Egypt has found itself in the eye of a diplomatic storm after its Deputy Minister for Environment called Sub-Saharan Africans “dogs and slaves” in Arabic at a UN conference in Nairobi. His fellow African representatives say his comments have eroded gains made in fostering unity among nations on the continent.
Comments by a senior Egyptian official at a United Nations Environmental Assembly meeting in Nairobi last week have sparked a diplomatic furor. It has emerged that when a disagreement arose among the member states over a resolution on Gaza, Egypt’s Deputy Minister for Environment got so worked up he referred to Sub-Saharan Africans as “dogs and slaves” in Arabic.
Details about what is no doubt a full-fledged diplomatic incident only became public after a memo written by Yvonne Khamati, the Chairperson of the African Diplomatic Corps (ADC) Technical Committee, to the Dean of the Africa Diplomatic Corps Ambassador Kelebert Nkomani leaked online. In the memo, Khamati gives a fly-on-the-wall recount of the build up to the disgusting comments from the Egyptian official.
“During the closing session of UNEA-2, 24 resolutions were adopted by member States, which was a triumph for most countries, especially African countries. However, divisions arose when the resolution on Gaza was not adopted due to procedural issues, that is, a lack of quorum because most delegations had left. As a result, a few African delegations consulted with the delegation of Morocco, in their capacity as Chair of the Arab League and Egypt, with the view to dissuade them from nullifying the resolutions that had already been adopted before the issue of quorum was raised.”
“During our consultations with Egypt, the head of the Egyptian delegation and current President of AMCEN dismissed our concerns by informing that they would speak in their sovereign capacity and to that extent, referred to Sub-Saharan Africa as DOGS AND SLAVES, in Arabic.”