April 23, 2018 06.16AM / Opinion by Ahmed Sule
We the people of the Commonwealth.
Let me be the first to congratulate you on the successful hosting of the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM). It was refreshing to see the mother country once again hosting her subjects from the Empire. There were two defining images from the summit, which left a lasting impression on me. The first was a picture of Her Majesty walking to her seat against the backdrop of grinning black and brown faces applauding her. The second was seeing the Prime Minister leading a charge of around twenty black and brown subjects to Windsor Castle for an audience with Her Majesty. It was ironic seeing the natives looking in awe at the magnificent castle. Some even brought out their phones and took pictures. I guess it never occurred to them that the “Great” in Great Britain was achieved through the tears, sweat and blood of their ancestors. These two images demonstrate without a doubt that colonised people often accept and honour their own oppression.
I must commend Britain for giving the Commonwealth a veneer of equality. The CHOGM summit rotates among the colonies. To make the natives of the colonies feel important, we have allowed people of colour like Emeka Anyaoku, Shridath Ramphal and Kamalesh Sharma to ascend the post of Secretary General even though the Secretariat will forever be situated in the motherland.
Getting Prince Charles to head the Commonwealth was a masterstroke. Despite the initial hesitation, we got what we wanted - A British heir leading his subjects. Once again, we have been able to prove that every member of the Commonwealth has an equal voice, no matter its size. Prince Charles grandfather lead the commonwealth in 1949 and his mother since 1952. Hopefully, one day Prince Williams will lead it, then Prince George, then Prince George’s child, then his grand child, then his great grand child, then his great great grand child and then his great great great grand child. We have to make sure that a Windsor bloodline rules the Commonwealth for the next 1 million years.
Our ability to lead the Commonwealth is simply astonishing. We have 2.3 billion subjects and their 53 leaders are at our beck and call. Zimbabwe is on its knees begging to rejoin the Commonwealth of nation. Britain surely rules the wave. However, we can’t continue to take this for granted. A few people in the colonies are questioning the relevance of the Commonwealth. To overcome this, may I suggest we deploy our weapon of mass distraction - Prince Harry and Meghan Markle? Remember, Prince Williams and Princess Kate’s visit to Australia was a resounding success. It even stopped the Australian Republican movement in its track. Harry and Markle will be a bigger hit. Since we live in an empire of illusion and spectacle where people have closed their eyes to reality, the about to be wed couple should hopefully distract our 2.3 billion subjects from their oppression. We could propose a year-long visit to the colonies. I can assure that if this plan is implemented, the natives will line the streets from Australia to Zambia to welcome the celebrity royals.
We could do more to promote the relevance of the Commonwealth, which some suggest is nothing more than a gathering of former colonies massaging Britain’s ego. Britain is a second-class superpower, so this is the only gathering that enables us to showcase to the world that we are still a force to be reckoned with. In Europe, Britain has become a laughing stock, in America, we are viewed as a lapdog and at the United Nations, Russia and China have relegated us to the back. May I suggest that we restructure the Ministry of Truth (MoT) to make it a department within the Commonwealth Secretariat? The newly structured MoT should promote the virtues of the British Empire. It should remind the world that besides enslaving Africans, starving millions of Indians, building Boer concentration camps, exterminating the indigenous population of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the British Empire also provided education to the natives, introduced the rule of law, the English language and brought Christianity to the heathens. In addition, the Commonwealth provides grants, aids and scholarship to the natives.
We should consider changing the name of the Commonwealth to the BRITISH-WEALTH. This will not be the first name change for the organisation, after all, it was once called the British Commonwealth. The name “Commonwealth Of Nations” is a misnomer. Why do we continue to call it a commonwealth when the wealth is not common to all? If we continue to use that name, there could be pressure on us from our subjects in the poor colonies to share the wealth. The British-Wealth is apt because when we went to the colonies, we succeeded in taking the wealth of the natives to develop Britain. We took the manpower from the colonies and used it develop the plantation of our aristocrats, we took soldiers from the colonies and used them to defend our Empire when we risked losing our colonies to Hitler, we plundered artefacts from the colonies which we used to develop our museums, we took the gold, silver and diamonds and made ourselves one of the wealthiest nations on earth.
Besides the MoT, there are other ways we can propagate the Commonwealth British Empire. Sport is an effective vehicle for bringing the natives from our colonies together. That’s why the Commonwealth Games is such a good idea. It kills two birds with one stone. First, since it is a third rate sporting spectacle devoid of sporting powerhouses like Russia, China, USA, Germany and France, it provides a platform that enables countries that could never have dreamt of winning medals to become multiple medal-winning countries. Hopefully, the natives that win medals will return back to the colonies as national heroes. Second, it boosts our ego as a sporting nation because it enables us to win medals that we would never have got if America, Russia and China were competing. To date, we have won a total of 716 gold medals at the games. It was a bit disappointing to see Australia beat us to the top of the medal table at the recent games, but there should be no cause for alarm since Australia is part of the old white commonwealth. Imagine if a member of the new Commonwealth like Nigeria or Jamaica topped the table.
Where the MoT and sports fail, we have another tool, which will ensure that the Commonwealth remains for a million years - The British education system. Thanks to the work of the missionaries, British education system was transported from here to the colonies and has been passed down from generation to generation. In the colonies, we have some subjects whose brains have been whitewashed to imitate the coloniser. I know of a “mis-educated” subject who was very sad to hear that Her Majesty was stepping down as head of the Commonwealth. After she had finished wailing, she told me that Her Majesty was an icon of the Commonwealth and that she would be sorely missed. She said the Commonwealth would be poorer because of her departure. Another weapon we have at our disposal is the English language, which has enabled us control the narrative. We can define what is terrorism, we can define what is corruption, we can define what is looting and we can define who is intelligent by substituting eloquence for intelligence.
Before I conclude, I’d like to address the Windrush controversy. It is unfortunate that just as we were hosting our colonies, our treatment of our Caribbean subjects was exposed to a global audience. With Brexit around the corner and Empire 2.0 a likely reality, we can’t afford to offend our subjects. The Home Secretary did not play her cards right. She ought to have known that the British public though oblivious to covert forms of racism, could go OTT when the form of racism is obvious. I still don’t understand why people are getting agitated that the documents to support the Caribbean’s right to remain were destroyed a couple of years ago. That’s what we do best; didn’t we do the same when we systematically destroyed the documents, which detailed our crimes against the humanity of our Kenyan subjects?
No matter what people may think of the Commonwealth, it is here to stay. The sun will never set on our great Empire. On her dominions the sun never sets; before his evening rays leave the spires of Quebec, his morning beams have shone three hours on Port Jackson, and while sinking from the waters of Lake Superior, his eye opens upon the Mouth of the Ganges.
Long live the Queen, long live Britain and long live the Empire.
Selah. Ahmed Olayinka Sule
Your fellow citizen of the Commonwealth
About The Author
Ahmed Olayinka Sule is a CFA Charterholder, photojournalist and social critic. He is an Alumnus of the University of Arts London, where he obtained a Certificate in Photojournalism. He has also worked on various photojournalism projects including Obama: The Impact, Jesus Christ: The Impact, The Williams Sisters etc. He can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com
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