What would you buy (because you worked hard or you owned an African country), if you could afford anything in the world, the distance be damned?
Long before we knew we could order anything from Amazon, rich Africans (how they made their money not being the point here) have been flexing by ordering anything and everything from wherever in the world it is.
Distance is an idea when you are wealthy, or taxpayers can foot the bill. Sometimes its blood you buy, which your country needs, but other times its just your favourite stick in the world.
7. Let them eat cake, and curry?
For an undisclosed period in 2014, an unnamed client from a country in East Africa made weekly delivery requests for a curry from his favorite restaurant in Europe. [Link]
He couldn’t get it at home so he had it delivered, week after week, across continents. I guess it’s not true what they say about there being food at home.
In 2013, a Nigerian client asked DHL to deliver a fresh birthday cake from Abuja to Lagos (flying distance 536kms) at a specific time of the day. The delivery cost three times the value of the cake, and that’s when you don’t consider the airfare of the on-flight courier.
Yes, the cake had a minder!
But even that fades in comparison with a single delivery of a fully prepared five-course dinner for 8 people in Zimbabwe in 2013. The client and the country from where the food was sourced and prepared were never disclosed. Other than expensive culinary tastes, the delivery was motivated by limitations in acquiring certain ingredients within Zimbabwe.
Instead of getting those ingredients though, the client asked for a meal that was ready to serve.
In the early 2010s, a customer whose two sons were getting married on the same day decided he wanted something specific and extremely heavy. For the joint wedding, a courier company delivered 1.7 tons of fresh flowers from Johannesburg in South Africa to Douala in Cameroon.
Fresh flower exports are not uncommon but this single delivery for a single event was as quirky and as expensive a flex as they come.
4. Sticks…and a magazine
In 1981, while headed to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Melbourne, Australia, then Kenya’s President and then Organization of African Unity Chair Daniel Arap Moi accidentally dropped and broke his rungu in New York.
The rungu, made of ivory and either gold- or silver-tipped, was only one of many, but the others were all the way back home. So what did his aides do?
“We had to stay in Honolulu, Hawaii because we had telephoned Nairobi, we got one of Mzee’s personal assistants called Peter Rotich. We told him to take two ivory batons go to Southern Africa and fly to Australia before we got there,” his spokesman, Lee Njiru says.
Rotich flew first class (as Njiru would another time when Julia Ojiambo forgot her credentials in Nairobi and he had to take them to her to access the UN), and “had to be there before Moi lands in Australia, since Mzee Moi had to greet people waving the baton which was akin to President Kenyatta’s fly whisk.”
But Moi doesn’t even win for getting his PA to fly halfway around the world to bring him his stick. Once, former DRC dictator Mobutu Sese Seko forced his pilot to fly back to Paris to fetch a magazine his wife (the story doesn’t say which wife exactly, because he had several, including twins) had forgotten in their chateau there. The urgency is astounding since she could have waited for the next month’s shopping trip to the European capital.
Someone in South Africa sent his laundry via courier from the UK to South Africa for dry cleaning. He had ostensibly found a dry cleaner he liked and decided to move mountains to get to him. Although the quantity was not mentioned, it is likely it does not match the weight that Kenya’s independence Attorney General, Charles Njonjo, was said to move to have his trademark pinstripe suits dry cleaned in London.
The Miller Commissioner of Inquiry [Link] , which marked his fall from grace, dedicated an entire section to his laundry, or rather his refusal to pay customs for it. In 1981, Njonjo waltzed through customs with 270kg excess luggage and later refused to pay the $363 (by today’s exchange rate) duty required.
2. Other Despots and Deliveries
One man whose deliveries for a single day of festivities are yet to be trumped is Jean-Bedel Bokassa of the Central African Republic.
For his coronation in 1977, he imported eight horses from Normandy to pull his carriage. Two of the exotic horses died while on the job and forced him and his empress to use a limousine instead.
Bokassa also shipped in tonnes (literally) of caviar. There were also 60, 000 bottles of champagne and burgundy, a Cardin and a Lavin wardrobe for him and the empress, a $750, 000 gold crown and a two-ton gold-plated eagle-shaped throne. Most of these were delivered from Paris and other cities in France, the same place the aid he was using up had come from. The coronation itself lasted six hours and only had a quarter of the invited guests. The festivities though, lasted over the next two days.
- Gadhafi’s Tent and Camels
Whenever he flew around the world, former Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi always carried a rather heavy taste of home with him; an expansive, modified and modernized Bedouin tent, camels, and horses. The perfumed and climate-controlled tent was so expansive and heavy it was always flown in a separate plane. Its accompanying logistics and setup crews also flew in the entourage to set it up in Paris, Rome, Moscow, New York, and other cities.
Once pitched, Gadhafi always had a camel or a horse, sometimes two of each, tied to a post at the entrance to give it an even more authentic feel. To Belgrade, Yugoslavia, he took two horses and six camels.
He then donated the camels to the Belgrade Zoo.
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Last modified: March 1, 2020