By David Blair in Johannesburg
President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa rebuked Gordon Brown yesterday, accusing the "presumed successor to Tony Blair" of promoting nostalgia for British imperialism and joining in a "discourse" that "demonises" blacks.
Mr Brown is leading the Government's efforts to help Africa during Britain's presidency of the G8 group of rich countries. But any credit this might have earned seems, in Mr Mbeki's mind, to have been dashed by remarks the Chancellor made during his tour of Africa in January.
While in Tanzania, Mr Brown said the "days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over". Earlier, he had declared: "We should be proud ... of the Empire."
Mr Mbeki discovered the comments on the internet and then wrote a furious, 2,102-word missive for the latest issue of ANC Today, the newsletter of the ruling African National Congress. Mr Mbeki said that Africa was being "demonised" by an "age-old white stereotype that we as Africans are sexually depraved".
The president then accused Mr Brown, "the presumed successor to Tony Blair", of peddling imperial nostalgia.
This refusal to apologise for imperialism was, said Mr Mbeki, portraying "our country and continent as destined to experience perpetual catastrophe and unnatural disasters, given that we have now been deprived of benevolent and morally upright white rule".
"The 'freedom' we have gained is therefore but mere licence for us to behave as to the manner born, destined to build a society consumed by corruption, sexual depravity, autocracy and criminal violence," wrote Mr Mbeki.
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