This satirical story is about a woman activist who challenges political decay and cultural prejudices without fear or favour.
I am sick to the bone about it all. The moment l meet other nationalities and we chit-chat about it, l feel lost, let down and naked. It weighs on my pride, personality and achievements. To be frank, this curse haunts me like a hound. Excruciating bruises are written all over me, all over my place and conscience. It is a shattered dream that haunts me day in and day out. It is so mind-boggling that it clouds the horizons of my imagination and determination.
By the way, the other day l sneaked out of my office while my immediate boss, who since morning had been either reading the foreign newspaper or phoning his friends overseas- was dozing off and frothing on the mouth. I was not sneaking out because l was on the verge of throwing up. The elders have a saying: the one (meaning the eagle) that soars about has a chance of catching (probably a chick). And so like a roving eagle, I bumped into my former neighbour who is affectionately if not notoriously referred to as Mr Patriot Anarchy. He is now a salad or one of those who live in the low density suburbs .l am still a tshwalala(thick maize porridge eater) though there is absolutely no mealie meal to cook isitshwala (pap/maize meal ) with .For the majority of the low density suburbans who have no constant supply of groceries from those in the Diaspora, even to talk of eating salads would tantamount to lying through the teeth. Hunger rules supreme whether one is a rustic dweller or a town fellow.
Back to Mr Anarchy. Upon catching sight of me, he teased: “Hunger has a way of making people fat like pigs.” l shook his rough and greasy hands and responded,”Pigs eat everything. The elders say nobody knows what made pigs fat. But here there is nothing to eat, even my bones are emasculated. There is no cruelty and witchcraft worse than this!” You know what he said upon being questioned why he was putting on a few kilos in the middle of a desert of basic food shortages? He smiled, revealing teeth which were not yellowish from relentless pulls of the cigarettes, but the foulness of his breath epitomized the patent effects of a long concluded divorce between his mouth and any form of toothpaste.
“I know you have slunk out of the office to join one of these endless stale bread queues! The police, as you know, respect no queue. Sometimes if you are lucky to get a loaf, you would have to be battle with a constipation problem or a running tummy.” I added rather cautiously,” The police in this country promote corruption and disorder. And you may be tempted to keep your mouth shut for fear of emitting stale aroma!” l saw him subconsciously or intentionally muffle his mouth with his right hand. In response to my aforementioned question, words of finality he delivered with a renewed zest and zeal.” As long as queues keep on snaking and shortages persist, l prosper, for in confusion l surely prosper. I used to have meetings with the sons and daughters of Mr Inflation, but now l mingle and mix with Mr Inflation Senior. I mean Sir Hyper-inflation!”
That is Mr Anarchy for you. The man who decided to lose his soul and senses in pursuit of a life of spreading lies and confusion in the name of keeping the ruining party’s leader and his shenanigans, doing what they know best-ruining first and mis-ruling for ever and ever amen. This is the same lousy praise singer l told in the face a few months ago to go hang on Mount Party Marionettes, and fall headlong with all the king’s acolytes ready to sing songs of heroic patriotism (instead of blatant partisanship)-after declaring his sexual lust for me. I was not going be a sex object for him or any other man in this man-made hell. My words stung him into silence. In fact, he looked like a hot-water doused cock! His colleagues preach powerful and sorrowful messages about the importance of fidelity in the face of the AIDS pandemic year in year out, yet most of them are busy buying concubines and mistresses with money meant for poor AIDS patients.
Not to mention that they have contributed significantly in a -couldn’t- care- less -attitude to the total collapse of the health system. There is a rapid deterioration of the health service delivery system, lack of adequate water supply, and lack of capacity to dispose of solid waste and repair sewage blockages in most areas. All these incapacities continue to contribute to the escalation and spread of many contagious diseases .The selfish leaders are not worried to death. Why? Because they are out of touch with the rest of the citizens. Because they can fly out of the kingdom at the slightest scream of their bulging stomachs, or when their imported groceries run out.
The dream. All shattered . The brave sons and daughters of the struggle paid the supreme price, deep in their hearts and heads were treasures of regaining dignity, land and their rights as citizens. Their songs were loud and clear, harping on freedom of association, press freedom and other tenets of democracy. The blood-thirsty emperor has made a mockery of Prince Franchise. This is a very sad state of affairs because all the sons and daughters of Mr Scam and Mrs. Sham (or is it Shame?) take centre whenever ballot time comes. These sons and daughters team up with such dirty-minded people like Mr Anarchy and run roughshod over Prince Franchise. I am bleeding in my heart as l report that Sir Democracy has gone AWOL. I heard him with my ears. I shall only return when there is sanity. Those were his words before he escaped. There is a humanitarian, political, social and economic catastrophe that should galvanize the decent souls to put their heads together and seek a lasting solution. But…l do not know. Economic meltdown is taking its toll. Political rape is suffocating and submerging all the voices of reason and dissent .It is a disgrace. I mean, a calamity plus a bottomless pity. I am outraged.
Friend, this is an open secret. The emperor and Sir Democracy are like oil and water. You know what, Sir Democracy was on the minefield the very moment he declared no person had a right to foist hunger, penury and dehuminisation on the poor in the name of promoting and protecting autocracy for eternity. Sir Democracy, being frank and open as his is-thoroughly rapped the emperor and the royal cronies for dining and wining without a care on the innocent blood of our fallen heroes and heroines. He also slammed His Majesty for brutalizing Prince Franchise and all the people who supported the prince. The bootlickers did not mince their words, they said he was treading where angels fear. Call to mind, those people have made it their duty to feel` pain` for him, and if it were possible, they would cough and cringe for him!
I look up to Sir Democracy. I doff my hat to Prince Franchise. Both epitomize our struggle for dignity, freedom and normalcy. l also salute Miss Equality. She was battered and insulted for exercising her constitutional right to express her views and opinions .One royal member attempted to rape her, and for all his troubles she kicked his testicles nice and fast, Will Smith style until he passed out! Assertive, she told people attending a residents meeting that only idiotic women went into paroxysms of jubilation and praise singing after being given a mere piece of meat before an election. Hunger stalks the land for the majority, but a certain dish of fish called propaganda does not run out. Hardly a day passes by without one watching those gigantic fish on TV. These vertebrate cold blooded animals with grills are portrayed by the overzealous bootlickers as real and nutritious.
Miss Equality was arrested for writing in the local paper that what people were actually hearing was nothing but verbal diarrhea. She was castigated for saying there is a lot of hand-clapping, handshaking, pontificating or posturing whilst the kingdom was going up in flames. I was moved by her words that day. “Brothers and sisters, speak out. Tell the world your story. Don’t wait for a Moses to descend from heaven. Tell yourself you are your own Moses. Did not our wise elders say: the Rock Rabbit has no tail because of his dependence on the generosity of others? Similarly, didn’t our seniors warn us about a thing that belongs to someone else? They did. They said a thing that belongs to someone else is the gravy of the hyena”. Upon meeting her in the food queues people ululated, chanting” Our Lady Moses.True! A plough that belongs to someone else cannot banked on for a good harvest. ”
Master Corruption would hear no word of it, though he is the official way of conducting business here. He called Miss Equality names like-poisonous witch and uncultured, westernized street-girl. Master Corruption actually leapt in the air like a possessed herbalist, hit his chest five times and declared no Western-indoctrinated woman should talk as if she has what men have between their legs! There was uproar as some bold women demonstrated in the streets. All of them were bundled into the back of a truck and detained in a prison whose toilets were flushed once per week- for two months, eating maize porridge once a day.
As a woman, I look at the innocent children whose future has been ruined and tears start to cascade down my cheeks. There has to be a better life. Is this a life, really? Do we deserve all these debasing experiences? It suits us well? What about the children whose future has been turned into doom and gloom? What sin have they committed? Their schools are nothing but some white elephant. There is no schooling to talk of unless if one can afford to pay a `private` tutor in foreign currency for extra lessons. The hospitals and clinics are devoid of any form of medication under the sun. No pill. No nothing. Absolutely horrifying institutions. No longer life-saving centres. Not anymore. People just pray that they do not fall sick. How precarious a life this is. And cholera is always lurking. It is and was always coming…No wonder, for where are the chemicals to treat the water? Innocent people are dying like flies. Yet there is always money for rallies to demonise the opposition, the West and for flying overseas to pontificate about our `independence and successes` as a people! And the world listens… or does it?
Then there are the senseless killings and a wave of violence, fear, indoctrination, discrimination and intimidation? Who shall put out this inferno of madness? The players? Are they not putting their selfish and personal agenda ahead of the plight of the majority? My hope will not perish in the midst of this suffering, and the collapsing of the kingdom. Somebody else? No. l am a woman of strength, endurance and with a vision. Just as the fallen heroes and heroines had a dream, l also need to dream anew. It is real most of my countrymen are scattered all over the world. It is also real that there is no currency to talk about in this kingdom, something people call `burial` cheques (meaning the real money has been laid to rest in the cemetery of corruption or something!)To make matters worse, banks time and again run out of those useless but numerous papers.
l personally shall not whimper, but do something about this decay, this conflagration ,this stench and this imprisonment. My home land has been turned into a kingdom of muddle, misery and madness, but l have a burning desire to transform it into a heaven of hope, prosperity and unity. This rebuilding and healing process starts with me. National radio and TV stations are powerful media houses. But these are rooted on one side of the coin. Is it possible that all the people who are interviewed there think alike? No, the question should be-what can or should l do? I will tell my story with vigour irrespective of all the indignities l have suffered. For the African proverb spells it out: until the lions get their own historian the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.