not everyone is mourning the queen of africa

From Kenya to Nigeria to South Africa, the death of Queen Elizabeth II has sparked many condolences from African heads of state who have praised a leader. “amazing” and sharing memories of his frequent visits to the continent during his 70-year reign. But the monarch’s death has also fueled a sensitive debate about English-speaking Africa’s colonial past, including the queen’s role as head of state during British rule.

When Elizabeth was born in 1926, the British Empire (link in English) spanned six continents. During his reign, which began in 1952, most of the 56 countries that make up the Commonwealth gained their independence, including many countries on the African continent such as Ghana, Kenya or Nigeria. His death comes at a time when European countries are under pressure to come to terms with their colonial history, atone for past crimes and return stolen African goods that have been stored for years. in the museums of London or Paris.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta were among those who expressed condolences over the loss of a “icon”, but many Africans also talk about the tragedies of the colonial era during his reign. Like Kenya, where the Mau Mau uprising, which took place from 1952 to 1960 against colonial rule, claimed at least 10,000 lives in one of the bloodiest repressions of the British Empire. Britain agreed in 2013, more than half a century ago, to compensate more than 5,000 Kenyans who suffered horrific abuses during the uprising, in an agreement that included almost 20 million pounds (23 million euros).

“The Queen left a mixed legacy of brutal repression of Kenyans in their own country and mutually beneficial relations,” wrote in The Daily Nation (link in English), Kenya’s leading newspaper, in a weekly editorial. Elizabeth visited Kenya in 1952 when her father died and she became queen. “What followed was a bloody chapter in Kenyan history, with atrocities committed against a people whose sin was asking for freedom.”

In Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, President Muhammadu Buhari honored the monarch, saying the history of his country “would not be complete without a chapter on Queen Elizabeth II”. While some praised his role leading up to Nigeria’s independence, others pointed to him as head of state when Britain supported the Nigerian military during the country’s civil war. More than a million people died in the Biafra War between 1967 and 1970, mostly due to hunger and disease, during the conflict after the declaration of the Igbo ethnic officials in the southeast from the country.

“If someone expects me to express anything but contempt for the monarch who presides over a government that supports genocide that massacred and deported half of my family (…) you are dreaming” , Nigerian-American scholar Uju Anya tweeted, sparking a heated debate on social media.

In South Africa, reactions were also divided, between President Cyril Ramaphosa who mourned the death of a figure “amazing”, and about the youth who refuse to celebrate it. As South Africa’s radical left party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), wrote in a statement: “We do not mourn the death of Elizabeth, because for us her death is a reminder of a terrible episode in the history of the country and Africa”. “During his 70-year reign, he did not acknowledge the atrocities his family had inflicted on people who were invaded by Britain around the world.”added the party, referring specifically to the slave trade and colonialism.

Mukoma Wa Ngugi, son of the famous Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o and himself a novelist as well as a professor at Cornell University, also questioned the Queen’s legacy in Africa.

“If the Queen apologizes for slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism and urges the crown to offer reparations for the millions of lives taken in her name, then I might … feel bad”he wrote on Twitter. “As a Kenyan, I feel nothing. This theater is absurd”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *