NIGERIANS OF A CERTAIN AGE STILL HARBOR AFFECTION FOR THE COMMONWEALTH QUEEN
June 6, 2022 (GIN) - For one Nigerian novelist, the pomp and circuses filling the streets of London on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth’s 70th year on the throne, brought back memories of her parents’ generation, born and raised under colonialism.
Thrilled to see the British leave Nigeria on Oct. 1, 1960, they finally had control of their government - no longer subject to a foreign empire and its monarchy.
“Nevertheless, their respect for Her Majesty the Queen endured” observed Nigerian essayist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani in a recent article.
Young Nigerians look at the monarchy with less reverence, she observed. Something out of a reality TV show or a Netflix dramatic special.
Back then, the Queen, “the great white Chief ruling us all” may have been an easy idea to accommodate in the tradition-laden Benin in the southern state of Edo. Nwaubani recalled a photograph of Oba Akenzua II who ruled from 1933 until his death in 1978, stooped slightly forward - almost bowing - in a handshake with British royalty.
It was in Akenzua’s Benin that British colonialists sacked a palace and made off with dozens of bronze heads - some of which are still displayed in British museums.
"The fascination for me is that the monarchy hasn't died out," said Chuka Mordi, who applied for a position as "First Footman to the Queen" a few decades ago, moving from Benin to study in London.
"It is fascinating that they can find a way for people to still tolerate them. That kind of longevity, I find fascinating. Other than that, nothing else," he said.
Now in his 50s, Mordi, a graduate of King's College, London, is the head of an investment management company in Lagos, and he looks back at his job application - and the majestically polite letter of rejection he received from the palace - with amusement.
"I think I might have done something silly like ask for a stupendous salary because of my 'over-qualified' status," he said.
Yet another view was expressed by Ijay Uwakwe-Okoronkwo, an education consultant in Abuja, who posted the Queen’s image on her Whatsapp page.
"Let's face it, I benefited from being born in England," she said. "I have a British passport. But at this moment when we are having political issues in Nigeria, nobody gives a damn. We are dealing with electricity issues, unknown gunmen, people are being kidnapped, and you tell me about the Jubilee?"
“My generation,” concludes Nwaubani, born in the seventies, “straddles somewhere between a healthy admiration for the foreigners and a resistance to our historical entanglement with Britain… Not so for the roughly 60 per cent of Nigeria’s 200 million population that is less than 25 years old. To them, the significance of Empire is mostly lost.” w/pix of Queen Elizabeth and K. Nkrumah