Zuma plays down criticism of Britain's colonial past

The South African president accused the British media of thinking ”their culture is more superior than others” on the eve of his state visit to the UK.

Mr Zuma, who has there wives, hit out after comments about his polygamous lifestyle were made in the British press.

But at a joint Downing Street press conference with the Prime Minister today, he suggested he had been taken out of context.

Mr Zuma said: ”It was in the context of how people judge other people’s cultures and who gives authority to others to judge others, in general terms. ”I think if we talked about the media, it is not just the British media, it is the South African media as well that has views about specific things. ”It was in that context that we made a point. We are not necessarily trying to condemn the British or whatever. ”I’m sure you are aware that the colonial life in South Africa has been viewed by Africans in a very particular way. I think we are sort of making a comment in that context.”

In his opening remarks, after his meeting with Mr Brown, the president said he had been ”very happy” on the visit and his delegation had been ”very warmly” received.

At a banquet in his honour last night, the Queen praised South Africa’s progress since the end of apartheid.

Ahead of the visit, however, Mr Zuma had signalled unease at certain British attitudes.

”I don’t know why they are continuing thinking that their culture is more superior than others, those who might have said so,” he told a South African newspaper.

”I am very clear on these issues, I’ve not looked down upon any culture of anyone, and no one has been given an authority to judge others. ”The British have done that before, as they colonised us, and they continue to do this, and it’s an unfortunate thing.”

The Prime Minister said today that Mr Zuma was leading South Africa with ”great distinction”.

He described the visit as ”incredibly important”, particularly given the size of the South African delegation, which includes 200 business leaders. ”Over the last 15 years South Africa has restored its rightful place in the international community,” he said.

Source: www.telegraph.co.uk, 20100305

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