Heads of state are known for travelling abroad with a list of bizarre items such as their own toilets, furniture, drinking water and even gold-plated escalators.
But President Cyril Ramaphosa appears to have made himself an exception in the league of excellencies.
According to officials in the presidency, Ramaphosa travels with his own blanket to keep him warm at night when overseas, because he is not a fan of hotel linen.
Though presidency insiders could not describe “Cyril’s blanket”, his spokesperson, Khusela Diko, did confirm its existence.
“The president doesn’t have airs and graces … he never leaves the country without his personal blanket,” she said.
The officials said that, unlike other heads of state who were fussy about their travelling arrangements and related logistics, Ramaphosa was picky only about hotel linen and the kind of food served at hotels, especially the most important meal of the day, breakfast.
They said the president, known to keep fit with long morning walks, regularly packs enough salmon to have for breakfast over several days overseas until he returns home.
The other food item he never forgets to take along is biltong.
Diko said the president never leaves the country without salmon for breakfast.
“The president is very health conscious so he takes his own things for breakfast,” she said.
When snack time arrives, Ramaphosa snubs the hotel offering and opts for the goodies he packs from home — his own nuts and fruit.
Ramaphosa may insist only on his blanket and healthy food, but other presidents travel with some of the most bizarre items in their private jets, such as furniture and gold-plated escalators.
When China’s President Xi Jinping visited Johannesburg for a meeting of the Brics grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA in June, his security detail installed his own furniture during his stay at Sandton’s swanky Michelangelo hotel.
The Chinese president is also known for travelling with his own microphone to use for public addresses when abroad.
When former US president Barack Obama came to SA for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in 2013, the entire Radisson Blu Hotel in Johannesburg was booked for him and his entourage.
Obama occupied a penthouse, where the existing windows were replaced by his security detail, who are said to have also replaced the bathtub.
They even removed the pictures on the walls, it was reported.
On the rare occasion that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz leaves his country on international travel, his security detail brings along his own golden escalator for him to use to disembark from the plane.
Last year, reports indicated that the escalator malfunctioned during a trip to Moscow and the king had to walk down the now immobile staircase.
The king is also said to bring his own carpets when travelling abroad.
– Sunday times