By Desmond Davies, GNA Correspondent, London
London Sept 19, GNA – Queen Elizabeth II is said to have been the glue that held the Commonwealth together, as tributes from Africans in the UK continued to flow in while her funeral took place at Westminster Abbey in London, on Monday.
Her death on Thursday, September 8 had been initially met with mixed feelings from some citizens from former British colonies living in the UK, in Africa and the Americas, as they expressed their displeasure over the issue of slavery and colonialism.
But the Queen’s capacity to hold the Commonwealth together during the turbulent period of the fight against apartheid in South Africa, prevailed and made the organisation stronger, dispelling some of the criticisms, experts noted.
David Olusoga, Professor of Public History at Manchester University in the North of England, said that although there was no “commonality” among the nations of the Commonwealth during the 1980s, “the Queen kept [it] together”.
“She devoted enormous time and energy to the Commonwealth [and] no one knew better than her how to keep the Commonwealth together,” he said on BBC TV.
He had earlier written in The Guardian newspaper: “There is no escape from history for either the new monarch or the Commonwealth, the institution the late Queen did so much, for so long, to hold together.
The Queen’s strong connections with Africa were constantly referred to during the period of mourning.
For instance, in her speech in Cape Town in South Africa on her 21st birthday in 1947, she promised to the then Empire: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
In his sermon at the Queen’s funeral, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the head of the Anglican Communion, said: “Her late Majesty famously declared on a 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the nation and Commonwealth.
“Rarely has such a promise been so well kept.
“Few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen.”
It was also in Africa, this time in Kenya, that, as Princess Elizabeth, she went on a visit to the then British colony and left as Queen following the death of her father, King George VI, on February 6, 1952.
It was under the Queen that all the countries in Africa under British rule, starting with Ghana in 1957, gained their independence.
Commentators in the UK pointed out that the way the Queen handled her country’s exit from Africa was exemplary.
The new leaders in Africa, even those who had been put in prison by the British authorities, saw a friend in the Queen, commentators said.
For the Ghanaian community in the UK, there was a ceremony in North London to mourn the Queen.
It was organised by Reconciliation International, a community charity “providing services and advice through practical application of faith” that is led by Archbishop Kwaku Frimpong-Manson.
It was a “remembrance in line with Ghanaian tradition of mourning royals”.
There were speeches as well as drumming, singing and poetry recitals.
Archbishop Frimpong-Manson told the GNA that he had no hesitation in organising the ceremony because the Queen was a remarkable person.
He said he was not supportive of those who had been critical of the Queen and the Royal Family.
Archbishop Frimpong-Manson said that due to his work with Reconciliation International, which was started 1994 in a troubled community in Tottenham in North London, he was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in recognition of meritorious civic service.
African leaders who attended the funeral included, Presidents Nana Akufo-Addo, Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Suluhu Samia Hassan (Tanzania) and Macky Sall of Senegal in his capacity as Chairman of the African Union.
Others were the newly elected President of Kenya, William Ruto, the military leader of Sudan, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and King Letsie III of Lesotho.