Cloud of colonialism hangs over Queen Elizabeth’s legacy in Africa
How British government and the City of London influence British citizens who live and work in Africa.
The colonial empire has been a dominant feature of Africa for decades now. The extent of the influence of British government and the City of London has grown significantly in the past years since Britain’s departure from the European Union and the establishment of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The Queen has visited the continent several times in the past, usually during state visits or official engagements with European or Commonwealth nations. Africa has often been one of her favorite continents, and during her visit to Portugal in July 2013, she was very enthusiastic about the continent’s potential as a partner for peace and development.
Despite her recent promotion of an African model of development in her speech at the G20 Summit in London, the Queen did not mention SADC in her recent official visit to Portugal where she met with Prime Minister José Sócrates. The Queen’s visit was dominated by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit where she also had the opportunity to address the Commonwealth leaders and President Jacob Zuma on the same day.
There is much about the Queen’s visit to Africa that remains to be discussed. She went on official tours during which she was received by presidents, prime ministers, diplomats, business people and civil society leaders in Africa. But, this did not mean the Queen was not taking an active interest in the continent. She also paid considerable public attention to the growing influence of British businesses and to the impact of those businesses in Africa.
The Queen’s visits to Africa have coincided with growing popularity of the British brand in the continent and the desire to strengthen economic exchange between the “Old World” and the “New”. Many years ago, at the height of the Cold War, when the SADC countries were still part of the Commonwealth and its predecessors, Britain had established its most important business relations with the SADC nations. Since then, a remarkable expansion of economic and cultural ties has taken place between the countries and the Commonwealth as a whole.
Britain’s growing involvement in Africa is mainly driven by economic interests and commercial opportunities. Many British companies have established