Kissing babies is a time-honoured part of political life, along with other forms of pressing the flesh. In fact, you’ll often hear politicians judged on how at ease they are performing random acts of weirdness. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney, for example, have been criticised for seeming a bit cold in their interactions with Jane and Joe Citizen, as though backslapping and small talk are the stuff of great Presidents.
In 1955, the Kabaka (the head honcho in Buganda, a kingdom of Uganda, where they speak Luganda...), who had been in exile for some years, made a triumphant return to Kampala. Thousands of people turned out to give him a rapturous welcome, there were parades, speeches, and endless ceremonies. Everywhere he went, the Kabaka paused to behave graciously towards his subjects.
Driving around town during one such ceremony, his motorcade ground to a halt, such were the crowds. A woman nearby, caught up in the crush, shouted, “My child will be killed!” The quick-thinking Kabaka snatched the child to safety and put it in the back seat of his car. Unfortunately, he then forgot about it when he got out of the car, and it wasn’t until some time later that his chauffer discovered it crying in the garage. The undoubtedly somewhat miffed child was returned to his undoubtedly somewhat worried mother when she came calling the next day, so all ended well.
But this just goes to show that kissing babies can be carried to extremes.*
* Uganda Argus, 22 October 1955. The Kabaka Rescued Baby from Danger of Crushing.