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Zuma in anti-British outburst before visit

It was all polite smiles and meticulous protocol as Jacob Zuma met the Queen yesterday afternoon. But just hours before he left for his state visit to Britain, South Africa's flamboyant President revealed what he really thought of his hosts.

In an astonishing interview given shortly before he boarded his flight to London, Mr Zuma launched a scathing attack on the British, accusing them of being cultural imperialists with colonial attitudes who still viewed Africans as “barbaric”.

“When the British came to our country they said everything we did was barbaric, was wrong, inferior in whatever way,” he told The Independent's sister group of newspapers in South Africa. “Bear in mind that I'm a freedom fighter and I fought to free myself, and also for my culture to be respected. I don't know why they are continuing thinking that their culture is more superior than others, those who might have said so.”

The catalyst for Mr Zuma's remarkable outburst was criticism from a number of British columnists who questioned the President's polygamy, a common and accepted practice among South Africa's Zulus.

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