African April Fool's Day Hoaxes
In Stellenbosch, South Africa, four masked men entered a bank, aimed water pistols at the staff, and declared, "This is a holdup. Hand over the cash."
The terrified teller handed over the money. The alarm went off. Then the men threw the cash back, shouted "April Fool" and fled the scene in a car.
Rat Fur Coats.
The South African Johannesburg Star ran a story exposing an illicit ring of rat furriers. It said the police had raided a sewer where the ratters were breeding a special strain of imported Irish rats and selling the pelts as mink, seal skin, and other furs. Hundreds of rat fur coats had been sold. Women were warned that if their coats smelled fishy, they were probably made of rat fur. As a result of the story, furriers were besieged with calls from worried customers. After receiving complaints, the Star reminded its readers that the story had been run on April 1st.
The Sunday East African Standard in Kenya printed an advertisement and a back-page story profiling a new mobile phone service provider called Kencom Limited. The new mobile phones would come with built-in scratch cards, internet service, videocams, and TV screens. What's more, service would cost a low rate of only four shillings per minute. To make the service even more attractive, a coupon was offered with the enticement that the first 3,000 people to submit the coupon would receive free phones. By noon, over 5,000 entry forms had already been submitted to the East African Standard Town Office in Nairobi. Among the hopefuls dropping off coupons were said to be top military personnel, politicians, and businessmen.
The Return of Idi Amin.
Tanzania's Sunday Observer reported there was panic in the town of Tabora when former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin was seen walking down the main street of the town dressed in a kilt. Accompanying him were an entourage of armed, semi-naked warriors, 37 of his children, and a member of the Saudi royal family. The Observer noted: "Unfortunately, because of the presence of the Saudi prince, nobody was allowed to photograph this unique whistle-stop visit." At the time, Amin was actually living in exile in Saudi Arabia. He had been deposed from power in 1979 by rebels backed by Tanzanian forces.
Kenyan Troops To Serve in Iraq.
Kenya's East African Standard reported that the US forces in Iraq were actively recruiting reinforcements from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan. Troops from these regions were supposedly better adapted to desert conditions which were giving the US forces a "rough time."
Saddam Hussein Offered Job in South Africa.
South Africa's Afrikaans-language Beeld newspaper scooped its rivals by reporting that, in a last minute deal to avoid war, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had accepted an offer of exile in South Africa. In exchange he would run South Africa's oil industry. Details of the arrangement included: Hussein would be given a game farm on which to live, and he would travel in a jet outfitted with a missile defense system. The US was said to be happy about the deal because it would make Hussein "somebody else's problem."
South Africa's Kulula airline announced that selected flights would soon be landing on new water runways near Cape Town and Durban harbours and Hartebeespoort Dam in Gauteng. Passengers would embark and disembark from piers and be ferried to the planes by water shuttles. The airline noted that the new runways should help "curb rising airport traffic congestion and high airport taxes."
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.