Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Boris Johnson's 'anti-Africa' past resurfaces: Twitter reacts to his election

Boris Johnson's 'anti-Africa' past resurfaces: Twitter reacts to his election


After weeks of waiting, most watchers will say, the obvious result of the race to become United Kingdom Prime Minister was confirmed with the election of Boris Johnson.

The former London Mayor and Foreign Secretary will succeed Theresa May as the U.K’s next Prime Minister. Johnson was on Tuesday (July 23) elected new Conservative leader in a ballot of party members.

But his election has generated some buzz on social media relative to his past pronouncements about Africa. Which situation brings into sharp contrast what his policy on Africa is likely to look like.

Before resigning his post as Foreign Secretary a little over a year ago, Boris visited Africa a number of times as leader of UK foreign policy, he visited The Gambia at the height of the Jammeh political crisis, he was in Ghana and also in Libya.

The immediate past PM, Theresa May, also did a lot of trips to the continent as part of Brexit negotiations. She embared on a tripartite trip in August 2018 – visiting Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa

Bojo’s controversial positions on Africa

Roll back to October 2016, the UK independent reported that Johnson had referred to Africa as a country during a speech at his party’s conference.

At the time, Johnson had been in office for only three months, and was speaking in reference to life expectancy on the continent, when he mistakenly made the reference of Africa being a country.

‘‘For all its difficulties, life expectancy in Africa has risen astonishingly as that country has entered the global economic system.

‘‘In 2000, the average Ethiopian (16 years ago) the average Ethiopian lived to only 47, it’s now 64 and climbing,’‘ he said.

His announcement in July 2016 as the new Foreign Affairs chief raised eyebrows because of his controversial views about the continent prior to his entry into politics – especially during his time as a journalist.

He is widely reported to have defended the history of colonialism, saying that it would be best if African countries were still colonized, and has also used language to describe black people which many consider racist – for which he has apologised.

Some of his controversial quotes on Africa include the following:

Johnson, who has offended some allies with flippant remarks, told Conservative Party members that the

“They’ve got a brilliant vision to turn Sirte, with the help of the municipality of Sirte, to turn it into the next Dubai. The only thing they’ve got to do is clear the dead bodies away and then we will be there.” Claiming in October 2017 that Libyan city of Sirte could be turned into the next Dubai by British investors if they could clear the bodies.

“There’s been a complete breakdown of government authority – Libya is not in a state of civil war – it would be more accurate to describe it as in a state of anarchy.

“There is no government authority who runs the country and there are large parts of it where there is no government at all.” August 2018 interview with the BBC.

‘‘The Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.’‘ The Daily Telegraph, January 2002.

‘‘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.’‘ The Sun, February 2002.

‘‘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.’‘ The Spectator, April 2016.

‘‘Hi people, it’s Boris Johnson here. I’m the first foreign secretary to have visited the Gambia for as long as anybody could remember and I’m here in Banjul, capital of the Gambia at a very exciting time.
‘‘Because there has just been a change of government and a new administration under President Barrow, they got rid of the guy who was really holding things up and they want to take the country forward.” Mocks Jammeh in February 2019 as he announced visit to The Gambia

Social Media reactions

What Johson said after winning leadership race

“I want to thank our outgoing leader Theresa May for her extraordinary service to this party and to this country. It was a a privilege.

It was a privilege to serve in her cabinet and to see the passion and determination that she brought to the many causes that are her legacy, from equal pay for men and women to tackling the problems of mental health and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. Thank you Theresa. Thank you,” Johnson said.

He has promised to deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Johnson beat closest contender, Jeremy Hunt winning 92,153 votes aginst 46,656.

Outgoing British Prime Minister, Theresa May congratulated Johnson, with a promise of her full support.