Within 10 days, the world has lost two iconic architects of the 20th Century. Former leader of the defunct the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR, the man who brought down the Iron Curtain and ended the Cold War, Mikhail Gorbachev, died on August 30, 2022.
On Thursday, September 8, 2022, the Queen of England, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, finally bowed out of this mortal plane at 96. She was the longest reigning monarch in recorded history, and was renowned for overseeing the inevitable collapse of the British Colonial Empire, the achievement of independence of its colonies and the deft transition of the United Kingdom to life without its conquered outposts.
In her 70-year reign, the Constitutional Monarch remained the Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces with the prerogative to declare war. She formally conferred power on 15 British Prime Ministers, saw the reign of 14 American Presidents and lived through the eras of 16 Nigerian Presidents/Heads of State. She remained the Head of State of 34 countries/territories and the leader of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations.
From her early stage, she deftly fought her way to the throne. Under her rule, the UK prospered despite losing her colonies (the UK is the fifth largest economy, worth $2.65trn). The UK has been politically stable, functional, militarily strong and remains an epitome of religious and racial tolerance. A measure of residual British influence is that the English language is the most widely spoken (1.132 billion speakers) and the most prestigious in the world. Queen Elizabeth II’s reign was, indeed, the British golden era.
While the late Queen is sumptuously celebrated by her immediate constituencies, the same cannot be said of those who had to endure the after-burn of the power-play that made her and the British Empire truly great. For a lion to grow fat, it must eat many lesser animals. Ultra-nationalist Irish, Scottish and Welsh people are not impressed with the outpouring of accolades on the world’s most prestigious monarch.
Nigerian-born researcher and Professor of Linguistics, Uju Anya of Carnegie Mellon University, sparked an outrage, tweeted: “I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pains be excruciating”. Twitter swiftly deleted the message following an outrage. Multi-billionaire, Jeff Bezos, took serious exception to the tweet, while the university condemned it.
This only shows the other side of the coin which cannot be swept under the carpet. Nigerians have received Queen Elizabeth’s passing with mixed feelings because Britain is chiefly blamed for an amalgamation of Nigeria that has only bred hatred, tension, instability, wars and mass poverty. Britain’s role in foisting the “contraption” on an independent Nigeria and always supporting the oppressors against campaigners for true independence and democracy will continue to discolour the Queen’s memory among Nigerians.