Kemi Badenoch, UK’s Minister of State for Equality.
The UK’s newly appointed Minister of State for Equality Kemi Badenoch has come under criticism after private chats where she unreservedly expressed her views about colonialism were leaked to the press.
Badenoch was appointed to her new role last Thursday. She was previously exchequer secretary to the Treasury (February 13, 2020 – September 15, 2021) and parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Education (July 27, 2019 – 13 February 13, 2020).
The minister, who is British-Nigerian, had said in one of the chat messages that African societies had been unequal before the arrival of the European powers and those Africans who suffered from colonialism were ‘old elites not everyday people.’
“I don’t care about colonialism because [I] know what we were doing before colonialism got there. They came in and just made a different bunch of winners and losers. There was never any concept of ‘rights,’ so [the] people who lost out were old elites not every day people,” she wrote.
Badenoch appeared to argue in the leaked messages that colonialism simply replaced a system of oppression that existed in Africa before Europeans arrived.
The Labour Party instantly condemned the comments as ‘disgusting, crass, divisive and painfully inaccurate,’ and questioned her fitness for office.
However, Chairman of the Commons Liaison Committee Bernard Jenkin said her accusers were “trying to hound women like Kemi Badenoch out of politics because they know that a Conservative Party with more women and BMEs (Black and Minority Ethnicities) will become an unstoppable political force.”
Some of Badenoch messages were exchanged privately between with a former Conservative party supporter and confidante Funmi Adebayo, while others were sent to a mutual group chat called Conservative Friends of Nigeria.
Adebayo, who later leaked the messages to Vice World News, explained she did it to show that Badenoch was unqualified for her new role in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
“I think she’s absolutely the wrong person to be sitting in this office that she has now been given. As great as it is to see a Black woman in her position of power, and as great as that is for representation, she is not equipped, she does not have the knowledge, she does not have the experience, nor does she have the empathy to be in such a role.”
“I hope that it is strongly understood that just because she is a Black woman does not mean that she can be the spokesperson for all Black people,” Adebayo said.
Badenoch’s office refused to comment. A spokesperson said the government would not comment on leaked private correspondence.
Badenoch previously faced backlash after a leaked 2018 video showed her making anti-LGBTQ+ comments, with members of the community calling for her resignation.
In the video, shared by VICE World News, Badenoch was heard saying: “Well we’ve got gay marriage, and civil partnerships, so what are transsexuals looking for?” ICiR