How Africans will remember Queen Elizabeth II

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How Africans will remember Queen Elizabeth II
How Africans will remember Queen Elizabeth II

Africa-Press – Gambia. Hi Quartz Africa readers,

The death of Queen Elizabeth II reignited a debate about the British monarchy’s legacy in Africa. Nigerian professor Uju Anya did not mince her words in placing the sovereign in the historical context of imperial rule and colonialism, and wished that her dying pain “be excruciating.” Twitter, where many first heard of the Queen’s death, swiftly deleted Anya’s tweet post.

Twitter claimed the post violated its rules, but some condemned the move for negating free speech. The episode teases the tone of the postmortem of the second Elizabethan age, which oversaw the last 16 years of forced British rule in Africa. In the decades since, a lot of effort has gone into moving past the uncomfortable colonial history by disbursing aid and development finance, as well as promoting the Commonwealth of Nations as the basis of a cordial future ostensibly based on cooperation not control. Upholding that sentiment, African leaders such as the president of Ghana, the incoming president of Kenya, and the Nigerian boss of the World Trade Organization issued statements expressing deep condolences and admiration for the Queen.The punchier reactions to her death instead addressed head on the so-called elephant in the room: the Queen’s role as representative, and direct beneficiary, of an institution that reaped rich returns from oppressed territories. No wonder that a video of an aged woman describing the anguish of a Kenyan revolution brutally crushed by British soldiers during the Queen’s first year on the throne has gone viral.

As the crown passes to her son King Charles III, the debate over the British monarchy’s legacy in Africa will continue, but could be summed up with just a question: What does Britain owe Africa and when will it pay in full?

—Alexander Onukwue, west Africa correspondent

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