News ID: 324111
Published: 0242 GMT September 12, 2022

'I cannot mourn': Former colonies conflicted over the queen

'I cannot mourn': Former colonies conflicted over the queen

Upon taking the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II inherited millions of subjects around the world, many of them unwilling. Today, in the British Empire’s former colonies, her death brings complicated feelings, including anger.

Beyond official condolences praising the queen’s longevity and service, there is some bitterness about the past in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and elsewhere. Talk has turned to the legacies of colonialism, from slavery to corporal punishment in African schools to looted artifacts held in British institutions. For many, the queen came to represent all of that during her seven decades on the throne.

In Kenya, where decades ago a young Elizabeth learned of her father’s death and her enormous new role as queen, a lawyer named Alice Mugo shared online a photograph of a fading document from 1956. It was issued four years into the queen’s reign, and well into Britain’s harsh response to the Mau Mau rebellion against colonial rule.

“Movement permit,” the document says. While over 100,000 Kenyans were rounded up in camps under grim conditions, others, like Mugo’s grandmother, were forced to request British permission to go from place to place.

“Most of our grandparents were oppressed,” Mugo tweeted in the hours after the queen’s death Thursday. “I cannot mourn.”

Anger came from ordinary people. Some called for apologies for past abuses like slavery, others for something more tangible.

“This commonwealth of nations, that wealth belongs to England. That wealth is something never shared in,” said Bert Samuels, a member of the National Council on Reparations in Jamaica.

Elizabeth’s reign saw the hard-won independence of African countries from Ghana to Zimbabwe, along with a string of Caribbean islands and nations along the edge of the Arabian Peninsula.

Some historians see her as a monarch who helped oversee the mostly peaceful transition from empire to the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 56 nations with historic and linguistic ties. But she was also the symbol of a nation that often rode roughshod over people it subjugated.

There were few signs of public grief or even interest in her death across the Middle East, where many still hold Britain responsible for colonial actions that drew much of the region’s borders and laid the groundwork for many of its modern conflicts. On Saturday, Gaza’s Hamas rulers called on King Charles III to “correct” British mandate decisions that they said oppressed Palestinians.

In ethnically divided Cyprus, many Greek Cypriots remembered the four-year guerrilla campaign waged in the late 1950s against colonial rule and the queen’s perceived indifference over the plight of nine people whom British authorities executed by hanging.

India is renewing its efforts under Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remove colonial names and symbols. The country has long moved on, even overtaking the British economy in size.

“I do not think we have any place for kings and queens in today’s world, because we are the world’s largest democratic country,” said Dhiren Singh, a 57-year-old entrepreneur in New Delhi.

Mixed views were also found in the Caribbean, where some countries are removing the British monarch as their head of state.

Antigua and Barbuda plans to decide on whether to become a republic within the next three years, the Caribbean nation’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne has said, in a move that would see Britain’s new King Charles III removed as its head of state, Al Jazeera wrote.

 

 

 

   
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