It defies belief – the UK Africa Minister travelled more than 8,000 kilometres to Zambia to speak at the state memorial of Kenneth Kaunda, and didn’t even know which country the leader was from.
Hundreds of leaders – local and from across the continent – gathered in the capital Lusaka to pay their respects to Zambia’s first president, who died on 17 June aged 97.
Standing up in front of a crowd which included Zambian President Edgar Lungu and President Cyril Ramaphosa in the National Heroes Stadium, James Dudderidge said:
“Today the United Kingdom mourns Dr Kaunda’s passing, alongside his family, his friends and the people of Zimbabwe.”
That’s right, Dudderidge confused Zambia with Zimbabwe.
In the clip of the speech, the camera cuts to Ramaphosa, who immediately puts his hands on his face – seemingly taken aback by Dudderidge’s glaring error.
What is worse is that Dudderidge had travelled to Zambia to make the speech, so he didn’t even know the country he was standing in, let alone the country Kaunda had led.
To make matters worse, Dudderidge was reading from a script!
But arguably, the most agonising aspect of this embarrassing mistake is that Dudderidge is the representative from the UK, the country who colonised Zambia for 65 years – and Kaunda is the leader who freed Zambia from its rule.
As one user on Twitter wrote: “Why was he even speaking there, what qualifies him to speak?”
But Dudderidge can take comfort in the fact that botching the names of African countries isn’t uncommon amongst Western politicians.
Donald Trump, when he was the president of the US, famously made up an entirely new country, when he called Namibia “Nambia.”
Video source: @AfricasMartha
Image source: @JamesDuddridge