Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Death of Corruption

Death of Corruption
It was a Monday morning, and Sara and I were crammed at the back of the packed Cathedral of the Holy Hypocrisy. At the front were hundreds of the High and Mighty Servants of The People, all lounging on black leather armchairs. They were dressed in glittering black, fashioned by the finest couturiers of Geneva and Paris, and all paid for by the poor people sitting on hard wooden pews at the back of the cathedral.
‘I’m surprised,’ I whispered to Sara, ‘that there is such a high turnout of the ruling class.’
‘They were all very distraught when they heard the terrible news of the death of Corruption,’ Sara replied. ‘They have come here for reassurance that there is really life after death.’
As we were whispering, a self-appointed Bentecostal Bishop strode up to the lectern to say a few words about the departed. ‘We are gathered here today,’ he began, ‘to celebrate the life of Corruption in Zambia.
‘We all remember the marvelous day when Corruption took over the government. Before that we had been ruled by the one-party bureaucracy, which promised everything, but brought nothing. Previously the government had just been one huge bureaucratic machine which had gone rusty, so that its wheels could not turn. But all it needed was a little lubrication, a little greasing of hands and wheels. And it was Corruption that provided that little bit of lubrication. For this we must always be grateful.
‘Because Corruption realized that a little bit of appreciation is all people need. Unkind critics called this bribery, because they do not understand our tradition of showing appreciation.
‘Why the Bentecostals?’ I whispered to Sara. ‘Isn’t this supposed to be an Anglican cathedral?’
‘The Anglicans rented it out for the funeral, and then fled,’ she replied.
‘And so the idea of Corruption,’ explained the Bishop, ‘soon entered all aspects of government. When contractors showed a bit of appreciation to government officials, they were able to get contracts and avoid the gridlock of the Tender Board. If foreign investors showed a bit of appreciation, they could be given parastatals for nothing, and make huge profit for their new owners. And so the economy was liberalized, and the results of Corruption were much applauded in Washington and Beijing.
‘But here at home, unfair critics and opposition leaders complained about this government of Corruption. But the electorate was more appreciative, because they appreciated appreciation, and were happy to receive appreciation in exchange for their votes, to prevent the enemies of Corruption from winning an election.
‘And so to maintain Corruption in government, Corruption had to take over the police force, and the judiciary, and even the Constitution itself. Certainly, we have a lot to thank Corruption for.
‘But still the critics and naysayers and dissidents and malcontents maintained that Corruption was criminal. But today Corruption has been vindicated, because God has called him to Heaven. And since he has been vindicated, his critics must forgive him.’
‘But if he has been vindicated,’ I whispered to Sara, ‘then what is he to be forgiven for?’
‘Don’t try to make sense of it,’ said Sara.
‘A person achieves his reputation by his great works. And although Corruption may have left us, his great works live on. Corruption may be with the Lord, but Corruption shall remain with us here in Zambia, in our government, in our police and judiciary, and in all walks of life. And whenever a bribe passes from one hand to another, we shall remember him.’
‘Amen,’ chanted the congregation.
‘But his political opponents are now trying to remove his good work by corrupting Corruption. They tell us, Don’t Kubeba, meaning it is alright to accept a bribe, but don’t keep your promise. How can they introduce such sinfulness and dishonesty into the noble idea of Corruption? Just imagine a passport officer accepting a bribe, I mean an appreciation, and then failing to issue the passport! Imagine a voter selling his vote for a bag of sugar, and then voting for the other party! What chaos is this? What breach of contract! We must stay true to an honest system of Corruption, and not allow Corruption to be corrupted! We must respect his legacy!
‘And now, as we come to the end of this funeral service, I ask you all to join the choir in Hymn No.666, To Corruption I Surrender, sung to the tune of All to Jesus I surrender…’
To Corruption I surrender,
All from Him I freely take;
I will ever love and trust Him,
I am always on the make.

To Corruption I surrender,
Humbly at His trough I eat;
Worldly pleasures all are taken,
For Corruption lets me cheat.

To Corruption I surrender,
Give me money, wholly mine;
Let me feel the Holy Dollar,
Never know it is a crime.

To Corruption I surrender,
Now I feel the devil’s flame;
Oh, the joy of full damnation!
Glory, glory to his name.

‘Did you hear the last words of that hymn?’ I said to Sara as we left the cathedral. ‘Maybe Corruption won’t be allowed in Heaven?’
‘Of course not!’ she snapped. ‘The spirit of Corruption will haunt this land forever.’

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

He Died for Us

He Died for Us
The bishop stood at the lectern and solemnly opened the Bible, saying ‘I shall base my eulogy this morning on Mathew Chapter 19, Verses 23-24:
‘Then Jesus said unto his disciples Verily I say unto you, a rich man shall hardly enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.’
Now the bishop lifted his eyes to the packed cathedral. ‘I read this passage from the Holy Bible because I think it explains the life of the man we are burying today, our departed Great Leader Kafupi Mupupu.’
The bishop now left the lectern, walked slowly down to the front of the aisle, and placed his hand upon the small coffin. ‘Our departed leader was a Great Christian, whose life’s work was devoted to ensuring that his people should enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
‘But he was much troubled by the wealth, greed and materialism of his people, and realized that they were destined for Hell unless they changed their evil ways. So he took it upon himself to reduce his people to poverty so that they might enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
‘And so he set about reducing the number of factories producing unnecessary commodities. For example he closed all the factories producing clothes, which are an unnecessary luxury in a warm country. In this way he reduced the number of people in employment, so that people had less money to waste on sinful activities.
‘In short, Kafupi’s policy was to remove the money from people’s pockets, so that they should not suffer the embarrassment of the overloaded camel.
‘And of course this was a difficult policy, for people do not always appreciate money being taken from their pockets. But it is here we have to realize that God, in his wisdom, had chosen a Great Leader. For Kafupi had a very engaging and charismatic personality, and a merry twinkle in his eye, and a marvelous sense of humour, so that people were able to laugh all the way to poverty.
‘And there was another thing. The Lord in his wisdom had provided Kafupi with extraordinarily long fingers, so that while people were being mesmerized by his fantastic conversation, he could slip his long fingers into their pockets without them even noticing. And this was a much more benevolent form of government than in other countries, where leaders would mesmerize you with their eyes while they slipped a knife between your ribs.
‘But some people still complained, saying It is all very well for us to be poor in order to get into Heaven, but we are living lives of long misery, waiting our turn to be called by the Lord.
‘But Kafupi was a listening leader, and he heard the cry of the people. So he took all the money out of the national pension fund, so that people could go to Heaven earlier. And he removed the doctors and medicines from the hospitals, so that people need not linger unnecessarily long before ascending to Paradise.
‘And still other people complained, saying Kafupi has taken our money for himself, and has bought himself six Mercedes and twenty Rolex watches and five hundred suits and a thousand pairs of shoes and five thousand monogrammed shirts. He has bought more bling bling than can be carried by a hundred camels.
‘But others defended the Great Leader, saying He is dressing up in this ridiculous bling bling to show us the absurdity and sinfulness of wealth, so that we can appreciate the decency and holiness of poverty.
‘For they had understood that Our Great Leader had accumulated all this wealth to take away our sins from us, and carry our sins on his shoulders, that we may enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Truly he is our Saviour, who has died for us.’
Now the Bishop looked sorrowfully at the congregation. ‘And now that our Great Leader has been taken away by the Lord, who now will remain to show us the sinfulness and laughable absurdity of theft and wealth?
‘And I have the answer for you here today. We are going to build the Great Museum of Kafupi Bling Bling, as a memorial to him, full of suits and shoes and other useless paraphernalia, as a public warning against wanton kleptomania.
‘But others amongst you might say, how will Kafupi, who accumulated so much wealth, manage to pass through the eye of the needle? But I say unto you, Kafupi was a wise man, and only spent half of his wealth on bling bling. The other half was given to the Church, so that God might build him a house in Heaven.
‘And now, as the pall bearers lift the coffin to take Kafupi to his final resting place in the Bling Bling Mausoleum, I ask you all to stand up and sing Hymn No. 109, sung to the tune of Glory be to Jesus:
Glory to Kafupi
Who in bitter love
Took from us our money
With orders from above

Sing to God your praises
For Kafupi’s purse
Louder still and louder
Never pause to curse

Some did cry for vengeance
Pleading to the skies
But our dear Kafupi
For our pardon cries

Grace and life eternal
In Heaven we shall find
Blest be his corruption
Infinitely kind

Thanks to our Kafupi
For our poverty
Got us into Heaven
For eternity

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Oh Dear Diary, I’m very worried about my husband, he’s having nightmares. Sometimes he shouts in the middle of his dream, other times he sweats like a hippopotamus. Other times he holds me tight and weeps. And it’s always the same nightmare – he dreams that Muwelewele has come back to fix him.
This morning when he came down to breakfast I could see that he was not himself. Dark rings round his eyes, his face quite grey and his hand was shaking as he reached for the milk to spread over his cornflakes. Just imagine! Milk and cornflakes! It’s only a couple of years ago that he was having six T-bone steaks and a keg of beer for breakfast.
‘Sleep well dear?’ I asked.
‘Terrible,’ he replied. ‘I dreamt that Muwelewele visited me again.’
‘What was he saying this time, dear?’ I asked him.
‘Same sort of thing. Saying that I’ve messed up his legacy by messing up the Constitution, and I’m going to pay for it at the election.’
‘Nonsense, darling,’ I replied as I wiped the milk that he’d spilt all down his shirt, ‘It was that Muwelewele who messed up the Constitution, and he’s still pulling the strings, even from the grave.’
‘Your right dear,’ he admitted, attempting a smile. ‘What do I know about Constitutions? Even when I was at Namboard, I couldn’t understand the Balance Sheet.’
Dear Diary, I’m so worried about my husband, this morning he wouldn’t even get out of bed. I can’t call a priest, he’s petrified of them, he thinks they’re all homosexual. He has never talked to me about it, but I think he must have had a bad experience when he was a choirboy. Now, after all these years, the trauma is coming back to haunt him.
So I went to see the doctor, who reassured me that this sort of behaviour is quite normal in very old men, it’s called senile dementia. The patient has vivid dreams, sees things that aren’t there, and hears voices. Very often they also suffer paranoia, fearing that people are out to get him.
I asked the doctor what I should do, and he advised me that next time I should marry a younger man.
Last night he woke up in the middle of the night, screaming.
‘What’s the matter dear?’ I asked, as I stroked his bald head.
‘Spat Wellywelly hash bisited be a gun!’ he spluttered.
‘Calm down dear,’ I said, as I put his false teeth back in. ‘Now try again!’
‘That Muwelewele has visited me again!’ he shouted, ‘telling me that I have corrupted the judicial system and ruined his legacy by ordering that the case against Kafupi be dropped!’
‘Nonsense dear,’ I assured him, as I wiped the sweat off his brow, ‘That Muwelewele was the one who was always interfering with the judiciary, and you are just following his legacy.’
This morning I phoned Foreign Affairs and pleaded with them to send my poor husband on a foreign visit. That’s what we usually do when he’s having one of his funny turns. They suggested I send him down to Swaziland, where the king has some young female masseurs who know how to give remedial exercises to aging gentlemen.
I think we’ll pack him off tomorrow, with an official announcement that he has to fulfil his official SADC duties by helping the King of Swaziland to choose his twenty-sixth wife.
Phew, thank God that’s settled. That’ll give me a rest, and I wish the Swazi girls the best of luck.
Oh Dear Diary, the trips off, we can’t let the public see him like this. This morning, right there at breakfast and in front of the staff, he had another screaming fit. ‘Mulwelewele visited me last night!’ he screamed, ‘and accused me of throwing away Eastern Province by allowing Dollar Sillier to build twenty high schools in her constituency, while there are none being built in Southern Province.’
‘Your just imagining all this,’ I tried to reassure him. ‘In fact Muwelewele was the very one who always used to say you’ll get no development if you don’t vote for me! So you’re just following his legacy!’
But he fell down on the floor screaming ‘He said that I’ve abandoned his legacy and nobody wants me!’ Then he burst into tears and pulled all the breakfast things off the table so that he could wipe away his tears with the table cloth. ‘I’m going to lose!’ he blubbered.
It was really embarrassing.
Dear Diary, I phoned Lundazi this morning and spoke to Mum. ‘My poor old husband is in a terrible panic,’ I told her. ‘He keeps having fits of the screaming hab dabs. He’s at the end of his tether.’
‘I said right from the beginning,’ replied Mum, ‘that he wasn’t suitable for the job. But it’s our fault, we’re the ones that put him there, so now it’s our job to get him out. Don’t worry, dear, I’m telling everybody here to vote PF. It’s the only way to help him.’

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Old Geyser

The Old Geyser
Sara and I were at the Lusaka Playhouse, watching the Zambia One Comedy Show. Onto the stage bounced the Master of Ceremonies, Henry B J Phiri.
‘Our next comedian is your friend and mine, a loveable and irrepressible lady who has come here tonight to give us another hilarious episode on how to develop Zambia. A big hand for Geyser Bwezani!
As we roared and cheered, onto the stage glided the star of the evening, the glitzy Bwezani, resplendent in a beautiful long blue chitenge dress with a floppy blue hat, all with her own battered face printed all over it. Her huge droopy eyelids were painted blue, her lips were painted purple, and she carried a bunch of red roses which she proceeded to throw at the audience one by one, as the audience continued to cheer and clap.
‘Oooh, what a lovely audience,’ she cooed. ‘But I wonder if you know why I’m called Geyser Bwezani?’
‘Coz you’re a silly old geyser,’ shouted a voice from the audience.
‘Oooh you naughty boy,’ she said, pouting her luscious lips. ‘I’m called Geyser Bwezani because I have the key to development. Just put a solar geyser on every roof and this country will be rich!’
‘We haven’t water for geysers!’ somebody shouted.
‘Listen to me,’ said Bwezani confidentially, as she leaned towards us and showed us her wrinkled cleavage. ‘I’m a businesswoman, I understand these things. I’ve started up a geyser business with my two sons, Harry and Hurry, and they’re sticking their things everywhere, whether you like it or not! They’re so hot! They’re in and out before you know what’s happened!’
‘And do people appreciate?’
‘Ooh you pretty boy, what a naughty question. Of course they like it, but woops, the husbands get annoyed if they find out.’
I leant over to Sara. ‘This old girl looks a bit like Nyamasoya’
‘Of course she does,’ she laughed. ‘Who did you think it was?’
‘I thought he was supposed to be in jail. How did he get out?’
‘He offered to put a free geyser on the governor’s roof, and that was the last they saw of him.’
‘What use are geysers,’ somebody laughed, ‘if there’s no piped water?’
‘Listen to that pretty boy,’ swooned Bwezani, clutching her ancient breast and feigning desire. ‘While the rest of his class was doing physics, he was doing naughty biology on the back row. Come home with me darling, I love a bit of naughty biology.’
‘So where does the water come from?’
‘Oooh, my pretty boy didn’t do geography either! Water comes from the river. They can all go down to the river and collect water, climb on the roof, and tip it in the geyser! This will solve the unemployment problem.’
‘We need food, not hot water!’
‘I know what pretty boy needs,’ purred Bwezani, as she ran her fingers up and down the microphone. ‘I’d love to have a hot bath with him! But of course these people don’t have baths or even sinks. Their hot solar geysers are for making steam for the steam engine!’
‘The steam engine?’ we all shouted.
‘The steam engine turns the generator to make the electricity!’
‘Where do the steam engines and generators come from?’
‘The steam engines come from the Hot Air Factory and the generators are generated at the New Generation Factory in the Tax Free Exploitation Zone!’
The audience was now warming to this farcical interchange. ‘And where is the Exploitation Zone?’ we all shouted.
‘It’s already here!’ laughed Bwezani, doing a little dance and waggling her bottom. ‘It’s on the billboards all along the Great East Road! This is your government and your money working for me!’
‘But people don’t need electricity,’ we all shouted. ‘they don’t have fridges or cookers!’
‘Oooh, quite right my lovelies,’ cooed Bwezani, giving a little curtsy. ‘What a lovely audience we have tonight!’
‘As I recall,’ I said to Sara, ‘Bwezani used to be a man.’
‘I’m told it happened in jail,’ explained Sara, ‘He had to change his orientation.’
Bwezani now ran her hand seductively up her thigh. ‘This, my lovelies, is what we mean by trickle up. Every home will be supplying electricity to the mines, enabling increased electrolytic production of copper and increased GDP!’
‘Hurray!’ we laughed, as a few vuvuzelas joined in the fun. ‘Wealth must trickle up from the poor to the rich! What genius!’
But there was a dull person at the back who was not amused. ‘If the people are all making the electricity, what is ZESCO going to be doing?’
‘Bwezani put her finger to her lips. ‘Shuuushh,’ she said, in hushed voice. ‘The Zambia Election Subversion Company will take over from the Electoral Commission, to organize the electronic digital rigging!’
‘Of course!’ we all cheered, ‘we must all support the government of the day!’
‘And will the people be paid for the electricity they produce?’ asked the same awkward voice from the back.
‘Of course not you silly boy,’ laughed Bwezani. ‘They have to pay back their loans for all those geysers, steam engines and generators!’
As we were laughing at the hilarious absurdities of Bwezani economics, six prison warders in uniform rushed onto the stage and lifted her into the air. As she was being carried off she turned her head to the audience ‘Farewell my lovelies, these naughty boys can’t do without me for a single night!’
‘His behaviour was too blatant.’ laughed Sara. ‘He’s being taken back to the closet.’

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Memorial Service

The Memorial Service

It was Friday August 25th 2012, and Sara and I were attending the Memorial Service for Nyamasoyaurus, the last of the Mad Mighty Dinosaurs, who had dropped dead the day after the election, exactly one year earlier.

‘We are gathered here today,’ intoned the priest, ‘to honour the memory and life of Nyamasoyaurus, the Great Dinosaur who managed to get rid of the dreaded MMD that had been ravaging this country for the previous twenty years.’

I looked round the church, which was packed, with people even standing in the aisles. The front three rows were filled with Nyamasoyaurus’s many widows and former mistresses, all dressed in somber black, except of course for the Swazi girls, who sat there completely naked, according to their tradition.

‘As I look around this Cathedral of the Very Cross today,’ the priest continued, ‘I see a great multitude of people. Any yet, when I officiated at Nyamasoyaurus’s funeral only a year ago, this great cathedral stood empty, except for the six men from the undertakers who were employed to carry the coffin.

‘I remember looking around the empty church and asking the empty pews whether such a man, so despised and abandoned, could ever reach the Kingdom of Heaven. Seeking the answer to this question, I read from the Gospel according to John, Chapter 14 Verses 1-2, where Jesus advises Simon Peter on the difficulty of getting into heaven…

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you so. I go to prepare a place for you.

‘Of course, we all thought at that time that Nyamasoyaurus was a sinner who would go to hell. But we now know that the Lord found a mansion for Nyamasoyaurus. Because the Lord knew, as we did not know, that Nyamasoyaurus sinned not for himself, but he sinned for us, that we might enter the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth.’

The huge congregation murmured in approval.

‘The Lord in his wisdom realized that Nyamasoyaurus’s chosen life work was to enable us to rid ourselves of the dreaded MMD. But he also knew the weakness of the people of the Land of Zed, who had been brought up to respect authority and to believe that their leaders were working for the people.

‘And the people were easily deceived, because the Dubious Kafupi and Monstrous Muwelewele always talked very fair about good governance, and did their sinning in secret.

‘And so Nyamasoyaurus conceived a great plan to save the people from their tormentors. Upon the untimely death of the Monstrous Muwelewele, Nyamasoyaurus stepped forward and declared that he was the only one to continue the legacy of the Great Departed, because he was the most ancient of the dinosaurs, and therefore the only one to lead the Mighty Mad Dinosaurs, the dreaded MMD.

‘And the new Great Leader Nyamasoyaurus continued to speak continually of good governance. But he dropped the policy of sinning in secret. Instead he openly instructed the judges to find the guilty innocent and the innocent guilty. He set up the palace as the contract centre for all public works, and took ten percent. He boasted that he was taxing the people to raise money to subsidise rich business men. He increased unemployment and reduced wages until people were destitute, while all the time boasting that their predicament would attract investors.

‘But very few people complained, and most continued as usual, saying the government must know what it is doing. So now he went further, borrowing vast amounts of money for huge hospitals which were left empty because there were no doctors or nurses, and building huge schools where there were no teachers, because he adamantly refused to pay them.

‘But his plans to destroy the reputation of the MMD did not work. People just said He means well, he’s just a bit stupid. Only a few people protested. So next he sent the police to shoot these few protesters. Now there was more discontent, but the results were still very disappointing.

‘Then, at last, the Church took an interest, and castigated the MMD for leaving the poor to starve to death. Now Nyamasoyaurus saw his big chance. He cursed the entire Church for plotting against the state, denouncing cardinals and bishops as Satanists, witches, homosexuals and perverts. He waged unrelenting war on Mother Church, swearing to kill her.

‘Now the people were really annoyed, for the Church had always protected them from parasitic leaders. They finally realized that the MMD was nothing more than a gang of criminals who had captured the state. So they threw them out at the next election, and elected St Michael as their next Great Leader.

‘Nyamasoyaurus died immediately afterwards. His great work was now complete. He died alone and unappreciated, for the people hadn’t realized that he died for them.

‘And now, to conclue this Memorial Service, we shall sing Hymn No.338, sung to the tune of The Church’s One Foundation.’

The congregation rose to their feet, and lifted the roof with this rousing hymn…

The Church’s one destruction

Was Nyamasoya Lord;

She must support election

By fire and by sword;

From hell he came and sought her

For his unholy bride,

With her own blood he killed her,

And for his life she died.

Mid strife of the election,

And tumult more like war,

She arose by resurrection

And faith for evermore;

With election victory glorious

St Michael proved the best,

And now the Church victorious

Is free like all the rest!