Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Divorce

The Divorce

‘Tell me a story,’ said Nawiti, ‘then I’ll go to bed.’

‘One upon a time,’ I began, ‘a long time ago, the land of Mfuwe was ruled

by King…’

‘King Muwelewele!’ said Nawiti. ‘Not that same story again!’

‘No,’ I said, ‘this king came after Muwelewele, and his name was Nyamasoyaurus, because he was the last of the dinosaurs.’

‘So how did he become king?’ Was he the most clever?’

‘Not at all,’ I laughed. ‘He was rather foolish. That was why Muwelewele

had made him his Chief Minister. Muwelewele always dreaded having clever people anywhere near them, in case they tried to grab the crown and the beautiful Queen Zambiana.’

‘So when Muwelewele died, how did this foolish fellow become king?

‘It was most unfortunate,’ I admitted. ‘The citizens called a Great Indaba, where the main contenders were Crocodile Ng’andu, Rhino Shikashiwa, Pong

Mpongo and Eunuch Kapimpinya. But whenever one of them was proposed as King, the other three all objected. So instead they made a compromise, and all agreed on Nyamasoyaurus.’

‘A compromise? What does that mean?’

‘They all agreed on Nyamasoyaurus because he was equally unacceptable to all of them. This is what the word compromise means.’

‘A very silly word indeed,’ declared Nawiti.

‘And since he was very foolish, they all thought they could control him. After being made King, Nyamasoyaurus’ first duty was to marry Queen Zambiana, the Great She-Elephant who represented all the animals in Mfuwe.’

‘So was Nyamasoyaurus a good king?’

‘Terrible,’ I said. ‘Right from the beginning things started to go wrong. He spent all his time wining and dining, throwing parties, and traveling to other countries. Instead of eating the fruit from the forest, the monkeys now had to

put it in tins and export it across the Zambezi. Then he called in the Ching Chang to cut down all the Mukwa and Mukusi trees, and export them to Hai Shang. Then the Ching Chang began to cut off all the rhinos’ horns and export them to Kong Hong.’

‘What made him think he could get away with such things?’ wondered Nawiti.

‘The snake,’ I said. ‘That was the problem. Nyamasoyaurus had fallen

under the spell of the Red Lipped Snake, an evil slimy little fellow, who used to sit coiled up inside the dinosaur’s huge ear. Whenever the king said Can I really do this and get away with it? the snake would answer him, saying You are the king, you can do whatever you like!

‘And when the king would say Isn’t this against the law? the snake would whisper in his ear, saying You are the king, you can change the law to suit yourself!

‘And whenever the king would say Isn’t this stealing? the snake would hiss in his ear, saying You are the King, everything belongs to you!’

‘Didn’t all the animals protest against the destruction of their country?’ wondered Nawiti.

‘They would crowd round him waving red cards. But the snake would whisper in his ear, saying They love you so much they are waving Valentine cards.’

‘So they couldn’t get rid of him?’

‘One day, the Queen decided she had had enough. She sent a petition to the Court, demanding a divorce. As Mother of all the animals, she declared, I ask the Court to release us all from this foolish monster.

‘But when the King appeared, he laughed in the face of the Court and in the face of the people.

The Queen says, charged the Judge, that you are too movious and never

stay in the palace.

‘But the King just laughed, saying the Queen is the problem. She has fallen in love with Cycle Mata, the Ugly Gorilla in the forest. Don’t worry, I shall soon deal with him!

The Queen is worried that her people are starving, said the Judge.

This is now the richest country in the world, laughed the king, I am now worth billions.’

‘He was very boastful,’ said Nawiti.

‘He had done everything to infuriate the people,’ I said, ‘but seemed completely unaware of their anger.’

‘Because he listened only to the voice of the snake hissing in his ear,’ said Nawiti.

‘Exactly,’ I said.

You are accused, continued the Judge, of butchering all the buffalo and

exporting them to America.

‘Ha ha, laughed the King, ‘this is just a lie from the Gorilla, who has an ugly face and an evil heart.

‘You have not looked after Zambiana and you have murdered her subjects, declared the Judge. I therefore grant the Queen a divorce.’

‘Poof, scoffed the King, you forget that I am the King who appointed you.

You are dismissed as judge with immediate effect, and all the animals in this court are under arrest for treason!

‘And you forget, said the Judge, as the people surged forward menacingly, that Queen Zambiana represents all the animals. Being divorced from all the animals, you are therefore no longer their King.’

‘Nyamasoyaurus could hardly believe the judgment. He staggered out of the Court, sat down on the steps, and wept.’

‘And did the Red Lipped Snake explain to Nyamasoyaurus,’ asked Nawiti, ‘why things had gone so wrong, and why he had lost his throne?’

‘Of course not,’ I laughed. ‘He was already busy whispering into the ear of the Ugly Gorilla.


[Thanks to Christopher Nshindano for suggesting the analogy of a divorce to portray the behaviour of a rejected leader]

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