I Was There!
Independence Day, and I was slumped in front of the TV watching the beginning of the celebrations at State House, when in walked Sara wearing her best bubu. ‘Come on!’ she said, ‘we’re off to Plot One!’
‘What!’ I gasped. ‘Did you get an invitation?’
‘Hah!’ she laughed, ‘do you think those goons at the gate would dare to ask new ministers for their invitation?’
‘But we’re not ministers!’
‘We know that, but do they know that? There’s fifty new ministers and they’ve no idea who is who or which is which. When they see a confused old man with a beard, they’ll probably think you’re Fackson Shimenda!’
Half an hour later we were walking towards the gate, with Sara hissing at me ‘Try to look confused!’
As she spoke, the guard at the gate drew himself to attention and saluted, and the Protocol Officer moved forward to shake my hand. ‘Dotty Scotty, sir, welcome to the party! Is this your good wife, Lotty Scotty?’
‘Good gracious no,’ I laughed, ‘she can’t stand these rituals. This is Joyce Banda, the Vice President of Malawi. We have been very busy cementing good relations.’
‘Marvellous!’ laughed the Protocol Officer, ‘I just hope your wife doesn’t mind!’
'Dotty Scotty and I,' purred Joyce, 'are getting on so well together, that I'm thinking of staying here with him.'
‘Oh Christ!’ I said, as we reached the great circle of tents, ‘All the men are dressed in suits! They must be sweating like pigs!’
‘They don’t sweat,’ Sara sniggered, ‘they’re all cold blooded reptiles. Snakes that can wriggle out of anything, dinosaurs from previous regimes, lizards quicker than pickpockets and chameleons that change colour after every election.’
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘Elections come and go, but the ruling class remains the same.’
As I was talking, a shushushu in a black suit, black tie and black shades tapped me on the shoulder. ‘Excuse me Mr Vice President sir, His Excellency has asked me to tell you that you’re not appropriately dressed for the occasion.’
‘What’s wrong?’ I wondered. ‘This is my best chitenge shirt!’
‘Exactly sir. H.E. has said that he doesn’t want people dressing like Africans. Follow me, sir, and I’ll find you a suit, so you can look more like a European.’
We followed him into an ante-room of State House. ‘I’m sorry this is the only suit left,’ he said. ‘The previous Excellency left this behind because he had grown too fat for it.’
‘It’s huge!’ I said, as I put it on, and Sara, I mean Joyce Banda, burst out laughing. ‘Better pull the belt tight or your trousers will fall down!’
‘Now you really look the part,’ she chuckled, as we walked back into the throng, ‘Dotty Scotty is known for always being badly dressed.’
People were now coming up to me, slobbering and fawning, saying ‘Should we call you Your Vice Excellency, or Your Excellency, Your Excellency?’
‘No,’ I told them, ‘The President is His Most Excellent Excellency, and I am His Almost Excellent Excellency.’
We walked grandly around, with people bowing and scraping on all sides, until we finally came to the Royal Tent. ‘Here’s my cell phone,’ I said, ‘you take my picture with Supersata, then I’ll send it to my Facebook friends on The Zambian People’s Pact, just to rub their ten thousand jealous noses into my extraordinary success.’
‘Hullo Kalaki,’ said Supersata, as we shook hands.
‘Shush,’ I said. ‘Everybody thinks I’m Dotty Scotty.
‘I know,’ he said. ‘I’ve just had a message from him at the gate saying he can’t get in. They’re accusing him of being Spectator Kalaki, and telling him to bugger off.’
‘Just as well,’ I said. ‘One Dotty Scotty is quite enough, two would get the entire nation completely confused.’
‘Kalaki,’ said Supersata.
‘Yes, Your Most Excellent Excellency,’ I replied, getting down on one knee.
‘I’ve got something for you,’ he said.
‘I was hoping you’d say that,’ I replied, ‘that’s why I came here for a bit of a grovel.’
‘I’m appointing you as my ambassador to
‘Oh thank you,Your Most Generous Excellency,’ I said, as I burst into tears of joy, and then rushed over to Sara, formerly Joyce Banda, to tell her the good news.
Outer Mongolia darling!’ I said. ‘The Auditor General has never managed to reach there! We’ll be rich! After all our years of struggle, now we can build our mansion in New Kasama!’
‘You silly bugger!’ she shouted, ‘You resisted when Muwelewele wanted to deport you to
England, but now you celebrate when this one wants to deport you to Outer Mongolia!’
But as she was shouting at me, everybody else had fallen quiet. Supersata had begun his majestic walk to the rostrum, where he was about to honour a new batch of national heroes who had suddenly been discovered.
‘Our first hero this afternoon is Spectator Kalaki!’ he announced. I was bewildered! But humbled! I marched up to the rostrum, trying not to trip over Nyamasoya’s trousers, climbed up the steps, and stood in front of Supersata.
‘Spectator Kalaki!’ he announced, ‘You are a national hero. The PF victory was entirely due to your Facebook campaign.’ So saying, he took a fifty kwacha note from his wallet and stuck it in my front pocket. ‘Here’s more money in your pocket!’ he declared.
I saluted smartly, causing my trousers to fall down, so that when I turned to go down the steps my feet were caught in Nyamasoya’s trousers. The whole crowd cheered as I fell flat on my face, and then blacked out.
The next think I knew, I was staring up at Sara’s face, and I was back home. ‘Did the ambulance bring me back?’ I asked.
‘What are you blabbering about?’ she laughed. ‘You fell asleep in front of the telly.’