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Posts Tagged ‘British Empire’

Response to this BBC article: (31.7.12)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19434147
Proof, if needed, that this government don’t care about Africa or the effects of empire, or any regard for the history of the nation they have inherited and the effects on the present for millions in the former colonies.  It’s not about guilt – that’s a red herring.  I have no interest in British people today feeling guilty for the past.  It’s about government responsibility to put things right.  It’s much deeper than giving aid and charity, which looks good at the time.  It’s about stopping the underdevelopment of Africa through the crippling agreements set by the IMF and the World Bank, and the ridiculous situation of African countries paying OUT more in loan payback than it was receiving, and many other ways the continent has been held back by the West. The legacy of Empire is plain to see worldwide.  African leaders of course also have to step up to their responsibilities and stop corruption and making themselves richer and their people poorer. The effects of colonialism is so deep and ingrained it continues to underdevelop without anyone having to pull any strings, such as the carving up of Africa across kinship lines that caused division between nation states and ‘tribes’, that is still the cause for many of the wars today.  For Hague to say we should “just relax” and “it’s a long time ago……”!!! Hague needs to go back to school.

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Quotes from article:

While “a small minority” of people in Africa may still view Britain in “colonial terms”, the UK’s relationship with the continent was fundamentally different now. “This is a new and equal partnership,”

The UK, he suggested, should “just relax” about its role as an imperial power and the legacy of that period in its history, adding that “it is a long time ago, the retreat from empire”.”

 

 

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I’m fully aware that the previous New Year Honours list post could have been written more critically with regards the honours system, etc, but quite frankly I wasn’t in the mood as I saw the opportunity to build up before I tore down.  Tearing down first isn’t always helpful and can be just whinging.

Of course to many, the whole idea of the highest official accolades in the UK continuing to honour the idea of the ‘British Empire’ is problematic to say the least.   Hence you have outspoken figures such as Benjamin Zephaniah and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown who rejected their awards, (well in Yasmin’s case she gave her’s back after being inspired by Benjamin).  But of course I must stress and we all know this isn’t just an “ethnic issue”.  David Bowie, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, JGBallard, LS Lowry, Nigella Lawson, Roald Dahl, Kenneth Branagh and John Lennon, amongst many others are reported to have refused or returned their honours, all for different reasons, some for republican reasons, and others for more topical political events at the time.

But the fact remains for many so called “ethinic minorities” who were born in this country and love this country, the fact that the highest national honour continues to revere the Empire which enslaved, colonised, exploited and under-developed the majority of the countries which made up the British Empire aka the British Commonwealth, (or actually the Commonwealth of Nations as it is now called.)

I know what some of you may be thinking when you read this.  If you don’t like it here, or don’t like the system here, then why not leave?  Well that is where it gets tricky.  For starters most of them love living here and don’t want to live elsewhere because this is where they were born and they have the right to live here and not like 100% of the system, just the same as an indignous white British person has the right to not like everything about the place they live.  Also, gob back where?  Again, this is their home and for many the only home they have ever known. I would ask people who would ask the “why don’t they just leave….” question, – aside from race/immigration issues, can you hand on heart say you like 100% everything about the systems in this country?  (Any country where you might live for that matter as this tension isn’t only relevant for Britain.)

But now coming back to Britain, when you consider that England is the ‘Mother Country’ for 53 independent sovereign states, many of which were enslaved, colonised, exploited and under-developed by the ‘Mother Country’, to a poverty level legacy that can still be witnessed today, then the issue of Britain highest honour continuing to revere the ‘Empire project’ is, to say the very least, distasteful and insensitive to a large amount of loyal British citizens.  Actually, correction, that should be ‘subjects’ not citizens!  (*cough*)

In my more lofty ego moments I daydream and think, if I every got awarded in the new years honours list, would I accept it?  (N.B. Not that I am expecting this call in any of my lifetimes soon you understand!!!!) In my more political and frankly principled moments I think, of course I wouldn’t accept it, how dare they think I need to validate my existence and experience by bowing down to the Queen of the British Empire, etc, etc, etc, for all the reasons mentioned above, etc etc.  But when I am really honest with myself, I know I would be chuffed to be on the list and, well, my mum would be so proud!  (Sorry Benjamin, sorry Yasmin).

I guess I’ll keep waiting by the phone each December, and hope it never rings.

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