Tuesday, November 8, 2011

State House Disease

State House Disease
‘It happens every time,’ sighed Towani, ‘we elect somebody to State House who promises to do as we ask, but no sooner has he walked through the door than he begins to do the opposite!’
‘And it’s always a he,’ said Sara. ‘When we get a she, things will be different.’
‘Pass me the potatoes,’ I said, ‘before the president puts a tax on them.’
We were having a family lunch on the veranda, which is the best place to put the world to rights, since it can’t be done at State House. ‘Maybe,’ I said, ‘there’s something wrong with State House. Maybe the building has a malign effect on people. Ghosts, evil spirits, nasty smells, unwashed underpants from the previous occupant and that sort of thing.’
Kupela waved her fork in the air. ‘Speaking as a microbiologist…’
‘Speaking as a microbiologist…’ I mocked.
‘What is a microbiologist?’ asked Thoko.
‘A microbiologist,’ I explained, ‘is an extremely small biologist.’
‘It is very likely,’ persisted Kupela, ‘that the new arrival soon succumbs to all the microbes and parasites which have built up over the years.’
‘Maybe the house is still suffering from Nyamasoyitis and Muwelewelitis,’ I suggested.
‘The lingering smell of colonialism,’ suggested Towani. ‘Even Michael said he noticed a foul stench when he first walked in, and promised a clean up.’
‘But maybe the stench overpowered him,’ Sara sneered.
‘There’s no need to bring smelly ideology into a purely biological problem,’ said Kupela. ‘An old house like that is automatically full of all sorts of viruses, bacteria and fungi floating round in the air, and hanging on the curtains like invisible bunches of grapes. Then of course there are the parasites such as mice, rats, spiders, mites and mosquitoes.’
‘All lurking below the floorboards and above the ceilings,’ I suggested.
‘And especially,’ said Kupela, ‘in the drains and sewers. All the remains of the previous occupants, and all their diseases, waiting to come up and get you.’
‘We must respect all that is left to us from previous generations,’ I said. ‘It is called tradition. Presidents come and go, but all these microbes and parasites remain. They are the custodians of State House. They preserve the past, and pass it on to the next occupant, so as to maintain stability and continuity in society. We must respect and preserve our traditions. In fact we’ve now even got a minister to look after them.’
‘Gender discrimination,’ snarled Sara, ‘is a very nasty desease.’
‘We’re talking especially about State House diseases,’ said Towani. ‘Gender discrimination is everywhere.’
‘Especially in State House,’ Sara hissed.
‘I’m not sure about this disease theory,’ declared Towani, as she carefully examined the salad. ‘Does it explain how a man can walk into the house one day as a democrat elected by the people, but emerge the next morning as a king appointed by God?’
‘Diseases can change behaviour dreadfully,’ said Kupela. ‘Chicken pox makes people terribly bad-tempered, diarrhoea causes impatience, and pompositis famously causes extreme arrogance. A person’s behaviour can change in a day, and allergies are particularly erratic and unpredictable.’
‘How is that?’
‘An allergic person may be sent into a fit of sneezing by dust, but quite like the smell of flowers. Another may be allergic to corruption, but very attracted to the smell of money.’
‘I’m not sure I believe any of this,’ laughed Towani. ‘I’m old enough to have seen all five of our presidents, and nobody ever said they looked diseased.’
‘That’s because we have got used to their symptoms,’ explained Kupela. ‘We expect our presidents to be arrogant, selfish, deaf and bad-tempered. In any other person we would see the symptoms of various diseases, but in a president it appears quite normal.’
‘Perhaps it has become normal because these State House diseases have been passed on from one occupant to the next?’
‘Exactly,’ said Kupela.
‘But why doesn’t this State House disease spread out into the general population?’ I wondered. ‘Does State House arrogance make everybody arrogant? Does a president’s deafness turn everybody increasingly deaf, as he moves around the country spreading the disease?’
‘State House disease spreads alright,’ said Kupela. ‘But the strange peculiarity of State House disease is that it has the opposite symptoms in the general population. If the president talks all the time, the people have to stop talking and listen instead. As he becomes more deaf, they are the ones who have to hear. As he becomes more arrogant, they have to become more humble, and lick his boots. As he becomes more authoritarian, they believe more in democracy. As he becomes more satisfied with himself, they become more dissatisfied with him.’
‘But shall we ever clean out all the accumulated filth and disease from State House?’ wondered Thoko. ‘Maybe we should just go back to Sir Evelyn Hone and start again!’
‘Funny you should say that,’ I replied. ‘I read in today’s paper that the British Prime Minister has just appointed Lord Henry Bellingham as Minister for Africa! So obviously the British have resumed control!’
‘Then maybe he has appointed Michael as our new Governor!’
‘That would certainly explain a lot,’ said Sara, as she stabbed the table with her knife. ‘We voted for change, and now we’ve got it!’


  1. The putrid smell of corpses at State house

  2. Too factual and less artistic....just doesnt make me laugh(aint PF by the way so I should be the easiest to make laugh over a PF blunder tale)

  3. Haunted State House, eh? From the behaviour of the people who have had the '(mis)fortune' of occupying THAT House; I would rather we called it a Mental Asylum! Pity that the current occupant has shelved quite reasonable plans by the previous occupant to build an entirely new structure free from 'microbes' and 'cobwebs'. Seems the lunacy will continue to be with us for sometime! Alright for me! Who needs expensive comedy from Hollywood when we have our own local production for free from THAT house!