Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Full Circle

Full Circle

‘I really can’t make it out.’ said Amock, ‘We seem to be back to 1940, with protesting miners being shot.’

‘It was just a matter of time before the bullets started flying,’ said Sara. ‘When workers are paid slave wages, strikes are illegal, and protests are illegal, then something’s going to blow up.’

‘What about the political aspect of it?’ Amock persisted. ‘How do we understand a ruling party allowing workers to be treated like dogs? These are the same workers from whom they need votes at the next election? Is there some explanation for all this which has passed us by?’

‘I’ll pour another round,’ I said, as I picked up the brandy bottle. ‘I think our imaginations need a bit of lubrication.’

So we sat there for a few moments in contemplative silence. ‘At least,’ said Sara, ‘this explains why the Chinese hearses were bought, to quickly remove dead miners from the scene. And mobile hospitals to quickly arrive, and attend to the dead and dying. Now people will understand why we needed these expensive imports, and thank the government for their great foresight in anticipating mine massacres.’

‘That still doesn’t get over the problem that people don’t vote for massacres,’ declared Amock. ‘But on the other hand, maybe they no longer need our votes, they can rely on rigging.’

‘That can’t be the answer,’ I said. ‘The basic mathematical formula for rigging, as first introduced in Velvet Mango’s classic work on Election Manipulation, established that rigging can increase a candidate’s vote by a theoretical maximum of only 10%.’

‘And this government,’ said Sara, ‘is probably facing a 95% swing against them. The only people who would vote for them would be coffin makers and undertakers.’

‘So it seems that we can’t explain the government’s behaviour,’ I said. ‘If there’s is no rational explanation, it must be mere stupidity.’

But so far Jennifer had said nothing. All she had done was to pour herself another brandy. But finally, she spoke. ‘Be careful who you call stupid,’ she said. ‘Maybe it’s us who are too stupid to understand the government’s clever plan. Maybe these ministers are not as stupid as they look.’

‘I certainly hope not,’ said Sara. ‘But do you have an alternative explanation?’

‘I think you’ve been focusing too narrowly on the mistreatment of workers,’ said Jennifer. ‘You have to look at the bigger picture.’

‘What bigger picture?’ I sneered. ‘Like taxing starving miners, but not taxing the rich mines? Isn’t the bigger picture the same, only worse!’

‘Perhaps,’ said Jennifer. ‘But what about all the new roads and new bridges that the government is building? What about the new hospitals and schools? How does that fit into your picture?’

‘That’s a good point,’ admitted Amock. ‘Maybe a lot of people will vote for these things, and forget about the mistreatment of the workers.’

‘Maybe,’ admitted Jennifer. ‘Maybe they will vote for these things because they think they will benefit from them.’

‘And won’t they?’ asked Sara.

‘Suppose these things are all part of the same plan,’ said Jennifer. ‘Suppose that the plan is to drive the Zambian workers out of the country, and replace them with Chinese! Then we can understand why we need a railway link to Maputo, and another to the Bangwelu railway and Luanda. And why are we building new roads into Angola? And new bridges at Chaiwa and Kasungula? Isn’t it because they are needed to export our workers by the million, and import the Chinese!’

‘So our workers are being treated like dogs on purpose, to chase them out of the country!’

‘Exactly,’ said Jennifer. ‘And this is just part of the bigger picture.’

‘Then why are we building so many schools and hospitals?’ I asked.

‘They’re all for the new Chinese workers!’ laughed Jennifer.

‘And will all the exported Zambians be able to find work abroad?’ Sara wondered.

‘They couldn’t find work here because their jobs were taken by highly paid foreigners. But if they go abroad, the Zambians will then be highly paid foreigners.’

‘So will these Chinese make Zambia rich?’

‘Hasn’t the Minister for Nkongole Budgets, little Mosquito Katwishi, already promised that we shall soon be a middle income country! But how is it going to be achieved? Let me tell you the secret! Once the Chinese own everything they will invest heavily. The copper money will stay here. New factories everywhere, full of Chinese workers. We shall be the new Hong Kong!’

‘But we shall become the Republic of Chinbia!’ exclaimed Sara. ‘Doesn’t Nyamasoya realize that the Chinese will take over the government? The remaining Zambians will be their house-servants and chola boys, and we shall be treated like dirt. We shall be a colony once again. Is that Vasco da Gama’s great plan? Is this his marvellous vision for our future?’

‘Of course it is!’ laughed Jennifer. ‘This is all that these old UNIP fellows know and understand. They understand colonies, and how to deal with them. So they will organize another struggle for independence, capture the rich colony from the Chinese, and bring back the one-party state! Once again we shall be a rich middle income country!’

‘What a relief!’ laughed Amock. ‘And what a great vision! Then we won’t be back in 1940 anymore! We shall have moved forward to 1964!’

‘And all much better off!’ said Jennifer.

I refilled all the glasses, and raised mine in the air. ‘Let’s all be upstanding! Let’s celebrate the Struggle for Independence!’

[Thanks to Isaac Makashinyi and Hachi Beekay, who both contributed ideas to this piece]


  1. Kalaki,this is awesome stuff...

  2. True Kalaki...........let them who has ears hear.

  3. Moving in circles indeed. LOL. That aside, this is a great piece of art.