Thursday, August 25, 2011

No Women to be Found!

[First published on 24 August 2006, under the title ‘Incredible!’]

No Women to be Found!

‘Today,’ explained President HaHa, ‘we shall be interviewing women applicants. We are looking for one or two respectable women who genuinely support our Ponga traditions of polygamy, lobala and the subordination of women.’ The President was addressing the Parliamentary Selection Committee of the UPND, the United Patriarchy for National Discrimination.

‘Only if we can find women who respect men as the head of the household,’ cautioned Patriarch Muchishanya, the Chairman for Drastic Domestic Dictatorship.’

‘Let me just remind you,’ said Madman Kuku, Chairman for Masterful Male Monopoly, ‘that if we can just find one or two women who are able to quietly support and assist us men with our parliamentary duties, then they could do their work better if we also make them members of parliament.’

‘We must certainly bear all these points in mind,’ said HaHa, as he signaled the secretary to call the first applicant. A young woman entered the room and was directed to the single chair on the other side of the table.

‘Mrs Bufuma Chumi,’ said HaHa, ‘I am informed that you have applied to stand in Kasama, even though your husband lives in Choma. Do you have your husband’s permission to be away from home during the election campaign?’

‘We both agreed,’ replied Bufuma, ‘because Kasama is my home area.’

‘Thank you for coming to interview,’ said HaHa. ‘We’ll let you know.’

‘Monstrous!’ snorted Madman Kuku, as Bufuma departed. ‘Obviously a woman has to stand in her husband’s constituency, where she can look after her family and be properly supervised by her husband.’

‘Let’s hope the next applicant is more suitable,’ said HaHa.

‘Kathy Kusasiyana,’ said HaHa, looking sternly at the file, ‘it says here that your husband objected to you standing, but despite this you insisted on filing this application. What do you say about that?’

‘You see,’ said Kathy, ‘my husband was quite agreeable until he had a visit from a whole delegation from the Constituency Committee, who asked him to take control of his wife. Otherwise, they said, I would be known as a hule who was sleeping around in order to seek political favours.’

‘So when your husband withdrew his permission, you just ignored him?’

‘Women need to be able to take their own decisions,’ declared Kathy.

‘Thank you for that, Kathy’ said HaHa. ‘That was all we wanted to know. We’ll let you know in due course. Don’t phone us, we’ll phone you.’ As she left, he turned to his committee members and exclaimed ‘My God, if she won’t even obey her husband, what chance of her obeying me!’

‘Good morning, Mrs Martha Mtendere. There’s just one question I want to ask. Did your husband give you permission to apply for this seat?’

‘Oh yes!’ said Martha enthusiastically. ‘He backed me all the way!’

‘That’s all we need to know,’ said HaHa, as Martha stood up to leave ‘We’ll let you know in due course.’

‘We can’t have that!’ hissed Patriarch Muchishanya. ‘She’s not an independent person. Her husband is the one in control of her, she’s under his thumb. Since he’s the one in charge, we should rather ask her husband to stand!’

‘We can’t do that,’ sneered Madman Kuku. ‘He belongs to MMD.’

‘Even worse!’ snorted Patriach Muchishanya.

‘Miss Charity Chimwemwe,’ said HaHa, ‘make yourself comfortable. We have just one question for you this morning. You are thirty years old and you don’t have a husband. Why is that?’

‘I prefer to be independent,’ replied Charity, so I can make my own decisions. Then I can be on equal terms with men.’

‘Thankyou,’ said HaHa. ‘The secretary will show you out.’

‘My God!’ screamed Madman Kuku. ‘Thirty years old and not married! She must be a feminist or a prostitute or a lesbian! Or possibly all three! Whatever she is, she’s unacceptable and probably illegal! Get her out of here, and out of the party!’

‘Mrs Samira Sanama,’ said HaHa, ‘we just called you in to ask you what you know about the party’s gender policy.’

‘The policy promises gender equality,’ replied Samira, ‘with women being equal in law, and having equal access to all opportunities.’

‘Thank you,’ said HaHa. ‘You may now leave.’

‘Jesus Christ!’ exclaimed HaHa, as soon as she’d gone. ‘Our policy never once uses the word equality. We have always used the word equity, meaning that we men must use our authority to treat our women fairly!’

‘Exactly,’ growled Madman Kuku. ‘Now you see the danger of letting women apply for men’s positions! I told you so from the beginning! I think we’ve heard enough!’

The meeting had now finished, and the party spokesman Patriarch Muchishanya came out onto the steps, into the bright lights of ZNBC cameras. ‘I have to announce that UPND cannot find any woman as a parliamentary candidate.’

‘Why not?’ asked Henry Nkalaushi, thrusting his microphone in front of Muchishanya.

‘We simply cannot find any women!’ declared Muchishanya.

‘You have just heard,’ said Henry Nkalaushi, looking into the camera, ‘a most incredible statement from the least credible of our party leaders.’

Just then a bright red BMW open sports car came swooshing up to the kerb, with a beautiful young at the wheel, her blond hair extensions flying in the wind. She waved energetically to old Muchishanya. ‘Come on Daddyo! she squealed, ‘Time to party!’

As Patriarch ran to the driving door, she clambered over from the driving seat into the passenger seat, carefully negotiating her miniskirt over the gear stick. At which point Henry Nkalaushi leaned over to her with his microphone. ‘Muchishanya says he can’t find any women! Any comment?’

‘He’s telling you the truth!’ she laughed. ‘It was me who found him!’

‘And what’s your role in the election?’ Henry asked.

‘Me?’ she laughed. ‘I’m in charge of his erection expenses!’

Thursday, August 18, 2011

People Power

[First published on 28th September 2006, a month before the Tripartite Elections of 2006]

People Power

It was Monday 2nd October 2006. Excited expectation gripped the large crowd gathered in front of the Supreme Court, waiting for the Chief Justice to announce the results of the Presidential Election. At the back of the crowd sat two old men, well known in their day but now almost forgotten. Their names were Kapelwa Musonda and Comrade Bonzo.

‘I still think we had a better system in the old days,’ sighed Comrade Bonzo, ‘when people just voted yes or no, according to whether they wanted their beloved leader to continue or not.’

‘I remember one election,’ said Kapelwa, ‘when over two million people voted yes, and only one person dared to vote no. This single dissenter was hunted down by the party cadres, cornered at Luburma Market, and beaten like a dog. What was his name? I can’t quite remember.’

‘Simon Kapwepwe,’ said Comrade Bonzo.

‘I never thought I’d live to see dissent become respectable,’ said Kapelwa. ‘Who do you think can win out of this lot?’

‘Its got to be Elephant Muwelewele SC.’

‘SC? What does SC mean?’

‘Sensitive to Criticism. If anybody criticizes him, he loses his temper. So he’s in a rage all the time. He’s alienated everybody: teachers, pensioners, doctors, miners. Spits in the face of everybody. They’re all united against him!’

‘So how can he win?’ wondered Kapelwa.

‘Because he’s restored One Zambia One Nation,’ declared Bonzo. ‘He’s united the nation, as did the Great Munshumfwa SC!’


‘Sole Candidate,’ explained Comrade Bonzo.

‘But Muwelewele is not the sole candidate,’ snapped Kupelwa, getting exasperated. ‘If they’re united against Muwelewele, they’ll vote for one of the others. Probably Cycle Mata SC!’


‘Spitting Cobra.’

‘Nobody trusts a Spitting Cobra,’ laughed Bonzo. ‘They’re more likely to vote for Grimface HaHa SC.’


‘Southern Corruption,’ explained Bonzo.

‘You mean Ponga tribalism,’ said Kapelwa. ‘So he can’t win. And nor can Godfear Meander SC.’


‘Soiled with Crap,’ explained Kapelwa. ‘He soiled himself with the reintroduction of the Putrid Order Act, and a putrid smell has lingered around him ever since.’

‘So the choice is hopeless?’ wondered Bonzo. ‘Isn’t there anybody else?’

‘Only Ngosa Ngoni SC,’ sneered Kapelwa.

‘SC?’ wondered Bonzo.

‘Sued by Creditors,’ explained Kapelwa. ‘Only his creditors will vote for him. They’ll never get their money back unless he becomes president.’

‘Shush,’ said Bonzo. ‘The Chief Justice has started to speak!’

…for the Presidential Election held on 28th September 2006, the official and certified results are as follows:

Ngosa Ngoni 359

Godfear Meander 3,602

Grimface HaHa 390,151

Cycle Mata 539,123

Elephant Muwelewele 755,920

‘Welewelewelewelewele,’ ululated the hired praise singers, as all the bootlickers and sycophants crowded round to congratulate the Great Elephant.

‘However,’ said the Chief Justice ominously, ‘the Spoilt Papers numbered 1,904,240. Normally these would be discarded. But these ballot papers make up 53 per cent of the vote, and each has the words PEOPLE POWER clearly written on it. In these circumstances, I have no option but to declare that all the nominated candidates have been rejected, in favour of People Power, which has won the election by a decisive overall majority.’

‘My God!’ exclaimed Bonzo, ‘how did this happen?’

‘I think I know,’ said Kapelwa slowly. ‘On Election Day there was a column published in The Post, under the title People Power, advising voters that all five candidates were unsuitable, and that it would be a mistake to merely choose the best when all are bad. So voters were instead urged to write People Power across the middle of the ballot paper.’

‘Therefore,’ continued the Chief Justice, ‘I declare that no government has been elected. According to the Constitution, without an elected President, I automatically become the acting President. There will be no ministers or members of parliament. The country will be administered by the civil service, under the guidance of a Constituent Assembly, which will also have the task of finalizing a new Constitution.’

‘Hurray!’ cried the crowd. ‘No more presidential trips to London! No more ministerial allowances! No more gratuities for MPs! Away with the parasites! Now the people are rich!’

As they cheered, a young man wearing the national flag climbed on top of a stone lion. ‘Away to State House,’ he shouted, ‘with all those bricks, we can build a new Chibolya!’

‘Demolish the mansions!’ chanted the crowd as they surged forward. ‘Demolish the Redbrick! Power to the people!’ The Chief Justice was airlifted to the front of the crowd, to lead the triumphal march up Independence Avenue. ‘Justice from the Chief Justice! We’ve waited forty years for this!’

The two old men were left sitting by the fence, staring at events in disbelief. Comrade Bonzo turned slowly to Kapelwa Musonda. ‘This is all your doing, isn’t it? This is not really happening, is it? I’m not even really here! I’m just a character in one of your stories.’

‘Its worse than that,’ said Kapelwa sadly, a tear running down his face. ‘We’re just a couple of characters in one of Kalaki’s stories.’


With apologies to Kapelwa Musonda, father of Zambian satire.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Nomination Day

[This piece was first published on 29th November 2001, when presidential candidates were filing their nominations for the forthcoming election]

Nomination Day

The Supreme Judge sat at his Supreme Desk in the lobby of the Supreme Court, like a latter day Buddha.

Suddenly cries were heard outside, ‘Kafupi for ever!’ Into the lobby strode little King Kafupi himself, followed by his Chief Bootlicker, Velvet Mango.

‘I told you to have him here by 9 o’clock,’ screamed little Kafupi, stamping his high heels on the marble floor. ‘We shall look like fools if he doesn’t appear!’

‘Sorry Your Excellency,’ whimpered Velvet, grovelleng on the floor, and trying to lick the king’s boots, ‘I thought you’d sent the helicopter.’

‘Helicopter! We can’t use that!’ hissed the King, stealing a sidelong glance at the Buddha, ‘I’ve told the old fool that it’s a level playing field.’

Just then there were more cheers and ululations from outside, and the King and his Bumbling Bootlicker hastened back to the entrance to see what was happening. ‘Candidate Kabeji!’ roared the crowd, as a hundred party cadres carried an old bus chassis to the front of the Supreme Court.

‘Isn’t it marvellous to see the party machinery in good working order?’ purred Velvet into his master’s ear.’

‘Who took the wheels?’ asked Kafupi.

‘Don’t worry about that,’ said Vernon, ‘we’ve still got the party cadres.’

‘Who took the engine?’

‘We’re better off without Western technology.’

On an old rusty bucket at the front of the bus sat the driver, an untidy old shamble of a man in a dirty brown suit. He pulled at an imaginary handbrake, opened an imaginary door, stepped out onto an imaginary step, and fell face down on the very real pavement.

The King frowned and dug his stiletto heel into Velvet’s foot. ‘Is this our Kabeji, or have you brought the wrong one?’

‘Hooray!’ cried the enthusiastic rent-a-crowd, as the drums rumbled. ‘Our Candidate! Our Kabeji! He has dropped from Heaven! Mphasao ya kwa Mulungu! Appointed by Kafupi!’

As a thousand chitenges danced to the drums, so a thousand cabbages danced in the breeze. ‘Who needs to capture hearts and minds?’ purred Velvet, ‘when we can capture so many bottoms!’

The old brown Kabeji was helped to his feet, and began to climb the steps. ‘My God!’ whispered Kafupi, as the monster approached, ‘this can’t be our Kabeji. Looks more like old Chakomboka!’

‘He’s dead.’

‘So’s this one,’ retorted the King.

‘A cabbage in the hand,’ sniggered Velvet, ‘is worth two in the vegetable garden. So saying, he grabbed the confused old man by the back of the neck, and hauled him into the lobby, and in front of the Buddha.

‘Name?’ demanded the Supreme Judge.

‘Er, erum, argh, aha, araghargh,’ replied the old man, coughing and spluttering, as sticky globules of green gelatinous phlegm splattered onto the Supreme Desk.

‘I’ll put you down as a don’t know,’ said the Judge, moving his chair backwards to get out of range.

‘His name is Loony Kabeji,’ snapped Kafupi. ‘Just write it down, before I have you investigated for plotting a coup.’

‘Yes Your Excellency,’ shivered the Buddha, as his wobbly fat began to solidify like candlewax. He turned towards Kabeji, ‘Hold this book in the air, sir, and repeat after me…

‘I, being of sound mind…’

‘I, being of Garden Compound…’

do solemnly swear…’

‘do seldom swear…’

‘that I was born a Zambian citizen…’

‘that I was born in Southern Michigan,’

‘and my parents were born in Zambia…’

‘and my parents were born in Gambia…’

‘ and that I am not too old…’

‘and I shall do as I’m told…’

‘to always say no no to corruption…’

‘to follow Kafupi’s instructions.’

‘Almost correct!’ laughed the Buddha. ‘I’m sure you’ll get it right with a bit more practice. Now you can go outside and celebrate with your supporters.

As they came outside the crowd cheered, and the shambling old monster raised one arm in the air and shouted ‘This day’s my last!’ So saying, he fell down in a heap.

‘Your Candidate has announced,’ Velvet shouted to the crowd, ‘that the die is cast!’ Then, turning to the party cadres he growled ‘Get this corpse out of here!’

As the rent-a-crowd began changing their tee-shirts and chitenges, in preparation for the next candidate, little Kafupi was busy climbing up onto the cushions in his Mercedes. Suddenly he heard a gruff galumping sound right behind him. There stood the drooping flesh and slobbering mouth of the real Loony Kabeji.

‘Where were you, you gormless old fart?’ shouted Kafupi. ‘We had to do it without you!’

‘Sol sol solly I’m late,’ he stuttered, as saliva dribbled down his scarred and battered chin. ‘I went to the Civ Civ Civic Centre by misteck.’

‘Your not up to Kafupi’s standard,’ jeered Velvet. ‘You’ll never be able to drib drib dribble like him!’

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dr Kapupushi

[This piece was first published on 17th August 2000, just after President Chiluba had returned from Malawi with his new honorary doctorate]

Dr Kapupushi


Dear Diary, I’ve been left all by myself again. This morning I was having breakfast with my dear littul Fleddie when he suddenly said ‘Pack my bag for me, will you dear?’

Oooh, the way he orders me about, you’d think I’m a member of his Cabinet. Who does he think I am, to be ordered about like this? Peter Machungwa?

But of course I didn’t say any of that. ‘Off again, dear?’ I said. ‘Have a nice time. Where is it this time?’

‘Off to Malawi to see my friend Muluzi.’

Ooh, Dear Diary, how I hate that big greasy polygamist! I never know what he and Fleddie get up to. Shouldn’t be surprised if my naughty littul Fleddie came back with another wife!


Dear Diary, I found out from this morning’s Post why my Fleddie has gone to Malawi. He’s gone to get a doctorate. He’s all show, nowadays, my Fleddie. He goes to London for his suits, Paris for his shirts, and Rome for his high heel shoes. It’s not fair. He never lets me wear high heels. I wonder why?

And now he wants a doctorate! Fancy getting his suits from Saville Row and his gold watches from Geneva, and then having to go to Malawi for a doctorate! Malawi, of all places! Doctorates are supposed to come from Harvard or Oxford! People go to Malawi for peanuts! Maybe my poor littul Fleddie is not tall enough to go to Oxford.


Oooh, I’m so annoyed! Opened my Post this morning, and found they’d published bits from my Diary. I should never have trusted that Spectator Kalaki, who was round here yesterday, drinking my tea and nibbling my ear. Naughty man! He must be the one who tore out a couple of pages from you, Dear Diary, while I was in the kitchen making the tea.

Let him claim the cledit, what do I care! Nobody will believe I wrote such things about my husband. And anyway, if my little Fleddie can be an Honolaly Doctor, then I can be an Honolaly Writer!

But, Dear Diary, I think I know why he wants this doctorate. It’s not just vanity. It’s another of his name changes. If he changes his name to Doctor, he’ll be able to go for a third term!

But I don’t mind. When I pull off his gown and cap, there inside I shall find my same darling littul Fleddie. I love him so!


My little Fleddie came back late last night from Blantyre, still wearing his black cap and purple gown. I had to laugh. As he climbed down from his big motor car, his big floppy cap fell down over his eyes, causing him to trip over the front step. He landed flat on my lovely Persian rug which I bought from Kamwala Trading.

‘Dr Fleddie, I presume,’ I laughed, as I tried to help him up. But he couldn’t see the funny side of it, and went to bed in a huff. And also in his gown.


Dear Diary, I think this silly Doctor Business has gone to his head. He came to breakfast still dressed in his new cap and gown.

‘Good morning Darling Fleddie,’ I giggled.

‘Doctor Fleddie to you,’ he said sternly. ‘You forget I’ve been born again as a Doctor.’

‘That’s nice,’ I said. ‘What did you do, dear, to get this doctorate? You haven’t read anything for years. That Vicious Malambo pleaded with you to read his report on Good Governance, but you wouldn’t even open it. And that nice big book by Muna Ndulo on the Rule of Law, you just sit on it so you can reach the table.’

‘What do you know about it, you Grade Four drop-out!’ he shouted at me in a most undoctorly way. ‘I have received this degree on behalf of everybody in Zambia! Other people have been reading, even if I haven’t!’

‘Then maybe we have all become doctors!’ I laughed. ‘That would be much more democratic! We can have Michael Shouter as Doctor of Expulsions, Dawdle Lupunga as Doctor of Swindles, Clueless Cluo as Doctor of Disasters, Grunting Tembo as Doctor of Growl ...’

But he wasn’t amused. Instead of reading The Post,

he just sat there reading his new certificate, and stroking the lovely soft fur on his gown.


Oh Dear Diary,

I do try to respect my dear little husband, but I can stop laughing at his honololy doctorate. This morning at breakfast my Doctor Fleddie fell into a tellible fit, after his big doctoral cap fell off his little head, right into his pollidge.

‘Its too big for you dear,’ I said. ‘Didn’t they have a smaller size? You’d better stay at home today, while I give it a wash. Without that cap, people will think you’re just plain Mister.’

‘What do you know about it?’ he shouted. ‘Clothes maketh the woman, but doctorates maketh the man! I am the Doctor of Democracy! Everybody knows that! I’m the one who doctored democracy in Zambia!’

‘I know you did dear. And everybody admires the way you doctored the Constitution, to stop that Old Munshumfwa, the Mad Malawian Doctor, from...’

‘What’s wrong with Kapupushi?’ interrupted Fleddie, as our cat walked in through the French window. ‘He seems to be limping.’

‘He’s Doctor Kapupushi now,’ I laughed. ‘While you were away I had him doctored.’