But great dictators, or their acolytes, do not like cameras capturing them in their vulnerable moments. So what happened next was what happens routinely: Zimbabwe's government issued a denial.
"Nobody has shown any evidence of the president having fallen down because that did not happen," Information Minister Jonathan Moyo told the state-owned Zimbabwe Herald.
His confidence was perhaps based on the fact that he thought they had got the evidence destroyed as a number of journalists told the Associated Press they were forced to delete their pictures of the incident by the 90-year-old leader's security personnel.
Some photos clearly survived, as did the video. And they showed up on the internet which of course does not believe in letting such opportunities go waste.
The usual spin followed. "The hump on which the president tripped was formed by two pieces of the carpet which apparently, had not been laid out properly where they joined," Mayo added as a further defence. "And to be honest with you, even Jesus, let alone you, would have also tripped in that kind of situation."
He elaborated: "In the circumstances, there’s really nothing to write home about the nonsensical celebrations by malcontents who are imagining a fall that never was since it was actually broken by the president himself.”
It was inevitable for the Streisand effect to kick in, and it did: the photograph was ruthlessly photoshopped into a meme quicker than an ace coming off a tennis racquet.
The #MugabeFalls meme trended on Twitter and users took turns at taking jibes at the Zimbabwean President who turns 91 on February 21:
#MugabeFalls - I Saw It First pic.twitter.com/3zU1mgKOZD
— Simon Kaheru (@skaheru) February 4, 2015
Run Mugabe, Run:
Caption This........ #MugabeFalls pic.twitter.com/TGrrUzAQrx
— Follow IG:@XtianDela (@xtiandela) February 5, 2015
Even from animals:
My fave #MugabeFalls #MugabeMeme (so far) pic.twitter.com/5kmIFRdbVD — Ian Bredenkamp (@IanBredenkamp) February 5, 2015
On top of things:
OK, so I just had to make one too: The Neverending Dictatorship #MugabeFalls pic.twitter.com/1VEYjy2bNo — griffin (@watkykjy) February 5, 2015
As Michael Jackson:
♫ ♬ Mugabe, are you OK? Are you OK, Mugabe? You’ve been tripped by A smooth CRIMINAL !♬ ♫ #MugabeFalls pic.twitter.com/Rxz4tnq2de — Lee Healey (@HealeyCartoons) February 5, 2015
Yes, he can give it quite a whirl:
This #MugabeFalls craziness is solid gold. pic.twitter.com/zlJTh0Y5pV — Barry Malone (@malonebarry) February 5, 2015
Taking on Usain Bolt, the fastest man on Earth:
Mugabe joins the IAAF Diamond League pic.twitter.com/uglHwLIlNM — Ninja Samurai (忍者) (@verbstract) February 4, 2015
As an expert surfer:
Robert #Mugabe hanging 10. (cc @Smith_RFKennedy @OtimMichael) pic.twitter.com/DSCS1hnFii — Todd Moss (@toddjmoss) February 4, 2015
Just where he belongs:
Mugabe shows ICC who's boss! #MugabeFalls pic.twitter.com/q4EhslXvxL — #TeamAriane (@MweneGatete) February 4, 2015
As an expert Quidditch player?:
I don't remember seeing Mugabe playing quidditch in Harry Potter. pic.twitter.com/jPjauFjjgn — °Garth° (@iapperture) February 4, 2015
Ever the leader:
The road to democracy #Mugabe pic.twitter.com/X4g8kWdaBs
— Wateba 2.0 (@iWateba) February 5, 2015