Lansing Mayor Andy Schor posted a picture of himself with the King of Togo on his Facebook page today.
The only problem: Togo has no king.
Schor posted several pictures Tuesday with what he says was the king of Togo and a delegation from Togo’s next-door neighbor, Benin.
But Togo has an elected president (although that man, Faure Gnassingbe, has ruled for 13 years after his father, who ruled for 38 years, died in 2005). The BBC says he was installed by military leaders in 2005, but that he was later elected and re-elected to the office.
It’s not clear which person in the picture with Schor is the one claiming to be king, but in the picture featuring the group holding the country’s flag, the people are holding the flag backwards.
The mayor’s office says the meeting features Aklasou Mawuko Kwami, who is not a political leader, but a traditional one whose title does not translate well into English. A spokesperson tells 6 News Kwami represents a “canton” in Togo, and the that the leaders of many cantons chose Kwami to be the “paramount chief.” Since it doesn’t translate well into English, the spokesperson says the closest title would be “king” and the city is affording him that level of respect.
The General Consul at the Togolese consulate in Miami tells 6 News that some people travel around claiming to be the “king of Togo” to solicit donations for causes or humanitarian needs.
But after reaching out to the Togolese Embassy, the mayor’s spokesperson said officials there confirmed his credentials.
But a spokesperson for Schor says this was just a meeting at the mayor’s office and that she is not aware of any deals that city leaders struck with the visitors. She also says Kwami was traveling on a diplomatic passport.