‘Britain and Kenya must find and punish the still living perpetrators of crimes’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

Soldiers training in Nanyuki, Kenya
(Image credit: Tony Karumba / AFP / Getty Images)

1. One more body in the septic tank that is British colonial history

Patrick Gathara for Al Jazeera

on fighting for justice

New reports in the press have “galvanised a renewed investigation” into the murder of Agnes Wanjiru, a Kenyan woman found dead in a septic tank two months after disappearing in 2012, writes Patrick Gathara for Al Jazeera. “The fresh probe is welcome”, he says, but “the prospects for justice are not as clear-cut as one may presume”. Kenya has a “terrible record” of serving justice to its citizens for crimes committed by foreigners, and its government’s “callousness and recalcitrance” in dealing with these matters “is a reflection both of its own commission of similar crimes against them and of its colonial roots”, writes the Kenyan journalist. “We must not forget that there are many, many more bodies waiting to be discovered in the septic tank of British colonial history”, and “a serious attempt to find and punish the still living architects and perpetrators of crimes” is needed. Unless Britain and Kenya’s governments “can recognise their humanity”, other victims “are unlikely to see justice”.

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2. Was Japan’s ‘lost’ generation ahead of the virtual curve?

Leo Lewis at the Financial Times

on unlikely pioneers

The idea of the “hikikomori”, an acute social withdrawal, has “encapsulated a range of terrors about society, technology and the young” in Japan for almost 25 years, writes Leo Lewis for the Financial Times. Initially, “individuals withdrawing into their bedrooms for months or years” was seen as “a peculiarly Japanese problem”. But neither cause nor symptom were unique to the nation, writes Lewis. The issue appears “plentifully” in other Asian countries, as does the belief that “there was something fundamentally sinister about the confected, virtual worlds many hikikomori inhabited”. Now, Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse has arrived, along with his “bubbly peddling of the unimaginable fun and fulfilment we will have in these new virtual worlds”. Have we reached “a moment where some perceptions of reclusion might inflect”? Could the hikikomori “in some future light” be “deemed less the sad victims of society”, asks Lewis, “and more the brave colonists of a prairie in which everyone will soon want their homestead”?

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3. Sajid Javid introducing mandatory Covid vaccines for NHS staff ignores the need for an expanded workforce

Paul Waugh for the i news site

on effective futureproofing

Unlike Boris Johnson’s recent about-turns, the health secretary appears to be in “no mood to hit reverse gear” on his plan for mandating Covid vaccinations for social care and frontline NHS workers, writes Paul Waugh for the i news site. “Despite a last-minute plea” to pause the policy due to fears of “an exodus of 60,000 staff”, Sajid Javid is “pressing ahead”. The move has public support, and senior NHS figures believe that his resolve “can pay off”, writes Waugh – “as long as the stick is used alongside the carrot of peer-to-peer persuasion”. But “there is continued irritation” due to Rishi Sunak failing to lay out plans for NHS training in the long term. If Javid’s plan is to “futureproof the country against further pandemics”, the “bigger challenge” will be getting the PM and the chancellor “to build in extra capacity, not less”. It would be in their interests; “an expanded workforce would also help futureproof the Tory party”.

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4. Cop26: Before climate summit ends, Nicola Sturgeon should declare her opposition to new Cambo oil field

Jamie Livingstone for The Scotsman

on setting a green example

“The next few days are a litmus test for humanity,” says Jamie Livingstone in The Scotsman. “So far, we’ve heard some relatively promising words” at the Cop26 climate conference, but now “detailed commitments” are needed. “Scotland is well placed to help inspire greater global action,” but as Nicola Sturgeon has acknowledged, “it’s easy to be a world leader when the bar is low,” says Livingstone, writing on behalf of campaign group Stop Climate Chaos Scotland. And there’s an “elephant in the room” for Scotland in the form of oil and gas, with Westminster “poised to greenlight a massive new oilfield off the coast of Shetland”. To do so “would be a clear climate contradiction”, writes Livingstone. Sturgeon must now make her opposition clear with a display of the kind of “political bravery” that “the world needs to see during the final week of COP”.

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5. I’m a comedian and banter is my job - this is the truth about racist jokes

Shazia Mirza for The Guardian

on what is never funny

“There really is nothing like British banter,” writes Shazia Mirza for The Guardian. “It is a national pastime, like moaning about the weather.” Jokes “might take aim at the clothes people are wearing, their hairstyle, their facial hair”, but “racism should never come into it”. Mirza wasn’t “convinced” that Gary Ballance’s use of “the P-word against his teammate Azeem Rafiq” was “in the spirit of friendly banter”, as the panel investigating the cricketer’s actions had concluded. She says if she were to use the word on stage, “the audience would turn on me”. “There can be no banter with a word that has such darkness attached to it, a word that is only ever used to demean and punch down,” she continues. Anyone who thinks racial slurs are friendly banter “should ask Doreen Lawrence and the parents of others whose lives have been lost in racist attacks if they think the same”.

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