American President Barack Obama's last name has more than once been confused with deceased al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's similar-sounding first name. But Barack with Boko Haram? That might be a first.
Zambian Minister Nkandu Luo made that very blunder during a solidarity march held in the capital Lusaka on May 17 for the close to 300 girls abducted by the militant Islamist group in Nigeria. Video that has surfaced on the Internet shows Luo, who is the minister of chiefs and traditional affairs in President Michael Sata’s Patriotic Front (PF) government, addressing marchers who converged at the Lusaka Civic Centre:
[T]hings which we are doing here in Zambia to continue singing the song of peace, to continue campaigning for the girl children, that way all these criminals in the name of Islam the Barack O, Barack O, whatever, will not, aah, will not abduct our children.
Luo laughed off the slip-up, and more than a few people in the audience chuckled at the mistake.
The story was first reported by the Post, a pro-PF private newspaper, which stated that people were poking fun at the video on social media networks. The video was widely shared on WhatsApp's smartphone messaging service.
Zambia’s First Lady Christine Kaseba also addressed a gathering and posted a picture of herself on the State House Facebook page calling for the release of the 300. She was quoted saying:
Tell the world that we in Zambia care. We the Zambian Christians, Moslems, Hindus and Buddhists care because we in Zambia believe in peace.
Zambians on Twitter could not help but take jibes at Luo, a microbiology professor-turned politician.
So our very own “profesure” Nkandu Luo has no depth. Boko haram or barak Obama get schooled professor. Our country shamed.. #professorblonde
— Sam (@samchrw) June 12, 2014
“@AbelMusuka: When Professor Nkandu Luo Refers to Boko Haram as Barak Obama#DeathByLaughter”RT Our only female Microbiologists Professor!
— GEORGE MUMBI (@georgemumbi) June 12, 2014
“@Benny_blow: “Barack O–, Barack O–…Whatever!”. Nkandu Luo, zero out of ten.” Fail
— Miss Dori (@Kaysmeen) June 12, 2014
— Chilufya (@Psalmist115) June 12, 2014
Who are these criminals named Barack-O who are abducting children? Professor Nkandu Luo has strong words for them. Ah whatever…
— MissBwalya (@missbwalya) June 12, 2014
Am in stitches after watching the clip were Professor Nkandu Luo ‘mistakes’ Boko Haram for @BarackObama
— ♣♡AJ's mummy♣♡ (@namzymcmoses) June 12, 2014
Perhaps Luo’s blunder was a Freudian slip that the U.S. government should play a bigger role in ensuring the safe return of the Nigerian girls. Or it was simply a run-of-the-mill verbal gaffe. Either way, at least the message to the kidnappers – #BringBackOurGirls – was sent.