Uproar in Africa over Germany's leopard jibe at Russia

Uproar in Africa over Germany's leopard jibe at Russia

Foreign policy is not a joke nor should it be used to score cheap geopolitical points, says African Union official

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) – A tweet by the German Foreign Ministry in which it used a leopard emoji in referring to the Russian foreign minister's visit to Africa this week has created uproar in Africa, after it appeared offensive to some.

In the tweet that was viewed by over 2 million people, the German Foreign Ministry attempted to make fun of Russia's top diplomat Sergey Lavrov during his tour of Africa.

It tweeted that Lavrov’s visit was not intended to look for leopards, but using the trip to try and justify Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Apparently the use of the leopard emoji sought to play off Germany's decision to send some of its advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to boost its military offensive against Russian forces.

But an African Union official and several other people on social media perceived the tweet as offensive.

Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for the Chairman of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, expressed concern that the use of leopard emoji could portray that the African continent was only about wild animals.

She questioned whether the “continent of Africa, its people and wildlife was just a joke to you?"

“Foreign policy is not a joke nor should it be used to score cheap geopolitical points by illustrating an entire Continent with colonial tropes on any issue,” Kalondo wrote in a tweet.

Another female Twitter user also condemned the use of the leopard jibe.

“You continue to disrespect Africa, Africa is not your baby you need to protect from bad influence,” she tweeted.

Another wrote, someone thinks there are only animals in Africa, “some colonialist tendencies at play here.”

The Germany Foreign Ministry apologized for using the leopard emoji, saying Germany values their African partners, and the tweet was in no way intended to offend but rather “to call out the lies that Russia uses to justify its imperialist war of aggression against Ukraine.”

This week, Lavrov visited South Africa, Eswatini, Angola and Eritrea.

Several African nations maintain historical ties with Moscow. South Africa abstained from a UN vote last year condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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