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!’

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