When the announcement from London came through that they could proceed to a full trial despite the time elapsed, several dozen lined faces, etched from the experience of a long and often hard life, broke into beaming smiles.
Octogenarians jumped up from their seats, linked arms and performed an impromptu dance through the gardens of the KHRC, which has been helping with claimants with their case which dates back to the Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s.
“We are very pleased,” said Wambugu wa Nyingi, one of the three Kenyans who brought the case.
He had been subjected to vicious beatings while in detention under colonial rule.
“I hope that the British government will now pay us compensation.”
But these veterans of Kenya’s liberation struggle have received little support at home.
“It’s pathetic really,” says H S K Mwaniki, a historian and researcher of the Mau Mau period.
The reason, he believes, is to be found in the birth of independent Kenya in 1963.
Many of the country’s new leaders had been strongly associated not with the Mau Mau, but with the Home Guard, a force that fought on behalf of the colonial authorities.
“When independence came, they were the ones in place,” he says.
“Because most of the Kikuyu, the Embu and the Meru [three ethnic communities which supplied the bulk of Mau Mau fighters] who were against the British were either in jails, in detention, or completely suppressed. They could not raise a finger.”
Official indifference towards Mau Mau veterans started with Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president, and continued under his successor, Daniel Arap Moi.