Queen Elizabeth’s Death Ignites Debate Over Africa’s Colonial Past


Lagos, Nigeria:

From Kenya and Nigeria to South Africa and Uganda, Queen Elizabeth’s dying met with an outpouring of official condolences, mourning and recollections of her frequent visits to Africa throughout her seven many years on the throne.

But the British monarch’s passing additionally revived a delicate debate over Africa’s colonial previous.

Her dying got here at a time when European nations are underneath strain to reckon with their colonial histories, atoning for previous crimes and returning stolen African artefacts held for years in museums from London and Paris.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta had been amongst these expressing condolences for the lack of an “icon.”

But many Africans mirrored extra on the tragedies from colonial instances, together with occasions that occurred within the first decade of her rule.

Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963, after an eight-year-long riot that left not less than 10,000 folks useless.

Britain agreed in 2013 to compensate over 5,000 Kenyans who had suffered abuse through the Mau Mau revolt, in a deal value almost 20 million kilos ($23 million).

“The Queen leaves a mixed legacy of the brutal suppression of Kenyans in their own country and mutually beneficial relations,” The Daily Nation, Kenya’s largest newspaper, wrote in a weekend editorial.

Elizabeth was visiting Kenya in 1952 when her father died and she or he turned queen.

“What followed was a bloody chapter in Kenya’s history, with atrocities committed against a people whose only sin was to demand independence.”

“While the ties with Britain have been useful, it is difficult to forget those atrocities.”

Treasures, Biafra conflict

As a part of current restorations for the previous, Nigeria and neighbouring Benin have seen the return from Britain and France of the primary of 1000’s of artefacts plundered throughout colonial instances.

Nigeria’s so-called Benin Bronzes — sixteenth to 18th century metallic plaques and sculptures — had been looted from the palace of the traditional Benin Kingdom and ended up in museums throughout the US and Europe.

Nigeria’s Buhari mentioned the nation’s historical past “will never be complete without a chapter on Queen Elizabeth II”.

While some praised her function main as much as Nigeria’s independence, others identified she was head of state when Britain supported the Nigerian military through the nation’s civil conflict.

More than a million folks died between 1967-1970, largely from hunger and illness, through the battle after ethnic Igbo officers declared independence within the southeast.

“If anyone expects me to express anything but disdain for the monarch who supervised a government sponsored genocide…you can keep wishing upon a star,” Nigerian-born US-based professor Uju Anya mentioned, in a Twitter reference to the Biafra conflict that triggered fierce debate on social media.

Similar combined reactions had been expressed in South Africa, the place President Cyril Ramaphosa known as her an “extraordinary” determine.

But the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters or EFF motion was extra dismissive, recalling many years of apartheid, by which Britain, the previous coloniser, was typically passive.

“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,” EFF mentioned in an announcement.

Ugandan legacy

In Uganda, some went again additional, recalling the Bunyoro Kingdom’s ruler Omukama Kabalega, who resisted British rule within the late Nineties.

He was deposed and exiled to the Seychelles and the dominion was then absorbed into the British empire.

“As much as the queen was able to maintain cohesion of the former British colonies, she had not addressed adequately the injustices meted out on some of the states including Uganda,” mentioned former intelligence director and now political analyst, Charles Rwomushana.

Last month, the Uganda Tourism Association known as for a committee to guide the return of Ugandan artefacts from British and different international museums, together with some 300 from Bunyoro, in response to the parliament.

Charles Onyango-Obbo, author and Uganda authorities critic, mentioned on Twitter many long-ruling African leaders used Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year reign to justify their very own many years in energy.

“Now that she has passed, they are scrambling to learn how to make their case convincingly in the past tense.”

Mukoma Wa Ngugi, the son of Kenya’s world famend author Ngugi wa Thiong’o and who’s himself a novelist in addition to an affiliate professor of English at Cornell University, additionally questioned the Queen’s legacy in Africa.

“If the queen had apologised for slavery, colonialism and neocolonialism and urged the crown to offer reparations for the millions of lives taken in her/their names, then perhaps I would do the human thing and feel bad,” he wrote on Twitter.

“As a Kenyan, I feel nothing. This theater is absurd.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV workers and is printed from a syndicated feed.)



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