A Nigerian professor of political science, who was Nigeria External Affairs Minister from 1985 to late 1987, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi on Friday, recalled how the late Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom quietly supported Africa in fighting apartheid against the stance of a former British Prime Minister, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher.
The former Director General of the Nigerian Institute of External Affairs (NIIA) said on Arise Television’s Morning Show that despite the fact that the Queen did not have much political power, she put Margaret Thatcher in her place during the struggle to end apartheid. Akinyemi stated that Margaret Thatcher was against the imposition of economic sanctions on the Southern African countries during the apartheid era, and that the Commonwealth was almost broken because the African countries were united in their thoughts.
“The countries of the West Indies were with the African countries, but Margaret Thatcher stood her ground. The Queen stood by her action to ensure that African Presidents were seated close to her at state dinners to show that she was on their side and Margaret Thatcher had to tone down her body language to what we were demanding.
“Queen Elizabeth II quietly supported Africa to end apartheid against the stance of the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. She played that kind of soft power diplomacy in helping our position on the anti-apartheid struggle. She presided obviously over Britain, but she presided over the period that started with the cold war. “This was at the height of the cold war, when we were not sure whether we were all going to be blown up in an atomic conflagration to the end of that cold war, and to one power world order. It’s a pity that the Queen died at the time when that world order had gone to pieces and we are approaching a new world order whose parameters are in a state of flux”.