Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|September 12, 2022|4 Minutes|In Editor's Desk

Editor’s Desk

$400 million for African entrepreneurs in the Queen’s crown.

What about your Queen? the defensive  politicians used to say angrily up and down Africa, She will rule for life hasnt even been elected!

The question came usually at the of end a heated debate over whether  Africa’s so-called strong men – from Mugabe to Mobutu – should cling onto power forever; even though they were tired, tyrannical, bereft of ideas and more of a hinderance than a help to their youthful populations.

It is just one of the many stories gathered in my 27 years, or so,  reporting from across the African continent. It shows how the late Queen – who will be laid to rest next to her beloved husband Prince Philip this week – was  embedded deeply  in the consciousness of the continent despite the British flag coming down for the final time in Africa at the independence of Zimbabwe on April 18 1980. She was in Africa – in Kenya near Nairobi  –  on the day, in 1952,when she found out her father had died and she was to take over a job she never wanted – head of state and the Commonwealth at a time when Africa was rapidly decolonising.

In her lifetime she visited at least 20 African countries and elicited anger, as well as joy on the streets. In 1956, her visit to pre-independence Nigeria provoked anger as the diplomats arranged  a white-only protocol. Nigerians packed the streets of Lagos to welcome her, but none came  close to her. The rising intellectuals of Nigeria complained that the Queen behaved like a ‘royal automaton’ throughout the visit .

True, the Queen was a symbol of a system of power and privilege that tapped into the resources of the continent, but it is probably a bit harsh to blame her for all of Africa’s woes.

Even so, it is a bit cheap for political lunatic fringe to take to the streets of South Africa calling the Queen  a murderer and thief  while her body was still warm.

For their information, Africa was mainly looted – if you want to call it that – by a wealthy, faceless, private monied elite for the. benefit of the very few. You would have to delve very deeply into history to  uncover their rarely mentioned names . Yet they rarely get a mention from the railing politicians.

Sure, the new King Charles III could make a gesture by giving back the Star of Africa from the royal crown – the huge diamond from South Africa also known as the Cullinan Diamond. It was found by a river and given to the British Royals and named after the man who owned the mine.

The Star of Africa is worth an estimated $400 million – not enough to solve that many of South Africa’s problems, but a gesture, surely. Billionaire Tomorrow believes that money should be given to the entrepreneurs of South Africa – instead of being frittered away – so they can build wealth for future generations.

As for the Queen, whatever people think of her in Africa, for most of her life she was a hard-working, humane and tireless public servant who put her duty and people first right up to the end.

Qualities that seem to have evaded many of the presidents for life in Africa.