Opinion: The British Empire: A legacy of violence?
As recently as a decade ago, most Europeans felt that colonialism was little more than a good thing. The British Empire was seen as a benevolent force for both Africans and Europeans alike, and the benefits of colonialism were well understood. In the past few months we have seen how that is not the case at all.
For many Africans living in the UK, the United Kingdom itself stands as a symbol of the past. The Union Jack – a flag widely recognised as representing Britain – is everywhere, from the government’s website to the streets themselves.
The decision to break away from the European Union has also highlighted a fear of loss. The fear is that if Britain fails to make the right choices, people will turn away. The decision to leave European integration could be seen as a loss of what Britons once had.
A new report from the Migration Policy Institute, The British Empire and the “Great Replacement”, looks at some of the effects of British colonialism on Africans living in the UK today.
The report has many findings that are hard-hitting. Over three-quarters of all Africans working in the UK today were born in the British Empire. This is a number that should probably ring alarm bells. The Empire has been described as the “greatest single project” that Britain ever embarked upon. It can be assumed that many of those who grew up in Britain as migrant children did so to escape the threat of poverty in the developing world. But poverty is no longer a threat, and so many people born to ‘first world’ parents can now expect to have it.
Yet this group is also the group that suffers the most. The vast majority of UK-born African migrants are now living in poverty.
There are several reasons for this. There is the loss of opportunities for work, education and housing, together with a host of other problems.
The Migration Policy Institute report was written before the Conservative Government’s 2015 budget, but it does make mention of the impact of the budget on UK-born African migrants in the UK.