Cloud of colonialism hangs over Queen Elizabeth’s legacy in Africa
Lionel Gikandi and Riya Odinga
Cape Town – Africa’s Queen Elizabeth II comes to power in her own right with this month’s delivery of her diamond-encrusted coronation crown to President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria.
She is at the height of a power bubble in Africa’s most populous continent, a continent in which she is not only the most powerful head of state but also the head of the world’s oldest and largest nation.
At a time when the continent is facing a new wave of violence that has so far killed more than 7,000 people, the Queen is in a position to make a real difference in Africa.
“What she’s been able to do is put to one side the issue of whether she is a symbol of African unity that’s been created recently,” said Dr. Kofi Akinyele of the Kofi Annan Centre for Peace and Development at the University of South Africa.
“She’s also been able to put to one side the issue of whether she should be able to set the terms for her own terms: she’s been able to create a lot of political and economic space for the African Union in this period where there was no space for them before.”
But Africa has never had a queen before in her own right, and the Queen is the first to have the world’s attention.
The fact is, with her iconic diamond-encrusted crown, her official ties and the fact that she has chosen Nigeria to be her first African state visit as head of state, she is now being seen as the new personification of Africa.
“It’s not just the personal qualities of the Queen that have made her iconic that of course, but also the fact that she is the first African monarch to be granted this status,” said Dr. Nwekele Ngoepe of the Centre