Atrocious vestiges of slavery, colonialism trail King Charles’ coronation

The Evangelist News Edition, May 7, 2023. By Adeze Ojukwu

The British monarchy on Saturday, displayed its stupendous pomp and grandeur, at the coronation of King Charles III.

He ascended the British throne, following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, last year.

Much of the world watched the grandiose ceremony, with great admiration and awe. Many world leaders and presidents attended the magnificent and majestic rite.

However, some individuals and groups vilified the ceremony, as a bitter vestige of colonialism, slavery and man’s inhumanity.

During the crowning procession, over 50 anti-monarchy demonstrators booed and chanted, “He is not my king.” The yellow-clad protesters, clutching placards with negative inscriptions, were immediately arrested by the police, over charges of disruptive actions.

Meanwhile, some groups and individuals, across he continent, especially in the Caribbean Islands, expressed sadness, over the royal event, because they evoked painful memories about the suffering of their ancestors, who were forcefully, uprooted from their homes.

This is similar to the agitations that trailed the exit of the late Queen, by several people and organizations, in Ireland, Africa, India and former and current British territories over the brutalities unleashed on peoples of Africa, Asia, Australia and other lands.

Many of these Caribbean nations, are pressing the new monarch to publicly acknowledge his country’s heinous roles in the atrocities against Africans and other indigenous peoples, through slavery, colonization and oppression.

The horrendous effect of the plundering of Africa and its natural resources, by the colonialists and slave merchants is still affecting the continent and its people.

Africans were treated as mere merchandise, as they were deceptively traded for mirrors, combs, umbrellas, guns among others and violently chained and shipped to worked on the plantations in the Americas.

Their labour was neither remunerated nor valued. Many of them were killed, raped and maimed, as they toiled slavishly in the farms, without rights nor freedom.

Their identities, cultures and histories were eroded, through the worst inhumane conditions, ever known in human history.

Memories of the torment and agony that the slaves suffered in the hands of their wicked masters have refused to go away.

But how can these harsh memories be forgotten so easily, when the monarchy refuses to acknowledge its involvement in the brutalities?

Neither the late queen nor her ancestors publicly apologized nor paid reparations for the crimes perpetrated by its nobles and citizens.

The kingdom shows little or no sympathy over the contentious issues and the misery.

For many people, in these British realms and Commonwealth, the new king ought to correct these ills, in order to heal the festering wounds.

An article written by Jacqueline Charles and published last Friday, in Miami Herald captured the agitations and demands.

“Now as Charles prepares to preside — even if only in ceremonial fashion — over a small number of realms than his late mother did, he is facing increased calls to repair relations and acknowledge the past.”

“There is no honor in this crown. It is tainted with the blood of indigenous nations on which he now sits upon,” Rawiri Waititi, co-leader of the Te Pāti Māori (Māori Party) in New Zealand said.

“The harm caused by the crown is now inter-generational and irreparable.”

“The push for what has been called reparative justice, including an apology for slavery, comes, as several British descendants of slave-owners, call on the UK to atone over its involvement in the slave trade. This is another former colony, Belize, signals its intentions to sever ties with the royal family.”

“In 2021, Barbados dropped Queen Elizabeth II, as its head of state, and shortly after Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced plans to cut ties and become a republic.”

The government said plans to move from a constitutional monarchy to a republic was to “make sure that whoever ultimately exercises the highest authority in Jamaica is a Jamaican person, loyal to no other country but Jamaica.”

Good to note that some European countries have already tendered public apologies over the crimes.

Last December, “The Netherlands, joined Denmark, France, the UK and the European Parliament, which have issued apologies or officially recognized slavery and the slave trade as crimes against humanity,” Euro News reported. Recall that former Pope John Paul II also apologised for the church’s role in slavery.

Pope Francis visited Canada, on what he described, as a “Pilgrimage of Penance,” last July.

He delivered a very touching plea to the indigenous peoples, while asking for forgiveness, over the Catholic Church’s vicious role in Canada’s residential school system. This followed years of allegations by natives, against the horrible discriminations, abuse and neglect at the Catholic boarding schools.

Details of this bigotry, which has continued to haunt Europeans, following their gruesome invasion of foreign lands remain very agonizing and vexatious.

Sadly, these evils laid the foundation for the escalating racism and white supremacies, that are currently threatening global peace, progress and inclusion.

Clearly, the pressure from these agitators would never end, until justice is done. Nothing else will suffice.

•Ojukwu is a journalist, author and Fellow of Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship, a US sponsored Fulbright programme. She is an advocate for social justice and global peace. Please kindly send feedback to adeze.ojukwu@gmail.com

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