Meme-spirited Mugabe

06 February 2015 - 02:33 By Andile Ndlovu

Zimbabwe's nonagenarian President Robert Mugabe has never been this funny.

After his fall down a staircase at Harare International Airport on Wednesday, the tweme (Twitter meme) generation indulged in some schadenfreude.

Within hours, the world saw Mugabe as it never has before.

It seems he was actually one of the dancers in Beyoncé's ubiqitous Single Ladies music video and that it was his intervention that caused Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard to trip and miss a tackle on Chelsea's Demba Ba - a mistake that cost Liverpool the English Premier League title.

Also, did you know Bob was a keen surfer, or that he is the only footballer who can mark Cristiano Ronaldo?

Did you know he could still get his freak on "for the first time in 10 years" à la Missy Elliott's comeback at this past weekend's Superbowl halftime show?

Social media quickly jumps onto a trend - but what exactly is a meme? How is it made and why is it often so funny?

A meme can be an image or phrase or even video that is altered for humorous effect for an appreciative internet audience that follows an immutable law: The Internet Never Forgets.

Internet memes are a new phenomenon but first use of the word "meme" occurred in British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins's 1976 bestseller, The Selfish Gene .

Dawkins used meme as a contraction of the Ancient Greek word "mimeme" meaning "imitated thing". He defined it as "an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture".

Almost anyone can create a meme, thanks to a variety of meme generator websites such as and With a few mouse-clicks, you could become a viral sensation . Or you could be the victim of the meme.

Mugabe's security personnel allegedly forced photographers to delete their pictures of the fall. Thank goodness they failed as spectacularly as their leader.

Two years ago, Beyoncé's publicity team tried to get websites to take down pictures of the star looking decidedly She-Hulk at her Superbowl halftime show . They, too, failed.

Let's hope Mugabe does not rule for another 35 years in revenge .

Zimbabwe's state media and spin doctors rushed to defend Mugabe's honour yesterday, saying "even Jesus" would have tripped under the circumstances.

"President Mugabe tripped over a poorly laid-out carpet ... but remarkably managed to break the fall before walking to his car, evidently unscathed," The Herald newspaper reported.

Information minister Jonathan Moyo said: "Misrepresentation and morbid celebrations by malcontents is the real news here."

Additional reporting by Kabelo Molepo and AFP