Susan Rice makes a fool of herself on Twitter
Susan Rice, our national security advisor, is supposed to be a bona fide expert on Africa. And the credentials she brings to her job are impressive. Former ambassador to the United Nations, graduate of Stanford, Rhodes Scholar, and author of a prize-winning dissertation at Oxford on African affairs.
Yet, yesterday, she sent out two tweets mourning the burial “today” of the most famous Nigerian of the last 50 years. But our sharp-as-a-tack expert on Africa didn’t realize that the man had died two years ago. Business Insider noted the beclowning, as the tweets were hastily deleted once the gaffe was noticed online.
Death hoaxes are common enough on social media, but it's understandably harder to pull them off with people who are already dead. That was no obstacle for whoever was pushing rumors of the death of Chinua Achebe on Monday morning.
The Nigerian literary titan, whose "Things Fall Apart" and "Arrow of God" are two landmarks of the 20th-century fiction, has indeed been dead since March 21, 2013. But despite Achebe's prominence — and despite the attention he received after publishing a long-awaited memoir in 2012 — this fact escaped notice with a critical mass of people that included the US government's former assistant undersecretary of State for African Affairs:
Oops! I guess the national security advisor isn’t keeping up with current events in her area of expertise. And it’s not as if Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, is some obscure backwater. It is the most vital and one of the most threatened nations in Africa, and also, incidentally, a major exporter of oil to the United States.
Rice is the US national security adviser, and Nigeria is in the midst of both one of the world's largest democratic presidential elections and one of its deadliest terrorist insurgencies. Nigeria's situation is tenuous with a controversial presidential electoral delay and a fight against the jihadist group Boko Haram that has even drawn in the US military at times.
At least the Obama team is consistent – consistently ignorant.