Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wind of Change

Wind of Change
What fun it was, last week, watching those daily weather reports on Aljazeera as the political hurricane blew through North Africa, blowing away thieving presidents, first from Tunisia and then from Egypt.
And then more excitement at the end of the week, with the weather man standing in front of the map of Africa and moving his stick southward, ‘Hurricane Nemesis is now gathering momentum over the Red Sea, and is threatening to blow a gang of criminals out of the presidential palace in Yemen.’
‘Ooh Hoo!’ squealed Sara in delight, ‘it’s moving south, maybe it can swing our way!’
But by Sunday the Aljazeera weather man had moved his stick east, announcing that ‘Hurricane Nemisis has crossed the desert from Aden, picked up speed over the Persian Gulf, and is causing extensive destruction in the island Kingdom of Bahrein, where the king’s fleet of one hundred and thirty-four gold plated Cadillacs have all been blown into the sea.’
‘Hurray!’ I shouted.
‘How can you be celebrating?’ Sara complained. ‘The damn thing’s going the wrong way!’
But on Tuesday the news was better. ‘In an unexpected development, Hurricane Nemesis has picked up energy and speed over the Indian Ocean. It has moved rapidly east, crossing back into Africa, and has caused massive political chaos and disruption all across the Congo, from Goma to Kinshasa…’
‘Huh,’ snorted Sara, ‘who will notice the difference?’
‘… latest reports coming in,’ continued the weather man, ‘indicate that the hurricane has now moved south into Barotseland, causing panic in the government, rioting in the police force, and the arrest of all the local meteorologists who have been charged with causing bad weather.’
‘At last, at last!’ said Sara, dancing on the coffee table, ‘it’s coming our way!’
But the next night, when we turned on the Aljazeera news, the screen was blank. ‘You silly bugger,’ Sara shouted, ‘you bought that brandy instead of paying Multichoice.’
‘Just turn on ZNBC,’ I said calmly, as I refilled my brandy glass.
Now onto the screen came the sly old rhinoceros, the Dishonourable Reverend General Rotten Shikashiwa, Minister for Refuting the Truth and Disseminating Propaganda. He was reading from a piece of paper, and licking his lips as he came to the next delicious lie,
‘… State House has announced the suspension of the Chief Meterological Officer in order to investigate charges against him of causing alarm and despondency by circulating false rumours that Hurricane Nemesis is about to hit Zambia. He is also to be investigated by the Auditor General, after a demonstration by orderlies and cleaners, in which he was accused of receiving far more rain that he ever distributed.
‘The government would like to assure the nation that everything is under control, and that all meteorological officers belonging to a certain opposition party have now been replaced by Mobile Meterological Disseminators, or MMD, which have been supplied by the Chinese Government, and which are now disseminating good weather to all parts of the country. But I would be failing in my duty if I did not caution all dissidents that, if necessary, the MMD can also disseminate tear gas and bullets to all those who find themselves unable to appreciate the good weather that this government has brought.
‘On the subject of the unsubstantiated and subversive rumour that Hurricane Nemisis has already entered this country, I can assure the nation that government will not allow this. No entry permit or visa has been issued, and any Foreign Destructive Intervention, or FDI, has to pass through formalities at State House before being let loose on innocent citizens.
‘In addition, no hurricane can be allowed to gather force on the street without first being given a permit by the police, and no such permit has been issued. In the meantime, all citizens are advised to stay in their houses and lock their doors. All foreign TV stations have been cut off, and all private media closed, in order to protect citizens from incorrect and mischievous information. The entire police force is on the street to enforce the 24 hour curfew. Apart from these measures, citizens should go about their normal business, and there is nothing to worry about.’
‘Hurray!’ shouted Sara. ‘The hurricane has arrived!’
The next morning we turned on BBC radio, thinking it would be blocked. But imagine our surprise when we heard the latest news. ‘SMS’s coming in from the Autocracy of Zed are reporting that Zed has finally been hit by the full force of Hurricane Nemesis, where it first hit State House and blew the president all the way to Saudi Arabia…’
‘Oh good!’ laughed Sara. ‘He loves flying!’
‘Since ordinary citizens were all ordered to stay indoors, there are no reports of casualties. However, the entire police force, which was patrolling the streets, has been blown into the Zambezi. Reports say the hurricane has now passed, and the people are out in the street rejoicing.’
‘Let’s turn on ZNBC TV,’ I said. ‘Maybe there’s an announcement on who has taken over.’
The screen was filled with a huge desk, behind which stood a large imposing presidential chair. But the chair was empty! And yet a voice, which seemed to be coming from the empty chair, was saying ‘I promise you democracy, human rights, the rule of law, transparency, good governance, freedom from corruption and …’
‘That chair’s not empty!’ screamed Sara. ‘The dwarf is back!’
[Story based on an idea by Humphrey Milimo, with contributions from Ezra Kalala and Alexander Mwalula]

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