Thursday, April 28, 2011


[This piece was written in June 1998, when Nigeria was celebrating the untimely death of the most notorious of all their presidents, General Sani Abacha]

Tribute to a Great Leader

‘We are gathered here today,’ intoned the Archbishop, ‘to say farewell to our Great Beloved Leader, General Aberration Abacha.’

The Archbishop was standing in front of the altar of the great cathedral, and next to the coffin of the Fallen Leader. I was in Gineria, with my old friend Iyiola Oluwi, attending the funeral.

‘Man that is born of woman hath but a short time to live,’ began the Archbishop.

‘What about a woman that is born of woman?’ I whispered to Iyiola.

‘She hath a longer time to live,’ he chuckled, ‘because she doesn’t drink so much.’

‘But in his short life,’ continued the Archbishop, ‘he became the Father of the Nation, and an example to us all.’

‘Rumour has it,’ whispered Iyiola, ‘that he fathered an entire new tribe.’

The Archbishop walked to the coffin and placed his hand on the lid...

‘Here lies a great lawgiver,’ declared the Archbishop, before the hushed congregation. ‘When his wise leadership was threatened by an election result, he had no hesitation in suspending the Constitution.

‘But above all,’ said the Archbishop with measured solemnity, ‘here lies a great nationalist, who knew how to deal with nations which tried to meddle in our internal affairs. After he had hung all his political opponents, they had nobody left with whom to meddle. Truly this was a man of great political wisdom.’

‘He was a murderous thug,’ whispered Iyiola.

‘Many of you here today must be wondering why Our Lord has chosen to take away our Great Leader when he was at the height of his powers. Normally, on such occasions, a priest will explain that death is not for us mere mortals to understand, for death is a great mystery which passeth all understanding.

‘However,’ continued the Archbishop, ‘in this particular case, and since I am the Archbishop, I am prepared to reveal why the Lord in His Wisdom decided to take away our Beloved Leader. It has happened because of Our Beloved Leader’s great pride. As you know, it was because of his unusual and excessive pride in himself that he was originally called Aberration. Of course we humble citizens understood his overbearing pride and pomposity, because we knew he had so much of which to be legitimately proud, and of course we were grateful for his many accomplishments in the service of the nation.

‘Indeed, it was because of his great pride in his own importance and powers that he had the courage to use these powers to remove his opponents, because he knew that these lesser mortals could not serve the nation with such distinction as himself. So we ordinary mortals understood this great pride, and were fearful of it, and stayed respectfully quiet.

‘But the Mighty Lord in Heaven took a different view, because pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Our God, who is so proud of his Creation, cannot stand seeing such pride in a mere mortal. So when the Pope visited Aberration, he commanded him, in the name of The Lord, to swallow his pride. As a good Christian, Aberration had no choice but to do as the Pope commanded.’

As the Archbishop was talking, I noticed that the mourners near the coffin held handkerchiefs to their faces. Some coughed and sputtered in the sickly stench. Green flies clustered around the coffin, as little white maggots wriggled out onto the floor.

‘His death was concealed for a long time,’ explained Iyiola. ‘He’s probably been dead for a month.’

‘For the Lord in His Wisdom had seen that the pride of Aberration was like a cancerous monster that was consuming others. But the command of the Lord was terrible. For the day Our Beloved Leader swallowed his pride, so it began to swallow him. From that day he began to shrink, and began to turn green. He was consumed by his own pride. The corrosive pride which had destroyed others, at last came to destroy him.

‘And now our last duty to our Noble Leader,’ announced the Archbishop, ‘is to take him to his final resting place.’ At that point six coffin bearers marched in from the back of the cathedral. They wore white gas masks, and yellow plastic suits with ‘Sewage Department’ written on the back.

And then the entire congregation, and many more beside, now moved to the burial site in front of the Great Hall of the People, where the coffin was lowered into a huge grave, dug especially deep.

‘On this site,’ declared the Archbishop, ‘will be built a great memorial to our Fallen Leader. It will take the form of the Great Aberration Toilet. Because of the great aberrations of the Great Aberration Abacha, I cannot give him Absolution from his sins. But instead all the people may visit this Great Aberration Toilet, and freely allow their water to flow over him, so that his great sin of pride will be washed away. And so, in time, Ablution will finally lead to Absolution.’

‘And so, my fellow mourners, this is how we shall remember him. As the last part of this ceremony, I invite all citizens to file past his grave, and pay their respects to our Great Departed Leader. I invite especially all those people who were prevented from passing an opinion on our Great Leader during his lifetime. They may now come here to express themselves freely. Those people who have been bottling up their feelings for many years, may now come and relieve themselves. Those who never had a chance before, may now unburden themselves.’

‘Me!’ shouted Iyiola, pushing to the front, ‘I am ready to make the first contribution.’


‘Wake up! Wake up! said Sara, shaking my arm. ‘You’ve missed the news! Abacha is dead!’

‘I know,’ I said. ‘May his soul rest in piss.’

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Story of a Bag

[This story was first published in The Post on 26th May 2004. The context is that, in a time of drought, India has donated 3,000 bags of rice to Zambia. The government had decided to distribute this be giving each MP 200 bags to donate to the needy in their constituency. What happened, of course, was quite another matter...]

Story of a Bag

I am a bag. Not a fancy handbag, or a plastic bag, or anything like that. I am a big strong hession sack, made by Mr Bagawala in Bangalore. As soon as I came into the world I had the desire to have a purpose in life, and to help the needy and vulnerable.
Imagine my delight when Mr Bagawala came into the warehouse one morning and said ‘You’re all off to the Punjab, to be loaded up with rice for Africa! To feed the starving! My friend Baggy and me did a little sack dance of joy. I call him Baggy because he’s so shapeless. He calls me Sacky because I want to sacrifice myself to save the world.
In the Punjab we found ourselves amongst ten thousand strong young bags, all recruited to bring food aid to starving people in Zambia! Here we come! Zambia shall be saved!
All ten thousand of us were put on the train to Mumbai, singing all the way. And what a send off when we boarded the boat for Dar-es-Salaam! Bands playing, flags waving! India’s gift to the starving people of Africa! Off to save the world! Hooray!
Bit of a problem at Dar, apparently we didn’t have an import permit. Never mind, we just gave fifty bags to the Chief Customs Officer to feed all the people needed to facilitate the documentation. Still plenty of bags left!
Then onto the Tazara Railway, and the long journey to Zambia. Bit of a problem at the border, apparently we didn’t have an export permit to leave Tanzania, or an import permit to enter Zambia. Never mind, another hundred bags soon solved that!
‘The rich steal all the food,’ said Baggy. ‘That’s why the poor are starving.’
‘No,’ I said. ‘Don’t say that. We just have to respect their customs and traditions.’
Finally, we were all offloaded into a big warehouse in Lusaka, where the President of Vice himself came to visit us, surrounded by a big crowd of people employed to cheer his every word! We were off to the Province of Njala by truck, he announced. Every MP in the province would be allocated a hundred bags to raise money for the transport.
‘These people are in a mess,’ I whispered to Baggy. ‘They don’t seem to have any food reserve agency to provide transport, or even a ministry of agriculture! Just as well we came to help!’
‘The fat rats have just stolen another two thousand bags,’ replied Baggy.
‘Don’t be such a misery guts,’ I laughed. ‘We’ve still got seven thousand bags left!’
So Baggy and I, along with two hundred others, were put on a truck to the District of Chipowe, hundreds of kilometres up a long dusty road, with a roadblock every ten kilometres.
And always the policeman would find something wrong. Hooter too loud. No headlights at the back. Full beam not working on the reversing light. Travelling at 20 kph in a 10 kph area. And every time the driver had to pay a fine, which was always two bags of rice.
‘Thank you,’ the policeman would always say, ‘for your contribution to our noble fight against corruption.’
Baggy and I were lucky to be amongst the sixty survivors who finally reached the boma in Chipowe, where it was quickly agreed that each councillor would take home two bags each. So Baggy and I were put in the back of Councillor Wakuba’s Pajero.
‘He’s going to eat all our rice!’ Baggy hissed.
‘No,’ I said. ‘he has to distribute it to the starving.’
But by the end of the week Councillor Wakuba and his family had eaten all the rice that I had carried, and only Baggy’s remained. And then, on Sunday morning, a crowd of starving villagers came to Wakuba’s door, begging for food.
‘Mpupuluzi!’ Wakuba shouted at the headman. ‘Why don’t you do some work and grow you own food! All you know is begging! This is just dependency syndrome! Even if I give you food, I know you will just sell it to pay school fees and medicines! That is corruption! This government is here to stamp out corruption! And next time you come to my house, don’t come here naked! Show some respect to your leaders!’
So saying, he picked me up from the floor and threw me at the headman. ‘Here, cover yourself with this!’
After two days of walking we reached the village of Mpupuluzi, to be greeted with much wailing. Kwashiorkor, the grandson of Mpupuluzi, had died. Only two years old.
They couldn’t afford a coffin, so they had to use me. They stretched me out, with a rope on each corner, and lowered poor little Kwashiorkor into his grave.
At last I had been able to do something for the starving people of Zambia.

Eternal Life

[This article was first published in The Post on 12th August 2004]

Eternal Life

‘Turn on the Zambia News Bias Channel,’ said Sara, ‘and let’s see if they’re still giving us less value for more money.
‘They might be showing Lurid Pornography,’ I said.
‘No,’ said Sara, ‘he was fired last week for indecently exposing himself.’
The fuzzy picture revealed a crowd of people sitting outside a huge parody of State House, all colonnades and arches and minarets, and built in the middle of a vast empty landscape of windswept bush. ‘Holy Dollar!’ I gasped, ‘what sort of a God forsaken place is that?’
‘That,’ laughed Sara, ‘is what the upper class call a farm.’
So what are they all doing there, sitting on sofas in the middle of the desert?
We are privileged,’ said Sara, ‘to have a rare peep at how the other half dies. This is a genuine apamwamba funeral!’
‘What!’ I gasped. ‘ZNBC doing an outside broadcast? I thought they never go further than filming the road accidents which happen right outside their own front gate!’
‘That’s not entirely fair,’ laughed Sara. ‘The main job of their cameras is to trail behind government ministers, like flies following a corpse.’
The hearse drew up in front of the army of sofas, as the hushed and respectful commentary of Henry Nglazi interrupted our own interpretation of events. ‘For viewers who have just joined us, you are privileged to be watching the funeral of the Right Honourable Corruption, one of the founder members of the Maize Marketing Disaster. His coffin is now being carried to the graveside by the eight deadly sins, Pride, Avarice, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth and Hypocrisy…’
‘I thought there were only seven deadly sins,’ I said.
‘Here we’ve got one extra,’ said Sara, ‘funded by the World Bank.’
The next scene was later, showing the burial mound of flowers, and the Great Leader climbing an anthill to praise the departed. ‘Distinguished Thieves, Chisellers, Scoundrels, Deputy Scoundrels, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is our sad duty today to say goodbye to Corruption…’
‘Mmmmmmmm,’ went a low murmur round the crowd.
‘They’re annoyed,’ said Sara, ‘that he seems to praise Corruption, when he’s been trying to get rid of him for years.’
‘Most of you here today,’ continued the Great Leader, ‘were the friends of Corruption. You achieved your success in life with the help of Corruption. You thought you would always have Corruption help you get out of a tight corner. But now he is gone. So you are now faced with a great challenge, to maintain your positions in public life, now that you cannot rely on Corruption. Because I promise you that Corruption is now gone forever, dead and buried, and he will never come back. We have come here today to witness the end of Corruption, and to bury him forever.’
Then up jumped a member of the Corruption family. ‘Some of us may speak as if we never used Corruption in achieving high office. But I should remind you that everybody here was touched by Corruption, because he provided the basic strategy that lay at the heart of the Movement for Massive Deception. Right from the beginning we were faced with the dilemma of how God could appoint the best people as our leaders, despite democracy giving the vote to the ignorant, the illiterate, and the lower classes. It was Corruption that gave us the answer to this problem. Now we are lost without him.’
‘Isn’t this blasphemy?’ I wondered.
‘Hah!’ Sara cackled, ‘How can you worry about blasphemy, if you don’t believe in God.’
‘Well,’ I said. ‘If I believed in God, then I’d say it was blasphemy.’
‘Yes’ said Sara. ‘If your aunt had been a man, she’d have been your uncle.’
Now Bishop Bling Bling climbed the anthill, his gold chains glinting in the morning sun. ‘Do not be afraid, my Christian brothers, but be of good faith. Our brother Corruption has not disappeared entirely, for his soul lives on, and moves amongst us as I speak. We shall remember his teaching, and we shall remain as his followers.’
So saying, the Bishop opened his bible, saying ‘I commend to you this passage from the Gospel according to St Kalaki, Chapter 5, Verses 2-7,
‘Blessed are the poor
for they are easily bought,
Blessed are the meek
for they are easily bullied,
Blessed are the gullible
for they swallow any story,
Blessed are the starving
for they attract donor funding,
Blessed are the unemployed
for they bring more investors.
But above all, O Lord,
Blessed are the rich
for they are appointed by God
to inherit the Earth.
‘And blessed are the Members of the House of Parasites,’ I snarled, ‘for they shall be given their gratuities.’

All Change

[This Golden Oldie was first published in The Post on 7th October 2004]

All Change

All the courtiers, functionaries and bootlickers stood round in a solemn circle as the Great King began to speak to a thin little fellow standing in front of him. ‘You are being sworn in today as my new Minister of ah, ehrum. Hold this bible in your right hand, Mr er, erum, Mr Lupono, eh, I mean Mr Luposo …’
The King leaned sideways as his secretary whispered into his ear. ‘Ah yes,’ continued the King, ‘Congratulations,Mr Lupompo, on a sudden whim I am plucking you from nowhere to be my new Minister of Vice.’
‘I swear,’ said Mr Bumpy Lupompo, as he held high the bible, ‘to respect whatever you put into the Constitution, Your Majesty, and to treat your every word as law.’
‘I certainly hope you do,’ snapped the King with a fearsome scowl. ‘The previous fellow talked very fair when he was holding the bible and looking at me, but as soon as I turned my back he treated me like, ah, erum, like a, ah…’
Again the secretary whispered into the King’s ear. ‘... eh, eh, he treated me as if I was not the King. But eh, eh, if he thinks I am not the King, then how does he think I appointed him in the first place? Eh? Eh? Answer me that!’
He looked round the room, but everybody remained mute, looking at the floor, and shuffling their feet.
‘Exactly!’ cried the King triumphantly. ‘You cannot answer that, because you are not the King! If you answer on matters that are only for the King to answer, then you have insulted the King! And if I picked you from nowhere, I can drop you even further!
‘And now Mr ah, Mr Mporokoso, I mean Mr Limpopo, you should follow me into my office, where we can discuss more sensitive matters. Matters of state security cannot be discussed here, or heh heh, the law would require me to arrest all these people for being in possession of state secrets, heh heh.’
So saying, the King slowly manoeuvred his huge bulk through a half turn, and lumbered off to his office, where he walked straight in, and stood at the massive French window, looking out across the lawn. Behind him, he heard the sound of Lupompo at the door.
‘Come in, Luposo, or whatever your name is,’ said the King, without bothering to turn round. ‘I shall stand here and admire my kingdom, and philosophise on the art of kingship, while you sit and listen quietly. Make yourself comfortable.’
The King stood looking out of the window. ‘You know, Lupoto,’ he said, addressing the faraway clouds, ‘it is only a few months ago that I was standing at this very same window, looking out over this same garden, after appointing your predecessor, Blabbermouth Mumbo Jumbo. I remember how he grovelled on the floor behind me, trying to lick the back of my boots.
‘I found him destitute, so I gave him a house and a car. When I first sent him to parliament, he couldn’t even find the front door, let alone the toilet. All he had was some doctorate that he bought at a takeaway inTexas. He wasn’t even eligible for the job, and I had to use my prerogative as King to overrule the constitution.
‘I notice you remain quiet. That is good. That’s why I appointed you. Somebody who can remain quiet. I remember when I gave this little talk to Blabbermouth, he was busy blabbering about how he was going to be the best Minister of Vice the country had ever seen.
‘That was the first worrying sign that he couldn’t understand his job. He never realised I’d chosen him because he was such a ridiculous windbag, so that he’d make me look good by comparison. It was a gamble that backfired.
‘We chose you because you are known to be inarticulate to the point of incomprehensibility. That’s what we want. Blabbermouth thought I had chosen him because he was a great orator, so he went round the country speaking in my name, and making me look ridiculous instead of himself. He even dressed up in my suit and held a press conference! So now you’ve got the job, you must keep your mouth shut, and give me your complete loyalty!’
‘You can say something now!’ growled the King, finally wheeling round. But the chair was empty! There was nobody there! He strode to the door and flung it open, ‘Where’s Lupompo?’ he shouted at this secretary. ‘I thought he followed me in here!’
‘He’s gone to Furnishing World,’ the secretary replied calmly, ‘to buy the new furniture for his official residence.’
‘What!’ fumed the King. ‘I told him to follow me!’
‘He left a message. You’re to meet him in his office, at 8.30 tomorrow morning.’


[This Golden Oldie was first published on 20th October 2004, and gives a glimpse of the Great King Muwelewele preparing to celebrate Independence Day...]


The king was sitting on his veranda eating a hearty breakfast, and watching a small army of workers putting up huge tarpaulins. Suddenly, round the corner came a suited lackey, dragging a ragged street kid by the ear.
‘Uh huh, ah ha, erum,’ said the king, coughing up a large globule of caviar, ‘whatee, whatee is the usee of an electric fencee, ifee, ifee they just climb over. We must increasee the voltagee until they screamee!’
‘No no, Your Majesty,’ said the lackey, as he threw the bag of whining rags onto the polished terrazzo, ‘I found this one in a drain inCairo Road. You remember. For Sunday’s celebrations.’
‘Oh, ah yes! Quite right! What’s happening on Sunday?’
Independence Celebrations, Your Majesty. You asked for a child to read the usual speech thanking the government for their independence.’
‘But nottee a streettee kiddee,’ spluttered the king. ‘Where’s that nice girl child we usually use. The one who always reads the UNICEF speech about gender equality.’
‘Unfortunately she’s been married off, Your Majesty. The parents needed the lobola.’
‘What a waste of a nice UNICEF speech!’ laughed the King. ‘Look’s like you’d better leave this boy here, and we’ll see if we can use him.’ He looked down at the street kid, saying ‘Would you like a piece of bread?’
The street kid’s eyes flashed with anger. ‘Just because I’m a street kid, don’t think I’m a beggar! You’re the very one with notices all over town telling people not to give to beggars, it will only make them dependent. So what are you doing now? Are you trying to make a beggar out of me? Do you want me to be dependent or independent?’
‘At last!’ said the king, slapping the table and knocking over his coffee cup. ‘Just what I wanted! A really independent person for Independence Day! This is going to be more entertaining than the girl child!’
‘I am Katwishi Kawisha the Car Washer,’ said the street kid proudly. ‘When I started off last year I was washing cars by myself, but now I employ twenty street kids at K500 a day.’
‘So you don’t live down the drain?’
‘Good gracious no. I have my own bus shelter in Kamwala, complete with DStv.’
‘So you were never a beggar?’
‘When I was a little boy, I used to beg,’ said Kawisha sadly, a tear rolling down his face. ‘When Daddy died, I went to the Pensions Board to beg for his money, but they said there wasn’t any. When Mummy was dying, I went to the hospital and begged for medicines, but they chased me away. After she was buried, I begged the headteacher not to throw me out of school, but he said he didn’t make the rules. So now I’ve given up begging.’
‘Heh heh,’ cackled the King, taking another spoonful of caviar, ‘The government taught you not to beg. This is the good news I’ve been waiting to hear for years. Because you’re so smelly, I nearly misjudged you. But now I have suddenly seen that you are the first success of this government. You have become a successful businessman because the government provided an enabling environment! And so you became independent! We shall celebrate your independence!’
Suddenly Kawisha stood up and looked down at the king. ‘What about you, are you also independent?’
The king looked round the empty veranda. ‘Can’t you see?’ he laughed. ‘I am completely alone here. No ministers, no advisors, I am completely independent of everybody. Nobody dares to come here, because they cannot argue with me. To argue with me is indiscipline, because I am the king!
‘But doesn’t the king have to listen to the people!
‘The people must be independent of the government, so that the government can be independent of the people. When government is independent of any domestic obligations, then they are free to consider their international obligations, such as the cost of trips to New York, the international comparability of per diem allowances, and the rising cost of caviar. These are weighty and complex questions that need not concern people like yourself, who have their own problems to worry about.
‘I often miss my parents,’ said Kawisha wistfully.
‘Just think how much more independent you are,’ said the king, ‘now that you don’t have the burden of trying to look after them. I would like you to make a speech on Independence Day, explaining how this government gave you your independence.’
Just then a bootlicker crawled out onto the veranda, and knelt before the king. ‘Message from the Nordida Development Agency, Your Majesty. They have approved your request for a supplementary grant of one million dollars for the celebrations.’
‘This gift has come at the right time,’ said the king. ‘Otherwise our independence could have been threatened!’

Double Standard

[This Golden Oldie was first published on 25th July 1996]

Double Standard

I had been lucky to squeeze into a place at the back of the court. The CNN cameras were up front, and the hot arc lights were glaring straight into the judge's face. He bravely pretended not to notice.

The judge was Justice Nyandetal, whose judgements are now famous all over the world. This was Judgement Day, on CNN.

Justice Nyandetal: Before I pass judgement, has the accused anything to say in mitigation?

Mr Beatwell Chaya: M'Lud, I appeal to you as a fellow man. How would you feel if you heard that your wife was seen with another man? Of course it was my duty to beat her. I was just surprised when she died shortly afterwards. Of all the times I have beaten her, this was the first time she died.

Justice Nyandetal: I find you not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter. But I also recognise the extenuating circumstances, because it is the duty of a man to discipline his wife. When you heard your wife was with another man, naturally you fell into a rage. Any man would do the same. You felt it your duty to enforce discipline in the household. I accept the evidence that you did not know, at the time, that the story about your wife was completely false.

I therefore sentence you to three months simple imprisonment. Since you have already spent four months in custody waiting for trial, you may leave the court a free man. But I must warn you against beating your next wife in the same way. When she misbehaves, I advise you to beat her with a stick, not an axe.

I could certainly see why Judge Nyandetal was a big star on prime time television in the States. I could hear the CNN commentator speaking to his satellite link, saying 'What will the Nyandetal Man do next week? Why watch Dallas on M-Net when you can watch Lusaka on CNN? Don't miss Judgement Day, every Thursday on CNN!'

No wonder the Playhouse died, I thought to myself, the audience has all gone up the road to the High Court. Next week we were all there again, for another Judgement Day.

Justice Nyandetal: Before I pass judgement, has the accused anything to say in mitigation?

Mrs Mercy Amamenyewa: I appeal to you M'Lud. I admit that I killed my husband, but I could stand no more. He used to drink kachasu every Saturday, and then beat me for nothing. When I found him in bed with a hule, something snapped. I lost control.

Justice Nyandetal: This is not a plea of mitigation, but a further admission of guilt, and a horrifying glimpse into your criminal mind. It is my duty to protect society from the likes of you. Above all, it is my duty to protect husbands from wives like you.

You have even tried to justify your behaviour by complaining that your husband liked a drink on a Saturday night. There must be something warped in your thinking. There is no law against drinking. Every husband is entitled to a drink on a Saturday night, without coming home to face the panga.

It is no use complaining that your husband used to beat you, when it is the duty of husbands to discipline their wives. My view is that he didn't discipline you sufficiently, or you would not be before this court today.

As for finding your husband in bed with another woman, there is nothing illegal in that. In customary law, he is entitled to take a second wife. Your duty was to thank your husband for having found an additional wife, who would be able to share your burden of conjugal and domestic duties.

Your husband did nothing wrong, and yet you gave him a sentence of death. You are guilty of murder, and therefore also deserve the sentence of death. I sentence you to hang by the neck until you are dead.

'CUT!' shouted the CNN man, as the audience clapped and cheered.

But these CNN people are hard to please. Afterwards I managed to overhear the CNN man talking to Nyandetal. 'That bit about the burden of conjugal duty was not in the script,' he said. 'Our American audience won't like that bit. Stick to the script next week, or I shall have to hire another judge!'

Knees Tremble

[This Golden Oldie was first published on 29th August 1996, at the time of the so-called ‘Black Mamba Plot’. Rather like the similar antics of today, the MMD government was busy manipulating the judicial system in order to stick absurd charges of sedition and treason upon its perceived political enemies.]

Knees Tremble

I well remember the day when I went to see my old friend Wabukupeme Wamulomo, when he was still Minister of Misinformation. We had been talking about the old day at the University of Lumpens, when we were interrupted by a knock at his office door. In came Scarlet Duo, of the famous Tasintha.

'Mwapoleni, Ba Scarlet,' exclaimed Wabukupeme, 'are you still saving fallen women from their immoral activities?'

'No, we've given that up,' said Scarlet. 'Donor pressure has led us to change policy. We are now interested in saving politicians from their corrupt activities, and leading them into an honest way of earning a living.'

'Ha Ha,' said Wabukupeme, 'I hope you haven't come to save me!'

'Well, actually I have,' replied Scarlet calmly. 'I just heard on the radio that you've been fired, so I thought I'd find an honest occupation for you!'

'My God! An honest occupation! I’ve been a minister for years! How can I adjust at my age? What did I do wrong? Did I accidentally tell the truth?’

'Apparently you told the Daily Revelation exactly how the party prevents women from standing as candidates,' said Scarlet.

'Oh My God!' said poor Wabukupeme, 'I thought I was lying! But perhaps it was the truth! So what am I to do now? Have you got a job lined up for me?'

'Yes,' said Scarlet. 'I've got a nice little number for you at the Pa Modzi, selling sexual favours.'

'What! Isn't that illegal?' asked Wabukupeme.

'That's what I used to think,' said Scarlet, 'But I've since found out that prostitution has never been illegal in this country. It was your previous activities, of lying to parliament and stealing from the public purse, which were illegal. But you are entirely entitled to sell your sexual services. And from what I have heard about your equipment, there should be many female customers who will appreciate what you've got, and be willing to pay for it.

'But where will they get the money?' asked Wabukupeme, who was beginning to get interested.

'Not local women,' laughed Scarlet, 'but from modern countries, where women are allowed to have their own money. You can do your patriotic duty by earning foreign exchange.'

I never heard anything more about Wafubi's new career until last week, when my eye was caught by a headline in the Daily Scandal - EX-MINISTER IN COURT. Naturally I rushed to Lusaka Central Prison to see if I could help my old friend.

'What happened?' I asked Wabukupeme, when I was finally allowed into his cell.

'Ten policemen burst into my hotel room and arrested me on the spot.'

'What for? I thought prostitution was not against the law!'

'For being in possession of a vibrator,' said Wabukupeme. 'The Inspector walked straight to the bed, and pulled it out from under the mattress. But what would I want with such a thing? I have my own equipment, generously provided by God. I never needed that sort of assistance in order to entertain my customers. They must have planted it!'

'But even if he did find you with one, there's no law against having a vibrator, or even using it!'

'That's what I told the Inspector, but he just shouted Don't tell me about the law, I am the law! This vibrator is seditious material. I am arresting you for treason!

'Seditious material? Treason? What nonsense is this?'

'According to what the Inspector told the magistrate, this is one of the new seditious vibrators being made in Libya. It is an ultrasonic vibrator, which causes vibrations for miles around. When it vibrates, the whole government shakes. All their trousers fall down, and they all get excited simultaneously. This leaves the whole government very vulnerable to a coup d'etat, and also causes much trembling of the knees. So I've been charged with trying to bring down the government, by bringing down their trousers!'

'Look,' I said, 'don't worry. The charge has obviously been trumped up. I can get you off in no time at all. But first tell me honestly, is there something else behind all this? What else have you done?'

'Well,' he said, 'I've resigned from the Movement for Murdering Democracy and joined the Political Prostitutes Party.'

'Oh My God,' I said, 'they'll have you in here for ever.' We were so frightened that we hugged each other, holding each other tight. But there must have been a vibrator somewhere, for our knees began to tremble.'