Cloud of colonialism hangs over Queen Elizabeth’s legacy in Africa
When King George V of England died last November and was succeeded by Queen Elizabeth II, many African leaders said they were relieved, but wondered how it would be received by their subjects.
Some, including Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, president of the African Union (AU), said the death of a monarch was not only a personal loss but also a political one for the continent.
Zuma said King George was the best monarch the continent had known, but said she would deal with him in a way that would leave Africans inspired but also with a feeling of optimism.
“To celebrate my father’s death, I celebrate the end of a long period that has been an embarrassment for Africa and has brought little honour to us,” Zuma said. “We must not let our sorrow lead us to despair. I believe in optimism, especially in our citizens: for the first time, we are feeling optimistic.”
The death of royal family members was also a political event at a time when many African nations were feeling the effect of Western influence.
That was clear in the reaction to King George’s death, which was echoed in the criticism of his eldest daughter, Queen Elizabeth, who is not yet on the throne.
“I was shocked when I heard the news,” said Senegalese President Macky Sall on Twitter. “I can not stop thinking about what this all means and to my African people and family as well I can not stop crying. My condolences to the African nation and those who suffered that day.”
Zulu former President Yoweri Museveni, who was also in the U.K., said, “I remember my father very well, which is why I cannot stop crying on hearing this news. I have always felt that we had been cheated and I will not accept that.”
“I cannot stop thinking about what we have lost, I am not sure we can ever recover this loss,” said Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose wife is the queen.
In Kenya, Kenyans are mourning King George VI’s death at the time, but they are celebrating the birth of another king, his successor, in the form of his grandson