Sunday, August 26, 2007

An awkward moment for Mr. Nixon

I am currently reading Martin Meredith’s The fate of Africa, and the first chapter, The Gold Coast Experiment, is about how Ghana became the first Sub-Saharan country to gain its independence in 1957. There's an interesting note in the chapter about the overly enthusiastic Richard Nixon, then the Vice President of the United States, who faced an embarrassing situation during the independence celebrations:
Messages of congratulations came [to Ghana] from an array of world leaders, from Eisenhower, Bulganin, Nehru and Zhou En-lai. Delegations from fifty-six countries arrived, exuding warmth and goodwill…But the most enthusiastic visitor was Richard Nixon, then the United States vice-president. From the moment he touched down in Accra, he rushed about shaking hands, hugging paramount chiefs, fondling black babies and posing for photographs. It was not always to good effect. Surrounded by a crowd of Ghanaians in an official ceremony, he slapped one man on the shoulder and asked him how it felt to be free. ‘I wouldn’t know sir,’ replied the man. ‘I am from Alabama.’
That’s quite a telling repartee, isn’t it? I wonder how Nixon reacted.


Kartik said...

Quite a moment then, for the future leader of the free world. :-)

Hari said...

Yes, indeed!:)

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