This past Monday was Commonwealth Commemoration Day when Britain’s former colonies supposedly “unite” in celebration of their “shared history, mutual cooperation and understanding”. The theme for this year’s commemoration was ‘Peacebuilding Commonwealth”.
The “shared history, mutual cooperation and understanding” are the controversial and deceptive words of the Queen of Britain in her address some few years back to mark this annual occasion which has continued to be celebrated. Let me remind you that the Commonwealth incorporates 53 former territories of the British Empire, many of which were created or carved up by colonial rulers before withdrawals that spawned numerous wars.
Elizabeth Dearden observes that it is quite strange that since the inaugural Commonwealth commemorations many years ago, there are some glaring facts that have never been included in Commonwealth Day Celebration Speeches.
Commonwealth speeches never mention that before the Holocaust, the British army was busy using concentration camps in South Africa and Swaziland during the Second Boer War. These camps, originally set up for refugees fleeing the conflict between the United Kingdom, South African Republic and Orange Free State, new tactics against guerrilla were brought in by Kirchner in 1900.
His “scotched earth policy” ordered the destruction of civilian farms, homes, livestock and crops to prevent enemies from obtaining supplies. As a result tens of thousands of women and children were forcibly moved to concentration camps which contained a large number of black Africans. South African Online History states that by the end of the war in 1902, official records showed that 115,700 black people languished in those concentration camps.
The other truth that will remain absent in these sugar-coated Commonwealth speeches is how Britain enforced its Apartheid in many of its African colonies.
As imperialists viewed themselves as innately superior, both culturally and racially, to subjugate people in the empire, a brutal division was enforced between the “civilised” whites and the “natives” (black). The Independent Newspaper (UK) quotes Cecil John Rhodes, the then Prime Minister of Cape Colony as saying “I contend that we are the first race in the world, and that the more of the world we inhabit (colonialisation) it is better for human race”.
In many colonies black Africans had the land they could own limited by law, could not vote, were restricted to set areas to inhabit and in many instances had to carry passes.
Furthermore, in Sierra Leone, the divide between white and black was enforced in club, bars, churches and hotels, although there were few official signs, as was the case in Nigeria and several other colonies.
In so many years of its commemorations, the leader of the Commonwealth of Nation, the Queen of England has and will never mention anything in her many colourful and deceptive speeches that those
For example, former insurgents have attempted to sue the country over alleged torture during Kenya’s Mau Mau Uprisings and the victims mentioned castration, severe beatings and sexual assault during the uprisings. The Queen has deliberately made it a habit during here yearly speeches, to deliberately omit to mention that her country Britain, owes its wealth to the empire and won’t give it back.
The whole world should be made to know that the British Empire started its spread around the world in the 1500s with trade and exploitation of plants, minerals and natural resources in colonies that sustained it for four hundred years.
These natural resources were shipped around the world to great profits for imperialists and aristocracy at home, thus maintaining Britain’s status as a world superpower. I don’t think I will be wrong to say that all commonwealth countries across Africa are well aware of the riches that were stolen from them and whose pockets they lined, and I call upon these African countries to be bold and request the return of pillaged items or be given reparations.
Watching African leaders sitting around and dining with Her Imperialist Majesty the Queen and celebrating colonialism is the most painful experience in our contemporary politics. In fact African countries formerly British colonies should abandon this worthless and humiliating imperialist tea club and concentrate more on how they can tackle the mighty imperialist bulldog head on to bring social justice to those who have been negatively affected by British acts of brutality during the colonial days.
It is very regressive for former colonies to scramble to be seen as political sweethearts to an empire that has all along danced on the tombs of Africa’s martyred heroes. Furthermore, we need to mark commemorations where concentration camps, massacres, racial segregation, torture and rampant abuse that never make the bill on Commonwealth celebrations are brought to the forefront of discourse in order to intellectually empower our future generations to stay vigilant and continue the fight against neo-colonialism that is being masked under the deceptive canopy of Commonwealth unity and fake peace.
Most importantly, Africans should ask the question that was once posed by Dr Elmon Tafa aka Comrade Moore gore “what wealth is commonly shared by these group of nations”?
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