There are nineteen Commonwealth member states in Africa, seven of which are landlocked, the only such countries in the association. South Africa was a founder member in 1931 when its independence was recognised under the Statute of Westminster, but its membership lapsed in 1961, when its apartheid policies were no longer in accord with the Commonwealth’s fundamental values.

Ghana joined on independence in 1957, followed in the 1960s by 13 other newly independent countries across Africa. Namibia joined on independence in 1990 and, following the democratic elections of 1994, South Africa was welcomed back into the association. Cameroon joined in October 1995, and Mozambique, which had long expressed a desire to join the association and had been connected with it throughout the long Southern African struggle for racial equality, was admitted in November 1995. Then, in November 2009, Rwanda became the 54th member.

The African members comprise 16 republics and two monarchies, Lesotho and Swaziland. All the republics have executive presidents except Mauritius, where the prime minister leads the government. English is an official language in all except Mozambique, where Portuguese is the sole official language. In Cameroon and Rwanda English and French are official languages.

A Nigerian, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, was Commonwealth Secretary-General from 1990 to 2000. The biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was held in Africa in 1979 (Lusaka, Zambia); 1991 (Harare, Zimbabwe, a member until 2003); 1999 (Durban, South Africa); 2003


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