Jamaican school children greet Queen Elizabeth II at the National Heroes Monument in Kingston, Jamaica, on Feb. 14, 1983, during the second day of the queen's visit to the former British colony. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

When the news broke of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, the world mourned the loss through heartfelt condolences and tributes in honor of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch after 70 years on the throne. 

She was 96 years old. 

However, while many have memorialized the Queen, others on social media have been vocal about the monarch’s colonial stronghold on Black nations. News outlets such as the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC) Africa were dragged for a confusing video tribute romanticizing the Queen’s connection to the continent. One Twitter user’s viral response said, “Not y’all rebranding colonialism as a long-standing relationship.”

The BBC Africa Twitter page responded: 

“While we encourage a robust debate on our page, we would like to ask everyone to be respectful and to follow our community guidelines. Any posts which do not meet this criteria will be removed.”

It’s hard to deny the British monarchy’s exploitation, oppression, and repression system of African and Caribbean people. Those who have lived through or had relatives survive during the pre-colonial British rule argue that the British presence on African soil is the root cause of many of the lingering atrocities we still see today.

“If anyone expects me to express anything but disdain for the monarch who supervised a government that sponsored the genocide that massacred and displaced half my family and the consequences of which those alive today are still trying to overcome, you can keep wishing upon a star,” Uju Anya, an associate professor of second language acquisition at Carnegie Mellon University in a Tweet deleted by that very platform.” 

In an interview with the New York Times, Anya said her views of the Queen were shaped mainly by the “suffering of her parents” during the Nigerian Civil War, which led to the country’s “independence” in 1960. Her mother was born in Trinidad, and her father was from Nigeria. They met in England in the 1950s as colonial subjects sent to attend university. They both married and moved to Nigeria together. Her story is just one of many.

Back in the 19th and early 20th century, the “Scramble for Africa,” or the division, invasion, and annexation of most African countries by Western European powers sought to take control through military influence and economic dominance. European explorers understood the value of the African continent with its natural resources and exploited the land to their benefit. Between 1884-1914 the continent was in conflict as these Western countries (including France, Portugal, Belgium, and Germany) fought for power and territory. They ignored established kingdoms and tribes and their rich history and culture. 

This ultimately led to wars in the 20th century that led to the independence of many Black nations. Those who are ignorantly opposed to people who celebrate the death of the Queen fail to realize that her reign (whether indirect or direct) was an extension of the monarchy’s violence. 

Many organizations do not follow the standard protocol of posting formal condolence statements. Here is what South African left-wing to far-left pan-Africanist political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, said in a statement:

“We don’t mourn the death of Elizabeth because her death is a reminder of a very tragic period in this country and African history… During her 70-year reign as Queen, she never once acknowledged the atrocities that her family inflicted on native people that Britain invaded across the world. She willingly benefited from the wealth that was attained from the exploitation and murder of millions of people across the world.”

Is it okay to honor the dead without addressing the truth behind their legacy? If now isn’t appropriate, then when is it? Have you seen Irish Twitter?

What are your thoughts on the issue? The Defender would like to hear from you. 

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...