Disclaimer: this is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any people real or imagined is purely coincidental.
Also, please visit corksandscrews.wordpress.com to listen to episodes of my podcast which is allegedly funny. Thank you.
“No pot-belly?” the king of Tsatirrhi asked as he shook the hand of his counterpart from a sister African nation, The President. The President chuckled and looked down to make sure that one hadn’t suddenly grown while he was shaking hands.
“None. What’s your problem? I exercise!” The President replied,
“Power? Yes. But on a treadmill?” said the only African monarch with a Masters degree. He was the least educated of the lot. Most of the others had Doctorates. None were honorary. They both laughed.
“What I do on a treadmill for forty minutes at 3.50 am everyday you do on twin girls for four minutes, 350 days a year,” The President quipped back, “You get your exercise where you can, right?”
“Right,” the king answered, “but four minutes? I am the monarch of an African nation not a Japanese engine on a full tank of gasoline. Who lasts that long?” it was a tasteless joke but they both laughed again.
“How is Tsatirrhi?”
“Crumbling,” the king sobered up, “but we’ll be fine. I’ll be handing over to a younger politician next July. You must have heard of Djalimi. He seems fresh, vibrant and honest,” The President was shocked.
“What do you mean by that? If you can rule an oil-rich state without adding weight, I can hand over the reins without a fight,”
Those types of conversations were the most fun anyone had at those AU summits. As they settled into it, deliberations on reducing fighting in certain regions took centre-stage. Things really had changed.
“No agenda on poverty alleviation?” one rookie president asked a more seasoned one.
“We don’t need that anymore,” the experienced one spat, “what year do you think this is? 2015?”
After the summit, The President had to fly back home hurriedly. There would be no time for chit-chat. The senate house had scheduled an urgent behind-closed-doors meeting and he was to be in attendance. He kissed the king of Tsatirrhi goodbye and once he was out of sight, ordered his assistant to mail the king a gift-wrapped box of Viagra pills with a note that said: “Stay strong. Really.”
The senators were not happy. He should have known he was in for a pillorying. Things never ended well when they happened “behind closed doors”.
“Mr. President,” one of them started. He’d heard this one was the head honcho behind the scenes, “details of a new Administrators’ Remuneration Bill have been reliably leaked to us,” The President chuckled. “Something funny, sir?”
“No. Just that your accent means that you switch the letters ‘l’ and ‘r’ involuntarily when you say things and frankly when you had to say ‘reliably’, I almost died inside,” some of the other senators flat out laughed. The President apologized: “I’m sorry. Please continue. But if for any reason you have to say the word ‘involuntarily’, just don’t.”
The senator continued, “We understand that the bill seeks to reduce the earnings of all top-tier government officials by as much as 70 percent. Is this correct, Mr. President?”
“Of course that’s wrong information,” The President smiled into his glass as he sipped and made them wait for his next words. “The proposed reduction is for 75 percent,” he chuckled again. “Also, it’s not a bill. It’s going to be a referendum. The people will get to decide how much we get paid.”
Instant chaos ensued.
And The President just kept chuckling.
The President was only in the second year of his four-year term but he was already sick of people. Today, it was the Director in charge of Communications that was riling him up.
“Mr. President sir,”
“Please. Call me Nat,”
“With due respect Mr. President, I will not,”
“That’s a start. Now instead of saying that last word with an ‘o’ try the word with an ‘a’,”
“I’d rather…abstain sir,” he said, while picking his words.
“Or try it in a Ghanaian accent?”
“Never mind. Speaking of minds, what’s on yours?” As The President said this, he made a mental note to write a book called “World’s Worst Segues”.
“Sir, we need to reconsider your ‘free-press’ policy,”
“What about it?”
“Well I initially thought the announcement was a publicity gimmick but it seems you’re really going ahead with it.”
“I understand that sir, but is it really wise to cede content control of the only media network funded by the state?”
“It’s not just wise, it’s imperative.”
“But do you really want to take that risk, Mr. President? How will you ever get to tell the people what you need them to hear?”
“I don’t want them to hear what I need them to hear,” The President reduced his eyes to slits and his voice to a whisper, “I want them to hear the truth from a genuinely free press.”
“A free press?”
“Mr. President,” the director said, “You need to stop making stuff up.”
The President was on a surprise tour of boarding schools around the country. With nary a day’s notice, he was randomly going round to a number of public boarding schools. He wanted to see what the students’ conditions were really like. Not the Photoshopped, primped, documentary-appropriate version that he otherwise got to see when they had a month to plan.
He was in the school’s auditorium and students had been encouraged to speak on what it was they wanted the most in the school. It was all the same. The fifth student to speak reiterated what four others had said in similarly impeccable English: “Good day Mr. President sir. Sir, we eat three good meals every day so we are not hungry. But yesterday evening, around 7pm, there was a loud explosion and the power went out. Some technicians came about twenty minutes later but were not able to fix it immediately. We were promised that the power would be restored by 3pm today but that would be after classes. Mr President sir, that means that after this assembly is over, we have to open the windows of our classrooms due to the lack of air-conditioning. We humbly request for power to be restored sooner.” As the child bowed out, the rest of the school, including the teachers applauded and cheered very loudly. The President rolled his eyes.
Having heard enough, it was time for The President to approach the microphone and address the school. He thought of how best to comfort them as regards their power problem. Perhaps a history lesson was in order. In his mind, the first words that came were “When I was growing up…” However, he looked at his watch: 9:43am. He did some quick calculation and thereafter couldn’t bring himself to hold his true feelings in. So instead he grabbed the microphone and…
“You spoilt bastards,” The President cursed.
At his official nest, The president sat in the one office that had a view of the outside: The Planning Room. This was where all the best ideas were birthed. The downside of The Planning Room was that security was an ever present. Armed, over-exercised guards stood no more than three feet apart. It was the law. And unlike the china in the Stress Room, he never broke those. At least they were quiet. He had learned to block them out of his mind while he thought out plans for moving his nation forward. He had learned to give his full visual attention to the best part of the room: the window had a metal frame but no intricate mesh to prevent burglars. So that when it was flung open, it was flung open wide. He looked out of it while his eyes focused on nothing, giving his mind the freedom to home in on everything else.
He smiled now as his eyes did find something to focus on. It was flying.
It did not look like a normal bird though. This one seemed a lot more rounded. It didn’t seem to be flying at a very high altitude. Probably because of how grossly overweight the animal was, thought The President. Rather than a beak, the animal had a snout. And was that…a tiny…tail he was seeing?
“What’s that?” The President pointed out the window. The guards tried to look without leaving their positions, twisting their necks. They looked at each other and shook their heads.
Finally: “We don’t know sir,” one of them offered. They all looked surprised, like they could not really understand what they were seeing.
He was still wondering about the shape of the flying animal when it seemed to make a noise that left him even more confused.
“Did you hear that?” he asked to no one and everyone at the same time.
“Sir?” the guards were almost tripping over themselves to give him an answer.
“That noise. I think the flying thing outside made a noise. Keep quiet. It might do it again.” The room fell silent again. This time, the animal was more audible: