Tuesday, January 11, 2011



‘Grandpa,’ said Nawiti, ‘before I go to bed, tell me a story with a happy ending.'

‘Once upon a time,’ I began, ‘in the land of Zed, there was a farmer called Mrs Zedia Bantubonse…’

‘I thought farmers were men,’ Nawiti objected.

‘Then you thought wrong,’ I replied. ‘In Zed the farmers were all women. Their husbands’ job was to drink beer and look for more wives, so that the farm could have more farmers.’

‘And what was the name of the farm?’

‘It was called Carrotseland, because Mrs Bantubonse was very good at growing carrots. But she also grew maize and groundnuts and kept cattle and goats. It was a very large farm, with thousands of workers living in the many villages of Carrotseland.’

‘So what was the problem?’ asked Nawiti.

‘As with all farms in Zed,’ I explained, ‘the problem was theft. The crops were being stolen by monkeys, eaten by rats and trampled by elephants and hippos. What with all the thieving animals and the lazy husbands, the farm just couldn’t make a profit.’

‘They just needed a big guard dog,’ declared Nawiti.

‘Several guard dogs had been trampled by the elephants, and one had been eaten by a crocodile. But one day a large hyena came knocking at her door. ‘Excuse me, Mrs Bantubonse,’ said the hyena politely, ‘but I have heard of your problem. Me and my friends can help. We can stay on your farm and protect everything.’

‘How much would I have to pay you?’ asked Mrs Bantubonse suspiciously.

‘No, you wouldn’t have to pay anything,’ the hyena assured her. ‘It’s all in the general interest. It will be a win-win situation. We shall eat the naughty monkeys, and your crops will be protected, and we shall all be happy.’

‘And what is your name?’ asked Mrs Bantubonse.

‘Call me Ragbo,’ he answered. ‘Or RB for short.’

‘So did Ragbo do a good job?’ asked Nawiti.

‘Everything went very well for about a year,’ I replied. ‘Then one day Ragbo again knocked on Mrs Bantubonse’s door. ‘Madam,’ he said politely, ‘your farm is now selling lots of produce and all you humans are now fat and rich, but we hyenas are poor and starving!’

‘How’s that?’ asked Mrs Bantubonse.

‘We have done our job so well that there are no monkeys left to eat,’ said Ragbo. ‘You just let us eat the goats, and you can have the rest, and we can all live happily together. It will be a win-win situation.’

‘So they signed the Carrotseland Agreement,’ suggested Nawiti.

‘Exactly,’ I replied. ‘But a year later Ragbo knocked on her door again. ‘We have eaten all the goats, so now we need the cows. You can have the carrots and maize. It will be a win-win situation.’

‘Certainly not!’ said Mrs Bantubonse. ‘You’ve eaten too much already! You and all your friends can now leave my farm!’

‘Your order has no force,’ sneered Ragbo, ‘According to the Carrotseland Agreement, we hyenas are now in charge!’

‘Then we’ll have an election,’ declared Mrs Bantubonse, ‘to see who’s in charge!’

‘Very good,’ said Ragbo. ‘And as Chief of Security and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, I shall be the one to organize the election and count the votes.’

‘And so the hyenas organized themselves into the Movement of Murderous Dogs, and the humans became the Peoples’ Farm, and the election was held.’

‘Didn’t the cows also form a party?’ wondered Nawiti.

‘No. During the election the hyenas ate all the cows. But the monkeys all voted in favour of the Murderous Dogs.’

‘What!’ shouted Nawiti. ‘You said that the hyenas ate all the monkeys.’

‘I never said that,’ I retorted. ‘What I said was that Ragbo said that. But of course he was a compulsive liar. In fact he did a deal with the monkeys that they could eat the maize while the hyenas were eating the goats. You see, it was the monkeys who taught the hyenas how to steal, and Ragbo became best friends with Kolwe Kafupi, the chief of the thieving monkeys.

‘But surely there were many more humans than hyenas?’

‘Yes there were,’ I admitted. ‘But the humans lost the election because the hyenas did the counting. So they swallowed most of the human votes, and also some of the humans. So Ragbo declared he had won the election, appointed himself President of the new Republic of Chimbwi, and then tore up the Carrotseland Agreement.’

‘Oh dear,’ said Nawiti. ‘Did he turn out to be a good president?’

‘Of course not. He sold off all the land to foreigners from the Republic of Ching Chang, so the former farmers now became wage labourers on their own land. When they were sick and starving, he built them a big hospital.’

‘At least that was good, wasn’t it?’

‘No. The job of the hospital was to squeeze out the last drop of blood, which was being exported to the Republic of Ching Chang for $9,000 a ton.’

‘So the humans voted them out at the next election?’

‘Of course not. The hyenas were still counting the votes.’

‘So they went on strike!’

‘The hyenas had made strikes illegal!’

‘They protested in the street!’

‘That was treason, punishable by death!’

‘So how were they set free?’

‘There is still a legend amongst the people of Carrotseland that one day a young woman called Nawiti will come amongst them and set them free!’

‘Yes!’ shouted Nawiti. ‘When I grow up, I shall save them!’

‘There you are!’ I said gratefully. ‘The story has a happy ending!’

No comments:

Post a Comment