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Queen loved and loathed in death

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THE death of Queen Elizabeth II has aroused mixed emotions in Namibia.

Politicians, including president Hage Geingob, have lauded her reign, while some political analysts believe she has left a tainted legacy.

The queen died aged 96 in Scotland on Thursday, after ruling over the United Kingdom (UK) and the Commonwealth of Nations for 70 years.

Analysts say she has been seen as a mother figure with blood on her hands.

The effects of this can still be seen today, they say.

Political analyst Rui Tyitende yesterday said: “She presided over the biggest empire in history, which has led to the death and destruction of millions of people in Africa and Asia …”

Tyitende said the queen has been portrayed as a gentle woman who cares about humanity, while her country pursued policies of global imperialism and hegemony.

“For instance, the British are responsible for the ongoing protracted conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians by double dealing and promising territory to Jews on Arab soil,” he said.

He said the Balfour Declaration, for example, still has negative consequences for Palestinians.

“The Balfour Declaration continues to have a devastating impact on the lives of many Palestinians who are subjugated by Israel,” he said.

Tyitende described the fact that the UK still has modern-day colonies as “mind-boggling”.

“It is mind-boggling that there are still over 14 British overseas territories that continue to have the British monarch as their head of state,” he said.

British overseas territories have constitutional and historical links with the UK despite having their own constitutions, governments and local laws.

The 14 territories include Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic territory, British Indian Ocean territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands;, and the UK’s sovereign base areas.

Meanwhile, Institute for Public Policy Research director Graham Hopwood says the queen has left plenty of unfinished business, such as disputes over territories.

“For example the Chagos Islands, Gibraltar, and the Falklands, as well as reparation claims for slavery and colonial exploitation, which are being raised by some Caribbean and African nations,” he says.

Hopwood says while the queen did not wield executive power, she was symbolically connected to colonialism and the decolonisation process.

STABILITY IN CHAOS

“To her credit she was a keen promoter of the Commonwealth as a more equitable way of Britain relating to its former colonies, which became popular to the extent that countries that were not formally part of the British empire are joining, such as Namibia,” he says.

Hopwood says the queen was at times unpopular with her own people, like in the immediate aftermath of Princess Diana’s death, but this has changed in recent times.

“For the British people she represented stability during often tumultuous periods of history,” he said.

He believes the monarchy should be significantly downsized and made subject to a written constitution, which clearly limits its powers.

Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah yesterday described the queen’s rule as a mixed legacy.

“Her humanism and compassion for the African cause as the head of the Commonwealth touched many on the continent, including Namibia,” Kamwanyah said.

He reflected on the queen’s visits to Africa, saying she came to listen and observe issues challenging the continent, and sourced as well as encouraged sustainable solutions.

“In that way, she presented a soft and compassionate British face to Africa and Namibia,” he said.

However, as a symbol of the British institution, she’s left an empire which in colonial times subjected the continent to violence, oppression, resource plundering, forced labour and slavery, he said.

Kamwanyah said the legacy of the British colonial empire still has an impact in terms of economic inequalities, psychological issues, and social and cultural alienation.

Namibia was indirectly colonised by Britain when the country was placed under its authority by the League of Nations, now the United Nations, after Germany was drafted during the First World War.

Britain entrusted Namibia to South Africa to administer the territory on her behalf, which led to the apartheid era, he said.

Kamwanyah, however, warned that the British colonial legacy should not be an excuse for the continent’s failures.

“We have had ample time to turn the corner,” he said.

President Hage Geingob says Queen Elizabeth II will forever be remembered for her remarkable reign, hard work and dedication in service of the people of the UK and the Commonwealth.

“Her commitment to service will continue to serve as an inspiration to current and future generations,” he said.

National Assembly speaker Peter Katjavivi on Friday hailed the late queen as a gentle leader who remained committed to serving not only her country, but also the Commonwealth of Nations.

“She did so with absolute dignity and grace. We will always remember her care for nature, being people centred and accessible, as well as her excellent leadership qualities,” he said.

“She has ably guided the Commonwealth through easy and difficult times. Above all, she maintained an honourable, down-to-earth family life as a mother and grandmother,” he said.



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