The death of queen Elizabeth II recently was received with mixed feeling globally. The queen was an icon and anathema altogether. She was loved and loathed in equal measures. It depended 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 criminal that didn’t deserve any commemoration or clemency from her victims. Why? Because her empire abused and gazumped 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 is quoted as saying that “by mourning and praising the queen, you are celebrating colonialism” (Eye Witness News, Sept., 9, 2022). Therefore, victims had nothing to mourn.
Of all who showed their detestation of the queen, Professor 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, Sept., 11, 2022). Anya’s reaction became a knock after one of the world 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:
Firstly, colonialism is still alive and well globally. This can be seen on how many leaders, ironically including the victims, consoled Britain without necessarily remembering its dirty and horrid past. Why did they forget the victims? How would they 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 colonization, still venerate her while some of the ex-colonies genuflect blindly and inanely.
Oddly, some ex-colonies such as Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and others declared national mourning. Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera is quoted as saying “... the flags will fly at half-mast for 10 days as a mark of respect for Her Majesty the Queen" (News24, Sept.,10, 2022). Ask Chakwera. How many days did the UK mourn when any of its President died? The answer is none.
Further “upon the passing of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul Kagame has instructed that the National Flag and the Flag of the East African Community, on Rwandan territory, be flown at half-mast from 9 September 2022, until the conclusion of the State Funeral Service for Her Majesty” (Igihe, Sept., 9, 2022). Ask Rwanda what the queen did when genocide was perpetrated in 1994. The answer won’t be pleasant.
Secondly, there’s this irony of flying flags half-mast. All countries that declared national mourning had their flag flying half-mast. However, the flag at the Buckingham Palace and King Charles III’s car had theirs 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?
Thirdly, it came to my attention that the queen mooched the world without passport. She’d enter any country as she does Britain! Why did our postcolonial African leaders allow this if indeed they’re free from colonial yoke? Why didn’t they reciprocate by visiting Britain without carrying passports and see what would happen?
In sum, many victims still wonder how national mourning could happen in Africa, the biggest victim of British enslavement and colonisation. The answer is simple. Aren’t some African rulers modern time colonisers of their people? What do you call rulers corrupt, thievish, dictatorial rulers and those tamper with the constitutions or overstay in power illegally by force? What differences do they have from colonisers? Modern African black colonisers are robbing and colonising their own people, brothers and sisters while Europeans, on the other hand, weren’t related to Africans whom they have kept on exploiting and discriminating against systematically and globally.
By Nkwazi Mhango
Member of the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador (WANL), an expert in Terrorism and author of over 20 books.