious” error and have therefore been regularly overturned.

But for penalties, red cards and fouls in the build up to goals, the high bar for changing the initial decision by the referee means few have been overturned.

Ninety games into the season, not a single penalty has been awarded by VAR, nor has a referee come to the sideline to review his initial decision.

“The Premier League needs to bite the bullet and make sure the video referee intervenes,” said former referee Peter Walton in The Times.

“Such interventions wouldn’t belittle the referee,” he added. “They don’t always have the best view, and I would have welcomed that help as a referee.”

Last Saturday Aston Villa, Burnley and Wolves had goals ruled out by VAR, the most contentious of which saw Burnley denied a late draw at Leicester for the slightest of touches by Chris Wood on the ankle of Foxes’ defender Jonny Evans. – AFP

Tiger Woods shares lead

INZAI: The second round of the US PGA Tour’s inaugural Zozo Championship in Japan was postponed on Friday because of heavy rain with Tiger Woods and Gary Woodland leading the 78-player event.

Officials made the decision half an hour before the scheduled 7am start after overnight showers turned heavy with forecasts of up to 130 millimetres rain falling
over the next 24 hours at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club.

The second round will now be played on Saturday, with a 6:30am start time, followed by the third round. 

“The golf course has already taken on four-tenths of an inch of rain, so it has actually reached the point of saturation and it’s become unplayable,” said Gary Young, US PGA Tour vice-president of rules and competitions.

“With more rain in the forecast and three to five inches of rain for the day, we thought the right decision was to call (off) play.”

Golfers will stay in the same threeball groupings for the third round, which will begin immediately after completion of the second round, and continue until dusk Saturday at around 5.30pm. 

“In our planning, that should leave us with approximately two hours of golf to complete on Sunday morning,” Young added.

The groups will be re-formed for Sunday’s fourth round, with leaders going out last at around 9am if there are no further delays. – AFP


Hong Kong critics beaten in targetted attacks

The men jumped Stanley Ho without warning, smashing both his hands with metal rods    one of multiple recent attacks against prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy figures that activists have dubbed a “white terror”.

Since late August, eight well-known pro-democracy figures have been beaten by unknown assailants as fear swirls that some “triad” crime networks have flocked to Beijing’s cause after five months of protests.

The victims include rally organisers, opposition lawmakers, student leaders and people standing for upcoming polls.

Ho, a 35-year-old labour unionist, was set upon in late September by at least three people in Sai Kung, a rural district where he is competing in local elections against a pro-Beijing camp that has dominated the area for decades.

“The cause of the attack may be related to two things — the upcoming district council
election and the ongoing movement,” Ho said, referring to the protests.

“Some powerful people are creating ‘white terror’ in
collaboration with criminals to make you fear standing for election and to make voters think twice before they express their opinions,” he added, one arm
still in a cast.

The term “white terror” has been used to describe multiple periods of political persecution throughout history, but in Hong Kong it is borrowed from nearby Taiwan.

During four decades of martial law there, organised crime groups frequently attacked critics of then-leader Chiang Kai-shek’s repressive government.

Vigilante violence has mounted on both sides of the ideological divide in Hong Kong as months of protests have spiralled with no political solution in sight.

In recent weeks, crowds of pro-democracy supporters have savagely beaten people who vocally disagree with them — although those fights tend to be spontaneous outbursts of mob anger during protests.

Pro-democracy figures, however, have been attacked in a noticeably more targetted way.

Last week, Jimmy Sham, the leader of a group that organised the largest rallies this summer, was left in a pool of blood after he was attacked by men wielding hammers. It was the second time he had been assaulted.

Five victims of attacks have reported assaults to the police, but only three men have so far been arrested — for the initial assault on Sham.

Hong Kong’s police have denied allegations of bias, saying they pursue all crimes regardless of political motivation.

But the force’s reputation
was hammered in late July after officers took nearly 40 minutes to respond to an attack by a group of men on pro-democracy protesters at Yuen Long train station.

Officers were filmed allowing men armed with sticks to leave the area in the hours afterwards.

Police have arrested 34 people for that attack, some with links to triad crime groups, and deny accusations they allowed the Yuen Long assault to happen.

Haunted by fear and a shortage of trust in the police, pro-democracy figures say they now arrange their own protection, although their options are limited.

Davin Wong, a former leader of the University of Hong Kong’s student union, moved abroad after he was attacked.

But most victims refuse to be cowed.

“I do worry such attacks will be more frequent and serious,” said Roy Kwong, a pro-democracy lawmaker who was attacked last month by a gang of men, one of whom filmed the beating.

“One important way to overcome fear is to continue our normal life and show those in the shadows that we are not intimidated.” – AFP

Electoral test for Germany’s AfD

ERFURT: Germany’s far-right AfD party faces a key test of support in a state election in former communist east Germany on Sunday, following national outrage over a deadly shooting at a synagogue.

The campaign in Thuringia has featured death threats, arson and Nazi rhetoric and the AfD’s candidate is Bjoern Hoecke, who heads up the most extreme wing of Alternative for Germany (AfD).

As in other parts of east Germany, the anti-immigrant, anti-establishment party is expected to make strong gains.

But opinion surveys suggest support for the AfD has softened slightly to around 20-24 percent in the wake of the attack on October 9, which has fuelled concern over growing right-wing threats.

The AfD is vying for second place with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU conservatives, with the far-left Die Linke tipped to hold onto the top spot thanks to the popularity of its local leader Bodo Ramelow.

With a population of just over two million people and an agreement between parties not to govern with the AfD, Thuringia’s election is unlikely to cause any political earthquakes in Berlin.

But the vote is being closely watched as a snapshot of the mood in the AfD heartland after a suspected neo-Nazi shot dead two people in the eastern city of Halle.

Demonstrators hold up a banner reading “Who votes for Hoecke votes for fascism” as they protest against the top candidate of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party for regional elections in Thuringia, as he attends an election campaign event on Wednesday in Gotha, eastern Germany. Photo: AFP

The gunman had earlier tried and failed to storm a packed synagogue on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.

The AfD’s Hoecke tweeted his outrage at the assault, but immediately came under fire from critics who said his own anti-Jewish remarks had stoked hatred and violence.

Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder, of Merkel’s CSU sister party, called on the AfD to expel Hoecke, who has labelled Berlin’s Holocaust memorial a “monument of shame” and called for a “180-degree shift” in Germany’s remembrance culture.

Last month Hoecke, 47, stormed out of a television interview after some of his statements were likened to those of Adolf Hitler.

Hoecke later complained that the media have cast him as “the devil of the nation”.

But the former history teacher is controversial even in his own party as leaders fear he could scare off mainstream voters.

“The AfD would possibly do better (in Thuringia) without Bjoern Hoecke,” professor Juergen Falter from the university of Mainz told the Bild daily.

“But he isn’t enough of a deterrent to do serious damage to the AfD.” – AFP