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Wednesday, October 29, 1997 Published at 02:23 GMT


Africa at 40: Mugabe attacks colonial legacy

Africa at 40

Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe, has attacked Africa's former rulers at a conference in London marking the continent's 40th birthday.

The London conference, attended by African leaders, officials and academics, was billed as a chance for Africans to recall the hopes raised by Ghana's independence and see what lessons could be learned.

It is 40 years since Ghana became the first African state to win freedom from colonial rule.

[ image: Robert Mugabe: colonial powers caused division]
Robert Mugabe: colonial powers caused division
However, Mr Mugabe, in power for 17 years, used the opening speech to criticise the legacy the colonial powers left the new African states.

He accused the continent's former rulers of sowing the seeds of divisions which he said still threatened the political stability and economic viability of much of Africa.

He also made it clear he had no time for political lectures from the West: "What lessons on democracy am I supposed to learn today from a continent and imperialist states that would give none to me and my country during centuries of occupationist rule?"

The next speaker, President Chissano of Mozambique, concentrated on issues Africans themselves had to tackle, such as corruption: "The perception (is) that to be a senior government official is to have a passport to embezzle public funds and amass public property for self-aggrandisement and enrichment."

Mr Chissano said transparent and accountable government was necessary for development to succeed. "When we were fighting for independence, we were dreaming. Today, our dreams are more realistic," he said.

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