Why I won’t Hate on the dead Queen Elizabeth II
I have been not so quick to comment on the Queen’s death, Elizabeth II, for good reasons. Yes, I was itching to jump onto the bandwagon, but my better self told me to wait and reflect. After all, respect for the dead is still a thing.
Backlash over the Queen’s reign came fast. Soon after her death was announced, former colonies of the British Empire relived their untold pain and suffering. Some even compared the Queen’s legacy in Africa to that the tyranny of King George III in America. I say the Queen inherited a mess from her, and there was no easy way out. The Queen never acknowledged or apologised for British brutality in Africa like she did in 2011 for Ireland.
However, current woes in some of the former British colonies cannot be attributed to the Queen. I said ‘some’ because nations like Singapore got it right. In the same way, I will not attribute my current woes with tooth cavities to my childhood love for sweets, but rather on my poor dental hygiene. Yes, brushing twice a day is not sufficient dental hygiene. Former colonies should have surprised their former oppressors on how well they ran their affairs. They should never have fallen back on colonial tactics to govern and build wealthy nations. With all the insight and lessons from the crumbling empire, they could have done better to honor those who lost it all to gain independence.
Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the Church of England, which I was baptised into as a child, was a fine lady but with sins of her own and to atone. In fact, the Queen carried 1000-year old legacy, and inherited her family’s deeds and misdeeds. May be she did in fact bring an end to a repressive empire, but was equally pragmatic about what could not be undone, the painful memories. She needed to ‘keep calm and carry on’ for her survival as a monrach and never look back. Queen’s 70-year reign should be judged, but she should not hated and villlified as if she was an infallible superhuman.
I would have wanted to muddy the Queen’s legacy extensively as one of a cruel monarch given my family history and its convergence with the British government’s violent response to insurgency in Kenya. My grandparents would either have been killed by firing squad or forcefully castrated by the Queen’s forces at the time she was ascending the throne. I want to set the record clear that she was not the conquering Queen because she met resistance and bravery like no other from my people. Which makes us not victims of the Queen’s actions but fierce fighters for our freedom.
When I see the British honor and mourn their Queen, I celebrate my grandmother’s elder sister Muthonì, who did what the Queen did for her people. Muthonì swore allegiance to our people and defend our land. She stepped in to be the son, in a family of girls, and went above and beyond to be honored the title of a Field Marshal of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army. Muthonì was about the same age as the Queen, she made a decision with a real sense of purpose, and fought with great conviction. She made sacrifices, and with a miscarriage, she couldn’t have heirs of her own. She didn’t inherit who she became, she literally fought to become and fought for others all along. May be the Queen found her match, which makes me have no qualms with the Queen, because I celebrate Muthonì’s legacy and the fact that she has outlived the Queen.
When it’s our turn to mourn, we will celebrate Muthonì and her beautiful uninherited Crown of three strands of dreadlocks that will have found its place in the National Museums of Kenya. Generations will remember what she did for the freedom struggle, much as the Queen of England did to keep her family’s legacy. It is fair to say none of these pink-toed keyboard warriors will come close to what these two women did for their respective nations. So a virtual war of words is not one I will engage in. I will let the Queen rest in peace.