Mad-haired rugby oaf and abortive Tory leadership contender Boris Johnson has somehow been let into The Gambia.

It's the first time a British foreign secretary has visited the African country, where a former security guard from Argos in Islington – Johnson's home borough in north London – has just become president.

Adama Barrow won the presidential election in January and, after a political standoff that narrowly avoided bloodshed, ousted the long-time president Yahya Jammeh, who had refused to stand aside despite losing the vote.

Former journalist Johnson is likely to face yet another awkward diplomatic encounter when he visits The Gambia after he referred to Africa during a speech at the 2016 Conservative Party Conference as "that country".

In a 2002 article for The Spectator, which he edited, Johnson wrote about a visit to Uganda from then Prime Minister Tony Blair who arrived "in his big white bird" and referred to the "African male" and his "ancient prerogatives".

If we were erroneously treated like the Duke of Kent, imagine with what rapture Africa will greet Tony Blair when he descends next week in his big white bird...I will never forget the expression on the faces of the tribal elders who came to meet us by some jacaranda tree. There they were, beaming with pride in some new Unicef-funded municipal shack, when a Norwegian Unicef girl stepped forward. She was wearing lipstick, earrings, court shoes, and she barked, in all seriousness, 'Where are the women?'

'Why are there no women in this group?' she wanted to know, and the poor lads shuffled and scratched their Aids-blotched heads. Almost every dollar of Western aid seems tied to some programme of female emancipation – stamping out clitorectomy, polygamy, bride-price, or whatever. And while some readers may feel vaguely that the African male should not be stampeded into abandoning his ancient prerogatives, one cannot doubt the care — bordering on obsession — with which Western workers pursue their ends.

In another article from 2002, this time for The Telegraph, Johnson, said the Queen is greeted in the Commonwealth by "cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies" and that during Blair's visit to the Congo "tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles".

What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England. It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies...They say he is shortly off to the Congo. No doubt the AK-47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird.

Johnson has since apologised for such indiscretions, which litter his career, though they have never really held him back. But he can't seem to stop himself.

During the 2016 EU referendum campaign, Johnson referred to Obama as a "part-Kenyan" with an "ancestral dislike" of Britain over his decision to move the bust of Winston Churchill out of its long-time place in the Oval Office and elsewhere in the White House. He was writing in The Sun.

Johnson's visit to The Gambia was accompanied by an announcement that the country would rejoin the Commonwealth, as promised by Barrow during his campaign for the presidency. Let's hope Johnson doesn't say something to make them change their minds.