Zambian Calls President a Potato, Goes to Jail

He was speaking figuratively, say critic's supporters
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2014 3:25 PM CST
Zambian Calls President a Potato, Goes to Jail
Zambian President Michael Sata.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

A political foe of Zambia's president has been arrested and faces up to five years in prison for the crime of likening the president to a potato, reports the BBC. More precisely, a sweet potato. And even more precisely, in the native tongue, a "chumbu mushololwa." President Michael Sata did not take kindly to this, and opposition leader Frank Bwalya is paying the price. Bwalya's supporters insist that their man wasn't saying the president looked like a potato, only that he acted like one.

The phrase chumbu mushololwa "describes a person who lacks flexibility and who like a potato [icumbu] will only break when you try to change their fixed ideas," explains another opposition politician. The BBC notes that a newspaper editor in Zambia once got arrested for calling a previous president a "cabbage." And Global Post rounds up other political insults from southern Africa, including "limping donkey." (More Michael Sata stories.)

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