Colonial nostalgia is back in fashion, blinding us to the horrors of empire | Kehinde Andrews | Opinion | The Guardian

Lest we forget: far from being a benevolent saviour, the British empire was based on the exploitation, murder and devastation of people across the globe. Some notable atrocities include, but are by no means limited to: transatlantic slavery, famines in the British Raj, and brutal settler colonial regimes in Zimbabwe and Kenya. Hundreds of millions of people died as a result of Britain’s vicious regime. The empire collapsed after campaigns, rebellions and revolutions from the people who were oppressed by Britain. The natives did not happily accept colonial rule; they resisted at every turn because they understood the cost of the system to their nations.Walter Rodney’s classic book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, goes into forensic detail as to how colonialism set back the continent by creating political and economic systems that impoverished Africa, with the direct purpose of enriching Europe. Even after independence, Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of liberated Ghana, explained in the 1960s that the economic policies of the country had an “Alice in Wonderland craziness about them”, with Britain extracting all the wealth from the resources of the nation.It is essential that the legacy of the British empire is understood because it still plays a key role in the world today. The devastation of nations by European colonialism goes a long way to explaining extreme poverty and conflict in many parts of the world, and is continued in manifestly unjust trade relations. Reminiscing about the days of empire and pining for Britain to be great again is a device to avoid any reckoning with Britain’s terrible colonial legacy and debt.Perhaps a recognition of the brutality, violence and horror at the dark heart of empire would shake the nation out of its postcolonial melancholia. To acknowledge the dark side of colonialism, however, would destroy the nostalgia that is such a strong part of British imperial identity. It is far easier to get lost in national pride from Olympic success than to reckon with Britain’s history and real place in the world.

Source: Colonial nostalgia is back in fashion, blinding us to the horrors of empire | Kehinde Andrews | Opinion | The Guardian