James Duddridge, the UK’s African Minister, appeared to mistake Zimbabwe for Zambia in a speech at the funeral of Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s founding president and one of Africa’s last surviving liberation leaders, in the country’s capital Lusaka, In the past week.
Kaunda, who died at the age of 97 last month, ruled Zambia from 1964, when he won independence from Great Britain, until 1991. He was respected across the continent as one of a generation of Africans who fought to liberate their nations. of colonial rule.
Dignitaries from across Africa and beyond gathered on Friday to celebrate Kaunda’s life at a ceremony at the Lusaka National Heroes Stadium.
Duddridge et al. former banker and conservative member of parliament who was appointed last year as a minister in the Office of Foreign, Commonwealth and Development with responsibility for Africa, was one of the speakers that included regional leaders such as Cyril Ramaphosa from South Africa, Emmerson Mnangagwa from Zimbabwe and Uhuru Kenyatta from Kenya.
Duddridge read a message from the Queen before describing Kaunda as a “great man, an African hero and a highly respected friend of the UK who helped end apartheid in South Africa and was firmly committed to the Commonwealth.
“Today the UK mourns the passing of Dr Kaunda along with his family, the people of Zimbabwe and indeed the rest of the world.” Duddridge said.
The slip caused anger on social media, with some see evidence of enduring colonial-era attitudes among British officials to African countries.
In 2017, Donald Trump sparked widespread mockery when he appeared to invent an African country called Namibia, telling the continent’s leaders that “From Namibia The health system is becoming more and more self-sufficient ”, at a lunch in New York.
Duddridge also seemed to stumble over the pronunciation of the name of the current Zambian leader, Edgar Lungu.
The lengthy funeral service, which included a band, an artillery salute and a flypast, was broadcast on national television networks in Zambia, South Africa and other parts of the region.
Ramaphosa previously praised the “father of liberation in our region”, while the president of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, described Kaunda as a “giant among men”.