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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 September, 2004, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
Hilarity of Benn's Nigeria trip
Journalists travelling in Nigeria with UK Secretary for International Development Hilary Benn burst into laughter when they reached Enugu state.

Officials in the south-eastern state had prepared a huge banner to welcome "her," thinking Hilary was a woman.

But if he was upset, he certainly did not show it.

He later joked that one female foreign diplomat had told him that, if he was the first man to hold the job for some time, at least he had a woman's name.

When he told this joke to a crowd of officials and dignatories in the capital, Abuja, everyone burst out laughing, including Mr Benn.

But one Enugu city resident said it was an easy mistake to make, especially with the high-profile enjoyed by former US first lady and senator, Hillary Clinton.

"The first Hillary we know is a woman, so we were thinking this minister will also be a woman," he said.

To make matters worse, the officials who made the banner had also spelt his name wrong, calling him Hillary Ben.

The minister is in Nigeria to inspect projects funded by his department through the British Prime Minister Tony Blair's new Commission for Africa.

Profile of Hilary Benn
06 Oct 03  |  Politics


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