Starting out with his business in ranching in "Rhodesia", he built Lonrho into a major player in African politics by aligning with emerging black politicians. The name of the company shows its transition from the era of imperialism to that of post-colonialism. The obituary statements virtually make it clear that at critical times, he gave them significant financial support, but no doubt also provided a bridge into respectable or semi-respectable capital circles.
Rowland therefore provides an example of a capitalist who may play a progressive, (but highly ambivalent) role in a democratic struggle. He was a progressive ally and the first sugar-coated bullet.