"Be careful Paul, nobody has ever been closer to a member of my family than you were to Diana. There are powers at work in this country about which we have no knowledge"--Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II to Diana's butler, Paul Burrel, two months after Diana's death.
This is the final instalment of my series on Africa and our relationship with "the nations of European stock". As a farewell, I am going to behave here like Voltaire on his deathbed. Remember Voltaire (the great French philosopher) was an arch atheist. When asked on his deathbed to renounce the Devil, he is said to have replied: "This is no time for making new enemies".
In Ghana our elders say it differently: "Sumie m'adwene (The pillow imparts wisdom). And "oba nyansafo, ye bu no be, yenka n'sem" (To the wise and intelligent, you tell proverbs not just words).
There was a time when the people of European stock said the Africans had no great philosophers. Well, if the above is not philosophy, I am a banana. After all, the base for the English word "philosophy" is the Greek "philosophos", meaning "lover of wisdom".
And they said the Africans had no great philosophers! Well, it is because every African is a philosopher. We don't need university degrees to become one. We are born with it. You go and meet any old woman in any African village (who reads or writes no European language) and hear the pure philosophy pouring from her old mouth. It is in the blood. Eat your heart out voltaire, this is no time for me, too, to make new enemies. So, I am going gentle here. After identifying the issues over the past four instalments, what is the way out for Africa and its people? Remember what the Queen told the butler: "Be careful Paul ... There are powers at work in this country about which we have no knowledge."
That must surely be the quote of the 20th century. If the Queen does not know "the powers at work" in her own country, a country of which she is the sovereign, then Africa ought to be very careful in dealing with the nations of European stock.
Some in the British media have since speculated that the Queen was referring to the "Permanent Government" or the "Defenders of the Realm"--the sinister group of faceless men (if there are any women) who really wield power over and above the heads of the parliamentary government and the monarchy. South Africa had one during the days of apartheid, the Broederbond. They acted as the defender of the apartheid realm or the permanent government...