Chapter 1: Mokonzi na Bakonzi (Chief of Chiefs)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Stories by Christian Filostrat

Reads: 349

Mokonzi na Bakonzi, like most dictators, came to power via a coup. The East condemned him, inasmuch as it was rumored that the elected prime minister he put in an unmarked grave favored communism. For the same reason, the West lauded him, and he repaid them with foolproof allegiance.

That allegiance would prove invaluable, and claims that the Dictator was corrupt, undemocratic, or cruel did not diminish his importance. It did not matter that he was everything his enemies contended. He was an international force of nature. The people hired to coach him about the real world became his servants; his opinions were more important than their reality.

His name – Mokonzi na Bakonzi, Chief of Chiefs, the Great Elephant and invincible warrior, who because of his fortitude and unyielding resolve to triumph goes from victory to victory leaving conflagration in his path – was exalted by his countrymen as his allegiance was by the West, and stretched three lines long, the longest name in the world.

The propaganda poster hanging behind his chair in the Cabinet Room at the presidential palace, angled to overwhelm the sitting cabinet members, showed a tall, well fed, and well-groomed handsome man. A man with the mannerisms of a pimp, a renowned playwright said of him. He wore the African Suit he decreed his countrymen must wear. Western attire would not be tolerated. His wide, black-rimmed eyeglasses designated him as an intellectual, an évolué, a superior native, a man touched by Europe and its education. However, his traditional elephant-skin cap, worn at a jaunty angle, expressed disdain toward any évolué label.  He was first an African, a man of the people. But being Dictator became him.

On a stage, his face benevolent but amused, looking down at the smiling faces and enthralled eyes of his people, the Dictator is posing for the cameras of an adoring media, the elephant-shaped handle of his Mokonzi na Bakonzi’s cane in his right hand.  At the moment that picture was taken, he must have just raised the cane, for the tens of thousands of people there cheered as if electrified by the new dictator’s gesture. In that single moment of appreciation, they were rejoicing not at the gesture itself, but at the implicit statement that it was at the altar of absolute power that the new dictator prayed – he could do as he pleased.  Such was his splendor then after his coup had succeeded, and he had settled comfortably into his reign. His new dictatorial rule led a magical existence, and his country lived by the slogan, “people should fend-for-themselves.” That viewpoint was set in concrete as Article 15 of the constitution along with a new flag and a new national dress code.

However, neither the length nor the resonance of his name nor the millions of propaganda posters could protect him from the vicissitude of history. The same history that pauses from time to time to assess what man has wrought and adjusts to fit its fancy.

In the case of Mokonzi na Bakonzi, the pause of history came on the 26th of December 1991, the day the Soviet Union relegated itself to what the Soviet theorist, Leon Trotsky called “the dustbin of history.”  Eight days later, on the 3rd of January 1992, the administration in Washington dispatched its diplomatic troubleshooter, Dr. William Klingesthousen, to tell the Dictator that his importance had been overrated. Evidently, the U.S. had erred in keeping him in power.

“He’s stranded, isn’t he?” Minister of Foreign Affairs Salen M’BuJudda said to his younger brother, Karome, who was driving him to the cabinet meeting as he always did at eleven o’clock on Wednesdays.

M’BuJudda was Mokonzi’s boyhood friend and they had been inseparable since they were toddlers in Lisala. His younger brother rode his coattails to earn the spot as sports minister.  Today M’BuJudda looked over the empire his friend had built and tried to decide what he should do in the ebbing days of their power.

“What did you expect?” Karome said. “You live by the sword; you die by the sword.”

“What the hell does that mean?” M’BuJudda said. His brother was being perplexing to annoy him, but he forgave him because he kept his eyes open and was as secretive as a pregnant leopard except with him. This made him the best brother one could have in Mokonzi’s Zaire.

Happy that he had succeeded in exasperating the famous minister of foreign affairs once again, Karome laughed so hard his eyes closed momentarily. “Because he has depended exclusively on a single commodity to fill his coffers,” he answered amid chuckles, almost hitting one of the two motorcycle cops in the motorcade leading them to the presidential palace. “It’s like Nigeria and oil, isn’t it? Here in Zaire, the commodity is the battlefield for influence in the East - West conflict. Mokonzi banked his rule and us, his N’Gbandi kin, on the conflict lasting as far as time would reach; his ruin – our ruin – hung on the conflict ending and the battlefield grassing over.” Karome blew his horn at a pedestrian who was about to cross in front of the motorcade. “The conflict has ended,” he continued. “We’re stranded. It’s that simple.” He blew the horn again at another pedestrian who was about to take an illegal step to cross the street in front of an official car. He looked at Salen. Both were wondering if the people no longer feared those in power.

“Yes,” M’BuJudda said, looking out of the window at a group of women dressed in white on the sidewalk, thinking that these women at least were oblivious to the change he and his brother were talking about. He pitied the women and felt reassured at the same time. “I remember when Mokonzi was the most practical man in the world,” he said.

The brother shook his head, his eyes on the motorcycles. “If he ever knew to be practical, he’s forgotten,” he said.  “Had reason prevailed, Mokonzi could have named his successor, a N’Gbandi; saving us a world of sorrow; then retire to his villa in Brussels, Geneva, or St. Tropez or perhaps Morocco. The king is his friend and would welcome a fellow monarch.”

“That’s easy for you to say,” M’BuJudda retorted. He had been rubbing the calf of his left leg since getting into the car. “Mokonzi is getting old, and he has prostate cancer. He has neither the spirit nor the wisdom to be practical anymore.”

How could Mokonzi have gotten himself into such a mess? he wondered.

He felt a mixture of annoyance toward his friend for not stepping down when he could have done so without a descent into hell and sorrow that Zaire had become just another African country with his friend as just another deadwood African dictator.

“He is suffering from a classic case of cognitive dissonance.”

“WHAT?”

“Mokonzi, he is under excruciating stress – getting information from everywhere. He has to juggle what’s reality and what’s opinion like a juggler at a circus. That’s what I mean.”

Had Mokonzi been rational, he could have made the beloved Salen his successor.

Would Salen ever consent to succeed Mokonzi though? Karome was certain he would not. It took inhuman vigor to be a megalomaniac and impose oneself on the world. Only the strongest could do it. Besides, ruling had been Mokonzi’s birthright since he and Salen were children in Lisala. His reign was the most natural thing in the world. There was a fence of solid conviction barring Salen from ever thinking he could replace Mokonzi.

Mokonzi’s trodden foes could contend until icebergs flowed down the Congo River that his power came from a self-serving coup; but as far as Salen was concerned, everything had always pointed to Mokonzi as the fittest to rule. Since there was no limit to what he could achieve then, Mokonzi’s ambitions could be as bold as he wished. Salen M’BuJudda had thrilled at the world calling Mokonzi a megalomaniac or the alpha male on the world stage – a roundabout recognition of N’Gbandi superiority.

 

Following the cabinet meeting, the elite group of Mokonzi’s advisors among the cabinet members remained as they always did after the meeting of the cabinet in case he wanted something of them. Today, they already knew that Mokonzi wanted to tell them about the arrival in a couple of days of the US state department’s official, Dr. William Klingesthousen, in Kinshasa. They gathered in the customary library to wait. Twenty minutes later, the Dictator came in, smiling his I-told-you-so smile.

“See,” he said without preamble, before he sat down, “I have no need for a grand-retirement plan in Morocco.” His advisors looked away, not wanting him to see their disappointment. Their concern was not for him. Their concern was for themselves, their family, their N’Gbandi ethnic group.  And who would have his power when he was gone. “I’m not giving my power to anybody,” he had assured them often enough.

“I am prepared to receive Dr. Klingesthousen,” he said with a wide smile on his face, making him look younger. “I enjoy American officials coming to fawn over and reward me.

“A reenergized romance is going to be acknowledged by this Kling, however you pronounce his name.” He waived dismissively. “My admirers in Washington are eager to put their signatures on reinvigorated relations with me and Kinshasa.”

The Dictator looked at Salen M’BuJudda, his comrade from the time they were kids in Lisala. M’BuJudda smiled encouragement at the Dictator while thinking that Mokonzi was as stranded in his mind as he was in history.  This Klingesthousen envoy from Washington was probably coming to Kinshasa to remind Mokonzi that the Cold War was over, the minister told himself. He wasn’t coming to woo Mokonzi; he was most likely coming to discard and even humiliate him. Rejection was now going to be Mokonzi’s most ardent suitor. M’BuJudda began to estimate how much he had stashed in the Brussels’ BNP Paribas Fortis Bank and for ways to retire in Brussels if Mokonzi wouldn’t.

 

Like all do-what-it-takes-Washington-bureaucratic-infighter, the secretary of state had a confidant in the White House that kept him informed of what was said about him there. Regarding William Klingesthousen, the confidant informed the secretary, “The neoconservatives’ favorite, the vice president of the United States, is sending his protégé, Bill Klingesthousen to the State Department as his enforcer.”

“Klingesthousen, the neo-con nut?” the secretary said

“The same! The vice-president hates your guts, you know. He says you’re a fixated-on-your-own-image moderate. Moreover, he told the president he had no faith you or the bureaucrats would ever wean yourselves from ‘the misguided old diplomacy of moderation.’”

“You’re in the White House’s belly of the beast, what do you suggest I do?”

“If you really want to get in the club, you’ll have to get in the dirt with the vice-president’s take-no-prisoner mercenaries and promote administration policies unconditionally. From what I’ve heard there, it’s the best I can give you. Soil your reputation or give notice.”

Two days earlier, at their daily high-noon information session in the president’s private study, the vice president informed the president that he was sending Klingesthousen to the state department to keep an eye on the secretary of state and his bureaucrats.

The vice president was resting his feet on the president’s desk and leaning back. “I’m sending Bill over there because your secretary of state cares more for his reputation than our policies,” he said, impatience lacing his schoolteacher’s voice. “This secretary polishes his name as if it were a vintage Rolls Royce.”

“Be gentle with him,” the president pleaded, looking at his hands on his lap. “We need to repair our own reputation with minorities. My name isn’t too-well regarded there.”

“But the State Department isn’t the place to put a face on domestic policy. It’s a place for strength and resolution and moderation be damned in front of the world. A devotee of our new diplomacy of bluntness like Bill Klingesthousen is what’s needed over there.”

The vice-president told his chief of staff afterward, “Davy boy must be back on the booze.”

“He is not learning, huh?”

The Vice President leaned forward on his desk and gave his chief of staff his intense look. “If he thinks that I have any intention of telling anybody to be kind to someone who cares more for his name than for administration policies, look again.  Bill Klingesthousen is going to make that secretary resign in three months.”

A week later,   the guard at the state department’s C Street entrance saw the door of an official black car being opened for a large-waisted man, who, except for his belt size, looked just like the sportscaster, Howard Cosell.  The day before, the state department’s protocol chief had given a photo of the vice president’s troubleshooter to the guard’s supervisor. “Under no circumstance,” she told him, “must Dr. Klingesthousen be stopped at the entrance. A simple good morning Dr. Klingesthousen will do. Then the guard on duty should run to the elevator to press the button to the ninth floor for Dr. Klingesthousen, his assistant, and one bodyguard.”

By the time he stepped out of the elevator, handshake-eager staff had already gathered to welcome him on the ninth floor. Klingesthousen noticed that they were not only smiling, but they were making sure he noticed. “Asskissers, his assistant bent to whisper in his ear.” At that, the smiling staff saw a frown come over the troubleshooter’s face.

“My appointment here signifies that the old diplomacy will no longer be practiced,” he said loudly. “Washington will no longer make light of irresponsibility and corruption, especially from governments receiving aid from the United States.” Bouncing like a boxer, he warned, “Unless they find democracy and the rule of law quick, aid will be rationed – not as before. And don’t tell me a deceased Soviet Union will provide what we won’t. That shit don’t work anymore. Pass the word, that shit don’t work anymore.”

They soon nicknamed him “Howard Blunt” for looking like Howard Cosell and for advocating the “New Diplomacy” of bluntness in vogue following the disappearance of the USSR.

 

In Kinshasa, on the 8th of January 1992, late morning, Mokonzi sat across from Washington’s latest troubleshooter. He sat straight in his wingback leather chair, his chief’s cane at arms’ length in front of him, both his hands resting on the elephant-shaped handle.

“I will be brief.” The American began, adjusting his ample girth in the couch.

Monkozi remained his head up; his back straight. It was General de Gaulle’s example, “Appear outwardly cordial while exuding a lofty dignity.” At his request, French-trained aides from the foreign ministry had left a list of “bearing reminders” at his bedside. Their job was to script the Dictator’s meetings with foreign officials to the minutest detail; otherwise, the Dictator would be left vulnerable to any contretemps.

“Did you even hear what I said?” The American bellowed as if Monkozi should jump to the couch like some pet and wait eagerly for the man’s treat. That was not his style. The American could sit and stew. This was Zaire, his place, and no appointee who would be gone before the rainy season was going to evoke a response from Makonzi na Bakonzi.

“I am convinced you people are gene deficient . . . perhaps you suffer from a chromosomal abnormality that’s making you incapable of doing what’s responsible for yourselves or for anybody else,” Klingesthousen exclaimed.

Shocked and humiliated, the Dictator squeezed his cane briefly but maintained composure. The troubleshooter’s gene deficiency remark was contretemps, indeed. The man looked at Mokonzi, feeling safe.

Mokonzi would not give him the satisfaction of a response. The only sign he was livid inside was a gentle taping of his cane’s handle with the index finger of his left hand. He focused straight ahead, and ignored the insulting American envoy who insisted on speaking in approximate French, using the familiar tu instead of the prerequisite respectful vous. The Dictator, livid, could do no more than give a perfunctory nod in Klingesthousen’s direction as he rose to end the meeting

 

Following the encounter with the Dictator, Klingesthousen stopped in the presidential palace’s courtyard to brief the journalists accompanying him, “I had a very tough talk with the president,” he said, “and I instructed him in no uncertain term that democracy is self-motivating; democracy like virtue is its own reward; democracy is the only course out of the Tutsi citizenship impasse in the region. And I read him the riot act about permanence not being democracy. Democracy is what we demand! We will not stand; will not stand for undemocratic rule anywhere. The administration expects these countries to fall into line.”

The aides from the foreign ministry heard the Dictator shout to the minister of foreign affairs, Salen M’BuJudda,“No one – no one, especially from the United States – ever said such nonsense to me.” Quaking, the aides ran to the office annex. The Dictator stormed into that office after them. His face mottled with rage, he ranted to the foreign minister and the aides who had been listening to the live feed of the meeting between the Dictator and Klingesthousen.

That night, Salen M’BuJudda told his brother, Karome, “Upon experiencing Mokonzi’s rage, I reflected, my eyes downcast, that Mokonzi no longer knew when reality had strayed into delusion of respectability and permanence. But I took some consolation that my boyhood friend found comfort in thinking that Americans were more considerate of him than the Belgian colonizers of our youth.  I told myself that the recording of that foul meeting was a hell of an evidence to make things right in the American media, at least for a while.”

In the office annex, Minister M’BuJudda said to the Dictator, “Let’s listen to what this Klingesthousen gofer told you to judge the quality of the recording we made of the meeting. It’ll take just a couple of minutes”

“Yes, yes” the Dictator answered. “Our well-connected ambassador in Washington, Molu Sakeseba, with a good recording of this racist’s chromosome remark in hand, will take care of things over there. Let’s listen to it.”

As they all listened to the recording, the Dictator watched the faces of the people in the office annex. He was pleased with the outrage he saw as the people heard Klingesthousen remarks again. He was angry and satisfied simultaneously.  After they listened to the recording to the end and a moment of reflection, the Dictator said, “I am just glad Maka M’Gonu wasn’t present as he usually is at such meetings. If he had, Mister Klingesthousen would’ve become acquainted with one incensed chief of security.”

“Yes,” Minister M’BuJudda said. “M’Gonu’s reaction to the chromosome remark and Klingesthousen’s condescension toward you would have been … intense.”

On a monitor in the annex office, the Dictator and the aides watched Klingesthousen talk to the press.  Afterward, the Dictator, his faced flushed, asked his foreign minister to follow him to his private study. The minister thanked and dismissed the staff and followed the Dictator.

“We have to take a second look at our enemies,” Monkonzi told M’BuJudda. Unbuttoning his jacket, he rested his left leg on the sofa sideways to get more comfortable.

“Until today, we have looked on them as dogs barking at a passing caravan. We were too secure to take them seriously. We have to take a second look at them now.”

“Especially at the pit bulls of the pack, the rabid Tutsis of Rwanda,” M’BuJudda, seating in the middle of the other sofa across from the Dictator’s, said.

“You’re dead on,” the Dictator said. He considered the Rwandan Tutsis and their Ugandan allies for a moment. The hate was as real as that held by Nuers for Dinkas in Sudan or Catholics for Protestants in 16th century Europe, but the Dictator’s battle went much further. The Tutsis were campaigning to subvert his regime, having calculated that the destabilization of Zaire would permit the Tutsis living in the Dictator’s eastern province of South Kivu to take over that province. These Kivu Tutsis, who called themselves Banyamulenge now, Mountain People, were migrants from Rwanda. They wanted full citizenship rights in Zaire. The people, however, were afraid of them and dead set against giving Tutsi outsiders, different in language, culture, and religion anything. The Dictator felt it was the people’s right to say no to the Banyamulenge.

“Let’s have something to drink,” the Dictator said. “That session with the gofer made me thirsty too.” M’BuJudda reached for the bell on the coffee table. Almost immediately a steward knocked at the door and came in. In the N’Gbandi language, the Dictator said, Eug-yann bring me a cup of tea the way I like it. Make it with the bark of my sapelli tree, the one at my residence of N’Gabolite. The tree in Kinshasa makes weak tea.”

“Bring me a glass of extra sweet lemonade with lots of ice and a generous shot of Mount Gay Barbados rum stirred in,” the minister told Eug-yann.

“What was I to do with the Tutsis?” the Dictator asked after the steward had left. “I could not force the people to accept the Banyamulenge.”

“No, of course, not,” M’BuJudda said, lifting his arm for emphasis and dropping them on his lap dejectedly. “You were doing no more than protecting the eastern provinces from a Tutsi takeover. You were not guilty of anything. The Tutsis and Ugandans had no cause to oppose us”

“That’s right! I supported the Hutus because they are the ancestral enemies of the Tutsis. Everyone knows that the enemy of an enemy is a friend. What was the big deal? Wasn’t the fate of the nation on my shoulders? Those who reproached me were ignorant of the situation in the eastern provinces. My critics knew nothing of Africa’s tribal conflicts, caused by the colonial powers’ carving of the continent as if no one lived there.”

“It was not your fault the Hutus wanted the Tutsis dead,” M’BuJudda almost shouted. “They have wanted the Tutsis dead long before we were born.”

The Dictator sighed contemplatively. The air in the room reeked of incomprehension.

“The Tutsis, I’m sure, have gone to Washington to complain about my Banyamulenge-citizenship policy, pleading their imminent genocide as usual. And they have prejudiced the Americans into repudiating me, their most loyal friend in the world. This Klingesthousen gofer coming to Kinshasa to lecture me about African genes is one more proof that the Tutsis’ influence in Washington has grown enough that they are no longer barking at but threatening the caravan.”

M’BuJudda took a sip of the drink the steward had put in front of him. “Far too sweet.” He grimaced and set it down, hoping Monkonzi hadn’t noticed his face. He grabbed a handful of dried caterpillars the steward had brought in, a gift from the Dictator’s Pygmy friends in the Ituri Forest. That Mokonzi would share his favorite delicacy with him was the ultimate mark of affection. The Dictator blew on his tea to cool it.

M’BuJudda chewed slowly to get the full salty impact of the satisfying delicacy. He then put his glass on the coffee table, and his eyes boring into the Dictator said, “Before coming here, this Klingesthousen gofer went to Brazzaville to confer with the president there. That he would go to a soviet client and end of the Cold War convert to capitalism on our border should give us greater pause than his nonsense about African chromosomes. The ground is really shifting under us.” He paused to swallow and to watch the Dictator’s reaction. There was none. “Until that visit, Washington would not have dreamed of sending a high-level official to Brazzaville without securing your acquiescence first.”

“Of course,” the Dictator said, his eyes on his drink, his lips drawn back from the bitter taste the sapelli bark gave the tea. “The remark about African genes was certainly Klingesthousen’s own. The stop in Brazzaville was a direct order from Washington. We have grim cause to wonder what’s going on.”

The Dictator took a sip of his tea, the benign gesture a contradiction to the cancer inside him and growing in his country.

“I asked our N’Gbandi ancestors if I was now a dead elephant,” he complained. “Maybe that’s why this gofer could come here to insult me to my face and go to Brazzaville without my permission? I’m still waiting for the ancestors to answer me.”

“I remember your mother saying to us, ‘What is said over a dead elephant cannot be said to a live one,’ M’BuJudda said. That rang in my ear as if she were standing right next to me encouraging us with traditional aphorisms from our people.”

“I miss her,” the Dictator said, his eyes on his tea. “You remember, she would change her voice to deepen it and formally intone in French in the most musical N’Gbandi accent ever heard, ‘La tradition dit;’ then say in N’Gbandi whatever it was that tradition said. I miss her.”

“Sure I remember,” M’BuJudda said, looking in the distance.  ‘No one will have pity on the pitiful’ was an explanation of her daily life.” I’ve lived by that since we were kids back in Lisala.”

M’BuJudda could not fail to notice that the Dictator was grinding his teeth relentlessly now, the telling sign of apprehension that forces were shifting out of his control. Apprehension would soon be followed by an out of control, cane-yielding rage. He understood. For Klingesthousen to go to Brazzaville before visiting his boyhood friend was humiliating. Washington was implying that Mokonzi had done something wrong. There must have been a request for favors that he hadn’t granted with the usual alacrity. Probably something to do with South Africa or that pain in the ass Angolan rebel, Jonas Savimbi. Surely, it couldn’t be more than that.

The Dictator could almost feel the cane in his hand crushing bones and spewing blood, as he imagined how he would exact his retribution.

He told M’BuJudda, “This Klingesthousen visit to Brazzaville demands a detailed explanation. I want you to set up an investigation board for a fact-finding inquiry into that humiliating visit.”

“Yes, Mokonzi,” M’BuJudda answered, praying that his ministry had nothing to do with that ‘humiliating visit.’

 

Two months later, the results of the nine-member board were on M’BuJudda’s desk. Uncomplicated, the report was only three pages long. He called the Dictator’s secretary for an appointment.

“The investigators you asked me to put together,” he told the Dictator, “have reported that a desk officer at my ministry received intelligence from an associate in the Brazzaville government on the Klingesthousen visit there.

“Really,” the Dictator, who had already been briefed by his security chief, Maka M’Gonu, said, feigning surprise.

“Yes, Mokonzi. The officer, however, intentionally, it appears, withheld the information from us. The investigators also found several references to the Tutsi front man, the Baluba traitor, Lavrenti Kabilu, in this officer’s personal effects.”

Whenever he said the name, which was a lot lately, Minister M’BuJudda was reminded that Lavrenti Kabilu was a follower of the executed Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba. Kabilu was a Marxist that Che Guevara admired when the Cuban was looking for revolution in the Congo back in 1965.

“Kabilu’s ambition is to avenge Lumumba by overthrowing what he calls his executioner,” M’BuJudda said. Having decided to retire, he felt exhilarated and was a bit more confident of speaking bluntly to the Dictator. “To turn his ambition into reality, Kabilu has been lobbying the Rwanda Tutsis, and the Ugandan and Burundi governments to help him launch a full-scale war against us.”

“I want this desk officer charged with treason,” the Dictator said.  Then as if an afterthought, he added, “I noticed that you’ve been rubbing your leg more and more. A stay in Lisala would do you good.”

When M’BuJudda had left, the Dictator retrieved his cane and limped to his urinal. While wiping his sweaty face, he rang Danielle, his secretary. “Ask M’gonu to come in to discuss M’BuJudda’s report with me,” he told her.

“I vehemently disagree with the findings of this investigation board,” Maka M’Gonu said as he came into the office. “I’m certain the traitor is an insider, someone among our immediate associates.”

“What makes you think so, Maka?”

“For the most basic reason,” M’Gonu argued. “It has to be someone in first-line of contact with Washington, which the Brazzaville desk officer cannot be. Everything is pointing to the ambassador in Washington, Sakeseba; not this low-level desk officer. I am confident that Sakeseba, on his own or as part of a Tutsi cabal, is the one to blame for both the Klingesthousen humiliating visit to Brazzaville and the insult to you.”

How can a gofer insult Mokonzi na Bakonzi? The Dictator asked himself.

 

A month after M’Gonu assured him that Ambassador Sakeseba was the one responsible, Sakeseba succeeded in embarrassing Washington with the recording of the Klingesthousen chromosome speech to the Dictator. Thrilled, the Dictator thanked his ambassador and called him “My son.”

Minister M’BuJudda was not as thrilled. He told the Dictator, “Embarrassing Washington is a bandage on a wooden leg, Mokonzi.”

“Perhaps,” he retorted angrily. “But it’s still enough to vindicate my confidence in my importance to the Americans, and my faith in my ambassador.”

“Of course, Mokonzi,” the minister said placatingly. It was just a thought.”

“Of course, it was. But I’m going to chide Maka M’Gonu for his shoddy intelligence so he won’t show his face here for a month,” the Dictator concluded.

 

Meanwhile, the American secretary of state was telling his deputy, Matthew Greeson whom he had invited to his office to discuss the latest intelligence about the Dictator, “Intelligence reported that our dictator is as happy at our Klingesthousen chromosome embarrassment as my daughter is for getting pregnant after waiting so many years,” he said.

“Yes,” Greeson said, chuckling that the secretary would make such a comparison.

“But for Washington the issue of how to get rid of this no-longer-needed Dictator isn’t resolved,” the secretary said, passing a hand over his head. “I don’t just want his visa rescinded. I want him to read in bold cherry-red letters, ‘The Cold War is over. Washington has turned the page on you.’ I want him to feel he’s straddling an H-bomb.” The secretary picked a Davidoff cigar from the top of his desk. He took it out of its tube and sniffed it deeply.

“We’re looking for a way to tell him, Mr. Secretary.”

“You need to try harder.”

“Yes, sir. “I think we have something that you’ll like.”

“The vice-president hasn’t gotten off our back, in spite of his protégé’s fiasco in Kinshasa,” the secretary complained. “You must try harder.” He put the cigar back in its tube and on his desk.

“I know, Mr. Secretary. Klingesthousen or no, regime-change in Kinshasa is required. I know.”

“On the other hand, regardless of the vice-president’s sharp elbows, we cannot have a repeat of the dramatics Klingesthousen produced in Kinshasa in ‘92. Find something indirect but still unequivocal to get rid of this dictator. Do it ASAP but sensibly.”

However, not until the 1994 Rwandan genocide did the Dictator feel the pressure from Washington. The glare of the genocide had forced Washington to find a solution and redouble all efforts to find the way to tell the Dictator that this was a new day with a fresh policy affixed to his name.

The secretary of state was on board a Boing 757 taking him to Saudi Arabia when he received a call from Matthew Greeson.

“We have the solution,” Greeson informed him. “It’s a little sly, but it guarantees that the job will get done without the dramatics you were worried about.”

“I hope so,” the secretary said, heatedly. “It has taken you more than a year.” He hang up and lifted a Davidoff cigar from the top of the desk in his cabin and sniffed deeply.


Submitted: October 03, 2018

© Copyright 2020 Christian Filostrat. All rights reserved.

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