Award-winning columnist and foreign reporter. Contributing editor of The Mail on Sunday and weekly columnist in the 'i' paper. Writes regularly for many other papers, platforms and magazines. Frequent broadcaster and speaker at events. Co-founder wth Damon Albarn of the Africa Express music project and executive producer of 4 albums...Read more
Seven years ago I went on one of my strangest journalistic jaunts, when I joined the first western parliamentary delegation to Equatorial Guinea. Because of my work with African music, I was invited to join three Tory MPs and a theatre director on a trip to meet leaders of one of the world’s most thieving and thuggish regimes. It was riveting to sit in on all the discussions as its politicians tried to promote their oil-drenched country to their British counterparts.
The venture was not a success. First, they rumbled that I was a journalist, which did not go down well as we drove around in our official cars and flew on the president’s plane. They had spent a lot of money presenting a phoney image of a prosperous democracy, only to provide me with a unique chance to see behind the scenes of a secretive state that sought to keep out prying foreign reporters. Then there was a furious row with the prime minister, followed by a fiery bust-up with the British organiser. I sat there taking copious notes. It made for a compelling magazine article.