Africa – After almost seven decades, the longest-living and longest-reigning British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II passed away at the age of 96. She passed away peacefully on Thursday afternoon at her Scottish estate, Balmoral Castle, where she spent much of her summer. While most of Britain mourned the passing of the Queen, there are those who celebrated it.
The Queen came to the throne in 1952 and witnessed many historical events as enormous social changes. For some, the news of her passing brought great sadness. For others, her death revived feelings of anger and disdain as they still deal with the fallout and pain of colonialism. Kim Heller, Political Analyst, and author is one of those people who believes this should not be a time to mourn.
“For me I do not grieve or shed one tear for a woman who contributed to the subjugation of black people and reduced productive black nations, African nations into mere pawns … We should be mourning for those that came under the regime, of which perhaps she is not responsible for but certainly was part of, in the ugly world of Western empires and disintegration of black economies and cultural systems.”
Queen Elizabeth II was very much involved in the politics of the country
The monarchy isn’t just some historical organisation that encourages people to visit Britain and see the castles. It is an integral part of the British political system. As much as people would want the world to believe the Queen wasn’t involved in the politics of the country, Jamal Harwood, Hizb ut-Tahrir UK, begs to differ. Every legislation was only passed after it got the approval of the Queen.
“She was having an audience with the Prime Minister for an hour every week in which they would be discussing the foreign affairs and the policies of the government. No legislation would be implemented in Britain without the signature called Royal assent. It’s actually a very important part of the system.”
Colonialism might have ended but the features of it has not
Between 1945 and 1960, three dozen new states in Asia and Africa achieved autonomy or outright independence from their European colonial rulers. While that was a great milestone for colonised states and countries, the effects of colonialism are still seen today. David Van Wyk, Bench Marks Foundation, believes true decolonisation did not take place. Just a political one.
“We should ask ourselves why is it that in 2021 Britain was the biggest exporter of platinum in the world, but they don’t have a single platinum mine? Why Britain, until recently, was the biggest exporter of rough diamonds and still one of the biggest exporters of rough diamonds in the world when they don’t have a single diamond mine? The decolonisation process that is being spoken of was a political decolonisation. No economic liberation happened.”
To this day, if one purchases a property in Zambia, the title speaks of her majesty the Queen. This shows, according to Van Wyk, that you are not the owner of the land. It is still part of the colonial setup. The land still belongs to the Commonwealth. The economy is also not fully controlled by the people of the land, something you won’t find in Europe, said Van Wyk.
“We need to actually have economic liberation. We need to follow the Chinese and other Asian nations in liberating ourselves from the control of these northern hemisphere corporations. Black economic empowerment is completely inadequate. We are probably one of the only countries in the world where black people are allowed to own 27% of the economy and the other 70% of the economy is owned by foreign capital, by big banks and so on. I don’t see in Germany that 70% of the economy being owned by Africans. Why should, in Africa. we just provide labour and no other sense of dignity and ownership and control over our own destiny?”
There needs to be complete liberation
Economic liberation is extremely important for a country to move forward on their own. It is also important for their leaders to be working for the people of their country. The British introduced a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, which made it easy for them to colonise a country. While colonialism is over, the British employed another clever technique to ensure it still controlled the land, explained Hardwood
“If anyone dares to show any sort of real independence, in terms of thought or consideration of having your own political systems away from this colonial mindset again bearing in mind that they [African leaders] have been brought up in Oxford or Sandhurst or other British institutions. Their mentality is certainly towards Downing Street rather than towards their own people. That’s the message we really need to get across to people. There needs to be a complete independence of thought, not just a ceremonial form of independence.”
Blaming Queen Elizabeth II is not the way forward
Many African leaders issued strong words when the passing away of the Queen was announced. Many still hold the Queen responsible for the actions that occurred during colonial times. Some blame the monarch for the state of the country. This blame game needs to end if any country wants to see progress, said Dr. Vusi Sibanda, Africa Diaspora Forum. Instead of pointing fingers at Britain, we should be looking at who leads us.
“We need to be free and independent people and we should not be moaning about the past. We should be looking inside to say we are where we are because we are allowing ourselves to allow the agenda of neo-colonialism to continue. Every leader must want what is good for its people … Africa needs to look within and realise that we’ve been pointing fingers at the West instead of pointing fingers at our own greed and corruption and lack of development and lack of developing our own people in terms of the principles of democracy and constitutionalism so that we can have a vibrant system that stimulates the growth of Africa and the resources that we have.”
Sibanda believes people should be allowed to mourn the Queen for she did what she had to do given the time. To blame her is as good as blaming “people for wearing animal skins during an era when animal skins were worn and say look it was cruelty to animals”.
Africa is where it is today because of its leaders and not the Queen
Besides African leaders having strong words for the Queen, many African citizens laid their feelings. Social media sites were used by citizens of former colonised countries to express their joy. This is something that should not be taking place, expressed Sibanda.
“It is African culture that we respect the people that have departed. It is just unfortunate that there is this unhealthy hatred that is being spewed as a result of our own weakness.”
The victim mentality that African leaders and citizens have is what is stopping Africa from moving forward, said Sibanda. It is a good thing to learn about our history, but we should not use it as a means to define our future. Another point made by Sibanda is how leaders, who once looked down upon colonialism, rule as if the country is colonised.
“Once our black people come into power, they tend to want to enjoy this supremacy … They want to become colonial masters and oppress the other people. What they admire is what they were looking down upon during the periods of colonialism when they were complaining about the system. Once they are in, they become the very same people they loath. They want to unleash that suffering, that aura on the other people that are not in power.”
Van Wyk rejects this argument that Africa is where it is because of its corrupt leaders. He points to the fact that former Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also corrupt, but Britain is doing fairly well. A mix of corruption and the effects of colonialism has led Africa to where it is now.
Africa receiving reparations from Britain
There have always been talks about Britain paying African countries reparations. With the passing away of the Queen, these talks have only gotten louder. However, Heller believes that before South Africa ask for reparations from Britain the white people should give back what they have taken.
“We speak about reparations and demanding reparations from the Queen, but I don’t think that’s the right starting point. I think the right starting point is for white South Africans to say what reparations are we paying to black South Africans? It’s easy for us to say get reparations from Britain but we’re not looking at ourselves.”
The passing of the Queen has brought up many tough conversations and many buried feelings for all those who live in former colonised lands. The Queen’s legacy is one that will continue to have dark spots all over it. For some, she was the Queen the world needed. For others, she was a tyrant ruler that brought death, torture and cruelty. These are the two legacies the Queen will continue to hold but one thing is clear, Africa needs to use the past to build a better future. Not use it as an excuse.