John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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French President’s Camel Eaten

by John Campbell
April 10, 2013

Camels stand in a farm in Benghazi, February 11, 2013. (Esam Al-Fetori/Courtesy Reuters)


You read this right. The British media, citing French sources, is having a field day with the report that the camel given to French president Francois Hollande during his February 2013 visit to Mali, has been eaten by its care-takers. According to the French media, the minister of defense broke the news to Hollande. Embarrassed, a Malian official said, “as soon as we heard of this, we quickly replaced it with a bigger and better-looking camel,” according to Reuters.

The French president had left the camel, an expression of thanks for French military intervention in Mali, with a Timbuktu family. The replacement camel will be shipped to a French zoo.

A serious side to the story, beyond the camel’s fate; it illustrates the pervasiveness of food insecurity in Mali and, indeed, in the Sahel in general.

That said, the British are enjoying the story, perhaps not least because it is at the expense of the French. Sky News headlines, “Camel Given to Francois Hollande Put in a Stew.” The more restrained BBC titled its story “Francois Hollande’s Camel: Mali to Replace Eaten Animal.” Comments posted to the Sky News story include: “I thought the French smoke camels anyway,” and “really what do they think he wants with a camel anyway?” And, “did they go “supersize” for the meal?”

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