The complexities of our colonial legacy

It happened by accident. In 1829 the naturalist Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward was trying to hatch a moth pupa. He placed it in a sealed glass container, along with some soil and dried leaves, and set it aside. Sometime later he was surprised to find that a fern and some grass had taken root in the soil, despite having no water. As Sathnam Sanghera writes in Empireworld, the discovery ‘revolutionised the logistics of international plant transportation’. Suddenly there was a means of securely transporting seeds and seedlings across vast distances. Empireworld is a sequel to Sanghera’s wildly successful Empireland. Where the latter examined the legacies of empire in Britain, this book

Has Putin outplayed Macron in Africa?

While the world is focused on Ukraine, Emmanuel Macron has withdrawn all French forces from Mali. Last weekend, thousands of soldiers were flown out of the former French colony after nine years of fighting Islamist insurgents in the Sahel. Malian protesters bid the French soldiers farewell by shouting ‘Shit to France’ at the departing planes. Following a military coup in May, Mali’s ‘interim President’ Colonel Assimi Goïta began to tire of the French and their calls for free elections. There were also lingering doubts over France’s motivation, stoked by a Russian disinformation campaign. So Goïta began looking for allies who could provide him with muscle to fight the Islamist insurgency