Empire’s Children

July 16, 2007 by  
Filed under News

David SteelBy 1921, the British Empire was in charge of around a quarter of the World’s population (458 million people). It started during the 15th century when Britain was discovering new countries and the influences are seen in the military systems, government, educational systems and sports such as football and cricket. The Empire included Canada; manly islands in the Caribbean, such as Jamaica and St. Kitts; Australia and New Zealand, India, Pakistan, South Africa. After the Second World War, the colonies and provinces became independent and the 54 countries now form the Commonwealth.  

The Channel 4 Programme Empire’s Children looks at the effect of the British Empire on the lives of 6 celebrities – each with links to the former colonies. Tonight’s episode follows former Liberal Party Leader David Steele and his journey back to Kenya after 50 years. Although born  in Scotland, his father, Church of Scotland Minister – Rev. David Steel moved the family to Kenya when the former MP was 11.

In the early 1950s, there was violence and assassination in the name of an organisation called  “Mau Mau”.  A state of emergency was declared in 1953 and many people were detained in military camps.  Rev. Steel made sermons that were published live on national radio on a regular basis. He lobbied for the release of the detainees and frequently wrote to colleagues in the Church about his frustrations with the Government and the unrest. He wrote to the Governor urging him to take control of law and order and used one of his sermons to call for change.

 David Steel managed to meet one of the detainees that his father had campaigned to release and was moved to tears as he heard of his father’s work. In April 1957, Rev. Steel made his last sermon and the family returned to Scotland. It was an emotional journey for David Steel to revisit Kenya and hear of his father.


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  1. My mother often spoke about the Rev. Steel and had on several occasions met his son David as a little boy while living in Kenya. Rev. Steel married my parents in 1956 just after the end of the Mau Mau. I recall my mother talking about the terrible atrocities and wounds she would delt with working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Nairobi.She left in 1963 but could never forget her beloved Kenya often talking about her as a close freind until her death a few years ago.The Mau Mau was often spoke about,the drug enhanced rituals and crulity to their own race.