National Security Advisor Susan Rice offered condolences on Twitter Monday upon news of the death of Nigerian literary icon Chinua Achebe.
Except Achebe’s passing wasn’t news at all. The author of “Things Fall Apart” died in Boston on March 22, 2013, at the age of 82.
“A giant of African lit., he brought the Continent-and Nigeria, in particular-2 the world. His works left lasting impression on me & my gen,” Rice wrote in a second tweet.
The two messages are somewhat embarrassing, given that Rice has served in two prominent international roles. She was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013 and served as assistant secretary of state for African affairs between 1997 and 2001.
As UN ambassador, Rice generated outrage in the days after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. She appeared on multiple Sunday morning talk shows and claimed that the attacks — which left four Americans dead — were spontaneous and the result of locals’ outrage over a video produced in the U.S. which was deemed offensive to Muslims.
Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton traced the origin of the Rice’s most recent flub to Achebe’s New York Times obituary, which was tweeted out by some to mark the two-year anniversary of his death. But others — including Rice — took it as fresh news.
Rice deleted the two tweets and sent another one acknowledging her error.
Any occasion to remember the life & legacy of one of Africa’s greats, Chinua Achebe, is worth noting (+ a good reminder to read fine print!)
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) March 23, 2015