There have been pictures, some changed into memes, circulating on social media platforms, portraying how African presidents were being treated as second-class citizens in Windsor, England at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral proceedings.
Several African heads of state were transported in one bus, assigned by British authorities, such as Kenya’s president William Ruto, Tanzania’s Samia Suluhu, and others.
The use of buses to transport leaders to the event has been compared to a school excursion, and some social media users call it shameful.
Based on UK travel guidance at the time, world leaders were told not to take private jets or personal vehicles.
As an alternative, they should fly commercially and be transported by bus to the venue.
The pictures have received a lot of criticism throughout the African continent because some world leaders arrived in style to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral.
US president Joe Biden and France’s Immanuel Macron used their motorcades.
President Biden was allowed to ride in his bulletproof limousine – and so was Macron. Biden arrived in an armoured vehicle, which is designed to withstand attack by radioactive, biological or chemical weapons. And I believe so did Macron. These transport arrangements are at their own cost – and of course, other leaders could afford and do the same.
In fact, not just African leaders were transported by bus but other world leaders too. It is interesting and sad to see how the footage can be construed in so many different ways.
Well, the Canadian PM and his wife were on a bus – and there were also a few other heads of state from Asia, Europe and America.
There were more leaders and their entourages in attendance, and none of them was put in a position where their security was compromised. There were many police and military officers on duty who were involved in the proceedings.
The Queen’s funeral should be the biggest security operation that ever occurred in the country – and the event could be a significant target for potential terror attacks.
According to various sources, the UK authority puts groups of people on buses because they needed a smaller number of armed officers to protect them.
We know that Biden has security issues just even getting around the US – and he also would have put others at risk.
I think African presidents should be celebrated instead of being berated for showing modesty and great leadership.
But let us not forget that they also agreed to participate in this event because they could have refused, and instead not shown up and publicise the reason why.
There are comments from various social media platforms on why African leaders even attended, as Africa has more urgent issues that need their attention to resolve.
I believe African leaders have had strategic intentions for attending the funeral.
First, there is diplomacy. Diplomatic social graces require both parties to show empathy and compassion at times like this.
For these African leaders to remain relevant in international diplomatic circles, they need to play their part in events like this one – use it to get close to leaders of other nations, principally, networking – an opportunity that most likely will never happen again due to the limited access to some top international leaders.
This was the opportunity to show they are relevant, independent and worth joining the international markets as equal partners.
I am sure if Biden and Macron were on that bus it would be okay (fair treatment).
Let us start changing this victim mentality that puts us backwards.
*Leonard Kanime is a social commentator.