Uchenna's blog: Legacy Reflections
When my seven-year-old son asked me why the news kept on talking about the Queen, I was taken aback. The "why" questions are always a stark reminder that what is present and pertinent in my world is often meaningless in our children’s.
He told me that his classmates thought he was rude because he wasn’t sad like them. “I didn’t know her,” was his response.
Death is contradictory - simultaneously marking an end and also a rebirth because the question arises: how does your legacy live on?
And therein lies the tension in so many black diasporic homes in the UK. Many, like the Windrush generation, sought out the motherland expecting to be embraced - only to be cruelly rejected. Across the global media coverage and social media outpouring, the Queen represented multiple things: a mother; a grandmother; a life of duty and service; power and privilege; stability; and colonisation.
For my parents who were children hiding in the bush as bullets and bombs rained down on their villages during the Biafran War in Nigeria, the answer is clear. The British government aided the Nigerian government to starve millions of our Ibo people in quashing the fight for independence. The Igbo language is under threat, thanks to the footprint of colonisation where speaking English is seen as being superior to conversing in our mother tongue. Yet the Queen has always been a feature of our Christmas family gatherings when we listened to her speech, or intense debates when we share WhatsApp links on how black Twitter is blowing up over the latest episode of the Harry and Meghan chronicles.
Watching the funeral procession on TV, my children were restless - wanting to return to playing on the tablet, constructing Lego, and making noise. I asked myself: should I try to make live history meaningful in this moment?
I talked about the soldiers' teamwork in marching and thought about the painful kaleidoscope of truths that black people navigate here, in the Commonwealth, in the former Empire.
I pointed out her stunning crown and thought about her wealth built upon others' suffering.
I described her family when they popped up on screen and thought about their relentless mourning schedule under the public gaze. What does it mean to pass on from this world? What does it mean to leave a legacy?
I explained to my children that her family were very sad because she was gone. She was known; she was loved. The Queen was a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, wife, and friend.
At the end of 20 minutes of watching TV and my narration of key moments, my 8 year daughter's response was: "Have I done good listening?" so she could scupper away into the wonderful world of Rainbow Magic books.
Memories are what the living speak. As fleeting as this event may be for my children, I know the Queen's impact was not.
Seventy years of curated actions on the throne will be forensically dissected the world over.
May she rest in peace.
Uchenna works in strategic communications and engagement. Her/She has led initiatives on employee engagement and diversity and recruitment for different companies. Uchenna marvels at the new zest of life and clarity her Commanders-in-Chief have given her.