They say the internet never forgets and in the case of Boris Johnson, Britain’s newly minted Foreign Secretary, its reminded us of his penchant for using insulting language, particularly towards Africans. Johnson has penned quite a few opinion articles in his time and we have that to thank for giving us a window into his world view. And what a world view it is!
Johnson, a man who some describe as a “walking stereotype of a buffoonish aristocracy”, likes throwing barbs, the more insulting the better, especially if he can male a condescending reference to Africa. The former Mayor of London appears to have a special talent for using Africa as a foil for his attacks on his political opponents and anyone else he has a problem with. In the past, that list has included, former British PM Tony Blair, HRH Queen Elizabeth and President Barrack Obama.
Here are some highlights from the improbable career of Boris Johnson, Britain’s insult comic-in-chief turned Foreign Secretary:
That time Boris Johnson called black people “piccaninnies”:
“What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England. It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies….”
That time Boris Johnson casually referenced the murder of Africans and their “watermelon smiles” to score points against Tony Blair
“They say he (Tony Blair) is shortly off to the Congo. No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird”
That time Boris Johnson said Ugandans like eating too much to be as business savvy as “colonialists”
“If left to their own devices, the natives would rely on nothing but the instant carbohydrate gratification of the plantain. You never saw a place so abounding in bananas: great green barrel-sized bunches, off to be turned into matooke. Though this dish (basically fried banana) was greatly relished by Idi Amin, the colonists correctly saw that the export market was limited.”
The former Mayor of London appears to have a special talent for using Africa as a foil for his attacks on his political opponents and anyone else he has a problem with
That time Boris Johnson implied Africans would be rich if they just got over their laziness
“Everywhere the people glide by, rather slowly, on big black bicycles. They are all imported: even now, the Ugandans can’t make their own bikes. In 1956 Ghana had a bigger GDP than Malaysia, and Egypt and South Korea were economically on a par. Can you really blame colonialism for the subsequent divergence in performance? The Malaysians have air-conditioning and computers; 90 per cent of Ugandans live in Stone Age conditions — round mud huts with a fireplace dug in the floor and raffia mats for beds and a life-expectancy of 42.”
That time Boris Johnson endorsed treating Africans like children
“Perhaps you could have drawn the map of Africa differently, to take account of the hundreds of tribes; but no design would have ended the grudge between the Acholi and the Baganda. As one British official said, ‘I’ve been in Africa for ages and there’s one thing I just don’t get. Why are they so brutal to each other? We may treat them like children, but it’s not because of us that they behave like the children in Lord of the Flies.”
That time Boris Johnson said Ugandans would soon turn donor-built latrines into homes because “they are sounder than the huts”
“They build latrines, fine concrete structures which will soon be used for habitation, since they are sounder than the huts; they distribute condoms, to the hooting derision of the Karamojong cattle rustlers.”
That time Boris Johnson said Africans really made a big mistake chasing their white masters away
“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.”
They build latrines, fine concrete structures which will soon be used for habitation, since they are sounder than the huts
That time Boris Johnson suggested President Barack Obama might be angry about Britain’s colonial past because of his Kenyan ancestry
“Something mysterious happened when Barack Obama entered the Oval Office in 2009. Something vanished from that room, and no one could quite explain why. It was a bust of Winston Churchill – the great British war time leader. It was a fine goggle-eyed object, done by the brilliant sculptor Jacob Epstein, and it had sat there for almost ten years. But on day one of the Obama administration it was returned, without ceremony, to the British embassy in Washington. No one was sure whether the President had himself been involved in the decision. Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender.”
Those are just a few highlights from the offence-heavy writing career of Britain’s new Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Good luck with the diplomacy thing Boris! I have a feeling you will need it.