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Social media reacts to Obama-Zuma phone-call picture

The picture has divided opinion with some social media users calling SA President Jacob Zuma a ‘disgrace’ while others believe US President Barack Obama was ‘rude’ when he ‘chose to interrupt’.


A picture of US President Barack Obama making a phone gesture while shaking the hand of South African President Jacob Zuma, who was captured speaking on the phone, has caused a social media stir.

The picture was taken at a luncheon during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The picture has certainly divided opinion in the twitterverse and Facebook with some users questioning why President Zuma didn’t put the phone down to greet the American president. Some are even calling the act “embarrassing” and a “disgrace”.

Conversely, some social media users sprung to Zuma’s defence over the accusations of  his perceived lack of good social etiquette, and questioned why Obama instead “chose to interrupt”.

Interestingly, some tweeps chose to straddle the line of neutrality and noted that the picture is devoid of context, with one user saying: “The problem…is that you don’t know what preceded the shot, and what happened next”.

Timeslive asked its readers on Facebook, “Who’s more important to Zuma than Obama, that he didn’t put down the cellphone to greet the US president?”

As the debate rages on, here’s our selection of some of the comments in reaction to the trending picture.






Written by How Africa


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  1. Why ridicule Jacob Zuma as mannerless or disgrace, or Obama as rude?
    If they want to experience hobnob, especially if Obama wants to be or show casual, why try to read meanings into it? Besides being presidents are they not humans?

  2. Obama is the disgrace for mocking Zuma. yes Zuma wrong, but Zuma is older man, and Obama should show respect….but we know that both made mistakes. Zuma was not even their, but Obama could have control him self. but Americans are usually ignorant and have no class.

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