Death of Tiny Rowland

Chris Burford cburford at
Mon Jul 27 00:07:52 PDT 1998

Tiny Rowland is probably not known in the USA. But he is a revealing footnote in the development of capitalism. His death yesterday brought statements in his honour by Kenneth Kaunda and Nelson Mandela.

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.

Chris Burford

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