Minister for Africa confuses Zambia with Zimbabwe in funeral speech

Minister for Africa mistakenly commiserates with ‘people of Zimbabwe’ in funeral speech for former Zambian leader in an embarrassing gaffe

  • Minister James Duddridge attended the funeral of Zambia’s founding president 
  • Kenneth Kaunda died last month at the age of 97 and funeral was held last Friday
  • Mr Duddridge gave a speech but appeared to confuse Zambia with Zimbabwe 

The UK’s Minister for Africa appeared to confuse Zambia with Zimbabwe as he delivered a speech at the funeral of Zambia’s founding president.

James Duddridge attended the funeral of Kenneth Kaunda in the capital city of Lusaka last Friday and spoke on behalf of the British Government.

Dr Kaunda died last month at the age of 97 and he was hailed by attendees as one of southern Africa’s great statesmen.

Mr Duddridge said ‘the United Kingdom mourns Dr Kaunda’s passing’ but then referred to the ‘people of Zimbabwe’ in what appeared to be a major slip up.

James Duddridge attended the funeral of Kenneth Kaunda in Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka last Friday and spoke on behalf of the British Government

Dr Kaunda died last month at the age of 97 and he was hailed by attendees at the funeral as one of southern Africa’s great statesmen

He said: ‘Today the United Kingdom mourns Dr Kaunda’s passing alongside his family, his friends and the people of Zimbabwe and indeed the wider world.

‘The children of Zambia can take comfort in the fact that their founding father was a man who worked tirelessly to secure their future.

‘His life was history in itself.’ 

Mr Duddridge tweeted: ‘At the State Funeral of Zambia’s Founding Father, Dr Kenneth Kaunda. 

‘The UK is mourning with Zambia at the loss of an African icon, respected statesman and someone who did so much for his country & for the region.’

A number of world leaders attended the funeral, with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa describing it as a ‘passing of an era’. 

He told mourners: ‘Kaunda was the last surviving leader of the generation who lit the path to Africa’s freedom from colonial misrule.’  

Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, said ‘we are marking what is truly the end of an era on our continent… the last of the great freedom fighters, the philosopher king’. 

Mr Duddridge said ‘the United Kingdom mourns Dr Kaunda’s passing’ but then referred to the ‘people of Zimbabwe’ in what appeared to be a major slip up

Dr Kaunda, popularly known by his initials of KK, was president of Zambia for 27 years, taking the helm after the country gained independence in October 1964.  

He was nicknamed by some ‘Africa’s Gandhi’ for his non-violent, independence-related activism in the 1960s. 

His popularity at home waned as he became increasingly autocratic and banned all opposition parties.

He eventually ceded power in the first multi-party elections in 1991, losing to trade unionist Fredrick Chiluba.

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