Friday, March 05, 2010

My Good Man Jacob meets the Windsors

It was all polite smiles and meticulous protocol as Jacob Zuma met the Queen yesterday afternoon. But just hours before he left for his state visit to Britain, South Africa’s flamboyant President revealed what he really thought of his hosts.
In an astonishing interview given shortly before he boarded his flight to London, Mr Zuma launched a scathing attack on the British, accusing them of being cultural imperialists with colonial attitudes who still viewed Africans as “barbaric”.
“When the British came to our country they said everything we did was barbaric, was wrong, inferior in whatever way,” he told The Independent’s sister group of newspapers in South Africa. “Bear in mind that I’m a freedom fighter and I fought to free myself, and also for my culture to be respected. And I don’t know why they are continuing thinking that their culture is more superior than others, those who might have said so.”
The catalyst for Mr Zuma’s remarkable outburst was criticism from a number of British columnists who questioned the President’s polygamy, a common and accepted practice among South Africa’s Zulus…
However, at a state banquet last night, Mr Zuma praised the help Britain had given South Africa in its transition to a new democratic government. “We cannot forget the extraordinary role they [the British people] played at the forefront of a global movement for a free South Africa, as the global anti-apartheid movement has its roots in this country.”
His comments in the interview threatened to overshadow what was supposed to be a three-day visit to strengthen ties between Britain and South Africa. Gordon Brown stood alongside the Queen to greet Mr Zuma and the two leaders will hold talks today…
For his opening meeting with the Queen and Prince Philip on Horse Guards Parade, Mr Zuma wore a long coat and black suit to protect him from the March chill. In South Africa, the 67-year-old often greets dignitaries wearing the traditional Zulu dress of leopard skin loincloth and shield. Mr Zuma’s Zulu heritage may also have provided the impetus behind the Queen’s gift to him of a mounted bronze stag and a book entitled Hunting And Stalking Deer. A representative from Mr Zuma’s office, however, admitted he had no knowledge of the President being interested in hunting.
Mr Zuma’s gift to the Queen was a sculpted chess set depicting traditional Zulu warriors – although he soon discovered that a similar present had been given to the Duke of Edinburgh by his predecessor Nelson Mandela years earlier. Noticing the hand-painted ceramic set on display in the Palace Picture Gallery, a slightly crestfallen Mr Zuma remarked: “Oh, that’s another set.”
- The Independent
Okay, so I couldn’t resist it either…
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Steve Hayes said...

One's opinion of the British media is not very high, but neither is one's opinion of our dear leader.

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