Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Long Voyage to Democracy

Long Voyage to Democracy
Last night we were just about to lock up when there was a faint knock on the front door, and a weak cry of ‘Odi!’
‘Odini!’ I replied as I opened the door, and in staggered Aunt Cathy, barefoot and covered in dust. I helped her onto the sofa, upon which she collapsed. ‘What’s happened?’ cried Sara. ‘Has your son come back?’
‘A cup of tea!’ croaked Aunty Cathy, ‘and I’ll tell you all about it.’
Within fifteen minutes Aunty was somewhat revived, after having finished a large plate of chicken stew and nshima.
‘What a terrible experience!’ said Aunty Cathy. ‘It all started about a week ago, when I was promised a trip to Democracy!’
‘Is there really a place called Democracy?’ I wondered.
‘Even me,’ said Aunty Cathy, ‘I’ve always wondered. I’m fed up with being bullied and insulted by call boys, kaponya, party cadres and other thugs. So when my friend Enela said she’d got two tickets to Democracy, I jumped at the chance.’
‘So you’d previously heard about Democracy?’ asked Sara.
‘I’ve been hearing about this marvelous place since before independence,’ sighed Aunty Cathy, ‘but I’ve never managed to get there. Now at last, this was my chance.’
‘And did you reach Democracy?’ I asked.
‘A journey of a thousand miles,’ said Aunty Cathy solemnly, ‘begins with a single bus. We found our bus at Kamwala Bus Station. A beautiful big blue bus, with the large letters RB painted on the side.’
‘Rogue Bus,’ she explained. ‘The notice in the front window said Democracy, stopping at Peace, Freedom and Justice. After sitting and waiting for only six hours, off we went.’
‘Was the bus full?’
‘It was only half full of passengers,’ she replied, ‘all the others were staff. There was a Conductor for Passengers, a Conductor for Tickets, a Conductor for Luggage, a Conductor for Seating, a Conductor for Entertainment, and so on. There were about thirty of them.’
‘Thirty!’ I exclaimed in disbelief. How could there be thirty?’
‘Maybe there were more,’ said Aunty Cathy. ‘Every Conductor was assisted by a Deputy Conductor and an Assistant Conductor. Then there were the Senior Conductors, who were supervised by the Director of Conductors, and who of course was assisted by two Deputy Directors. In overall charge was the Supreme Leader. They all sat on large luxurious leather seats at the front of the bus. We passengers, all thirty of us, were squeezed onto thirty small canvas stools at the back.’
‘Who was the driver?’
‘The Supreme Leader was the driver. He was called RB.’
‘Meaning Rogue Bus?’
‘No, Round Belly.’
‘So did you reach Democracy?’
‘After about three hours on the road, the bus stopped at a village in the middle of the night. All the staff got off, telling us to wait. They came back at daybreak, rather the worse for wear, some with girlfriends that they had found in the village. RB now drove the bus with a big fat girl called Tujilijili sitting on his lap.
‘Three hours later we stopped at another village. The conductors asked us for money for their entertainment allowance, but we refused. So they removed all our luggage and took it into the village, after which we heard much singing and squealing. The next morning they came back with baskets of fish and off we set again.
‘By then we were thirsty and starving, but the Conductors said that per diem was only for the staff, and we would be off-loaded at the next police station if we protested. So we kept quiet. At the next stop they unloaded the fish and disappeared into another village, coming back six hours later with several sacks of mbanje. By now they were all drunk. RB was lying on the floor and Tujilijili was driving, as the bus swerved all over the road. Finally we came to a juddering halt. The bus had run out of diesel!’
‘So what happened then?’
‘All the conductors disappeared into a nearby village to look for kachasu, but RB just sat on top of Tujilijili and began to cry.’
‘So what did you do?’
‘A bus came along from the opposite direction and we flagged it down. It was a strange vehicle, shaped like a boat, with Pabwato written on the side. The boat was built upon sixty bicycles, and all the passengers had to pedal, their legs protruding out of the bottom of the boat. The driver was the Cycle Master, but he didn’t pedal, he just steered.’
‘So did Cycle Master give you a lift?’
‘He told us that we were on the wrong road for Democracy, and we had been taken in completely the wrong direction. He said that his bus was people powered, and he would allow us to help pedal the boat back to Lusaka. He said that when we reached Lusaka he would show us real Democracy.’
‘So democracy was here in Lusaka after all?’
‘It was awful,’ she sobbed, ‘when we got back to Kamwala Bus Station, all the RB buses were going up in flames, and all the conductors were being chased and beaten. And we said to the Cycle Master, This is terrible, we must stop all this, what are you going to do about it, shall we call the police?’
Never mind all that, he replied, this is what happens when you mislead people, promise them you will lead them to Democracy, and then take them somewhere else!
‘But we shouted at him, saying You said that you would show us real Democracy! Now look at this, this is Anarchy!’
‘Slowly he took a map out of his pocket, and spread it over the handlebars of the Pabwato, and looked at it carefully. You’re quite right, he said, Democracy is not here. I’m still looking for the right road, then I’ll take you there!’



  2. Better than being in the Rogue Bus!!!! Risky but who does not take it is a Ngwere (coward)!!!!!!

  3. Keep the satire coming. we need it to keep people honest.

  4. The driver of the Rogue Bus (RB) must be handed offer to the police for misleading people to a fake promised land called democracy

  5. I find it alarming that the person who said he would take us to democracy has no idea what or where democracy is.