By Juliet Rogers,
That early morning was June 19th, the day of elections that could decide the fate of TOBODU REPUBLIC, a nation that lay in wait, full of expectations to see the new leader who will raise it from the shackles of deterioration of a battered economy, political mismanagement, social decadence and cultural limbo.
The most acclaimed, in terms of popularity for this year’s event, is Joana Katanga who has spent his childhood and part of his youthful days in the mid marshy district of the beloveth TOBODU, has spent a considerable time in the United States of America (U.S.A) as a successful merchant; he had returned to TOBODU in the midst of great need, a period of great want, a period of great hunger, characterised by heavy torrential rains that fell and speedily murmured on village thatched roofs, but caused low clattering and comforting sounds on corrugated roof of homes in towns and cities.
Last year witnessed the return of Joana Katanga. The rains were the heaviest in recent history. Some believed such enduring steady torrent had never occurred, even though the aged who could think far back into the dim distant past, suggested that there were times when the havoc wrecking hunger, Cody named ‘Gendemeh’ still lingered in the minds of some people.
It was at that same time last year, with alarming shortage of food, though not of the same magnitude that Joana Katanga appeared at the scene, dishing out bags of rice to villagers whose hopes were almost gone to feed their famished dependants. In just a few days, the several forty (40) feet containers of rice shipped into the country, TOBODU, had been distributed in almost every home. As a result, his fame had spread like roadside fire that consumed the tall elephant grass on both sides. In the given circumstance, it was difficult, if not impossible, to retrospect into the genealogy of a political aspirant; the worth of any political hopeful was measured by how much he could offer to keep hunger away on a temporal leave. So no one bothered to make enquiry into the moral background and forward looking thought of Joana Katanga, carrying a fine mulatto colour with the two upper middle front teeth showing a beautiful split when he often smiles. All perhaps they knew, added to his generosity was the Mid Central Region of Faabu, a province of TOBODU, being his place of birth.
This place was always highly populated, a true cosmopolitan region where habits, whether good or bad were easily acquired and hard to control by youths; it was a mixed bag of many ethnic belongings, characterised by different behavioural patterns – a loose lawless society, fueled by fetish, juju, witchcraft and magic, to a point that people committed crimes and walked away with them – those social vices became the ‘mudus operandi,’ and almost every home in that province threw moral virtues to the dogs.
Here was a province of TOBODU where no home and family cares. Perhaps some homes remained silent out of fear that the greater percentage of the contaminated homes might hunt, trap and hurt them; so, children were let loose, although normally in African social system, the upbringing of a child is dependent, not only on the immediate family, but also the community, in a way that a child could be corrected, sometimes harshly by elders of the society. They felt this will achieve a holistic development of not just a home, but a nation too. It is quite the opposite here at TOBODU.
Furthermore, Joana’s schooling was not quite a pleasant one. He lived a life contrary to the rules and rubrics of his local public school he attended in those days. Teachers no longer flogged him because he became a friend to the rod – “Kanda warm, kanda cold” was his slogan at every expectant thrash at school. He always smiled and called his teachers ‘Gentlemen of the Jungle’ who terrorised and kept school children in perpetual fear.
He was banned from reading in the school library because he stole library books and other materials and trade them out. He stole from his companions. He ate food from the market women, promised to make defer payment he never honoured. These accumulated vices were too much for the school to contain; therefore, reports of his bad conducts were constantly made to his parents who treated them nonchalantly.
Most often, his complaints were chastised by his parents. “This boy will one day create a problem for all of us if allowed to continue to grow in this crooked way,” Mr. Kamara, his science teacher, had always adviced. “Lucky Boy,” his companions called him, as nothing ever came out of reports made to the parents. “Why do you hate him? Are you jealous of the affluence of the parents?” These were the rhetorics of his parents. “Enemies of progress,” the aunt, Aunty Susan added.
Gradually, Joana Katanga transferred this ugly behaviour to his ‘home and community.’ You are destroying this boy to take all these mess from him. He will one day bring shame and disgrace, if not complete destruction to this home, and who knows, probably to TOBODU,” Uncle Steven had observed one morning.
Joana Katanga grew up in this atmosphere where he was favoured by Father and Mother in every wrong he did.
“Mum, I enjoyed Pastor Josiah last Sunday in his soul winning sermon about disciplined children and youths to build the nation,” Little David said, while using the corner of his left eye to make a quick provocative winks at his elder brother, Joana Katanga. Unable to accept what he thought was a taunt for him, quickly responded: “Go to your Heaven tomorrow – I care not to know.” Joana sometimes stammer when he ‘left off the handle.’ Advancing towards the little boy with an opened palm, poised to give a resounding slap, Little David nervously replied: “You don’t dare slap me; you brute.” Wasting no time, the mother intervened: “If you argue your elder brother, I will let him beat sense out of you.” “Remember the criminal who got his salvation on the cross, even at that eleventh hour, after living in sin for decades. Joana Katanga will change,” she continued.
It was just a day after the celebration of Ash Wednesday when Joana came from his normal outing, broadly smiling to his mother – Mum, Dad, brothers, sisters, Uncle and Aunt were all together. With opened arms, he exclaimed: “I’ve won the DV Lottery to the U.S.A, God’s own heaven on earth.” The expression was elastic. In that family gathering, if there was anyone who was indifferent, amongst all, was Uncle Steven. “When you go, I hope you’ll change your attitude, or else, I’m afraid, America has no place for indiscipline, lest you’ll be deported,” Uncle Steven quickly advised, much to the displeasure of Kinii Seyia, the father, and Mama Sattu, the mother. As he read the unpleasant looks on their faces, he knew what was coming, Uncle Steven was asked out of this home for what the two parents considered a statement of ‘bad omen and bad luck’ from the uncle.
Time flies. Joana Katanga flew into the U.S.A and stayed there for eleven years and amassed a huge wealth out of his international trade in gold, doing business with South Africa, Ghana, Mali and Tanzania. By the time he flew back into the REPUBLIC of TOBODU, the nation was in full gear for presidential and the two chamber parliamentary elections.
He declared his intention by registering his political party – Peoples New Movement for Change (P.N.M.C). His new movement quickly and easily gained grounds as he made use of his financial might and charity of rice supply in the country side and most towns and cities. It was a foregone conclusion that he was going to win the presidential elections; certainly he won.
Wining the elections was one, maintaining a healthy economy in the midst of his desire to recover electoral expenses was quite another. Joana Katanga, now the Head of State, involved into financial mismanagement, on a very large scale, trapping every donor fund and criminally converting it into his personal use, to the point that he sacked the national economy of the beloveth TOBODU. This reclined the ‘hard-up’ youths into criminal activities of various sorts – varying from hijacking, highway robbery, terrorism, prostitution, child trafficking, gambling, and so on. Social institutions collapsed. Other service providers became really corrupt and failed completely; bribery and corruption engulfed every parastatal, the police and the judiciary, following the foot print of President Joana Katanga. Those who fled hardship, unemployment and insecurity landed in neighbouring countries for greener pasture – what a total collapse – what a rogue state – what a failed state that stood the peril of extinction.
But all was not lost. The rise of a locally breed politician who already knew the policies of modern governance, in the person of Dr. Sidie Kapumoh, with a disciplined background, resuscitated the REPUBLIC of TOBODU to its former glory – yes TOBODU, after that big fall, became the Singapore of Africa.
NOTE: The names of persons and places in this story are fictional – they do not point to any particular person or place.
Juliet Rogers is a Societal Engineer, Life&Emotional Intelligence Coach.