Two sides to the Queen’s legacy

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THERE is divided opinion over the virtues or otherwise of the legacy left by Queen Elizabeth II’s reign over the British Empire and Commonwealth.

Beneficiaries of British colonial rule have nothing but superlatives for her legacy. For now, however, we will leave that for another day.

On the other hand, Africa, in particular, has much to say about the Queen’s contribution for the 70 years she was on the British throne. When Elizabeth II became Queen in 1952, the British Empire was at its peak.

Not a single African British colony had gained independence then.

And yet, by the time the Queen passed on recently, there was not a single African colony under British colonial rule.

At face value, this might sound like a plus for the queen in her 70-year reign.

But regrettably it was not. Not a single one of these countries was handed its independence on a silver platter. Detention, imprisonment, being forced into exile, torture, rape, and even the shedding of blood were some of the hallmarks of her reign.

With Queen Elizabeth II at the throne, the oppressive, brutal, racist and exploitative rule of the British colonies went on unchecked.

And up to her death, the Queen never expressed remorse or offered any apology for the palpable ‘brutal legacy of dehumanisation of millions of people …’ by her respective governments. That is why, because of her evident complicity, she deserves not an iota of forgiveness.

As if to assert her authority in the then British Empire, an anti-colonial rebellion led by Mau Mau fighters in Kenya was brutally suppressed soon after Queen Elizabeth II had ascended to the British throne in 1952.

And yet the uprising was justified. All that the Kenyans wanted were political rights as humans and land reform. But Her Majesty’s government would have none of that. The crackdown that followed saw at least 11 000 Kenyans killed and 1 090 convicts hanged by the British colonial administration.

So that’s how bloody the Kenyan road to independence was!

Her Majesty the Queen was expected to protect her colonies.

Zimbabwe indigenes are a typical example of a people denied this protection. Like in Kenya, in the name of the British monarch, white settlers seized land from the indigenous blacks.

When Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne, she was not moved by the unfair distribution of land following the imperialist wars.

Black soldiers who had helped save a foreign monarchy were given bicycles while Britons, knighted by the then King and Queen Elizabeth II later on, were given huge swathes of our land. 

When Ian Smith rebelled against the British monarchy and declared independence unilaterally in 1965, Queen Elizabeth II should have protected the authority of her royalty.

Instead, like her former Prime Minister Harold Wilson, she chose to protect her kith and kin by supporting non-use of force to crush the rebellion.

Like elsewhere in her former colonies, British governments, with the blessing of the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II included,  plundered our mineral wealth. The crown the Queen wore bears enough evidence of the expensive loot that decorated her headgear. And like in Kenya, the Queen remained tight-lipped when thousands perished in Zimbabwe, when we fought for our land and independence.

To make matters worse, the tacit approval by Her Majesty of the formation of a puppet party, now called the CCC, to defend British imperialism, will never be forgiven. Moreover the Queen seemed to be going along with her government by not standing up against the evil illegal economic sanctions ruining the lives of innocent ordinary people she was supposed to protect.

Queen Elizabeth II, like others before her, was head of the Church of England, the Anglican Church. It is puzzling why such a high profile religious figure failed to utter even a word against diabolic vestiges of British colonial rule.

Meanwhile, as the Britons give their monarchy a befitting farewell, the bones of some of our valiant leaders taken as trophies to the British monarchy lie forlorn in a British museum. Perhaps, if Queen Elizabeth II had overseen the repatriation of the skulls back to their home, she might have elicited sympathy from Zimbabweans.

She didn’t.

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