Queen Elizabeth II and Africa: A long-standing relationship… see pics
Queen Elizabeth II and Africa: A long-standing relationship
Queen Elizabeth II is said to have had a special place in her heart for Africa, and she was on the continent during some key moments in her life.
The then-Princess Elizabeth was lodging at the now-closed Treetops Hotel in a rural part of Kenya, surrounded by greenery, tall trees and wildlife, when her father, King George VI, died and she became Queen aged just 25.
During her 70-year reign she visited more than 20 African countries, and once jokingly remarked in front of a smiling Nelson Mandela that she had been to more of Africa than “almost anybody”, prompting rapturous laughter from those around her.
The Queen had a warm personal relationship with Mandela – the South African icon who led the fight against white-minority rule in the country. His foundation expressed its sadness at her death, saying: “They also talked on the phone frequently, using their first names with each other as a sign of mutual respect as well as affection.”
He even had a special name for the Queen, Motlalepula, which “literally means to come with rain”, because her 1995 visit to the country during his presidency coincided with some welcome rain.
Having inherited a vast empire spanning the African continent upon becoming Queen, her reign saw all 14 African British colonies gain their independence, starting with Ghana in 1957.
And yet the Queen managed to maintain warm relations with them, partly through the creation of the successor organisation to the empire, the Commonwealth. In 1961, she was pictured dancing with Kwame Nkrumah, who led the campaign for Ghana’s independence and became its first president.
Notably, the word empire was omitted during her coronation oath in 1953.
Now, leaders from across the continent have paid tribute to Britain’s and parts of the Commonwealth’s longest-serving monarch.
The president of the country where her journey as Queen started, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, mourned her passing in a statement, describing her as “a towering icon of selfless service to humanity and a key figurehead of not only the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations where Kenya is a distinguished member but the entire world”.