Viral Blog Post Earns Writer Meeting With High Commission

Kenyan writer Jackson Biko, who is a columnist with the Saturday Nation among other publications, took to his blog on Tuesday to vent about the bureaucracy he experienced at the UK High Commission in an article aptly titled “Visa Denied”.

Fireworks explode over Tower Bridge during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London on June 3 2012. In his blog post, Biko says all he ever wanted to see in England was the River Thames. PHOTO | AFP

Fireworks explode over Tower Bridge during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London on June 3 2012. In his blog post, Biko says all he ever wanted to see in England was the River Thames. PHOTO | AFP

Here is an excerpt from his post:

“Last week I spent four hours applying for a visa to travel to the UK. Yesterday when I picked up my passport, with it was a letter from the Home Office denying me a visa.

The letter reeked of British snobbery, delivering underhanded “insults” with words like “onus”. The letter made me feel like a criminal, like I unknowingly belonged to some underground movement which despises anything British.”

The topic ‘Visa Denied’ is currently trending on Twitter and caught the attention of none other than the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Dr Christian Turner, who tweeted the writer and apologised, promising to look into the matter.

Through his official Twitter handle, Dr Turner said:

“Asante for powerful piece on visa refusal and experience with bureaucracy. Will look at details and get back to you.”

To which Biko replied: “Thanks”.

Speaking to Nation.co.ke by phone, Biko said he wrote the article thirty minutes after he received the visa denial notice because he wanted to release the tension he felt.

“I did not write it to get attention. I expected that guys would read it, laugh about it and say ‘I know somebody who went through the same’, but not this,” he said.

The writer wanted to visit the UK to attend a product launch.

Biko also confirmed that he had received a call from the UK Embassy and had been invited for a meeting on Thursday to discuss the matter.

Follow-up calls and emails to the embassy were unfruitful.

– Daily Nation