The Blue Chitenge
Then a wizened little induna, the Minister for Corruption and Coercion, stepped forward with a pot of paint and a brush, and daubed one or two blue spots on the vast canvas of the
‘Did they have buses in those days?’ asked Thoko suspiciously.
‘Our word bus comes from the old Aramaic word borse, meaning a horse,’ I declared. ‘Just try not to interrupt the story…’
‘Am I the King of Markets and Bus Stations?’ roared the king, ‘Or am I the king of All Zed?’
‘You are King of All Zed, Oh Mighty Excellency,’ chanted his faithful indunas, as they groveled before the king, competing with each other to lick his filthy fat festering feet.
‘Then I demand that all of Zed must love me and obey me!’ declared the king. ‘The entire
‘Why blue?’ wondered Kondwa. ‘Why not red or green?’
‘Kings have blue blood,’ I explained. ‘Ordinary mortals have red blood, warm and sweet. But kings and queens have blue blood, cold and acidic.’
And God looked down at these kings and queens, and saw the wickedness that was upon the Earth, and he was sorely troubled. So the Lord now looked down upon one who had found favour in his eyes, his faithful servant Cycle Mata. And the Lord spoke unto Cycle Mata, saying unto him that there will be a great flood upon this Earth for forty days and forty nights. And the Lord commanded him to make a great pabwato out of mukwa, that could rise above the flood, and rescue his people.
Then, as was quite usual in those biblical days, the Lord’s prophecy began to come true the very next day. The king made a great declaration, saying ‘I shall cover this land with a great flood of blue chitenge, with my own face upon it. And all my people will lie beneath the blue chitenge, and my army and police march on top! Then my people will look up at my face and love their king! But anybody who protests will feel my weight!’
And so it came to pass that the king took all the tax money that he had collected from his long suffering people, and bought enough blue chitenge to cover the entire land. Then he ordered all the people to lie under this great national blanket of blue chitenge.
‘Meanwhile,’ said Thoko, ‘Cycle Mata was already building his Great Pabwato.’
‘Shush,’ whispered Kondwa, ‘Don’t kubeba!’
Then one day an old fat induna came running to the king, saying ‘The people say they want medicines and food, and are complaining to the judges that all this expenditure on blue chitenge is corruption.’
Then the king rose in a fury, saying ‘Anybody who complains must have his mouth stuffed with blue chitenge! And the judges must lower the national flag over the Supreme Court, and instead raise the blue chitenge!’ Then turning to the old fat induna he shouted ‘And you were employed to take the king’s voice to the people, not to take the people’s voice to the king! So you’re fired!’
But the king never worried about affairs of state for very long, and the next day found him and his foul fat friends consuming a huge feast of T-bone steak, washing it all down with many buckets of beer. Suddenly another frightened little induna came running into the palace crying ‘Oh Your Great Beer Swilling Excellency, your loyal subjects are respectfully complaining that they don’t like the boots of the Royal Thugs marching all over them, and they are threatening to kick back!’
Now of course the king was mighty annoyed that the sanctity of a royal feast had been so rudely interrupted, and he roared angrily ‘Ours is a peaceful nation and I have always been against violence. But if these malcontents are threatening violence then I have no option except to crush them!’
But as the police guns advanced on the people, to loyally protect the nation from the malcontents who did not love the king, the word went round that Cycle Mata had finally completed his Great Pabwato. So now, with one great cheer, the people all ran out from under the oppressive blue chitenge which had rained down on them for forty days and forty nights, and a great flood of people now lifted the Pabwato up and away, up to the top of Mount Munali.
‘So what happened to all the blue chitenge?’ wondered Thoko.
The flood of blue chitenge just ran away, down the hills and into the valleys, to form the rivers and lakes of the
‘So Cycle Mata became king,’ said Kondwa. ‘Did democracy now come to the
‘Good gracious no,’ I laughed. ‘That didn’t happen until hundreds of years later.’