The death of Queen Elizabeth II recently was received with mixed feelings globally.
The Queen was an icon and anathema altogether, that was loved and loathed in equal measure. It depends on who you are vis-a-vis who she deservedly was. For the victims of her empire that enslaved and colonised them, Queen Elizabeth II, like any colonialist, was a leader that didn’t deserve any commemoration or clemency from her victims. Why? Because her empire abused them for decades and thereby became rich and globally dominant.
Secondly, the Queen died without asking for forgiveness or offering any apology and redress to the victims. The South African Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema was quoted as saying “by mourning and praising the Queen, you are celebrating colonialism” (EyeWitness News, September 9, 2022). Therefore, victims had nothing to mourn.
Of all who showed their detestation of the Queen, Prof Uju Anya of Carnegie Mellon University broke a record of openness. She tweeted: “I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying” (New York Post, September, 11, 2022). Anya’s reaction became a knock after one of the world’s richest men, Jeff Bezos, replied “this is someone supposedly working to make the world better?” He retorted, “I don’t think so”.
Now, let’s look at the lessons from Queen’s demise as follows:
First, colonialism is still alive and well globally. This can be seen in how many leaders, ironically including the victims, consoled Britain without necessarily remembering its horrid past. Why did they forget the victims? How would they do it while most of them are doing the same? Beneficiaries of slavery and colonisation still revere the late Queen.
Western countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the US, among others, that are the offshoots of British colonisation still venerate her while some of the ex-colonies genuflect blindly and inanely.
Oddly, some ex-colonies such as Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania, declared national mourning. Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera was quoted as saying that “… the flags will fly at half-mast for 10 days as a mark of respect for Her Majesty the Queen” (News24, September 10, 2022). Ask Chakwera. How many days did the UK mourn when any of its presidents died? The answer is none.
Further “upon the passing of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame instructed that the national flag and the flag of the East African Community, on Rwandan territory, be flown at half-mast from September 9, until the conclusion of the State Funeral Service for Her Majesty (Igihe, September 9, 2022). Ask Rwanda what the Queen did when genocide was perpetrated in 1994. The answer won’t be pleasant.
Second, there was this irony of flying flags half-mast. All countries that declared national mourning had their flag flying half-mast. However, the flag at Buckingham Palace and King Charles III’s car had their full mast! What does this speak to if not the dominance of the British Empire over others who sheepishly kowtow before it and its interests as in this case?
Third, it came to my attention that the Queen travelled the world without a passport. She would enter any country as she does Britain! Why did our postcolonial African leaders allow this if indeed they are free from colonial yolk? Why didn’t they reciprocate by visiting Britain without carrying a passport and seeing what would happen?
Fourth, although Africa mourned the Queen’s death not her victims including themselves, I am sure if citizens of African countries that declared national mourning were asked what to be done, many would not have agreed with what seemed like their traumatisation. Queen’s death awoke horrid memories of slavery and colonisation.
In sum, many victims still wonder how national mourning could happen in Africa, the biggest victim of British enslavement and colonisation. The answer’s simple. Aren’t some African rulers in modern times colonisers of their people?
What do you call rulers who are corrupt, thievish, dictatorial rulers, and those who tamper with the constitutions or overstay in power illegally by force? What differences do they have from colonisers? Methinks the difference is modern African black colonisers are robbing and colonising their people, brothers and sisters while Europeans weren’t related to Africans whom they have kept on exploiting and discriminating against systematically and globally.