Africa divided in the face of the death of Queen Elizabeth II

Some Africans have fond memories of Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s oldest monarch, who came to greet people in 20 countries across the continent during her 70-year reign.

Others, however, recalled humanitarian liabilities like Britain’s brutal crushing in the 1950s of the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, and the huge diamond the Queen’s family acquired from South Africa. Colonial South in 1905, which she never returned despite calls to do so.

Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, where the Queen visited in 1961, four years after it became one of the first African countries to gain independence, lowered the flags and declared that Ghana was proud to be part of the Commonwealth.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose first name means freedom in Swahili and whose country gained independence in 1963, called it a“a towering icon of selfless service”.

But many were less enthusiastic about celebrating the life of a queen whose country has had a checkered history in Africa.

Support for a military dictatorship

Some Nigerians recalled Britain’s support in the 1960s for a military dictatorship that crushed the Biafra rebellion. Igbo officers had launched the rebellion in 1967, sparking a three-year civil war that killed more than a million people, mostly from starvation.

Uju Anya, an Igbo teacher and survivor of that war who now lives in the United States, sparked controversy when she wrote on Twitter on Thursday night her ” contempt for the monarch who oversaw a government that sponsored the genocide that massacred and displaced half my family and whose consequences those who live today are still trying to overcome”.

“We are not mourning the death of Elizabeth”said the South African Marxist opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, led by Julius Malema.

“Our interaction with Britain has been marked by pain, death and dispossession, as well as the dehumanization of the African people”he said, listing atrocities committed by British forces in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Despite this view of herself, Elizabeth forged a close relationship with the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, the first post-apartheid president, and visited South Africa twice after the end of white minority rule. .

Elizabeth was just 25 and was visiting Kenya with her husband Philip when she learned of the death of her father, King George VI, and his accession to the throne on February 6, 1952.

Meanwhile, King Charles’s accession to the throne has sparked renewed calls from politicians and activists for former Caribbean colonies to strip the monarch of the role of their head of state and for Britain to pay reparations for slavery.

VOA Africa

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