Amid all the emotional bad-mouthing of “colonialism” and the role played by Europeans in the history of Africa, it was interesting to hear this week that Zimbabwe’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth, the grouping of former British colonies.
It’s part of the new-look Zimbabwe Mnangagwa is building following the removal last year of Robert Mugabe as president after 37 years in power. Mugabe pulled his country out of the Commonwealth in 2003 when London criticised land seizures from white farmers and called elections in the country not free and fair.
Mugabe – a man who in his latter years would go on tirades about colonialism – was inordinately fond of the trappings of Mother England: he was an ardent cricket fan and was driven to the opening of his Westminister-based parliament in a classic Rolls-Royce.
Mnangagwa clearly realises that a relationship with Britain and with other Commonwealth countries will have benefits for Zimbabwe in the diplomatic as well as in the economic and trade sense.
He has recognised that the Commonwealth ethos has been evolving to suit a new world and wants his country to be part of that.
And he is not a “sellout” for taking that stance.