Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gender Agenda

[First published in December 2005]

Gender Agenda

Sara and I were still finishing a late breakfast when the front door flew open with a bang, and in strode a long pair of jeans balanced on top of platform shoes, and heaving a holdall that was holding all. Kupela was back from boarding school!
‘Koops!’ we both shouted, ‘You’re back early!’
‘Hah!’ she hooted, surveying the tranquil scene, and then coming to give us each a little condescending kiss, ‘The old folk haven’t moved! That’s the same breakfast I left you eating three months ago!’
‘How was school?’ I asked, ignoring her remark. ‘Did you learn anything this time?’
‘Learnt a lot about the gender agenda,’ she laughed. ‘That’s the advantage of going to a co-ed. It’s all sexual politics at Decay Secondary.’
‘So long as its not sexual athletics,’ said Sara sternly.
‘Don’t you be too sure,’ cackled Kupela. ‘The gymnasium has been converted into a dormitory.’
‘Don’t try to upset your mother,’ I said. ‘Just tell us about the politics.’
‘We had elections for next year’s Head Boy,’ she explained. ‘There were two candidates, and one was a girl!’
‘How can a girl be Head Boy?’ I wondered.
‘Why not,’ snapped Sara. ‘Am I not the Head Boy in this house?’
‘So you are, my dearest,’ I said. ‘Thanks for reminding me.’
‘So,’ Sara continued, ‘which girl stood for Head Boy?’
‘The dreaded Quack Quackwie,’ replied Koops. ‘We were flabbergasted. We’d always thought she was a boy. I mean, she enrolled as a boy, slept in the boys’ dormitory, was very arrogant, and always wore trousers. That’s what we mean by a boy at Decay.’
‘It’s what’s inside the trousers that counts,’ I laughed.
‘According to the school rules,’ Koops giggled, ‘we girls are not supposed to look.’
‘So all these years she’d been sleeping with the boys?’ asked Sara.
‘They didn’t know they’d been sleeping with a girl,’ said Koops.
‘I’m sure I would have noticed if I was sleeping with a girl,’ I said.
‘I’m sure I would have had you arrested,’ said Sara.
‘Then one day,’ continued Koops, ‘come the elections, Quack Quackwie ups and announces that she’s really a girl, and that she’s standing in the election. Then she immediately turned round on us girls and said we all had to vote for her, since she was a girl, and we’d never had a girl to vote for before. And to the boys she said that they’d better vote for her, since she’d always been one of the boys!’
‘So did the girls agree to vote for her?’
‘We were all very angry,’ said Koops. ‘All along Quack Quackwie had claimed to be a boy, and had been very bossy and rude to us girls. As a boy, she had got herself into the maths and physics class, while we girls were all sent to do domestic science and biology.’
‘So did she promise,’ asked Sara, ‘that when she became Head Boy, she’d end this discrimination against girls?’
‘Oh yes, of course,’ sneered Koops. ‘But we remembered how, when she was a boy, she used to laugh at us girls, saying we were too stupid to understand maths and physics! So now it was our turn to sneer at her, telling her that since she knew how to insult like a boy, she’d better stay as a boy!’
‘You should have had her properly examined,’ I said, ‘to find out whether she was really male or female.’
‘We did!’ replied Koops. ‘We took her to the National Gender Office Classification Committee, the NGOCC. After hours of careful examination they declared that Quack Quackwie is biologically female, but psychologically and politically male. Therefore, on balance, she was declared to be a boy.’
‘So she stood as a boy after all?’
‘Yes,’ said Koops. ‘So the boys didn’t vote for her, because they don’t like boys who pretend to be girls. And the girls didn’t vote for her, because they don’t like boys who insult them. So she came bottom of the poll.’
‘So she lost?’
‘No, she won. Because, according to the new Muwelewele Constitution, the candidate with the smallest number of votes is the winner.’
‘He was the previous Head Boy who insisted on standing for re-election, even though he was terribly unpopular. So he declared that unpopular leaders are always better, and changed the election rules accordingly.’
‘So what did the NGOCC say about Quack Quackwie winning?’
‘They immediately re-classified Quack Quackwie as a girl, and held a very expensive dinner dance at the Pa Modzi to celebrate Women’s Empowerment!’
‘How did they explain their sudden changing of Quack Quackwie’s gender classificatioin?’
‘They said they were implementing the SADC principle that more leaders should be women!’
‘And what was Quack Quackwie’s reaction?’
‘She was so pleased to be a girl again that she married the headmaster. Then she announced that, as a dutiful and obedient wife, she was now under the charge and supervision of her husband, so he would be in charge of everything.’
‘So what was the reaction of the students?’
‘That’s why I’m back early,’ said Koops. ‘We burnt the place down.’

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Patriachal Property

[First published in October 2005]

Patriarchal Property

The Local Court Justice leant forward on his bench, towards the woman standing in the witness box. ‘I understand that you, Ms Georgina Zambia, are petitioning this court for a divorce from your husband, Mr Patriarchal Property. Is that correct?’
‘Yes, Your Worship.’
The judge now leant forward to the portly figure of Mr Patriarchal Property, whose pompous paunch occupied the front pew. ‘And you, Mr Property, are you seeking a divorce from Ms Georgina Zambia?’
‘Certainly not!’ exclaimed Mr Property. ‘Firstly, the person in the witness box is not Ms Georgina Zambia. Since she became my property, she is Mrs Patriarchal Property. If she wants a divorce, she would have to seek my permission as head of household. Since she has not spoken to me about this, I have no opinion on the matter, and the case is null and void.’
‘On the contrary!’ contradicted Ms Zambia, ‘When I married him he was plain Peter Pauper, and I was the one with property. In those days, as Ms Zambia, I was a wealthy woman, owning mines, houses and filling stations. But when I married this Peter Pauper he took everything, calling himself Patriarchal Property.’
‘Is this true?’ asked the judge, turning to Mr Property.
‘When I married her she became my property,’ explained Patriarchal Property with portentous pomposity. ‘So all of her property became my property.’
‘Not true, Your Worship,’ protested Zambia. ‘The property remained in my name, I only asked him to manage it on behalf of Zambia Limited. But he paid himself such a large salary, and gave himself such huge loans and allowances, that all my companies went bankrupt.’
‘He ate all the companies?’ asked the judge in genuine wonderment and hushed respect. ‘What did he do with all the money?’
‘Adultery,’ sobbed Ms Zambia. ‘He bought girlfriends everywhere, and bought each of them a house and Merc. He is a serial adulterer!’
‘What do you say to this?’ asked the judge, turning to Patriarchal Property with a twinkle in his eye. ‘Are you really as successful as this accusation suggests?’
‘On the contrary,’ smirked the husband, ‘the accusation is entirely ridiculous and arises from my wife’s ignorance of the law. She knows that if she sleeps with another man, both she and her partner have committed adultery, and she foolishly  imagines that the same rule applies to me. But when I take a girlfriend, it merely means that I am seeking an additional wife, to which I am entirely entitled, since polygamy is allowed under customary law.’
‘Quite right,’ said the judge. ‘The very legal point I was about to make myself. We must keep to our traditions. A nation without kulcha is lost.’
‘But he has six wives and twenty-six girlfriends!’ exclaimed poor Ms Zambia.
‘I think she may be exaggerating,’ said pompous Property, as he pulled a little black notebook from his pocket and began to count .
‘He stole all my companies!’ cried Zambia.
‘Half a minute,’ said the judge, ‘I thought you said they were in your name.’
‘That’s how it was,’ sobbed Zambia, ‘until the new law that all companies belonging to Zambia Limited had to be sold off. So Patriarchal Property, being the manager, bought them all in a management buy-out, at one kwacha each.’
‘So cheap?’ wondered the judge.
‘They were all bankrupt,’ laughed Patriachal Property, ‘because I bankrupted them! It was all legally done!’
‘Very good,’ laughed the judge. ‘We must stick to the law!’ Now, turning to Ms Zambia he said ‘It seems we can’t find fault with your husband in his treatment of the marital property, which clearly belongs to him. So let me ask you about how well the children were looked after.’
‘Your Worship,’ sobbed Ms Zambia. ‘He does not provide for his children, neither those he has had with me, nor all his other children. He provides no food, no health care, no school fees, nothing. We are destitute.’
‘According to our tradition,’ said the judge, with a self-satisfied smile, ‘it is the mother’s duty to provide for her children. I have no wonder that your poor husband is bankrupt, if his greedy wives have been making such demands upon him. So I am still wondering what prompted you to bring this divorce petition. We may yet find some grounds somewhere. Does he treat you kindly?’
‘Your Worship, every time I ask him for something, or suggest something, he beats me!’
The judge now adopted a solemn tone. ‘Listen to me, Ms Zambia, or whatever you erroneously call yourself. Your husband is the head of the household and you must listen politely to all he says, with acceptance and gratitude. Naturally, if you are rude and unreasonable, and refuse to accept his authority, he is entirely entitled to discipline you. The divorce petition is denied. And let this be a lesson to other cheeky women who want to bring frivolous petitions before my court!’
So saying the judge got down from his bench, shook hands with Mr Property, then ran out of the court, jumped in his car and drove off. Ms Zambia turned to the Clerk of the Court, asking ‘Where’s the judge off to in such a hurry?’
‘He’s late for the UNIFEM meeting at Mulungushi Hall,’ laughed the Clerk. ‘He’s delivering a paper on Equal Rights for Women in Zambia.’

Friday, March 2, 2012

Gospel Truth

Gospel Truth

A fat little priest waddled to the pulpit, heaved himself up the steps, and slowly opened the Holy Book. ‘Its Father Slow Comacoma,’ Sara whispered, ‘I hope he doesn’t send us to sleep.’
We were attending the Ecumenical Service for the Resurrection of the Constitution, at the Anglican Cathedral. All around us sat the high and mighty, presenting faces of wise piety towards the Post photographer as he prowled the aisle, hoping for a mask to drop.
‘The First Lesson this morning,’ began Father Comacoma, ‘is taken from the Gospel according to St Kalaki, Chapter 66. As Jesus and his disciples were walking to the Great Temple in Jerusalem they came upon a Samaritan lying in the gutter. And Paul spoke to him, saying “Are you not the Good Samaritan who is supposed to rescue people from the gutter? But now we find you are also in the gutter! Are you deliberately seeking to mock the scriptures and attract the wrath of the Lord?
‘But Jesus put his hand gently on the arm of Paul, saying “Rest your tongue awhile my dear brother, for you have entered the wrong parable. This poor fellow is not the Good Samaritan, he is the Refugee Samaritan. Then turning to the Samaritan he asked “What troubles have flung you so far from your native city?”
‘And the Samaritan answered him, saying “The people of Samaria are poor and starving because our king has invited the Romans to take all our copper and tin, and we are reduced to slaves in our own mines. Samaria is left with no surplus wealth to employ doctors or teachers or artists. Our philosophers and thinkers have all fled to Egypt. Now there is money only for the Romans, and for the King.”
‘Then Jesus turned to his disciples, saying “We shall set forth immediately for the City of Samaria, to bring the authority of My Father to bear upon the wicked King Chibulukutu of Samaria!”
‘This is very strange,’ whispered Sara. ‘I thought this was the crucial point at which Jesus cops out, and says Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s!’
‘The Bible is full of contradictions,’ I explained. ‘The Gospel according to St Kalaki tells a different story.’
And when Jesus and his disciples entered the city,’ continued Father Comacoma, ‘they found King Chibulukutu standing on the hill in the centre of the city, addressing a great multitude, saying “I am a listening king, here to serve your interests. If you want things organised differently, just let me know what you want, and you can trust me to follow your wishes.” And the king spoke very nicely, for he was reading a speech that had been written by his advisers. And the people cheered when they heard that the king had seen reason at last.
‘But now the King Chibulukutu looked up from the parchment, and cleared his throat. His eyes bulged, the sky went dark and thunder rumbled as he shouted at the crowd, “But remember that I was appointed by God to rule over you, and therefore to challenge me is to challenge the authority of God. So if you think you can change the way this city is run, let me remind you that challenging the authority of the state is treason, and challenging the authority of God is blasphemy.”
‘And the people cowered and trembled with fear as the king spluttered and spat in the faces of his people, “You can shout for change until you are blue in the face, you can shout out your tongues until they fall on the ground, but I warn you all that if you challenge my authority then I will have you crucified on this very hill.”
‘And now Jesus rose up in a terrible rage, saying “No man may claim the authority of God, for it is written in the Commandments that no man may take the name of the Lord his God in vain. My Father in Heaven appoints no man as king, but demands that all kings must follow the scriptures!”
‘Doesn’t the Pope claim to have been appointed by God?’ wondered Sara.
‘Yes,’ I admitted. ‘But God himself has remained strangely quiet on the subject.’
‘And even as Jesus spoke,’ said Father Comacoma solemnly, still reading from the Holy Book, ‘a bolt of lightening came down from Heaven and struck the mouth of the king. And so, at long last, the king finally fell silent. His tongue was gone. By daring to shout about God, he had shouted out his own tongue.
‘And so Jesus had performed another miracle. For without his tongue, the king had to listen to his people, and could not answer back. So he had to follow the wishes of the people.’
‘For it is written in the scriptures,’ said Sara, ‘that a silent king is a gift from God.’

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Iron King

First published in November 2005.

The Iron King

‘Grandpa! Grandpa! I’m back from school! Mummy’s still at work! So I’ve come here! Can I have a Fanta?’
‘Yawrauagha!’ I replied, trying to rouse myself from the sofa, where I had fallen into a coma, sunk by the hot afternoon. Back she came dancing from the kitchen, skinny little legs sticking out of a dusty blue uniform, all bright and breezy. I still lay there unconscious, like a corpse in a coffin.
‘You’re so energetic, Grandpa,’ she laughed. ‘You must have been working so hard all day that you needed this little rest. You’re so lucky that you’re still young, and with the strength to work so hard.’
I sat up slowly, painfully and suspiciously. ‘Thoko,’ I said, ‘what were you learning about at school today?’
‘Irony,’ she said. ‘It’s a clever way of talking, where you say something quite different from what you really mean, or even say the complete opposite!’
‘How very helpful!’ I sneered.
‘There you are, Grandpa!’ laughed Thoko, ‘you’re getting the idea! You need to know these things now that you’ve got a job writing in the newspaper!’
‘So was this irony invented by your teacher as a new way of failing exams?’
‘It all began a long time ago, and was named ‘irony’ in honour of the Iron King.’
‘Why was he called the Iron King?’ I wondered.
‘Because he would never listen to anybody. Talking to him was like talking to a lump of iron. People used to say that his head was made of solid iron. He never listened to what people wanted, and he never listened to advice. So he became known as the Iron King.’
‘So did people get into trouble for calling him the Iron King?’
‘People used to bow and say Thank you, O Iron King. And the King took this as a great compliment, thinking that he was being called big, strong, and powerful. But what they really meant was that he was hard, unbending and inhuman.’
‘So they said one thing, while meaning the opposite?’
‘Exactly,’ said Thoko.
‘But did the teacher explain why they couldn’t just say what they meant? Why couldn’t one of his advisers just go to the king and say Look here, Comrade Kingy, if you’re going to govern properly, you must listen to what people are saying, and take advice, otherwise you’ll soon be out on your ear, old chap!’
‘Grandpa!’ laughed Thoko. ‘Didn’t you do History at school? You couldn’t talk to a king like that. And definitely not the Iron King. You had to grovel on the floor and lick his boots, and then praise his ugly face for its beauty, and his iron head for its wisdom. Otherwise the king would have you thrown in jail!’
‘So people learned to praise him ironically?’
‘It became an art form,’ laughed Thoko. ‘People would say things like We are so lucky, O King, that you have God’s guidance in running this country, so there is no need for you to listen to the contradictory and ignorant voices of ordinary mortals like us!’
‘Or they might say How lucky we are, we thin and starving people, to have such a fat and wealthy king, that we may follow your fine example, and become prosperous like you!
 ‘Or they might say O Great Iron King, when you call us dirty and stinking, we do appreciate the elevated university vocabulary with which you describe our inexcusable poverty and our rotten diseases. We promise to work harder to smell sweeter in your most delicate royal nostrils, O Beloved King!’
‘But did the king realise he was being criticised?’ I wondered.
‘Of course not,’ laughed Thoko. ‘He was far too foolish to see through the irony.’
‘So what was the point of all this irony, if it was lost on the king?’
‘Because,’ explained Thoko, ‘it helped people to keep their self-respect. All the nation, except of course the king, was able to enjoy the delicious irony of all this bogus praise!’
‘So people began to realise that the king was a fool?’
‘They began to whisper to each other, firstly in dark corners. Then in the cafes and taverns. Then in the streets. First quietly, then more loudly. The king is foolish! The king is arrogant! Then a terrible thing happened. A newspaper printed what everybody already knew! The king was furious! He couldn’t believe it! The editor was thrown in jail! An example had to be made of him, otherwise the whole country would have had to be thrown in jail!’
‘My God!’ I exclaimed. ‘That couldn’t happen here!’
‘Why do you say that?’ laughed Thoko.
‘Because,’ I said, ‘This is a democracy!’
‘Well done, Grandpa!’ Thoko laughed. ‘You’ve learnt to speak ironically!’

Friday, February 17, 2012

Death Trap

Published in December 2003, this piece looked back at the time, ten years earlier, when our Football Heroes were sent to their deaths by a government that gave them an old rickety aeroplane that wasn’t airworthy…

Death Trap

I scanned the array of empty chairs in the vast sitting room. Nobody there at all. I was just about to leave when I spotted the wrinkled and diminutive Kafupi Kadoli, sitting up like a cocky cockroach in the corner of a huge white leather armchair. ‘Kafupi!’ I said, as I went over to greet him, ‘Where is everybody? Have all your friends deserted you?’
‘Certainly not!’ he laughed, ‘They’re all down at the magistrate’s court, where my case is coming up later this morning. Do excuse me for not standing up to greet you, but it’s such a struggle to climb back up onto this chair.’
‘That’s life,’ I said. ‘Once you slip down, it’s always difficult to climb back up. Maybe you could apply to the Physiotherapy Department at the UTH to be given a little ladder.’
‘Certainly not!’ he snapped. ‘I’ve always been against government assistance for the handicapped. Anyway Kalaki, what brings you here today? To talk about ladders?’
‘Of course not. I came to ask you about the Aeroplane Disaster of 1993.’
‘Hah! Nowadays The Post seems to be entirely preoccupied with resurrecting corpses from ten years ago. Maybe you should change the paper’s name to The Postmortem.
‘Were you the one responsible for the crash?’
‘Hah! Certainly not! I have a perfect alibi! I was on an official trip to Bujumbura at the time of the disaster. Four thousand kilometres from the scene of the crime!’
‘But you were in Lusaka when the decision was taken to use the ill-fated aircraft. So you must have been implicated.’
‘Certainly not!’ he retorted. ‘That was two days before the crash happened, and two thousand kilometres away from where it happened. So how could I have been involved?’
‘It is claimed that the aircraft was a death trap.’
‘Certainly not! It was a Blundering Bugaboo, made in Canada in 1923.’
‘But were you not the one who took the decision to use this ancient old Bugaboo?’
‘Certainly not! The decision was taken by the officer in charge of all our Blundering Bugaboos, Air Marshall Shaky Shikashiwa.’
‘Perhaps he advised you against using the plane, and you overruled him?’
‘Certainly not! I ruled over him, but I didn’t overrule him.’
‘But you demanded blind loyalty?’
‘Certainly not. I allowed him to open his eyes and have a look at the plane.’
‘He reported that one wing was loose. Wasn’t that dangerous?’
‘Certainly not! I made a point of showing him that there was a perfectly good spare wing on the other side.’
‘Is it true that one engine was getting too hot?’
‘Certainly not! Engines are supposed to get hot.’
‘Since you left earlier for Bujumbura, I wonder why you didn’t use the Blundering Bugaboo? If it was such a nice plane, wasn’t it also suitable for you?’
‘Certainly not. My wife was far too large to fit through the small door of the Bugaboo. So reluctantly we had no choice but to settle for the luxury Boeing 737 with the en suite bathroom.’
‘So the Bugaboo wasn’t a death trap?’
‘Certainly not.’
‘So you don’t feel responsible for the death of the Fallen Heroes.’
‘Certainly not, Kalaki. In fact, that would be logically impossible. You see, it is only possible to become a Fallen Hero after death, so nobody can cause the death of a Fallen Hero. Perhaps you meant to ask whether I should feel responsible for turning these young men into Fallen Heroes.’
‘And do you feel responsible?’
‘Certainly not! It was the outpouring of national grief that turned them into Fallen Heroes. I certainly wouldn’t want to claim any special responsibility for that. Although I was careful to make sure that I wept more than anybody else.’
‘Because you felt responsible?’
‘Because, as a great leader, I had to take the lead.’
‘It was a national tragedy.’
‘Every cloud has a silver lining. It provided a marvellous national re-awakening. It brought us together as a nation after a period of political division and acrimony.’
‘But it was also a time of much murmuring that that our leaders did not care for the people’s heroes, who were negligently sent to their fate in a rickety old death trap. That must have been a great embarrassment to the government.’
‘Certainly not! Simply not true! On the contrary, people understood that it was not the business of government to be providing air transport. They soon understood that government funds were meant only for government leaders, and not ordinary citizens, who should pay for themselves.’
‘To stay alive?’
‘The date of death of each of us is set by the Lord, and it is not the business of the government to try to interfere with the will of God. That is why we declared ourselves to be a Christian Nation.’
‘And the government gave them a Christian burial.’
‘Since the day of the Fallen Heroes, people have now become accustomed to mass funerals. And government has also become more experienced in assisting people to pass quickly through the agonies of life in order to reach Heaven at the earliest opportunity, in order to re-unite with their Fallen Heroes.’
Just then Kadoli’s secretary put his head round the door. ‘The Minister for Shushushu, Air Marshal Shaky Shikashiwa, has sent a limousine for your trip to court. It’s already waiting outside. Shall I tell the driver to wait?
‘Certainly not!’ screamed Kafupi. ‘It might be a death trap!’

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Trough

This piece, first published in July 2002, looks at the corruption in our rotten judiciary…

    The Trough              

             ‘Spectator Kalaki,’ grunted the Judge, ‘you were supposed to appear before this court four weeks ago.  Where have you been?’
             ‘I was taken into psychiatric care, My Lord.  But now I’ve been discharged.’
             ‘Not by this court, you haven’t!’ laughed Justice Pig, squealing with delight at his own remark.  ‘Mr. Judas Musangu, you’re the prosecuting counsel, remind me of the charge on which we intend to find this man guilty.’
             ‘Defamation,’ declared Musangu, as Judge Pig put his long snout into the trough at the front of the bench, pulled out a few dollar bills, rolled them around his mouth, and swallowed them with a loud belch.
             ‘You must address me as My Lord,’ declared the judge sternly.  ‘We must have respect for the judiciary.’
              ‘My profound apologies, My Lord,’ said Musangu, bowing low towards the bench, and slipping a few dollar bills into the judge’s trough to show even further respect.
              ‘That’s more like it,’ declared the Pig, leaning back in his chair and stroking the hairs on his belly with genuine affection.
               ‘This man Kalaki,’ continued Musangu, ‘defamed my respected client, Mupupu Kafupi, the internationally famous thief.  Kalaki misused his column in the Gutter press to declare that the Thief is the President.’
              ‘Not that the President is the Thief?’
              ‘Same thing. My Learned Lord.  If God is King, then King is God.’
              ‘Your argument is based on a very sound constitutional principle,’ agreed the Judge. ‘So proceed with questioning Kalaki, then I’ll sentence him.’
              ‘Spectator Kalaki,’ began Musangu, ‘did you write in your column that the Thief is the President?’
               ‘Even if I did, the question remains of why Kafupi imagined that he was the thief to whom I referred? There are so many thieves to whom I might have been referring.’
               ‘Come off it, Kalaki.  He is the most famous thief in the land.  He is not just any thief, he is our most famous thief. That is why he is famously and affectionately known by his many admirers as The Paramount Thief, or sometimes more informally as The Thief. He rose from stealing tomatoes and school certificates, through to stealing a widow’s inheritance, then government houses, until in the end he stole a whole copper mine.  A capitalist dream of rags to riches.  No den of thieves is complete without a picture of their Paramount Thief on the wall.  When you mention The Thief, everybody knows you mean Kafupi.’
              ‘That is what they may infer, but not necessarily what I imply. But if people think I refer to Kafupi, how have I defamed him by calling him the President? Is it not a great honour to be the President?’
               ‘Really, Spectator Kalaki, don’t get smart with me! You know very well that in the last ten years all our hospitals and schools were destroyed, starvation stalks the land, and millions have died.  A time of bogus trials, false imprisonment, torture, murders and assassinations. You know that if the person responsible for all this can be found, he will certainly be hung. And yet you have suggested that my client, The Popular Thief, our famous Mupupu Kafupi, was actually the one responsible for all this destruction and destitution!’
              ‘But did not little Kafupi prance around in high heels and flashy suits, calling himself President?  Am I the one responsible for that?’
               ‘Mr. Kalaki, really! You know very well that Kafupi was the President of MMD, the Matrix for Money Diversion, an association of common thieves and criminals. He always made it very clear, in word and action, that he was President for only MMD, and not for all Zambia.’
              ‘Perhaps so.  But wasn’t he actually elected as President of Zambia?’
              ‘Really, Kalaki, try to be honest with yourself. You are the very one who has written extensively claiming that the Constitution was hijacked, elections rigged and votes bought. You claimed that the whole of the electoral process was so corrupted that we did not have a President of Zambia, but only a President of Corruption! Now you dare to come here and claim he was duly elected!’
             ‘But everybody else thought that little Kafupi was the President!’
             ‘Half a minute, ‘interrupted Judge Pig, lazily lifting his drooling snout out of the dollar trough, ‘I happened to hear a bit of what you were saying. I was the very judge who presided over the election petition. I can therefore tell you authoritatively that Kafupi was not the man who was elected as President. We never discovered quite who it was, only that it was not Kafupi.’
             So saying, the Judge’s snout fell back into the trough, and rummaged around, soon coming up with another mouthful of dollars. ‘Look at these documents,’ he grunted, as he chewed the dollars thoughtfully. ‘This is the very evidence on which I based my decision.’
              At this point Musangu emptied the contents of a large brown paper bag into the trough. ‘And in view of this further evidence,’ continued the Judge, ‘I find Spectator Kalaki guilty of defamation, and sentence him to be locked up. Locked up! Locked up! …’

               ‘Wake up! Wake up!’ I opened my eyes, to find Sara sitting at my bedside in Chainama Hospital. ‘You’ve been discharged! You weren’t insane, after all! Judge Ngulube was on the take, just as you said!’
               ‘I know,’ I replied. ‘I saw his snout in the trough.’

Thursday, January 26, 2012

St Ignominious

Back in August 2000, a priest was explaining how a Christian Nation could also be a Police State…

                 St Ignominious

It was rather late when Sara and I slipped into the Sunday morning service at St Ignominious. The congregation was just beginning the Lord’s Prayer ...

Our Christian Nation, which art in Zambia,
Hallowed be thy name;
Thy terror come
To us in Lusaka, as it is in Jerusalem.
Save us each day from daily dread,
And forgive our legislators,
As we forgive those who legislate against us;
Protect us from the Secret Police,
And deliver us from evil.

By now Father Mupulumpunshi was already in the pulpit, ready to begin one of his meandering sermons ...

‘As we sit here this morning in the Church of the Most Magnificent Deity, many of you have been asking yourselves whether things have really changed for the better since we became a Christian Nation. Do we have Good Governance? Do we have God’s Governance?

‘Look into your soul, and ask yourself honestly. Was your faith shaken when you turned on your radio this morning, and heard that armed police had invaded the house of Bululu Mwila? Admit a small sinful thought! Did you not say to yourself that it reminded you of the Mad Munshumfwa’s Dictatorship, rather than the Good Governance of God?

But I say to you,’ he cried, raising his arms to Heaven, ‘where is your faith? Where is your loyalty? Who are we, as mere mortals, to question the Most Magnificient Deity?

‘I know what you thought!’ he trumpeted, ‘when the Chief of Police could not explain it, and the Minister of Home Affairs knew nothing about it! I can see it in your eyes,’ he said, leaning forward and pointing an accusing finger at the congregation. ‘You thought that they were evil men, and that they were lying!

‘Oh ye of little faith! Have you not considered that they were struck dumb by the sight of a miracle! Was this not the angels of the Lord descending on a sinner? The Great Shepherd descending on his flock! What could mere mortals say about an Act of God! Theirs was the silence of the lambs!

‘When the Lord sends his Heavenly Police to descend directly to deal with sinners, he does not need to inform the Chief of Police or the Minister! Let alone the Magistrate! The Lord does not need a search warrant! I refer you to the Word of God! I ask you, where is the Magistrate’s Court in the Book of Genesis?

‘Do you think because the Heavenly Police found nothing, then the raid was a waste of time? Think again! If the Lord visits you tomorrow night and finds nothing, are you innocent? Instead of faith, he finds nothing! Instead of belief, he finds nothing! Instead of blind loyalty, he finds nothing! Then you are guilty! How then will you get to Heaven? Will you not go to Hell?

‘So it was with Bululu Mwila. The Heavenly Police searched his house all night and found nothing. Neither bible nor hymn book. Neither prayer book nor liturgy. Neither rosary nor crucifix. Not even a picture of Our Lord! The house of a fallen sinner!

‘Our Lord is a fisherman, and every night he must go on his fishing expeditions. But before you scorn a fallen sinner, ask yourself if you are ready to be visited by the Heavenly Fishermen.

He raised up his eyes, and addressed the stained glass windows with fervour. ‘But for the righteous amongst us, the Lord is our shepherd, and we are his sheep. We must follow him, and obey his every word. If we have blind loyalty and faith, then we need not fear the Heavenly Police.

‘So that is my message to you today. Now all rise to sing Psalm 23.’

As the organ struck the first note, we all burst into song ...

The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not scream,
He makes me down to lie;
On Nondo’s swing he tortures me
The quiet waters by.

My house he doth invade again
And me to walk doth make;
Under the threat of pointed gun
Even for my Leader’s sake.

Yea, when I walk in death’s dark vale
Then I shall fear much ill;
For he is with me, and his rod
And staff are meant to kill.

Torment and terror all my life
Shall surely follow me;
And in Red Brick forevermore
My dwelling place shall be.

Dark clouds scurried across the sky as Sara and I hurried away from the church.

‘What do you think to the priest’s question?’ I asked. ‘Do you think God has really taken over?’

‘Difficult to say,’ she said. ‘Either God or the Devil.’