I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better that light, and safer than a known way.’ Minnie Louise Haskins
On February 6, 2017, Queen Eliza made global and British history, at 90 years of age, she became the longest lived and longest reigning monarch and female head of state. The United Kingdom, and by the grace of God, reigning sovereign, and head of state of 16 Commonwealth Realms (over which she has served as Queen and head of state) and the 52-member Commonwealth Community, joined her in commemorating her Sapphire Jubilee (65 years) as Queen of the United Kingdom and head of the Commonwealth Community of nations. The make up in the community is 16 realms, 31 republics (such as Malawi) and 5 with their own monarchs.
the first monarch in British history to commemorate a sapphire jubilee, she is undoubtedly without drama or bravado fanfare, the most powerful woman in the world; has served as adviser and confidante to 12 British prime ministers such as Winston Churchill, Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, Tony Blaire, Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May among others. The Commonwealth, an intergovernmental organization has under its ambit 2.3 billion people; in other words, one third of the global population.
Membership in the Commonwealth is comprised of former British colonies or protectorates; however, countries such as Myanmar, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine (present day Israel, Somalia, Kuwait, Sudan, Bahrain, Qatar, and Omar
Despite this, Queen Elizabeth’s leadership spans six continents in a land area of 30 million square kilometers; with Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, opting to join the community.
As head of this intergovernmental organization, on top of calls of duty in her own country, where she resides, Queen Elizabeth has in the 65 years made tours of the membership, some through annual Commonwealth Summits, while others through tours to celebrate milestones. Queen Elizabeth is a remarkable, phenomenal woman, whose smile is infectious, her humility belies the enormous political power that she welds. For example, she employs 1,200 people, but she feeds her own dogs.
In her work life, she has a remarkable memory, spends 40 hours working per week, reading mail and tending to the affairs of being Queen of the largest monarchy; in diplomacy, rather than make comment on an issue, she asked the visiting Crowne Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia if he would like a tour of the Balmoral estate. He agreed; and she escorted him to a waiting car outside, allowed the prince to get into the car and she got into the driver’s seat and drove the prince for the tour. The Saudi government prevents women from driving.
In the US, President Donald Trump has been in power for less than a month; however, to many it seems like eight years already. In this time, he lost a legal battle of his first major initiative through the executive order wherein he banned travel ban of seven predominantly Muslin countries and was squashed by the courts; fired the national security adviser in what reporters are calling a hugely security scandal; and this week the administration pulled their first cabinet nominee – Secretary for Labour — when four members of the congress showed lack of interest to support him because of a damning video of a domestic violence history. The administration is also embroiled in the alleged close ties Trump campaign aides had with Russia according to intelligence gathering.
In Malawi, as the country continues to wallow in widespread poverty, famines and floods, corrupt practices are widespread. While cash-gate has led to withdraw of aid to Malawi, the recent Maizegate issue involving the Minister of Agriculture Dr. George Chaponda, has led to the Minister’s office this week being set on fire. Is this an attempt to destroy evidence of wrong-doing? Many analysts are connecting the dots. This is amid outbursts of spin doctor Nicholas Dausi lashing out at the media for being presumptuous on the issues.
Both the US and Malawi leaders would do well to take a leaf from Queen Elizabeth to learn from her the secret to her long, powerful, and firm reign over the hugely diverse countries, and Commonwealth Community with such aplomb. She is highly commended by her biographers Mark Greene and Catherine Butcher as having “a remarkable consistency of character and extraordinary contribution to nation, Commonwealth and the global community;” this is not the result of duty alone, nor is it because of human strength. This is the result of the vow to serve the people as a servant of God she embraced at her coronation on June 2, 1953. This comes out of the Queen’s understanding that her authority is not man-given either by Parliament or the vote, but that her authority comes from God.
In her 2002 Christmas address, she says: “I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad…. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God… I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.”
The numbers are awesome and inspiring: 90 years’ young; 65 years reigning over 2.3 billion people in 52 countries (18 in Africa). Queen Elizabeth has through the years looked in two directions: upwards towards God, and outwards towards the people she serves or encounters.
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