Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kafupi Reborn

Kafupi Reborn

Last night I turned on the TV, and there was a presenter saying ‘We now go to the Holy Cathedral of St Barabas in Ndola, where the notorious thief Kafupi Mupupu is officiating at the funeral of his departed relatives.’

The camera now took us to the church scene where little Kafupi, all dressed up as a priest in a long cassock, with arms raised to heaven, was swaying in front of a row of coffins, as the congregation swayed in harmony with his holy gyrations.

‘Oh Lord,’ implored the Reverend Kafupi, his back to the congregation, ‘we ask that our dear departed friends can be born again, just as I was born again after my troubles and transgressions.’ Now he swung round dramatically to face his audience. ‘Yes, I too was born again. I was once a common thief, down and out, and before the judge. But I turned to the Lord and asked for his guidance.’

‘Hallelujah!’ sang the congregation. ‘Praise the Lord!’

‘And the Lord spoke to me,’ continued Kafupi, as he walked up and down in front of the altar, followed by his devoted wife Plundera, who kept lifting his long cassock to prevent him from tripping and falling down flat. ‘And the Lord spoke to me, saying Read the New Testament and ye shall be born again.’

‘Amen,’ sang the congregation.

‘And I read the story of Jesus and I saw its meaning,’ declared Kafupi. ‘I saw that Judas had been paid thirty pieces of silver to reveal to the Roman soldiers the whereabouts of Jesus at Gethsemani. And now at last I realised the meaning of the scripture. Jesus should have paid the soldiers a hundred pieces of silver to save himself.’

‘We can all be saved!’ chanted the congregation.

‘I read the book and I wept for Jesus,’ said Kafupi, as Plundera took off her chitenge to mop the tears flowing down his face. ‘If only Jesus had given a brown envelope to Pontius Pilate, he could have received a favourable judgement. If only Jesus had given a new palace to King Herod, he could have lived to a ripe old age and written many more entertaining parables. If only Jesus had offered the Pharisees a controlling share in his new church, with no windfall tax, he could have grown as rich as Caesar.’

‘As rich as Nyamasoya,’ chanted the congregation.

‘So the Lord showed me the way,’ continued Kafupi, ‘and I am born again. Even without the inconvenience of crucifixion, my innocence has been restored. My heart, which was so wicked and shrivelled, overnight became good and strong!’

‘A miracle!’ exclaimed the audience, as the mighty Plundera picked him up and gave him a big kiss.

Now the Reverend Kafupi pointed at the row of coffins. ‘And so I come here to this funeral today, as the one anointed by God to resurrect our departed friends.’

‘The Apostle of God has spoken,’ chanted the congregation.

‘In the first coffin,’ said the Reverend Kafupi, ‘we have the recently deceased Judiciary, which has now been privatised, and is born again as Instant Justice!’

‘Praise the Lord!’ sang the congregation. ‘Give us pangas and we shall do His will!’

‘In the second coffin,’ intoned the Reverend Kafupi, as Plundera sprinkled Holy Water upon him, ‘we have the Police Service, which is hereby born again as the Party Savages.’

‘Vengeance is ours, ’ sang the congregation.

‘In the third coffin we have the Constitution,’ declared Kafupi, ‘which is due to be burnt to a cinder by a new parastatal, the National Cremation Corporation. After the Constitution has gone up in smoke, it will rise up to heaven, and then descend on the third day as a black suffocating cloud, called the One Party State.’

‘What goes up must come down,’ sang the congregation.

Now little Kafupi climbed upon the fourth coffin and did a little dance, in which he was joined by his huge wife, the voluptuous Plundera. As both of their pairs of high heels clattered upon the coffin, Kafupi shouted ‘Here lies the remains of The Law, which will be born again as two twins, the Law for the Poor and the Law for the Rich.’

‘We must take special care of the poor,’ sang the congregation.

‘This fifth coffin,’ said Kafupi triumphantly, ‘is stuffed with money stolen from the National Pension Fund.’

‘Where are the pensioners?’ asked the congregation.

‘Be joyful,’ laughed Kafupi, ‘they’re already in heaven.’

‘Hallelujah! Honour thy father and thy mother,’ sang the congregation.

‘And finally,’ said the Reverend Kafupi, ‘in this sixth coffin lies Democracy, who tried to cause chaos and anarchy by taking excessive liberties with her freedom of expression, and was therefore gang raped by the Official Rapists of the Movement for Molestation and Defilement. In order to prevent such indiscipline in future, Democracy will be born again as Dictatorship.’

Sara turned to me in disbelief. ‘Are they worshipping God or the Devil?’

‘Hard to tell,’ I laughed. ‘In this church, God seems to have been born again as the Devil.’
‘But in a Christian nation,’ Sara wondered, ‘how many will vote for the Devil?’

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Foul Emissions

Foul Emissions

Dear Diary, I'm so worried about my poor dear husband. He's always out of the country, and seems to have lost track of what's going on here at home. Yesterday my poor old Nyamasoya took a delegation of fifty people to Luanda for bilateral talks at a football match. No sooner had he left than the government announced the new Carbon Emissions Tax. Immediately I phoned the Minister Without Energy, King Kong, and asked him to explain what was going on. He said that it's really a Shula Tax, because all the feasting at government banquets had caused excessive foul emissions, especially of methane and hydrogen sulphide, causing a measurable increase in global warming. Following the Copenhagen agreement, the government needs to raise thirty billion a year to pay for these emissions. When I asked him what the thirty billion would be used for, he just laughed, saying it was needed to buy more roast beef and champagne, since the donors were refusing to pay for any more banquets. I'm sure Nyamasoya will stop all this nonsense as soon as he gets back.
Oh Dear Diary, my dear husband was so tired when he got home tonight he went straight to bed, so I haven't had time to talk to him. He always comes back home so exhausted, I wonder what he gets up to while he's away. I'm sitting on the edge of the bed trying to write this, despite the terrible noise of snoring. I'm also worried that his poisonous carbon emissions will cost the country another billion, and cause enough global warming to melt a polar ice-cap. I don't dare to lie down, he might roll over and squash me. Or I might get caught between two rolls of fat and suffocate. Perhaps I'll be able to tell him about the new Shula Tax at breakfast.
Too late, Dear Diary, by the time I got down to breakfast he had already gone off with a party of seventy to Swaziland, to join his friend the king on a hunting expedition. I wonder what sort of hunting they're doing. I hope he still loves me. I'm over twenty now, and he prefers younger women. Even at his advanced age he's still active, and likes to eat fresh fruit everyday.
Dear Diary, it's happened again. No sooner had my dear husband gone out of the country than the dreaded King Kong put up the price of petrol by fifteen percent. I'm sure they're plotting to discredit him. He's getting bad advice from all of them. People are muttering that the price hike is needed to pay for all of Nyamasoya's trips abroad. Little do they realise that my dear husband would cancel all these increases if he knew what was going on.
Dear Diary, it must be a plot to embarrass my dear husband. Last night a mad party official named Thug Chalali tried to disgrace my husband. He went on TV and let fly with such a disgusting and stinking emission that all the studio staff fled, and the TV station was closed down for an hour. He announced that any woman who criticises my husband will be stripped and gang raped in public. See how these idiots and thugs are deliberately trying to disgrace my husband! And my dear Nyamasoya has such a high regard for women. Only last year, when a pregnant woman and her newborn child were left dying on the pavement, he declared that such public agony was obscene, and therefore in future such agony should be kept private. This shows how much my husband is willing to respect the rights of women, and ensure that the brutal violence against women is kept off the streets. Just wait for my husband's return, and he will put matters right and deal severely with this mad Thug Chalali.
Oh Dear Diary, things went terribly wrong when my husband arrived at the airport this morning. As he stepped out of the plane a reporter asked him what he'd been doing in Swaziland, and he said he'd been helping the king select a suitable fourteen year-old virgin as the king's forty-third wife. Then another reporter asked him whether he approved of rape, and he replied that rape is very tasty, and he's always been very partial to rape, and even in Swaziland rape had been on the menu everyday. Then he stepped into another plane, and set off for New York to attend a world conference on women's rights. So you see, Dear Diary, how his advisors must have misled him, telling him that the question was about vegetables. When my dear husband realises what's been going on, he's going to put everything right.
Dear Diary, Last night I had a terrible nightmare. I dreamt that my dear husband had deliberately employed all these thugs and villains as his ministers and party officials, and that he is the one causing the terrible stinking emissions from their foul mouths. Oh Dear Diary, please help me to keep these disloyal thoughts from my head!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Yesterday morning I arrived rather late at Kamwala Magistrates Court to hear the case against one of my more tiresome nephews. But I found the court empty and everybody gone. As I stood there baffled, I heard a voice behind me. ‘Kalaki, what are you doing here?’
‘Kafundisha!’ I exclaimed, turning round and giving him a hug. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘After retiring from my job as Professor of Development Studies I was completely destitute,’ he replied. ‘So I got a job here as the caretaker.’
‘I came for the case of my nephew,’ I said, ‘but there’s nobody here. What happened?’
‘Adjourned before it began,’ he laughed. ‘No transport for the prisoners from Mukobeko.’
‘But there’s nothing happening anywhere,’ I said, pointing at all the empty courts. ‘Are they all waiting for prisoners from Mukubeko?’
‘All adjourned for different reasons,’ he laughed. ‘Either the magistrate has gone to a funeral, or the defence lawyer has gone sick, or the accused has jumped bail, or the witnesses can’t be found, or the case file has been lost, or the prosecutor brought a nolle prosequi, or the court exhibits have been stolen, or…’
‘So when was a case last heard in these courts?’ I wondered.
‘Three weeks ago there was a case of treason, where a man was accused of honking his motor horn, thereby threatening to bring down the government.’
‘With his motor horn?’
‘Yes, the government is extremely fragile at the moment, and the vibrations from a loud motor horn could easily cause the entire government infrastructure to crack and crumble, and then collapse in a pile of dust.’
‘And was this treasonable hooter found guilty?’
‘No. The case was adjourned indefinitely after the courtroom was invaded by a hundred cadres of the Punching Fist. Now they are all in Mukobeko Prison, awaiting trial on charges of illegal assembly, demonstrating without a permit, removing the magistrate’s wig, contempt of court and, of course, treason.’
‘So will the case resume soon?’
‘No. There’s no transport at Mukobeko.’
‘So there’s nothing happening here,’ I laughed. ‘It must be more boring than Yunza!’
‘Don’t just look at the surface of things,’ he laughed. ‘Here on the ground you might see nothing. But downstairs there’s a lot going on! Come with me!’
He led me down the corridor, and through an innocuous little green door labelled Bargain Basement, and then down a flight of steps. There we found plenty of people milling around the many shops of a long shopping mall.
‘Here we see the new government policy of PPP, public private partnership. This enables people to participate in the legal process, and make their own investments for the right outcomes according to their personal needs.’
‘You mean that people can buy justice?’
‘Why not? Under Money Matters Democracy, money is what matters. If you need education, you can buy it. Health care, you can buy it. A job, you can buy it. A contract, you can buy it. Why should justice be any different?’
‘Without money,’ I said, ‘you can rot and die.’
‘Exactly,’ he said. ‘We must encourage entrepreneurship.’
We went into the first shop, called Clean File. ‘Here,’ said Kafundisha, ‘you can have your file cleaned, such as DNA evidence removed, finger prints exchanged, court records expunged, or previous convictions wiped out. For only five million you can buy a bottle of File Evaporation Fluid.’
Next we went into the Court Bookshop, with useful titles such as How to Get an Adjournment, Inventing an Alibi, Legal Immunity, Criminal Lawyers, Subverting the Constitution, Using the Law to Protect the Rich from the Poor, How to Jail Your Enemies, and so on.
As we went into the next shop, the salesman stood up and greeted us with ‘Any problems sir? Anybody you want to put in the cells? For fifty pin we’ll put him in. For fifty pin we’ll take him out!’
In the next shop we found prison uniforms for sale. ‘Got a friend in jail? Buy him this Assistant Commissioner’s uniform for only fifty million! When he walks out, all the warders will salute!’
‘Good gracious,’ I said to Kafundisha. ‘No wonder there’s not much business upstairs! Most things can be settled down here, out of court!’
‘Out of court settlements are so much better,’ he laughed.
‘But suppose the government want to use the law to fix the opposition, or to protect themselves from some vexatious petition or tribunal? How does the government protect itself from the power of the market?’
‘Come next door,’ he chuckled, ‘and all will become clear.’
The next shop, with the amusing title Rule of Law, had rows of judges sitting on the shelves. ‘Serious faces and empty heads,’ laughed Kafundisha. ‘They’re all robots, made in China.’
As he spoke, the salesman pressed a button on his remote control. ‘Guilty!’ shouted all the judges. Then he pressed another button. ‘Not Guilty!’ they shouted.
‘Of course you must realise,’ laughed Kafundisha, ‘that anything that happens down here is sub judice!’
‘Of course,’ I said. ‘We must respect the independence of the judiciary.’

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christmas Pantomime

Christmas Pantomime

‘Let’s go to the Christmas Pantomime!’ said Sara.

‘What’s on?’ I asked. Cinderella? Snow White?’

‘No,’ said Sara. ‘Its called the Trial of Father Christmas.’

‘At the Lusaka Playhouse?’

‘No,’ she sighed, ‘the Theatre Club died years ago. Nowadays all the theatrical entertainment is staged at Kamwala Magistrates Court.

And so it was that, at 9 hours on Christmas Eve, we were sitting on a hard bench, squeezed in with the expectant crowd, waiting for the fun to begin. Finally the magistrate arrived and took his place on the bench. ‘Bring in the prisoners,’ he commanded, as into the dock filed the three accused: Father Christmas, little Kafupi Mupupu, and lastly the mighty Sir Dread Membo, editor of the Daily Blast.

‘Hurray!’ we all cheered.

‘This is the last episode of this Christmas Pantomime,’ announced the magistrate.

‘Booo!’ we all shouted.

‘This series has been running for seven years,’ he continued, ‘and in this last episode it is my duty to read the final judgments which will conclude this long-running Trial of Father Christmas.’

‘Stand up, Father Christmas!’ ordered the clerk of the court.

‘Father Christmas,’ said the magistrate sternly. ‘You are charged with neglecting your duty of distributing presents to poor children. Instead you have spent all your time in Shoprite, selling expensive toys to rich parents. I find you guilty and sentence you to…’

As he was talking, the pantomime villain slithered like a snake behind the magistrate. ‘Look behind you!’ we all shouted.

‘Who’s he?’ I asked Sara.

‘That’s the evil Minister of Injustice,’ said Sara. ‘He exerts his corrupt influence by moving around the stage, hissing into the actor’s ears, in order to put wicked words into their mouths.’

As the snake finished whispering, the magistrate continued, ‘…I sentence you to visit Mfuwe with a truck load of expensive presents, and to give all of them to the rich little children staying in the royal suite at Chiwelewele Lodge.’

‘Booo!’ we all shouted.

‘Stand up Kafupi Mupupu!’ ordered the clerk of the court.

‘Kafupi Mupupu,’ said the magistrate with a forbidding frown, ‘Father Christmas has been let off lightly because you are the real culprit. You are charged with theft by public servant, in that you used your position as king to steal all of Santa’s toys, thereby depriving all poor children…’

‘It was the policy of my government that the rich should get richer and the poor should get poorer,’ said cheeky Kafupi.

‘Silence during the reading of the judgment!’ shouted the magistrate angrily. ‘You also stole Santa’s toy factory at the North Pole and sold it to the Chinese, and then roasted his eight reindeer for a Christmas Feast at State House. Therefore I find you guilty and sentence you to…’

But again the snake appeared and hissed into the magistrate’s ear.

‘Booo!’ we all shouted.

‘However,’ said the magistrate, ‘I note the evidence that you have a long record as a rotten little common thief, starting from long before you became king. The evidence therefore strongly suggests that you stole these toys in your long-term substantive capacity as a common thief, and not in your temporary capacity as king. Therefore I find you not guilty of theft by public servant, and acquit you of all charges.’

Immediately the Director of Prosecutions rose to his feet. ‘Your Honour, I give notice of appeal against…’

But already the evil snake has slithered behind the Director of Prosecutions. ‘Look out!’ we all shouted. ‘Behind you!’ But we were too late. The snake had already sunk his fangs into the ear of the hapless Director of Prosecutions.’

‘Correction, Your Honour,’ squealed the Director of Prosecutions, ‘I give notice that the state will not appeal, and may I congratulate you on your excellent judgment!’

‘Stand up Sir Dread Membo!’ ordered the clerk of the court.

‘Hooray!’ we all cheered.

‘Sir Dread Membo,’ said the magistrate grimly. ‘You have been charged with contempt of court, in that you wrote an editorial explaining why both evidence and law pointed clearly to the guilt of King Kafupi in stealing toys from Father Christmas.’

‘And I was right,’ said Sir Dread.

‘That’s the problem,’ sighed the magistrate sadly. ‘It is against the law for a newspaper to influence a magistrate! That was why I had to find Kafupi innocent, just to show that I hadn’t been influenced by your explanation of his guilt!’

‘Then the error was yours and not mine,’ said Sir Dread.

But the dreaded snake was rising up behind the magistrate’s ear. ‘Behind you!’ we all shouted. Too late! The magistrate’s ear was already full of the snake’s poison!

‘The magistrate’s voice now changed to a very severe tone. ‘Dread Membo, you are also charged with the further offence of assuming the position of editor without having been appointed by the Minister of Injustice.’

‘There is no such requirement in law,’ said Sir Dread, calmly.

‘Quite right,’ said the magistrate. ‘Therefore this farce has been extended for another episode. So come back next Christmas, after we’ve changed the law, and then we’ll find you guilty!’

‘Booo!’ we all shouted.

‘Don’t worry,’ Sara laughed as we walked out of the theatre, ‘we’re going to change the cast long before the next episode!’