Cloud of colonialism hangs over Queen Elizabeth’s legacy in Africa

“I cannot mourn,” one wrote on Twitter, posting an image of what she stated was her grandmother’s “movement pass” — a colonial doc which prevented free journey for Kenyans below British rule within the east African nation.
One other wrote that her grandmother “used to narrate to us how they were beaten & how their husbands were taken away from them & left to look after their kids,” throughout colonial instances. “May we never forget them. They are our heroes,” she added.

Their refusal to mourn highlights the complexity of the legacy of the Queen, who regardless of widespread recognition was additionally seen as an emblem of oppression in elements of the world the place the British Empire as soon as prolonged.

Kenya, which had been below British rule since 1895, was named an official colony in 1920 and remained that means till it received independence in 1963. Among the many worst atrocities below British rule occurred throughout the Mau Mau rebellion, which began in 1952 — the 12 months Queen Elizabeth took the throne.

The colonial administration on the time carried out excessive acts of torture, together with castration and sexual assault, in detainment camps the place as many as 150,000 Kenyans had been held. Aged Kenyans who sued for compensation in 2011 had been finally awarded £19.9 million by a British court docket, to be break up between greater than 5,000 claimants.
The UK Overseas Secretary on the time, William Hague, stated: “The British Government recognises that Kenyans were subject to torture and other forms of ill treatment at the hands of the colonial administration. The British government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place, and that they marred Kenya’s progress towards independence.”

Africa’s reminiscence of the Queen can’t be separated from that colonial previous, professor of communication Farooq Kperogi at Kennesaw State College informed CNN.

“The Queen’s legacy started in colonialism and is still wrapped in it. It used to be said that the sun did not set over the British empire. No amount of compassion or sympathy that her death has generated can wipe that away,” he informed CNN.

‘Tragic interval’

Whereas many African leaders have mourned her passing — together with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who described her reign as “unique and wonderful” — different outstanding voices in regional politics haven’t.

In South Africa, one opposition occasion, the Financial Freedom Fighters (EFF), was unequivocal. “We do not mourn the death of Elizabeth, because to us her death is a reminder of a very tragic period in this country and Africa’s history,” the EFF said in a statement.

“Our interaction with Britain has been one of pain, … death and dispossession, and of the dehumanisation of the African people,” it added.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip wave to a crowd of schoolchildren at a rally held at a racecourse in Ibadan, Nigeria, February 15, 1956.

Others recalled Britain’s position within the Nigerian civil struggle, the place arms had been secretly equipped to the federal government to be used in opposition to Biafrans who wished to kind a breakaway republic. Between 1 million and three million folks died in that struggle. British musician John Lennon returned his MBE, an honorary title, to the Queen in protest over Britain’s position within the struggle.

Nonetheless, many on the continent keep in mind the Queen as a stabilizing power who led to constructive change throughout her reign.

Ayodele Modupe Obayelu from Nigeria informed CNN: “Her reign saw the end of the British Empire and the African countries … became a Republic. She doesn’t really deserve any award or standing ovation for it, but it was a step in the right direction.”

Nigerian magazine publisher Dele Momodu met Queen Elizabeth on a 2003 state visit to Abuja, Nigeria.

And Ovation journal writer Dele Momodu was stuffed with reward, recounting assembly her in 2003 in Abuja whereas overlaying her go to to Nigeria. He added that he had fled Nigeria for the UK in 1995, throughout the dictator Sani Abacha’s regime.

“I told her I was a refugee and now the publisher of a magazine. She told me ‘congratulations,’ and moved on to the other people on the line. I salute her. She worked to the very end and was never tired of working for her country. She did her best for her country and that is a lesson in leadership,” he informed CNN.

Momodu believes that the Queen did attempt to “atone” for the brutality of the British Empire. “She came to Nigeria during our independence and some of the artifacts were returned under her reign. That is why the Commonwealth continues to thrive. I feel very sad that the world has lost a great human being.”

Adekunbi Rowland, additionally from Nigeria, stated: “The Queen’s passing represents the end of an era. As a woman, I’m intrigued by her story. This young woman had an unprecedented accession to the throne, and with much grace and dignity did everything in her power to protect the country and Commonwealth she loved no matter what it took.”

Commonwealth Queen

The Queen once declared, “I think I have seen more of Africa than almost anybody.”
She made her first official abroad go to to South Africa in 1947, as a princess and would go on to go to greater than 120 international locations throughout her reign, lots of them on the continent.
Elizabeth, then a princess, and Prince Philip step from their plane in Nairobi, Kenya, on the first stage of their Commonwealth tour in 1952.

It was whereas visiting Kenya in 1952 that she realized that she had change into Queen. Her father George handed away whereas she was there with Prince Phillip and he or she instantly ascended the throne.

As colonialism later crumbled and gave technique to independence and self-rule in what had been British abroad territories, the previous colonies turned a part of a Commonwealth group of countries with the Queen at its head and he or she labored tirelessly to maintain the group collectively over time.

She solid sturdy bonds with African leaders, together with Nelson Mandela, whom she visited twice in South Africa, and Kwame Nkrumah, with whom she was famously pictured dancing throughout her go to to Ghana in 1961.

Queen Elizabeth II dances with President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, during her visit to Accra, Ghana, in 1961.
Nevertheless, there’s now a rising clamor for independence and accountability over Britain’s previous crimes corresponding to slavery. In November 2021, Barbados eliminated the Queen as its head of state, 55 years after it declared independence from Britain, and different Caribbean international locations, corresponding to Jamaica, have indicated they intend to do the identical.
Prince William and his spouse, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, visited Jamaica in March however they confronted protests and requires reparations throughout the journey. There have been additionally requires a proper apology for the royal household’s hyperlinks to slavery.
“During her 70 years on the throne, your grandmother has done nothing to redress and atone for the suffering of our ancestors that took place during her reign and/or during the entire period of British trafficking of Africans, enslavement, indentureship and colonization,” wrote members of a protest group, the Advocates Community Jamaica.

In June, Prince Charles turned the primary UK royal to go to Rwanda, the place he was representing the Queen on the Commonwealth Heads of Authorities Assembly.

Following his mom’s demise, he now heads the Commonwealth, and can embark on a brand new relationship with its members, a couple of third of that are in Africa.

Some are asking whether or not he will probably be as efficient in constructing the group as his mom, and above all, how related it nonetheless is, given its roots in Empire.