Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the new Chairman of the African Union and the latest Internet meme Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe falling down:
His klutzy moment as he walked toward a podium to deliver a speech has spawned much ridicule. Now normally I would be opposed to making fun of a 90-year-old man falling but… it’s Mugabe. The “democratically elected for life President” (as one of my African Studies professors liked to call such leaders) Mugabe has overseen the collapse is his country’s currency (I once held 50 billion Zimbabwean dollars in my hand – it was basically worthless), spent international aid money intended for AIDS programs on who-knows-what-but-not-AIDS, engaged in rampant corruption, and demonstrated little regard for human rights. And he has recently been elected Chairman of the African Union, much to the disappointment of those of us who would love to see the AU evolve into a legitimate example of “African solutions to African problems.”
If that isn’t enough to convince you that I’m not completely heartless for laughing at an old man’s stumble, the Zimbabwean government’s response to the incident might convince you of its ridiculousness. As reported by The Zimbabwe Herald:
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Prof Jonathan Moyo stated: “The misrepresentations and morbid celebrations of the incident by malcontents is the real news here and not the alleged fall as there was none. What happened is that the President tripped over a hump on the carpet on one of the steps of the dais as he was stepping down from the platform but he remarkably managed to break the fall on his own. I repeat that the President managed to break the fall. Nobody has shown any evidence of the President having fallen down because that did not happen. The hump on which the President tripped was formed by two pieces of the carpet which apparently had not been laid out properly where they joined. And to be honest with you, even Jesus, let alone you, would have also tripped in that kind of situation.”
Even Jesus! So there you have it. Mugabe may not have fallen down but that hasn’t stopped the Internet from capitalizing on the moment. Some of my favourite “morbid celebrations” appear below:
Sometimes the Internet is a really awful place. But then there are days like today when I’m so glad it exists.