The death of Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the British monarchy, has generated discussion in South Africa and other African countries about her legacy with people expressing divergent views.
Following her passing away last week, many prominent people, organizations and governments issued statements while individuals took to social media to express their views, The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa sent condolences to the United Kingdom government and people.
“Her Majesty was an extraordinary and world-renowned public figure who lived a remarkable life. Her life and legacy will be fondly remembered by many around the world. The Queen’s commitment and dedication during her 70 years on the throne remains a noble and virtuous example to the entire world,” said Ramaphosa.
He stated that he met Queen Elizabeth II in 2018 in London during the Commonwealth meetings and she showed him letters she received from former president Nelson Mandela.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation consoled the British following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The foundation said Mandela cultivated a good relationship with Queen Elizabeth II and would phone each other frequently, “using their first names with each other as a sign of mutual respect as well as affection”. The NMF said Mandela wanted to have “cordial and productive relations” with former colonial master as a democratic South Africa.
The NMF said, “We send heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family and to all those who regarded her as their Queen. She served her country tirelessly, consistently and with great dignity. We join with many around the world in saying hamba kahle (rest in peace) to the Queen. And we wish Prince Charles strength and fortitude as he takes on new responsibilities at this difficult time.”
South Africa’s opposition Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said the British monarchy had a history of brutal repression while attempting to colonize countries across the globe. The EFF accused Britain of killing South Africa’s King Hinsta, mutilating his body and taking his head to Britain on May 11, 1835, after wars of occupation.
Sinawo Thambo, EFF spokesperson, said, “Our interaction with Britain under the leadership of the British Royal Family has been one of pain and suffering, death and dispossession and dehumanization of the African people. It was the British Royal family that sanctioned the actions of Cecil John Rhodes who plundered this country, Zimbabwe and Zambia. It was the British that benefited from the brutal mutilation of Kenya whose valiant resistance to the British colonialism invited vile responses from Britain.”
He said when the British suppressed Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion killing the freedom fighter Dedan Kemathi in 1957, Queen Elizabeth II was in charge. The EFF accused Britain of brutalizing the Caribbean Islands, Yemen and Australia. Thambo said the Queen Elizabeth II never acknowledged the atrocities caused by Britain but befitted from wealth they got from exploitation and slave trade across the world.
William Mpofu, a political analyst from South Africa’s Witwatersrand University, said the Queen leaves behind a legacy of the British Empire, of colonization, dispossession and siphoning of resources by Britain. He said Britain should consider returning the artifacts they forcibly took from different countries and pay reparations.
He said, “Britain should pay those they dispossessed loss of life and opportunities and decolonize itself. They should de-imperialize and back off from interfering in other countries’ affairs. They have to visit those they harmed, caused pain and pay reparations.”
Many African countries were colonized by Britain, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. There have been some growing calls by many African countries that Britain and other former colonizers should return the artifacts they stole from different countries and pay reparations.