The death of Queen Elizabeth II has prompted an outpouring of reflection and reaction online. But not all was grief – some young Africans instead are sharing images and stories of their own elders, who endured a brutal period of British colonial history during the Queen’s long reign.
“I cannot mourn,” one wrote on Twitter, posting an image of what she said was her grandmother’s “movement pass” – a colonial document which prevented free travel for Kenyans under British rule in the east African country.
Another wrote that her grandmother “used to narrate to us how they were beaten & how their husbands were taken away from them & left to look after their kids,” during colonial times. “May we never forget them. They are our heroes,” she added.
Their refusal to mourn highlights the complexity of the legacy of the Queen, who despite widespread popularity was also seen as a symbol of oppression in parts of the world where the British Empire once extended.
Kenya, which had been under British rule since 1895, was named an official colony in 1920 and remained that way until it won independence in 1963. Among the worst atrocities under British rule occurred during the Mau Mau uprising, which started in 1952 – the year Queen Elizabeth took the throne.
Africa’s memory of the Queen cannot be separated from that colonial past, professor of communication Farooq Kperogi at Kennesaw State University told CNN.