Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kiss of Death

Kiss of Death
‘Grandpa,’ pleaded Thoko, ‘Tell us a story before we go to bed.’
‘You’re far too old for fairy stories,’ I replied.
‘Then tell us a horror story,’ said Khoza.
‘Once upon a time,’ I began, ‘in the Land of Zed, the Great Leader died suddenly and there was nobody to replace him.’
‘Why not?’ demanded Thoko.
‘Because in those days,’ I explained, ‘a leader always threw all his competitors in jail, or had them murdered, and instead surrounded himself with complete dunderheads who were too stupid to topple him.’
‘So how did they find a new leader?’ asked Thoko.
‘The elders went to the Leaders Graveyard,’ I said, ‘and started digging, to see if there was any life left in any of their dead leaders.’
‘Uhhgghhh,’ said Thoko with a shudder. ‘How disgusting!’
‘And did they find one?’ asked Khoza.
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘They found a grave marked King Nyamasoya, Born 937, Died 1008, May His Soul Never Rest in Peace. So they thought that sounded hopeful, and dug him up. Sure enough, when they opened the lid of the old stone coffin, out jumped old King Nyamasoya, shouting What took you so long? I’ve been waiting here for nearly a thousand years!
‘But why aren’t you dead? they asked. ‘Ah Ha! He laughed, The foolish fellows forgot to drive a stake through my heart!’
‘So he was a vampire!’ Khoza gasped.
‘Of course,’ I said. ‘But in those days the people hadn’t heard about vampires. And anyway, they were in a hurry to find a new king so they didn’t ask too many questions.’
‘Very foolish,’ said Thoko.
‘So what sort of king did he make?’ Khoza wondered.
‘He started off alright,’ I said. ‘Seemed to be a very jolly fellow. Ate a lot, drank a lot, laughed a lot. Better than the previous fellow who had a nasty temper.
‘Don’t call me Nyamasoya, I never liked the name, declared the new king. Just call me RB! But when he said that, the people began to shake with fear, because there had been previous leaders who had been called RB. There had been Rig the Ballot, and Rob the Bank, and Run from Bullets. Don’t worry, laughed the new king, RB stands for Royal Blood. After all those years of democracy, you now have a king!’
‘He had come to suck their blood,’ said Thoko.
‘Things began to go wrong,’ I admitted, ‘after he appointed his first minister. When the new minister came out from the palace he was looking very pale and thin.’
‘He’d been given the Kiss of Death!’ declared Thoko. ‘The king pretended to kiss him, but instead sucked all the blood out of his jugular vein!’
‘In those days,’ I said, ‘before taxes were invented, kings grew fat and rich by sucking blood from the people. Soon all the king’s ministers were bloodsuckers. Just as the king sucked blood from his ministers, so the ministers sucked blood out of the people. And so the people grew thinner and thinner as the king and his ministers grew fatter and fatter. Soon there was a national surplus of blood, and the king began to export blood to Ching Chang, where all the people were small and thin because of a shortage of blood.’
‘So the Land of Zed soon became rich?’ suggested Khoza.
‘Don’t be silly,’ snorted Thoko. ‘The government became richer as the people became poorer. They had to keep working harder and harder to grow the food to replace the blood that was constantly being sucked out of them.’
‘But I thought a king was supposed to be the servant of the people,’ said Khoza, ‘not just a gigantic blood sucker.’
‘The king did his best to explain how he was really working for everybody’s benefit. Every day the Zed National Blood Corporation was busy telling the people about the new hospital where they could donate their blood, and the new mobile hospitals that would seek them out wherever they went. And new roads to enable the blood to be exported to Ching Chang. Free agricultural inputs to produce more food for increased blood production. More schools for pupils to learn the process of turning mere peasant blood into fine Royal Blood. And billboards everywhere repeating the national slogan Your blood, working for you!’
‘Didn’t the people protest? Rebel? Riot?’ asked Thoko hopefully.
‘The Kiss of Death didn’t just affect ordinary people,’ I explained. ‘The police would round up protesters to suck the blood out of them, to replace the blood that was being sucked out of them. Similarly the courts had to offer up victims to have their blood sucked, or the king would suck the blood out of the judges instead.’
‘No elections?’ asked Thoko.
‘Of course not,’ I laughed. ‘The king sucked all the blood out of the Electoral Commission, and their desiccated corpses were put on display in the National Museum.’
‘No constitution?’ asked Khoza.
‘It had so much blood sucked out of it,’ I replied, ‘that it was reduced to only five words: The King’s Word is Law!’
‘So the Kiss of Death destroyed even the state itself,’ said Khoza glumly.
‘Completely,’ I said.
‘What I can’t understand,’ said Thoko, ‘is why Nyamasoya hadn’t had that stake driven into his heart in the first place, to prevent him ever coming back.’
‘That was the problem,’ I said. ‘He didn’t have a heart.’
Just then Sara put her head round the door. ‘Time for bed! Give Grandpa a goodnight kiss!’
‘Aarrghhh!’ they both screamed, and ran helter-skelter out of the room.
‘You’ve been telling them another of your horror stories!’ said Sara. ‘What a horrible frightening Grandpa!’
‘It’s a frightening world,’ I replied.
[Story based partly on suggestions from my Facebook friends, especially Francis Mwelwa Bwalya]

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Oh Dear Diary, that woman was here again for supper, and he only had eyes for her. They were chatting and laughing, and I was sitting there like a little mouse that had wandered in from the farm. And I’m supposed to be his First Lady.
I’m so worried for my poor husband, he’s falling into her clutches. My mother always warned me against going with such an old man, but I always replied ‘At least he’ll be too old to go chasing after other women’. How wrong I was! He’s quite besotted with her. He can’t take his eyes off her, especially her huge Pamela Andersons. She makes me feel so small.
Dear Diary, you should have seen the two of them when he kissed her goodbye at the door. His hands were everywhere! It reminded me of the good old days when he used to pick me up from my Grade Seven class in his old Toyota Collolla.
Dear Diary, When I came down to breakfast she was already there, laughing and talking and tickling his huge belly. And you know, Dear Diary, it’s not only her huge Pamela Andersons that fascinate him. It’s also her radar.
She’s got radar eyes! He told me so himself after he made her Minister for Airports and Other Ancient Monuments, and ordered her to buy the 50 billion radar equipment which Harry had sourced from a small shop in Hong Kong. But she said ‘No, you don’t need that. You see, I’ve got penetrating radar eyes, I can even spot enemy aircraft before they come over the horizon. Not only that, I can spot a bargain even before you’ve been offered ten percent. I can spot a defector before he suspects his own loyalty. I can foresee an election strategy before anybody else had foreseen an election!’
And that, Dear Diary, is why he needs her. Because my poor dear husband has no vision at all. Not only no vision, but he can’t see a thing. He says people will think he’s old if he wears spectacles. But her, she has radar vision. She can see what’s coming and can even plan ahead. My poor dear old lovely husband, so long as his belly is full of beer, and his hands are full of her Pamela Andersons, he’s quite happy.
But I worry tellibly.
Dear Diary, today I caught her at it. I was in the kitchen, but I saw her reflection in the drawing room mirror. Taking a little sachet out of her bra, and neatly emptying it down her throat. All in a flash! So that’s why she’s called Dora Tujilijili!
And my poor dear husband, all the time fondling her Pamela Andersons, hasn’t realized she’s got a Tujilijili implant. How she has cheated him, just as he is cheating on me! No wonder she sways on her feet! I thought it was because of her high heels, and being unbalanced by her huge Pamela Andersons. But it’s the Tujilijili!
Dear Diary, my poor dear husband is being terribly misled by this awful woman. They came back late last night from Mikomfwa, with Tujilijili saying that they had addressed a rally of twenty thousand. But I saw the picture in The Post this morning and there were only twenty-four people, and they were all holding up a large cardboard pabwato. Perhaps Tujilijili’s radar vision had focused on Cycle Mata’s rally in Chimwemwe!
Oh Dear Diary, I feel so embarrassed, people are beginning to laugh at my dear old husband. Tonight on TV News he was seen opening a new hospital at Chainama. But the new hospital was just painted on a billboard. My husband cut a lovely blue ribbon and then walked in through a door cut into the billboard. On the grass on the other side of the billboard he talked with some of the patients he found lying on hospital beds. In the background was the UTH bus that had just brought them there.
When asked if this was a real hospital, Tujilijili lost her temper and shouted at everybody, saying that any voter who dared to laugh would never get any more development! Then she swayed dangerously and fell flat on her face.
Oh Dear Diary, What a catastrophe! Yesterday was Election Day and everybody went to vote. Except for my poor dear old husband, who couldn’t find his voters card. And this morning, when the crowd broke through the front gate carrying a huge pabwato, my husband wanted to go and greet them, thinking they had come to congratulate him on his great victory.
Instead I pulled him upstairs and onto the roof, where the helicopter was waiting. As we rose up into the air, we could hear the angry crowd below us shouting ‘Corruption! We want our money back! Prosecute him!’
‘You know,’ said my husband, ‘Tujilijili’s radar vision was right! She always foresaw that I would rise above all my troubles! What a marvellous woman! I owe everything to her!’
So saying, my poor old dear husband leant back in his comfortable chair and fell asleep, despite the deafening noise of the helicopter rotor blades singing Tujilijili-Tujilijili-Tujilijili!
We should never have left the farm.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Buffaloes and Rabbits

Buffaloes and Rabbits
‘Once upon a time,’ I began, ‘a long time ago, the Land of Mfuwe was ruled by an old dinosaur called King Nyamasoya.’
‘An old dinosaur as king,’ laughed Nawiti, ‘what a silly idea!’
‘Not in those days,’ I explained. ‘Those were the days when huge fat animals ruled all the smaller ones.’
‘Why?’ asked Nawiti.
‘This was in the days of the jungle, when might was right, and power went to the high and mighty, and smaller mortals had to do as they were told.’
‘Why?’ Nawiti persisted.
‘In those days, when a naughty little monkey asked her Mummy Why?, her Mummy would reply saying This is the way it has always been, or We have to support the government of the day, or We’re not supposed to ask questions like that!
‘My Mummy says it’s good to ask questions.’
‘But in the Kingdom of Mfuwe,’ I said, ‘asking questions was seen as a threat to the power of Nyamasoya, and he could send his hyena to eat you.’
‘But were these large animals in power because they were large,’ Nawiti wondered, ‘or were they large because they were in power?’
‘It’s hard to say,’ I admitted.
‘You’re a Grandpa!’ Nawiti scoffed. ‘You’re supposed to know these things!’
‘It’s not that simple,’ I tried to explain. ‘The large animals always claimed that they were in power because they were larger and stronger, with bigger brains.’
‘But did the small animals believe that?’
‘Their large powerful leaders had always told them so. Their mummies and daddies had always told them so. Their teachers and priests always told them so. It seemed like the natural order of things. The lords of the jungle were born to lord it over the smaller animals. Big animal superior, small animal inferior. This was the only commandment in the Jungle of Mfuwe.’
‘This story,’ said Nawiti, ‘is crying out for a hero.’
‘Exactly,’ I said. ‘And so it happened that along came a cobra called Cycle Mata.’
‘Who upset everything?’ suggested Nawiti.
‘Yes,’ I replied.
‘Oh good,’ she laughed, rubbing her little hands with glee.
‘He told the small animals that the dinosaur and the elephants and the hippos were all excessively large and fat because all the monkeys and rabbits and duikers have to pick the masuku fruit and take it to their leaders, who grew too fat because they were overfed.’
‘And all the animals were too small because they were starving?’
‘That too.’
‘So Cycle Mata was really saying that the rich were stealing from the poor!’
‘Exactly. So Nyamasoya was furious, saying that stealing only happened when the poor took from the rich, but when the rich took from the poor it was called taxation.’
‘Then Cycle Mata said that taking all the masuku fruit was corruption. This caused Nyamasoya to get into a rage, saying the leaders were entitled to eat all the masuku, because they were larger and needed the extra energy to power their huge brains, and that there was no such thing as corruption in Mfuwe.’
‘What is corruption?’ asked Nawiti.
‘Corruption,’ I explained, ‘is when everything goes rotten.’
‘And was everything going rotten?’
‘The elephants and hippos had so much extra masuku that they were letting it go rotten, and making it into kachasu. While their subjects were starving, the leaders were over-fed, over-weight and completely drunk.’
‘Drunk with power?’ suggested Nawiti.
‘Exactly,’ I said. ‘That was what Cycle Mata said. But at first the obedient little animals didn’t believe him, for they had been brought up to respect their leaders, who always did their drinking in private.’
‘But then they saw one drunk?’
‘Exactly,’ I said. ‘One day, when Cycle Mata was holding a meeting, there was a great crashing and trumpeting, and out of the forest stumbled a great she-elephant, the dreaded Dolla Tujilijili. She staggered right into the meeting, insulted everybody, urinated all over the elders, and then fell down flat in a drunken stupor.’
‘That was when they really lost respect for their leaders?’
‘Exactly. That was when Cycle Mata led all his followers into the Land of Zed, and established democracy.’
‘What is democracy?’
‘It means that rich animals assist poor animals, and not the other way round. The large assist the small, the strong assist the weak, and so on. All animals are declared equal.’
‘So did all the small animals follow Cycle Mata to the Land of Zed?’
‘Only the rabbits ran away to join Nyamasoya, after they were offered larger rations of masuku.’
‘And did they get their extra rations?’
‘No. It was the hyenas who got the extra rations when they ate the rabbits.’
‘And did any big animals join Cycle Mata?’
‘Only the buffaloes,’ I said, ‘because they were promised leadership positions.’
‘And were they given?’ asked Nawiti.
‘Oh yes,’ I said. ‘They were all given the job of pulling ploughs to till the land.’
‘Was that fair?’ she asked.
‘Of course,’ I replied. ‘In a democracy, leaders are servants of the people.’

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


‘Once upon a time, a long time ago,’ I began, ‘there was a beautiful young woman called Zambia. She was so beautiful that Chief Nyama Soya wanted Zambia all for himself…’
‘But did she love him?’ asked Nawiti.
‘That was the problem,’ I said. ‘Zambia was in love with a mere villager called Cycle Mata.’
‘Oh dear,’ said Nawiti. ‘So the Chief wasn’t pleased!’
‘Not at all. He kept saying I am the Chief and you must respect the government of the day and give me Zambia!’
‘But did Nyama Soya really love Zambia?’
‘Oh yes. But the problem was that Zambia didn’t love him.’
‘But why did she love Cycle Mata, was he young and handsome?’
‘That was the funny thing. He was old, with rather a battered face. But he had a marvelous sense of humour and could tell the most amusing stories.
‘Better than yours, Grandpa?’
‘Even better than mine,’ I replied.
‘No wonder she loved him,’ said Nawiti, giving me a little hug. ‘But even so, she must have liked the idea of being the wife of the Chief. Couldn’t Nyama Soya win her love?’
‘That was the problem,’ I explained. ‘He went about it the wrong way. He would send her presents which, instead of pleasing her, caused offence.’
‘Such as what?’
‘He sent her a big blue chitenge with his face printed all over it, so that Zambia was heard squealing He thinks he can put his big fat face on my bottom. This caused the entire village to burst out laughing. Next he sent her a huge brown envelope full of money, causing Zambia to protest Does he think I can be bought like a hule? Then he sent her a beautiful emerald necklace, which caused the entire village to shout with annoyance How is the chief so rich when we are living in poverty? He bought these things with our money!
‘So Zambia asked Cycle Mata if she should send back these gifts. But he replied Just keep them. But don’t kubeba. When the time comes to choose a husband, choose the one who will look after you forever, not the one who tries to buy you.’
‘So what did Nyama Soya try next?’
‘Nyamasoya said that he would build a road all the way from his palace to the village of the beautiful Zambia, so that he could travel all the way down the road to propose marriage. But the people sneered, saying All these years he has never built a road, but now he wants to win Zambia for himself, suddenly he can build a road!
‘Again his plans backfired!’ said Nawiti.
‘Very much so,’ I said.
‘So what did he try next?’
‘Next was even more foolish. He started a rumour that Cycle Mata had never kissed a woman and that he only kissed other men.
‘So Zambia was annoyed?’
‘Since Zambia was in love with Cycle Mata, she was the very one who knew that this was a lie. And some people were even saying that this Chief is misbehaving, and maybe we should instead put Cycle Mata as our Chief.’
‘So after that,’ said Nawiti, ‘Nyama Soya had no hope of winning the hand of Zambia!’
‘Of course not,’ I laughed. ‘But he didn’t realize that, because he wasn’t very bright.’
‘Oh dear,’ said Nawiti. ‘What did he do next?’
‘He was now getting desperate, so he turned to juju. He went to the ng’anga and asked for special muti which would make Zambia love him.’
‘And did the ng’anga give him the special muti?’
‘Not exactly. But he told him where to find it. The ng’anga told him to go into the forest and find a lion. Then he should pull a hair from its tail and bring the hair to the ng’anga.’
‘And did he manage, or did the lion kill him?’
‘Nyama Soya may not have been very bright, but he wasn’t completely stupid. He came back to the ng’anga with a hair from the tail of a hairy dog, claiming that he pulled it from a lion. And the ng’anga laid out the hair on a piece of paper and added some dried lizard powder, followed by a generous portion of chamba, and finally rolled the mixture into a long cigarette. After that he waved some old bones over it, and muttered some strange incantations in frightening gibberish. Then he turned to Nyama Soya and said Smoke this on the night of the next full moon and you will become young and handsome again, and your breath will smell so intoxicating that the beautiful Zambia will just fall into your arms.’
‘And did he become handsome?’
‘Unfortunately not,’ I said sadly. ‘Instead the rolls of fat on the back of his neck began to spread, until they completely covered his face, so that his appearance caused small children to run screaming to their mothers.’
‘And did his sweet breath attract the beautiful Zambia?’
‘His breath was so foul that the people had to chase him out of the chiefdom in order to get a breath of fresh air!’
‘And did Zambia marry her beloved Cycle Mata?’
‘Of course. The Chief Justice joined them together the very next day.’
‘And was Cycle Mata made Chief?’
‘No. Zambia became Chief, and Cycle Mata was made her Faithful Servant.’
‘And did they live happily ever after?’
‘That,’ I replied, ‘is another story.’