African politics and politicians often leave a lot to be desired. From leaders who are often sick and uninspiring to those who put the corrupt in corruption. One undeniable fact though, is that stories from African politics and players in the space will crack you up. Sometimes, it’s for the absolute craziness of the stories, other times for what seems to be a desire to ridicule everyone involved. In this article, we’ll take you on a trip around the continent and share some of the funniest African political moments you’ll ever hear of.
During a debate in the Ghanaian parliament in November 2022, Isaac Adango a member of the parliament likened Ghana’s vice-president Mahamudu Bawumia to infamous English defender, Harry Maguire.
Adango references Dr Bawumia’s record to Maguire’s defensive blunders, saying the Vice President had scored economic own goals during the 2023 budget debate much to the humor of his fellow parliamentarians. – TI
The Anarchist Deputy Speaker
Country: South Africa
Context: During a debate in the South African parliament, Economic Freedom Fighters MP, Khonziwe Hloyana, takes opposition to Freedom Front+’s Wouter Wessels’ characterization of the EFF as anarchists and asks for the word to be withdrawn. Hloyana appeals to deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Lechesa Tsenoli to mandate the withdrawal but he quickly terms it a political statement and sees no fault in it.
It’s evident Hloyana grew up with siblings taking jabs at each other when she wastes no time turning it on the Tsenoli by tagging him an anarchist, a characterization he opposes completely and demands is withdrawn. – TI
The Presidential Candidate who cannot pronounce Hulabaloo
The 2023 Presidential Election cycle was a fascinating one for Nigerians, who were subjected to lies, unbelievable political schemes and ludicrous moments, as they usually are. One memorable event was at the Town Hall meeting hosted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) political party in Imo State, where the now President Elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu gave a speech aimed to propel his aspirations but ended up going viral because of his embarrassing attempt to pronounce ‘Hullabaloo.’
It’s fair enough if the President Elect could not pronounce the word Hullabaloo, given its many syllables and its close similarities to baba blue, a popular Nigerian candy, even an eloquent person is bound to struggle with it. Regardless of all the deplorable qualities the president elect possesses, at least Nigerians are rest assured of the constant source of entertainment he will afford us, and the invaluable contribution to Nigeria’s thriving music industry with his babble, perfect to create a catchy song or be used as ad libs. What good is an efficient leader when you can have one who is more qualified to be a mumble artist? – DO
The state-sponsored condoms
Country: South Africa
Context: Then South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa urged Members of Parliament to help themselves to new government condoms – designed for maximum pleasure and to make no noise.
Answering questions in the National Assembly, the deputy president lauded the new condoms, which were introduced in June. – TI
The physically fit presidential candidate
In 2022, while announcing his bid to contest the 2023 presidential primaries within the ruling All Progressives Congress, Rotimi Amaechi- a two term Governor of Rivers and the Minister of Transport at the time, proceeded to run 800 meters around the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium, Rivers State to highlight his physical fitness essentially daring his septuagenarian rivals to highlight their physical prowess. Presidential candidates should be educating the citizens on their manifesto and not going after Usain Bolt’s throne.
At this point, you will think this is a skit but it’s not. The Nigerian political landscape is rife with actions like this; eat eating corn on the road, frying akara, eating food with primary school children and hairdressing. Rotimi Amaechi’s 800 meters race isn’t different from what we see on a daily basis from Nigerian politicians.
This is one of the funniest political moments in Nigeria because, despite the fact that it’s not a skit, it’s probably mockery directed against another candidate whose health issues have been a topical issue. Presidential candidates should be educating the citizens on their manifestos and not going after Usain Bolt’s throne. – AO
The Gate-Climbing Lawmakers
Context: It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Spiderman, it’s about 15 Nigerian lawmakers scaling the gate of the National Assembly. This uncanny event happened on 20 November 2014. Among the gatecrashers were Aminu Tambuwal, then-Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Femi Gbajabiamila, then-House of Representatives minority leader.
Before the incident, animosity brewed between the senators—especially those of the Peoples Democratic Party—and the presidency over the congresses of the party.
A video of the incident shows Tambuwal arriving at the entrance of the complex, along with a group of people including other lawmakers, and finds the gate locked and guarded by the police. Tambuwal of the All Progressives Congress had defected from the PDP a month earlier. After their appeal to the police officers met a stony indifference, the lawmakers took matters into their own hands, scaling the fence, undeterred by the teargas released into the air by the police.
The senators, most of them APC members, then began to gather signatures to impeach Jonathan. However, the move and the plenary session over which Aminu Tambuwal was to preside, were disrupted as the Senate President (David Mark) shut down the Parliament.
Photos of the lawmakers went viral online, inspiring many jokes. But observers like the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka thought it unfunny; in fact, he said the lawmakers were to be “applauded, not derided.” – MA
It’s getting hot in here
In 2020, Daniel Pondei, embattled former boss of Niger Delta Development Commission, appeared to have fainted during a House of Representative panel’s inquiry into allegations of corruption as Acting Managing Director. Only a week ago, the official had stormed out on the investigative panel.
So much for his acting and histrionics, the official succeeded in preventing the investigation from continuing at the moment as he was immediately surrounded by people who tried to stabilize him before taking him out. It turns out, by coincidence, his name Pondei is almost homophonous to “Ponzi” which means a sort of investment fraud that keeps piling. Little wonder he has to come up with the subplot of fainting to take away attention, even if for a moment, from the major plot of the corruption scandal. – AA
The money-laundering Governor who dressed up as a woman to escape from the UK
While a serving Governor of Bayelsa, Diepriye Alamieyeseigha was arrested on arrival on British shores while recovering from a tummy tuck procedure in Germany. About £1m in cash was found in his London home. While facing money laundering charges in London, Alamieyeseigha mysteriously returned to Yenagoa to a rapturous reception. How did he get there? The apocryphal story is that Alamieyeseigha found his way from London to Paris via a Eurostar train. From there, he got on a flight to Cameroon and then a boat through which he made his way to his hometown. It’s believed that he was disguised as a pregnant woman at some point during his travels.
Alamieyeseigha would go on to be impeached as Bayelsa governor and triggering the political rise of his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan who would eventually become the country’s president. – MI
The Nigerian lawmaker who invented English
Chinua Achebe once famously prophesied that African writers will do “unheard of things” with the English Language. Though a non-writer, Patrick Obahiagbon has done just that.
Obahiagbon was a member of the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011. Then he was Chief of Staff to Adams Oshiomole, then-Edo State Governor. But rather than his deeds as a politician, it was his words that would make Obahiagbon famous, providing fodder to many comedians.
Obahiagbon speaks with a bombast that seems like a self-parody. He prefers unusually long sentences and liberally mixes arcane, even obsolete English words with Latin. Sometimes he’s outrightly making up words. Combined with his comical delivery, hearing him speak ends with you on the floor, laughing.
Long story short (which is something Obahiagbon never does): you listen to him not to understand what he says (because that is hopeless) but for entertainment. Obahiagbon has certainly added comic relief to the oft-dark world of Nigerian politics. It’s hard not to laugh when he tells you, “I am maniacally bewildered, overgassted and flabbergasted at the paraplegic crinkum-crankum…’ – MA
My oga at the top
Context: In an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast program, Sunrise Daily, the former Lagos State Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC) Obafaiye Shem said that he had never visited his organization’s website. He also said that the website opened by impostors to defraud unsuspecting job seekers would be automatically closed. When asked to mention the NSCDC’s official website address, Shem said, “I cannot categorically tell you one now, but the one we are going to make use of, I am not the one that will create it. The one that we are going to make use of, is going to remain known by my oga at the top.”
After categorically explaining that they weren’t asking about the job application portal, the Sunrise Daily anchors further probed him to name the organization’s website. The commandant responded saying the address is “www.nscdc”. From shirts declaring “My Oga At The Top” to hilarious memes on the internet, Obafaiye Shem and his statements went viral at the time. There were remixes of the clip, there were souvenirs and by July, 2013, Nollywood had churned out a movie titled “Oga On Top.” – WM
My People My People
Context: Senator Rochas Okorocha, who represents the Imo West senatorial district gave a speech at the APC Convention in 2022, where he began by screeching “My People My People” to his party members before continuing with his desire to “sing a new song” and divert from the old schemes of politics.
The Senator has taken a liking to the mantra, but not so much the sentiments behind it. At this rate, “My People My People” is more of a call for attention, like a lecturer attempting to gain the focus of his rowdy students, than a bid to inspire patriotic feelings in citizens. Perhaps the lack of candor in the phrase has made its ingenuity noticeable to all, and consequently, its utterance a point of ridicule. – DO
The COVID Vibrators
Country: South Africa
Context: At the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic when everything seemed gloom, South African minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu gave South Africans the comic relief they didn’t know they needed when he mistakenly referred to COVID ventilators as vibrators – TI
The money-eating snake
Context: As a country pretty lax on animal rights and where anything mostly goes, it is not news to hear of weird interactions between Nigerians and their supposedly lower counterparts in the animal kingdom.
While most people keep animals as pets for companionship, security, or in the case of rats, because they don’t have much choice in the matter, there are apparently unsung visionaries amongst us who are exploring the untapped potentials of animals as stone-cold (pun intended), efficient and stealth mercenaries.
In 2018, A JAMB official claimed that a mysterious snake had swallowed around $100,000 (up to 36 million in naira) in cash from the organization’s office and became a trending topic online in Nigeria and worldwide. Philomena Chieshe, an employee in charge of examination fees at the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board, accused her maid of collaborating with another official, Joan Asen to “metaphysically” steal the cash from her safe through a snake that would sneak in and swallow it.
A snake that not only swallowed multiple stacks of hard currency for its contractor, but did so in the physical and spiritual realm without getting caught even after the job was done, and its cover was blown??? You just know that Anini and Oyenusi were rolling in the graves. – ORO