Monday, September 3, 2012

The First Press Conference

The First Press Conference

            I can remember the day clearly, as if it were yesterday. It was the morning of Tuesday 24th September 2021 when Sara said ‘Turn on the TV, dear, Cycle Mata is having his press conference this morning.’
          ‘Dress conference?’ I said. ‘How can dresses have a conference?’
          ‘PRESS Conference,’ she shouted. ‘Are you wearing your hearing aid?’
          ‘No need to shout!’ I shouted angrily. ‘I’m not deaf. It’s just that you’ve got it wrong yet again! Firstly we don’t have a press anymore, it was banned years ago. Secondly, in ten years Cycle Mata has never held a press conference. Do you really imagine that he would risk his position in the Guinness Book of Records and destroy his reputation?’
          ‘Since you won’t do it,’ sighed Sara. ‘I’ll turn on the TV myself.’
          So saying, she heaved herself up from the sofa, reached for her Zimmerman frame, and began shuffling slowly over to our ancient Supersonic TV. She turned the knob, and the latest New Orleans hurricane slowly appeared on the screen.
          ‘You have to hit the screen with the flat of your hand,’ I advised. ‘You women don’t understand modern technology.’
          She did so, and a wizened old face immediately appeared. ‘Ha ha!’ she shouted in triumph. ‘Isn’t that the remains of Cycle Mata?’
          ‘Looks more like Robber Mugabby,’ I replied.
          ‘Huh,’ she said. ‘You never could tell the difference.’
          ‘He’s reading from his prepared script,’ I said. ‘So long as he doesn’t deviate from that, he’ll be fine.’
          ‘In conclusion,’ Cycle Mata was saying, ‘I called this press conference to explain how I have managed to keep all of my promises to the nation, despite the withdrawal of all foreign missions apart from our beloved Chinese brothers, despite the withdrawal of Western funding apart from Haiti, and despite the despicable UN sanctions. Despite these attacks on our sovereignty I have managed to end our dependence on copper and diversified the economy. Above all, I have found employment for all.’
          Now a huge fat fellow in dark glasses and a cigar stepped forward, saying ‘Our Great Leader will now take questions from the press.’
          ‘Who’s he?’ I wondered.
          ‘That’s Cycle Mata’s press aide, Gorgeous Fellah,’ said Sara. ‘Looks like he’s doing well.’
          ‘Scurrilous Slob from the Daily Scoop,’ said the first journalist. ‘I just wonder how you managed to achieve full employment.’
          ‘I employed a two pronged strategy which is now a model for the rest of the world. Half of the labour force ran away to UK and America to sweep their railway stations. The remaining labour force is being been sent to China to work in the coal mines.’
          ‘Wishy Washy from the Washington Post,’ said the next. ‘How have you ended the reliance on copper?’
          ‘The copper has all been sold to the Chinese, so we are now forced to depend on other things.’
          ‘Harry Hack from Hard Times. What other things?’
          ‘Weren’t you listening?’ Michael snapped, giving us a glimpse of the earlier waspishness which we knew when he was a young man of seventy-five. ‘I just told you, we export coal miners to China!’
          ‘Amiable Agness from Agricultural Action. Then who is producing the food to sustain the small remaining population?’
          ‘These Zambian farmers don’t like work, so I gave all the land to the hardworking Chinese. Their farms produce maize for local consumption and coal miners for export.’
          ‘Heavy Harriet from Hard Talk. Is Zambia a one party state?’
          ‘Certainly not. In fact we don’t even have any political parties. They were all banned in favour of national unity and working together amicably.’
          ‘Sceptical Sam from the Southern Sun. Is the Patriotic Force not a political party?’
          ‘Silly question from Silly Sam of the Silly Sun,’ cackled Cycle Mata, giving a rare glimpse of his dentures. ‘No, the Patriotic Force is not a political party, it is the government.’
          ‘Peter Pester from Political Probe.  It has been ten years since the last election. Are you thinking of calling another one?’     
‘Of course. We’re just waiting for the new constitution.’
          ‘Grumbling Gertrude from Grandma Guardian. When do you expect the new constitution to be ready?’
          ‘Very soon. In fact I’ve just appointed Judge Suckmore Chipoko to head the new Constitutional Commission.’
          ‘Quentin Querulous from the Quebec Query. Is it not true that you have all your political opponents locked up, that this is a police state and a colony of China, and that you personally own half of Scotland?
          ‘Idiot! Shut up! Shut up! Sit down! Arrest him! Arrest him for defamation! And for sedition! Deport him!’
          As Quentin Querulous was wrestled to the ground by six party thugs, two men in white coats appeared and took hold of Cycle Mata’s wheelchair, turned it round, and began wheeling him back to the palace. At the same time the Chinese Attaché stepped forward, saying ‘Thisee endee pressee confectionee. Pleasee standee to Nation Antemee.’
          Then all the Chinese dignatories, resplendent in their military uniforms, stood up to sing the sad remains of the Zambia National Anthem…
Stand and sing of Zambia, work for free
Land of work and sweat in colony
Labour in the dark for your copper
All gone, for a dollar
All gone, cheap and free

Praise be to China
Praise be, praise be,
Bless your great patience
Zambia, Zambia
Slave men you stand
Under the flag of your land
Zambia, praise to thee
All one colony.


  1. Kalaki this one is a masterpiece i thoroughly enjoyed this one

  2. So true its scary.