Nairobi, Kenya — Upon taking the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II inherited millions of subjects around the world, many of them unwanted. Today, in the former colonies of the British Empire, her death brings mixed emotions, including her anger.
Beyond the official condolences praising the Queen’s longevity and service, there are bittersweet memories of the past in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and beyond. Even the loot that was stored is directed at the legacy of colonialism. For many, the Queen came to represent all of that during her 70 years on the throne.
Decades ago in Kenya, where young Elizabeth learned of her father’s death and her big new role as queen, a lawyer named Alice Mugo shared online a photo of disappearing documents from 1956. It was issued four years after the Queen’s reign, following Britain’s harsh response to the Mau Mau rebellion against colonial rule.
“Transfer Permit” is what the document says. More than 100,000 Kenyans were congregated in camps under harsh conditions, while others, like Mugo’s grandmother, were forced to seek permission from the British to relocate.
“Most of our grandparents were repressed,” Mugo tweeted hours after the Queen’s death on Thursday.
But Kenya’s outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was imprisoned under the Queen’s reign before his father Jomo Kenyatta became the country’s first president in 1964, has, like other African heads of state, Overlooking the problems of the past. “The most iconic figure of the 20th and 21st centuries,” Uhuru Kenyatta called her.
Anger came from ordinary people. Some ask for an apology for past abuses such as slavery, while others want something more specific.
“This national community, its wealth belongs to Britain.
Elizabeth’s reign saw the difficult independence of African nations from Ghana to Zimbabwe and a series of Caribbean islands and countries along the edge of the Arabian Peninsula.
Some historians see her as the monarch who helped oversee the near-peaceful transition from an empire to a federation, a voluntary union of 56 nations with historical and linguistic ties. increase. However, she was also a symbol of a nation that often lashed out at the people it conquered.
Across the Middle East, there were few signs of public grief or concern over her death. Many blame Britain for the colonial rule that tore apart many of the region’s borders and laid the groundwork for many of the modern conflicts. On Saturday, Gaza’s Hamas rulers called on King Charles III to “fix” the British mandate’s decisions they said were oppressing the Palestinian people.
In an ethnically divided Cyprus, many Greek Cypriots have responded to the four years of guerrilla warfare in the late 1950s against colonial rule and the plight of nine people hanged by British authorities. I remembered the indifference of the Queen.
Yiannis Spanos, president of the National Organization of Cyprus Combatants, said the Queen was “held by many as responsible” for the island’s tragedy.
Now, with her passing, new efforts are being made to address or hide the colonial past.
India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is resuming efforts to remove colonial names and symbols. The country has long moved forward and has overtaken the size of the UK economy.
“I don’t think there is a place for a king or queen in today’s world because we are the world’s largest democracy,” said Dhiren Singh, a 57-year-old entrepreneur from New Delhi.
Some sympathized with Elizabeth and the environment in which she grew up.
Max Kahindi, a resident of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, recalled the Mau Mau rebellion “with bitterness” and how several elders were detained or killed. However, he believes that the Queen was “a very young woman” at the time and that someone else was likely in charge of British affairs.
“We cannot blame the Queen for all the suffering we suffered then,” Kahindi said.
Ugandan political analyst Timothy Karieguila said there are lingering “spiritual ties” in some African countries, from colonial experiences to federations. “It’s a moment of pain, a moment of nostalgia,” he said.
The Queen’s dignified persona and age, and the centrality of English in international affairs, are powerful enough to soften some criticism.
Diverse opinions are also seen in the Caribbean, with some countries removing the British monarch as head of state.
“You have a contradictory consciousness,” said Majki Tame, a senior lecturer in development studies at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.The island was meant to be completely independent.
Younger generations of royals appear to be more sensitive to the effects of colonialism, Tame said — during the visit William expressed his “deep grief” over slavery.
Activist Nadine Spence said Elizabeth was introduced by the British as “this benevolent queen who always looked out for us”, so it’s no surprise Elizabeth’s appreciation among older Jamaicans However, young people are not in awe of the royal family.
“The only thing I would point out about the Queen’s passing is that she never apologized for her slavery after she died,” Spence said. “She should have apologized.”
AP journalists from around the world contributed to this report.
https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/2022/9/11/23348005/queen-elizabeth-death-colonialism-india-kenya-nigeria-colonies-british-rule Queen Elizabeth’s death brings conflicting feelings to former colony: ‘I can’t grieve’