The passing of Queen Elizabeth II has sparked a flood of internet reflection and response. However, not all of it was sorrow; some young Africans are now sharing pictures and memories of their ancestors who lived through a difficult time in British colonial history during the Queen’s prolonged rule.
One person said on social media, “I cannot mourn,” and posted a photo of what she claimed was her grandmother’s “movement pass”—a colonial document that restricted Kenyans’ freedom of movement while the country was ruled by the British.
Another person said that, during colonial times, her grandmother “used to tell to us how they were beaten & how their husbands were taken away from them & left to care after their kids.” “May we always remember them. Our heroes, she continued.
The Queen, despite her worldwide popularity, was also viewed as a symbol of oppression in regions of the world where the British Empire formerly ruled. Their failure to mourn underlines the complexities of her legacy.
Kenya, a British colony since 1895, was designated as such in 1920 and remained so until achieving independence in 1963. The Mau Mau revolt, which started in 1952, the year Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne, saw some of the worst atrocities committed when the country was governed by the British.
In detention centers where up to 150,000 Kenyans were housed, the colonial authorities at the period engaged in severe acts of torture, including as castration and sexual assault. A British court ultimately granted £19.9 million to over 5,000 elderly Kenyans who filed a claim for compensation in 2011.
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