21 February 2009

Robin Hood & The President's Birthday Bash by Masimba Musodza

Recent issues of Hansard said his full name was the Rt. Hon. Severus Tichadya Nhomi, MP, Governor and Resident Minister of Mashonaland South Province. What they did not say was that he was a fat, squat individual who could hide a mobile phone in the rolls of adiposity that quivered under his arms. That and much more.

He frowned, stood against the cabinet with what he probably imagined was the right level of superciliousness with which to receive the younger, affable man who had stepped in to his office and introduced himself as Thaddeus Chibanda, a member of the Fund-Raising Committe for this year's President's Birthday Bash. He had also mentioned that he was based at Kaguvi Building, which was like an American official mentioning to a politician that he was based at Langley.

"I thought fund-raising for the bash in this area fell under my office," Nhomi drawled.

"Normally, it would, Comrade Resident Minister," Chibanda smiled. "However, you have only been in the office barely a week, and it was decided at the highest level that this year, someone else would handle it."

Nhomi decided that there was an unacceptable and irritating lack of respect on the part of the younger man. The fact that he was part of an organisation that would not hesitate to relocate him to the bottom of Lake Chivero with all the other dissidents might have something to do with it. He decided to show the little mofo that this was his office by ignoring the letters of introduction Chibanda had placed on the desk.

"But of course," Nhomi replied, forcing a smile on his Mick Jagger lips. "It is most reassuring that the highest level is concerned with us provinicials."

Chibanda leaned back expansively in the chair, and looked at Nhomi as at a social inferior on whose wife he had exercised his droit du signeur the night prior. Nhomi scowled, outraged as if he had in fact done just that.

"Right, Nhomi," Chibanda said, leaning forward in a business-like manner. The governor started at the disrespectful form of address, but Chibanda went on. "The reason they sent someone from Kaguvi is that it is known that you have been generously supplied by a bunch of white farmers who hope that you may help them get their farms back in this new GNU dispensation."

Chibanda grinned as the colour drained from Nhomi's face. Then, he grew stern. "To cut to the chase, the catalogue of presents that you have received covers a large portion of your province's quota."

Nhomi's response was incoherent at first as he struggled to stop his massive lips and jowls from quivering. He tried a laugh. "I hope, comrade, you don't think that I was planning to keep all those goodies for myself?"

Chibanda looked indignant. "No, of course not!" he cried.

"I was going to donate some to the President's Bash," Nhomi declared, moving closer to Chibanda as if that would convince him of his sincerity.

"Some?" Chibanda asked.

Nhomi fumbled again before blurting, "Well, I thought I could the rest for the local bash!"

Chibanda stared at him. "Caviar, expensive wines? Hardly the sort of spread I would put out for a bunch of peasants."

"Oh, come now!" said Nhomi. "It's the President's Bash, why not celebrate in style if we can afford it? And we can, because someone else pays for it."

"Someone else pays for all of it," said Chibanda. "Tell me, Governor, doesn't it prick your conscience that we are gathering all this rich food and yet as a government we have presided over growing misery for the common person?"

It was Nhomi's turn to look astonished. He eyed the younger man warily. It had to be a trick question, a test for orthodoxy.

"Well, that is not quite true, you know," Nhomi answered. "The Bash has to be extravagant, to show our detractors and imperialist enemies that Zimbabweans can still celebrate our living heroes in style, despite the illegal sanctions they have slapped on us. That is why I want the villagers to eat caviar and sip champagne, so the world can see that we are proud of our leader, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe!"

Chibanda smiled approvingly. Then, a question occurred to him. "Hey, what about the white farmers who gave you the goodies?"

Nhomi started, he had forgotten about them. Then, he shrugged them off. "Rhodesian pigs!" he muttered. "They will have to accept the irreversability of the Land Reform Programme!"

He wondered if he should mention that he had also received up to US$100000 as protection money, insurance against further farm seizures. If this C.I.O. did not know about it, it was a risk worth taking not to say anything.

"Tell you what," Chibanda was saying. "I will have a good report about you when I get back to Harare. The big people listen to what I say, and you will notice the difference in your life, my friend."

"Well, we all try to do what we can for the State," Nhomi said, his bloated features glowing with pleasure.

"No, I mean it," said Chibanda. "And let me show you what we can do for those who work well for us. I am going to send someone round with fuel coupons."

"Fuel coupons?" Nhomi whispered, and you could see he was practically slobbering.
"That is just a starter," Chibanda chuckled, rising. "If your kids are not already studying abroad, I think you ought to pick a university with them tonight, then call me."

This time, Nhomi could not control himself. He clapped his hands, and clasped them for a moment as if he was experiencing orgasm.

"Let me give you my card,"Chibanda offered. "Now, I really have to be off. Do you think you can sort out the handover right away?"

"Of course, sir!" Nhomi roared. He ambled over to his desk and drated a letter, stamped it, and handed it to Chibanda. "My servants will help you load it all."

When Nhomi got back to his newly acquired ranch on the outskirts of the provinical capital, he was told by his nephew,a kept relative who acted as a sort of personal aide, that the C.I.O. had helped themselves to not only the stuff the whites had brought, but the coldroom's entire contents, which included not only several cattle, but game and poultry. They had also seized the grain which Nhomi had hoped to sell on the black market in Harare for American dollars.

"And you let them?" Nhomi blurted, his breathing laboured.

"They were C.I.O!" the nephew pointed out. "I am not taking a bullet for oysters and prawns and wine! I would have let them bang my wife if they had asked to."

Nhomi would have done the same. In fact, he had on a number of occasions. One of his kids bore a striking resemblance to a senior Politiburo member.

"They left a note, uncle," the nephew said.

Nhomi shook the image of the C.I.O. taking turns with his niece by marriage and frowned at the offered envelope. He ripped it open with fat, trembling hands. The look of rage on his pudgy features morphed first in to one of incredulity, then dismay.

Governor Nhomi

As your nephew may have told you by now, we cleaned you out. If you make further enquiries, you will be able to confirm that my name is not Chibanda and I am not with the President's Office.

The stuff that we have taken from your larder will be given to the hungry villagers in the province. I doubt that the Fund-raising Committee will miss it very much, as they already have plenty. But the oridinary people have nothing. You shouldn't miss it very much either as you have enough cholesterol in you to paint the ZANU-PF Headquarters and the nearby Sheraton Hotel.

Say Happy Birthday to old Bob for me!Yours,

R.Hood, Zim-style.

As the world swirled around him and the blood thudded in his ears as it coursed through his body at accelerated speeds, Governor Nhomi thought he heard his nephew say that the Governor of Matebeleland Central, his closest friend in the party, wished to speak to him urgently on the phone.

Robin Hood & The President's Birthday Bash was written by Masimba Musodza.

Copyright Masimba Musodza 2009.

I was born in 1976, as independence and all it offered to an erstwhile disenfranchised Black majority dawned on the country now known as Zimbabwe. I was educated at Avondale Primary School, Harare, and St Mary Magdalene's High School in Nyanga. Then I went to Film School, majoring in Screenwriting and Directing. So, while I am only just emerging in the literary world, I have been a writer for film and television for a while now.

I am the author of The Man who turned into a Rastafarian, an anthology of short-stories. A novel is due to published before the end of the year. I am now working on a ChiShona language novel that I think will push and redefine the boundaries of the genre. I also write essays of interest to adherents of the Rastafarian Faith.


Jonathan Masere said...

This was a good one and has made the beginning of my day bright. Brother Masimba is one heck of a writer.

Ivor W. Hartmann said...

This is Classic Masimba, complete with the flip on the end, told with grace, humour, style and a good pace as always. I'm so totally looking forward to reading Uriah's Vengence.

Karl (aka Lore) said...

I loved this. Can you do a script for ZBC? Who will play Robin?

Masimba Musodza said...

Thanks, guys!! I am working on a revised version

Nigel Jack said...


jonathanmasere said...

This was a good one and has made the beginning of my day bright. Brother Masimba is one heck of a writer.

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