The British surrendered their last provinces in Africa 50 years back. Be that as it may, they deserted their wigs. An extraordinary wigs. They are the long, white horsehair locks worn by high court judges (and King George III). They are so antiquated, thus awkward, that even British lawyers have quit wearing them.
Be that as it may, in previous British states – Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Malawi and others – they live on, worn by judges and legal advisors. Presently, another age of African legal advisers is asking: Why are the landmass’ most unmistakable legitimate personalities as yet wearing the trappings of the colonizers?
It’s not only an issue of feel. The wigs and robes are maybe the most glaring image of provincial legacy when that history is being dug up in a wide range of ways. This year, Tanzanian President John Magufuli portrayed a proposed unhindered commerce concurrence with Europe as a “type of imperialism”. In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe still alludes to the British as “stealing colonialists”.
In June, the premier of Cape Town was suspended from her party after writing on Twitter that modern healthcare was a colonial contribution.
The relics of colonialism are scattered across the continent. There are the queen’s namesakes: Victoria Falls north of Zimbabwe, Lake Victoria east of Uganda, Victoria Island in Nigeria. There is the left-lane driving, the cricket, the way public education is organised (not organised).
Most cities and streets have received new names since the Europeans left. In 2013, Mugabe officially rebaptised Victoria Falls “Mosi Oa Tunya”, or “the smoke that thunders” in the Kololo language.
Yet the wig survives, along with other relics of the colonial courtroom: red robes, white bows, references to judges as “my lord” and “my lady”.
In nearly every former British colony, op-eds have been written and speeches made about why the wig ought to be removed. In Uganda, the New Vision newspaper conducted an investigation into the cost of the wigs, reporting that each one cost $6,500. In Ghana, a prominent lawyer, Augustine Niber, argued that removing wigs would reduce the “intimidation and fear that often characterise our courtrooms”.
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One of the editors of the Nigerian Lawyer blog wrote that wigs weren’t made for the sweltering Lagos heat, where lawyers melted under their garb. “The culture that invented the wig and gown is different from our own and the weather is different,” Unini Chioma wrote.