By 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.