Cloud of colonialism hangs over Queen Elizabeth’s legacy in Africa
Queen Elizabeth II arrives for lunch at the National Gallery of Victoria and the Royal Commonwealth Society in London last April. British taxpayers spent £7 million (13 million euros) to pay for the royal visit. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
By Elisa James
10/13/2014 11:22:00 AM
British taxpayers spent £7 million (13 million euros) on a royal visit to Africa in 2013. But a new report from the Royal Commonwealth Society exposes some British government officials and lawmakers for their complicity in policies in the past and present that have enabled the Crown’s colonial agenda worldwide.
The report, “Queen Elizabeth II – The Crown’s Colonial Agenda,” was released Sept. 9. It is the result of the first meeting of a newly formed working group on the topic by representatives from the Royal British Columbia Geographical Society, the University of British Columbia, the Royal Commonwealth Society and the University of Victoria.
The working group, which also includes representatives from the Globe and Mail and CBC, is charged with identifying and addressing the causes and consequences of policies in the past and present of the Crown’s colonial agenda in Africa. It also has to identify and address the opportunities and limitations of pursuing similar policies in other parts of the world without compromising the rights of citizens and governments of countries under its rule.
“No such thing as history is taught anymore in British public schools,” the group’s vice-chair, Dr. Josephine Firth, a historian at the University of Victoria, said in an interview from Washington, D.C., the United States, where the working group is gathering. “There would be a serious risk of losing history and the understanding of the past. We do not want that to happen.”
Dr. Firth, who studied colonial rule in Africa at Oxford University and has worked with the Royal Commonwealth Society, said the main challenge is identifying the past and present policies and practices — most of which involved the British government’s colonial bureaucracy — that are supporting the Crown’s colonial agenda as it continues to expand its influence in Africa.
“This is one of the first things we are trying to understand: what the main policies and practices are behind colonialism and how they can be adapted to today’s globalized world