Boris Johnson is to be the first Foreign Secretary to visit Gambia this week as it returns to Commonwealth alliance of nations.
Gambia left the Commonwealth four years ago, dismissing it as a “neo-colonial institution.”
He will also visit Ghana and meet its new President Adama Barrow, after the latter reversed an earlier decision to leave the alliance four years ago.
Boris Johnson told reporters:
Their elections highlight the continuing strengthening of democracy in West Africa.
I am also very pleased that Gambia wants to rejoin the Commonwealth and we will ensure this happens in the coming months. The strength of our partnerships show that Global Britain is growing in influence and activity around the world.
The Foreign Secretary may not be the best choice for convincing those two countries the Commonwealth is no longer about colonialism.
In 2002, Johnson wrote that the problem with Africa was that the British were not in charge any more:
The continent may be a blot, but it is not a blot upon our conscience. The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more.
Consider Uganda, pearl of Africa, as an example of the British record. Are we guilty of slavery? Pshaw. It was one of the first duties of Frederick Lugard, who colonised Buganda in the 1890s, to take on and defeat the Arab slavers. And don’t swallow any of that nonsense about how we planted the ‘wrong crops’. Uganda teems, sprouts, bursts with vegetation.
The best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers, or their citizens, scrambled once again in her direction; on the understanding that this time they will not be asked to feel guilty.
Is that Boris Johnson’s plan now?
Perhaps it would be wiser for the leader of Ghana and Gambia to keep their distance from the hapless foreign secretary