Queen Elizabeth’s Death Prompts Africa’s Colonial Past

Since the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the royal family of the United Kingdom has been the center of interest across the world, and there has been a resurgence in criticism of the monarchy both within the United Kingdom and internationally. And in other parts of the world, particularly among the peoples that Britain colonized. Mukoma Wa Ngugi, a Kenyan American author who teaches literature at Cornell University and whose own family was profoundly affected by the violent British suppression of the Mau Mau revolution, is quoted as saying, “There’s a degree of psychosis that you can go to another people’s land, colonize them, and then expect them to honor you at the same time.” Ngugi’s family was directly affected by the bloody British suppression of the Mau Mau revolution. According to him, now that Queen Elizabeth has passed away, there should be a “dismantling” of the Commonwealth and a true accounting of the wrongs done by colonial governments. We also speak with Caroline Elkins, a historian at Harvard and a leading expert on British colonialism. Elkins says that even though it is unknown how much Queen Elizabeth personally knew about concentration camps, torture, and other abuses in Kenya during her early reign, the monarchy is obligated to face the legacy of those atrocities. “Serious crimes were committed while the queen was exercising her imperial guard. According to Elkins, “her portrait hung at every detention center in Kenya at the same time that detainees were being abused to exact their fealty to the British monarch.”

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