Allegiance: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle – Chapter Four

The atmosphere in Shadreck Mtonga’s office was icy cold. Gilbert was sweating a storm under his dark blue Armani suit. He wanted to choke the life out of his partner for putting him in such an awkward position. He wished nothing but for the ground to open up and swallow them both.

Shadreck grabbed his friends hand, immediately bringing his tapping nervous feet to a stop.

“Sit down Gilbert,” Shadreck said between clenched teeth. “You’re making the lady uncomfortable.”

The lady being referred to was Terry Reynolds, Sasha Brand’s manager. Shadreck had summoned the forty-five year old to the agency to “discuss some new terms of partnership.”

“Oh no, don’t worry about me,” Ms Reynolds said, smiling at the two gentlemen. “I am perfectly alright here.”

And indeed she appeared to be perfectly alright. Her back was comfortably resting against the back of the chair, her legs crossed and her hands resting on the sides. She looked like a woman that knew exactly why she was there.

Terry had been expecting this meeting, even though it was requested earlier than she had anticipated. It usually took agencies three months after signing for them to start making demands or begging for Sasha to abandon her secret existence in order for her to Carter to her fans effectively.

“You know why you’re here don’t you?” Shadreck said.

The woman laughed. “I knew I would grow to like you,” she said. “You’re very smart. And no, it ain’t gonna happen. Never.”

“Aren’t you even going to hear us out at the very least?” Shadreck implored her.

“No need,” Terry answered.

Terry Reynolds was a no-nonsense woman. She opened her mouth only to speak words that she deemed necessary. She rarely gave full long sentence responses to anyone. Because of that, many called her dismissive, brash and rude.

Her job as Sasha’s manager meant everything to her. Even more so now that she was divorced. Over the years, Sasha had become more than just a client to her. She was more than her boss. She was like family. She understood exactly why Sasha needed to separate her professional life from her personal life.

“You have to understand that the Zambian creative industry is different from Hollywood,” Shadreck pressed his case.

“I think what my partner means is that Sasha’s fans in Zambia might not be as understanding as her fans in the US because-”

“I think I know what he means,” Terry said. “I understand your concerns and I really appreciate them. However, it is a fact that people will not stop buying into Sasha’s creative projects just because they can’t see her face.

“For years now she’s managed to perfectly deal with her brand, to get personal with her fans without the need to meet them face to face.”

Both Shadreck and Gilbert knew very well the manager was right. However, that fact was still not enough to satisfy Shadreck. The only reason why he gave up on pushing his agenda was just so he could do it all over again in the near future after the two sides had solidified their business relationship.

“You’re a crazy bastard you know that?” Gilbert said the moment Ms Reynolds was out the door.

Shadreck laughed. “We wouldn’t be here today if we didn’t take risks,” he said, pushing a manuscript towards his friend.

“What’s this?” Gilbert asked.

“Sasha Brands first project with us,” Shadreck said. “Her first Zambian screenplay for the small screen.”

Gilbert flipped through the pages, his jaw almost drawing to the ground with every flip of a page. “When did she do this? This chick is insane!”

Shadreck got up from behind his desk to stand next to his friend and partner. “Before you joined us earlier, Ms Reynolds briefed a bit about what Sasha has been upto the past months,” Shadreck said.

“She started working on this two years ago,” he said. “This being her first project here, she wanted to get everything right. It’s the first story of this kind so it required a lot of research. Turns out, she arrived in this country earlier than the date her manager initially told us.

“She’s been to all the locations she’s used in the screenplay and even met with cultural experts to give her script authenticity. If all our writers worked this hard, we would be multi-billionaires by now. The woman is out of this world.

“We need to get a team on this project right away, do the background research work to ensure everything is in order before we can get producers on board.”

“Did she just leave one copy?” Gilbert asked.

“Five,” Shadreck pointed to the pile on the shelf behind them.

“It’s true what they say about Americans,” Gilbert laughed. “I’ll keep this one then. Give me two more for Barry and Lindiwe.”

Shadreck walked to where the pile was and handed Gilbert two more manuscripts.

“I think I know exactly who would jump at this opportunity,” Shadreck said.

He grabbed one more copy and put it down put it down on the table in front of him before sitting down.

Gilbert who had been walking towards the door stopped and turned around to hear what his pal was going on about. It is typical of Shadreck to get this excited whenever a promising project came on the table. For the next few months, he was going to be acting like an obsessed maniac just to make sure that the final production was down to perfection.

Right now his world revolved around Sasha and her brand of writting excellence. Next it would be some upcoming singer or actor filling his head with craziness. Such was the life of a man without a social life.

***

When he was not scouting for real estate ventures to invest in, Andy Mwila was knocking on people’s offices and talking them into selling their failing companies to him. Sometimes, he literally had to break down doors to get his business handled with stubborn business owners that refused to liquidate voluntarily.

It was therefore not surprising to him to find a crowd of protesters outside the premises of Pluto every now and then when he drove in for work in the morning.

“How long have they been here?” Andy asked his PA the moment he walked into the office.

The thirty-two year old woman stood up from behind her desk like a soldier ready to report for duty.

“Since 5 in the morning,” she answered. “Good morning sir.”

“Morning Stacie,” he answered as he opened the door to his office.

Stacie was right behind him, notebook and pen in hand on the ready.

“Mr Jeffrey Mbulo called a few minutes ago and said he would be coming to see you in-” she checked her wristwatch, “in ten minutes now. He called about 45 minutes ago.”

Andy took off his jacket and Stacie rushed to take it from him. He took out Sasha’s manuscript from his bag, laid ot on the desk before him and sat down.

“Why couldn’t he just book an appointment like a normal human being?” Andy said sarcastically. “But then again he wouldn’t be Jeff if he did anything normal.”

“He said it’s very urgent and he will see you whether you like it or not,” the PA reported.

Andy laughed. “That bastard,” he said.

“I always knew you called me names behind my back you son son of a bitch.”

Both Andy and Stacie turned towards the door.

“I have called you worse names to your face you ugly son of a bitch,” Andy said, moving towards his friend to give him a hug.

“Aaaah…sir?” A confused looking Stacie could only stare at the two, wondering what the right thing to do was so as not to incur the wrath of her boss once his uninvited guest was gone.

“It’s fine Stacie,” Andy said as he motioned his friend to take a sit. “You can go back to work. Just push back my meetings for an hour or so to be safe.”

“So sorry for making your job hard Ms Stacie,” Jeffrey said to the PA. “But I promise you your boss will give you a raise of this meeting goes according to plan. Fingers crossed ah?”

The thirty year old smiled at the giant looking man in front of her. She didn’t care about a salary increment. She was already getting more than enough. She was just happy that the man was kind enough to apologize for the awkward position he had put her in, especially knowing who the man was.

“Anything to drink sir?” Stacie asked. “We have-”

“Water…just bring me a glass of ice cold water please,” Jeffrey said.

“And the usual for you sir?” She asked Andy.

“Yes please.”

Stacie excused herself.

“Sit Jeff,” Andy said. “How much money have you brought me this lovely day of ours?”

Jeffrey laughed. “Before we talk about money, who have you screwed that’s out protesting? I thought they were going to stone my vehicle by the gate. And your security team is just there watching them. Why not call the cops and get them off? They’re bad for business aren’t they?”

“Not really,” Andy answered. “In this line of business, seeing people camped out like that means we are still in business,” he chuckled.

“Clever bastard,” Jeffrey said.

“What brings you here unannounced Jeff?” Andy asked.

Andy was not troubled by the mans sudden appearance in his office because he knew he had a dame good reason for showing up. Jeffrey Mbulo was a money guru. A sight of him in anyone’s office was a sign that money was about to be made.

Jeffrey was into construction. Where most Zambians had failed, Jeffrey had succeeded with impunity. From government tenders to foreign ones, he was king of them all.

An architecture by profession, Jeffrey had worked with Andy on many of his real estate projects before.

“Let’s get into television mate,” Jeffrey announced.

“Television?”

“Yes. An opportunity just came up. I got a call from a mutual friend of ours looking for people to invest in his latest small screen project. I thought you might be interested considering who made the offer.”

Andy appeared very interested, if not intrigued by his friends terms of inference.

Stacie entered with their beverages.

“Who made you the offer?”Andy asked once they were alone again.

“Who else? Take a guess.”

“No way!”

“Yes way.”

“Does he know you brought this offer to me?”

“Of course not.”

“It’s tempting, but I can’t.” Andy said. “You know very well Shadreck hates my guts. He knows I have the money and yet he came to you first.”

“Business is business,” Jeff said. “He needs to stop being a wimp and get over his mama issues. Who cares if she didn’t hug him enough? He is who he is today because life screwed him as a child. He should be grateful and not resentful.”

“Try and tell him that,” Andy said.

“Already did,” Jeff said.

Andy couldn’t believe his ears.

Jeffrey was laughing. “I’m serious,” he said. “I was on the same flight with him two months ago. That was when I told him about my interest in his line of work. We somehow got talking about you after seeing your picture on not one, not two, but three magazines on the plane.

“I told him that I heard that the two of you don’t see eye to eye. He said something in the line of…’its nothing important I don’t wish to talk about that.’ I told him am a friend of yours and I think you need to get over your issues.”

“And what did he say?”

“He just laughed, said we are all entitled to our opinions. And that was all. But I really liked him. His got a good head on his shoulders and he doesn’t give a hoot what anyone thinks.”

Andy agreed with a node of his head. “Shadreck is a really dangerous man,” he said. “He makes even men fall for him. Him and I were truly destined to be rivals. Looking back, all the girls I ever dated had crushes on him. The only reason I had them first was because they liked my name and what came with it.”

There were times when Andy wondered why Shadreck hated him so much when he had all the best things in life that came with no price tag. He had a mother willing to lose him and his siblings just so she could give them shelter, food and an education. Ever since they were young, Shadreck had always been surrounded by friends that liked him for who he really was instead of what he could do for them. He dated the best girls in town and not just anyone that threw herself at him. He had a best friend and business partner that would lay down his life for him in a heartbeat.

And had none of those things. Everything he had and everyone he knew came with a price tag. Just because he could afford them didn’t mean he needed them. What most envied of him, he could easily give away if he would get to live like them.

“So are you in or not?” Jeff asked.

Andy jumped out of his reverie. “He won’t let me in, I promise you.”

“Not if you force your way in,” Shadreck said.

Andy furrowed his brow. “I’m not going to force him to allow me to help produce his production.” He said sternly.

“You will change your mind once you hear who the writer is,” Jeff said.

“Just tell me but I promise you nothing will change my mind. I made up my mind to not bother Shad anymore.”

“Sasha Brand.”

Andy’s eyes widened and his jaw almost dropped to the floor.

“Are you telling me those rumours I have been hearing are true? Is she really here in Zambia?”

Jeffrey looked very pleased. He knew his friend would curve.

“Wait for the afternoon news,” Jeffrey said. “Apollo will be trending like never before today.”

“For some reason I never believed she was really Zambian. I thought that was just a rumour started by some crazy weirdos since no one really knows who she really is or what she looks like.” Andy said.

“Visit her website, the real one. And even all her official social media accounts promoting her work. They state ‘Sasha Brand is a multi-award winning African American writer. She was born in Zambia…’ and so on and so forth.”

“I never bothered to check,” Andy said.

“What would you say if I told you that I have an idea of who Sasha Brand really is, the actual human woman? Not the brand?”

“No way! I know you’re well connected but this Sasha lady, she’s eluded the whole world for years. How would you just happen to know who she is just when she’s apparently arrived in the country?” Andy said.

“I designed her house,” Jeffrey said and wrote down the address for his friend.

“This can’t be real?” Andy said.

“I am not 100% sure but my gut has never been wrong. I put two and two together and arrived at one.”

They both laughed.

“Just get on board with me on this one,” Jeffrey said. “I promise you you won’t regret it. This is a great opportunity for us all. I want to do this with you.”

“It’s all so very tempting but-”

“No buts,” his friend said. “We are doing this whether Shadreck likes it or not. This will be an opportunity for you guys to work out your issues. You both need this opportunity.”

Andy took a moment to think about the offer.

“Give me today, just today to think about it, ok?”

“Only today,” Jeffrey said.

***

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My Father’s Daughter – Episode 1

Disclaimer:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

***

THE INVISIBLE MAN – Introduction by Anisha Simutowe

I was there.

History was made right before my eyes.

My father, an unassuming man, almost good looking but not quite there. Bless him, my mother had him convinced he had crossed the threshold.

Ronald Chalwe, my father, a Stanford graduate, political science major currently chasing his third Ph.d. A very reserved and soft spoken man with a withdrawn demeanour that’s crowned by an intelligent head over his shoulders.

I have both fear and adoration for the man.

My father, always the seemingly timid six foot one fella you would not remember seeing at a public event but you’re sure beyond reasonable doubt he was there…somewhere. what you wouldn’t know is the fact that he had been the brains behind every step taken and every speech given.

To most he was a very useful man. But only as long as he remained in the shadows. He was a man that didn’t require a second glance. They celebrated his efforts and what he had helped them achieve behind closed doors. And behind their private closed doors and along the long corridors of cabinet offices they whispered opinions of pity.

“Oh poor Ronnie, if only he knew he was just being used.”

There was something about my father that made anyone that looked at him running around like a headless chicken feel pity for him. There was no one else in the cabinet or the party itself that worked as hard or as much as my father. They called him the Errand Boy. Even the media used that name in their headlines and stories to refer to him.

My father would not want it any other way.

His performance was Oscar worthy. Ronald Chalwe was not a man to carelessly ignore. Whatever opinions of him they had, he had written the plot and fed them dialogue lines. He had created characters and gave them personalities. Like the fools that they originally were before he dressed them up in robs of power, they had no idea that the very confidence and power they wielded was all because of him.

Like a master puppeteer, he had his characters thinking they would be that good even without the strings. The only trouble was, my father never even allowed them to be aware of the existence of the strings. As far as they were concerned, they were the masters pulling the strings. My father was at the end of one of those strings.

A harmless pawn anyone could shift on the chess board and as long as they had him exactly where they needed him to be, they were guaranteed the queen in hand. The bloody fools. How could they not foresee the end game?

He had been there all along. A piece moved around by everyone and because he was ever so glad to be of any use to anyone, they missed the hunger in his eyes. They were too busy gloating in their glory and power that they did not even realize the tables had turned. When the moveable piece started to direct the hand that moved it.

I was there when it happened.

I was there when the strange men in suits appeared in our living room and begged and begged my father to take the main seat at the dinning table.

“It is only a temporary arrangement,” I heard the heavily pot-bellied man that always smelled like left over offals from three years ago say. Dolce & Gabbana are still working on a strong enough cologne to fight the man’s demons. He can easily afford it after all.

His name is George Mbula, the Financial Independency Party (FIP) General Secretary. He was my fathers immediate boss. He had strategically placed himself in that position but everyone knew exactly where his true power lay.

Mbula was a very rich man. Very very rich. At age 22, I had no idea how he had become so filthy rich. But eventually, I would find out. He was second in command only to the man who happened to be the reason they were all gathered in our home in the first place. Even though another man officially held the second in command position, it was no secret throughout the whole country that Mr Stinky was the one running the show.

I was twenty-two years old when that meeting happened. I was on a two weeks vacation from the University of Zenda. My father was fifty-one years old. My mother was forty-nine.

To my father, I was only just a baby. To me, my father was a god. A master manipulator. A man that knew everything about everyone in the room and even those close or remotely connected to them. Sometimes he searched for the information and sometimes it was handed straight to him without lifting a finger. That’s how much of a non-threat he was to most. And I say most because a lot of people saw him like that. Including my mother.

But me.

To a very large extent that’s beyond genetics, I am indeed my father’s daughter.

“But I am just the deputy GS!” My father, one Ronald Chalwe vehemently continued his protests. “Do you have any idea how ridiculous you all sound right now?”

“Listen Ronnie,” it was Kelvin Manda speaking, a midget looking fella in his late fifties but he had the quickest and smartest mouths of them all.

“People are laughing at us right now,” he said, one hand scratching away at his lice infested rough beard while the other worked futiously at removing the pork stew stain that had molested his trousers from God knows which meal of the day.

I was always amused by these folks that appeared rich on paper but poor in mind. The FIP had a lot of such fellas.

“Our president is critically ill and out of the country,” Manda went on. “Our vice president suddenly decided that his incestuous relationship with his step-daughter is more important than running this country so that’s out of the question. In accordance with the constitution, with the absence of the VP, you are His Excellence’s first choice because he trusts you.”

“You mean because am no threat to him or anyone else, right?” Daddy dearest asked.

You could tell that’s what everyone in the room was thinking but they were all too self conscious to admit it so openly.

“You’re right,” Andrew Ng’andu said. “He chose you because you are a puppet. He don’t have to fight you to get you off that seat once he recover. so don’t go thinking you’re a big man now.

“Everyone here knows George is the man,” Andrew continued, pointing his fat finger at the tycoon in the room. “Timiziba monse namanganizo yanu.

They all gawked at him in horror. But Andrew was no stranger to being the recipient of such reactions. In whatever situation the thirty-eight year old university drop-out was found, he always played devil’s advocate. Legend had it that the first word he spoke as a baby was “Viva!” And the first man he called “dada” was his parent’s gardener. His fate was written in the stars. A very proud cadre, he would sell his very soul to the highest bidder just so his favourite candidate could win elections.

Where others in the room were book smart, Andrew was street smart. He knew how to play the crowds to his party’s favour and vice versa. Whereas my father was liked for his intelligence and unassuming manner, Andrew was both liked and hated with the same intensity for his wit and street smarts. The two were invaluable assets of the FIP party.

Fortunately, or unfortunately for most, only Andrew was considered a threat due to his popularity and in-your-face attitude.

“This is the president of the Republic of Zenda we are talking about young man,” dear old George roared. “This is no time for you to be passing one of your damned jokes. Show some respect.”

Ng’andu rolled his eyes but shut his mouth like an obedient dog. That was another strength of his; knowing when to speak and when to shut up.

George the tycoon then turned to my cowardly father. “We are not asking you to become the president Ronnie,” he said. “We wouldn’t even dream of it. You will just be acting. There’s a huge difference.”

My father was shaking all over. Everyone could see and hear his fingers tangle unceremoniously with the surface of the table they were supposed to be resting on. Sensing his nervousness, Colonel Manda placed his hands over my dad’s hands to reassure him. I saw my dad look at his friends hands…more like surreptititiously glare at them. He then pursed his lips for a split second and then smiled nervously as he lifted his head to meet his friends eye.

“I’ll be here with you every step of the way Ronnie, I promise.” Colonel Manda said. He and my father had known each other since college days. While he joined the army, my father went abroad to pursue his first degree. Now he was in charge of the nation’s security while my father ran errands for the big shots.

“So will I,” the rest of them chorused.

The whole time my eyes had not left my father’s from where I was hiding. Behind the tall cabinet that my mother had specifically made so she could display her expensive Chinaware.

Although not a vain woman, my mother took pride in being my father’s bride. For a woman whose greatest academic achievement was her high school certificate, being the wife of the Secretary General of the ruling party was everything she could ever hope for. Whoever said success was not sexually transmitted had obviously not met my mother.

My mother had absolutely no desire to further her studies. She had achieved her biggest ambition, and that was to be Ronald’s wife and mother to his children. And even though my ambitions are different from hers, I respect her a lot for being absolutely content with the way her life is going. Not many can say that about their lives. She is the perfect wife for a man like my father. She is also a great mother to me and my two younger siblings.

“Why does it have to be me?” My father asked. “We all know that George here is next in line to the president.” He was referring to Mr Stinky. “You’re the VP for Christ’s sake. You be his proxy!”

“Unfortunately, it’s not up to me to decide that,” Mr Mbula said. “There are laws we have to follow…for now. In a few days the cabinet will meet and instruct the chief justice to convene a board of doctors to determine the president’s capacity to carry out his duties. We all know what the outcome will be. His Excellence is well aware too and he knows we are having this meeting.”

“Does that mean we will be going to the polls after 90 days?” Enock Phiri asked.

Honorable Phiri was in charge of Foreign Affairs. A very lazy man that watched his deputy do all the work without complaining because he enjoyed getting paid without putting in any work. I still don’t know how he found himself part of the central committee, let alone an Honorable Member of Parliament.

He was more of a liability than asset. Every time Phiri opened his mouth to address the public, the party was grappled in a PR scandal.

“The president will have recovered by then,” Hon Martha Likando chipped in, her squeaky voice causing the dust hidden behind my mother’s living room cabinets to rise into the air.

“We have to continue praying for him instead of wishing and hoping for the worst,” she added. “We know how power hungry some of you are.” She shared a knowing look with Ng’andu.

At 45, Martha was a true embodiment of society’s version of womanhood; a proud wife and mother of four, a twenty-one year old marriage, and a string of feminist movements under her name. She had survived more mistresses than King Solomon’s first wife.

Her very rich businessman husband was well known for his philandering ways. Rumour even had it that his Mrs excelled in her political career thanks to his mistresses placed all over the nation whom he had tasked with carrting out vicious campaigns in support of his wife if they wanted to keep him as a blesser. Mrs Likando was now the party’s National Chairperson as well as the Minister of Gender.

I could see George Mbula fuming. He looked like he was hiding two babies in his mouth. His chubby cheeks were threatening to drop to the floor.

“No one is wishing the president ill,” he said. “We all wish him a quick recovery. However, right next to being humans, we are leaders of a whole nation. Our playfield is a dangerous one and there’s no mercy. The opposition is watching us closely. They have been making noise about the two thirds vote long before His Excellence was bedridden. They know our weaknesses and they’re ready for take-over. Instead of being emotional, we need to plan for the inevitable.”

“Now that’s just plain discriminatory and disrespectful,” Grace Gwanu fired at the businessman, jaw squared and all.

There was only a total of three women in the FIP central committee. One of them was out on official duty. Over the years, the women had learnt to stand together to protect each other and their interests against their testosterone-driven counterparts.

“Calm yourself down Grace, this is no time for your feminist bullshit,” Isaac Mbao said.

He was the party’s spokesperson. A vile chauvinistic, pompous and arrogant nicampoop with very high delusions of grandeur since the age of six. He imagined himself to be more intelligent than his IQ could ever let him. For a communications specialist, he had a very bombastic vocabulary that defeated the very essence of his role.

“Why does he always have to use the word emotional whenever a woman speaks in these meetings?” The fifty year old Art and Culture chairperson argued.

“By inevitable, I think the Money Shaker here meant that the president is dying whether we say it out loud or not,” the Honorable cadre purged, trying to steer the conversation back on track.

They all gave him looks that threatened to turn his very dark complexion even darker.

“Like you said earlier,” Mbula had turned to my dad, completely ignoring Ng’andu and the fuming Grace. “There’s protocol to be followed. Not just anyone can assume power over the nation just because the president is incapacitated.

“He set his affairs in order before he left the country and we have to ensure his directions are followed. No matter what we feel or think. Like you all are aware, am the backbone of the party even though I am not the VP. It had to be that way, not just for myself, but for all of us.”

Andrew Ng’andu made some throaty sounds but pretended to be masking a cough.

I’m the backbone of the party even though I am not the VP. It had to be that way, not just for myself, but for all of us.

Mbulo was popular for making these statements everywhere he went. So much so that his other nickname was Mr Backbone. It was a fact that he was the financial muscle of the FIP party, but it was also a fact that people were tired of having that fact shoved in their faces by him every chance he got.

That night, Friday the 13th, April 2012, my father was ‘forced’ into accepting the president’s orders. Once cabinet was done, he became the Acting President of the Republic of Zenda.

Two weeks later, His Excellence, president Gilbert Sakala of the Republic of Zenda passed away.

It was a new era for the Financial Indepedence Party. An era none of them saw coming.

Except for me and my dad.

***

“I know what you’re doing,” I said to my dad a week after the president’ s death.

He was in his study and had just finished a call with his long time pal Col Manda. He swirled his chair around to look at me. I was standing by the door, my arms folded across my chest wearing a slight smirk on my face.

“My baby,” he said, motioning me to get closer and sit on his laps.

I was twenty-two years old then. A third year political science major. To my father, I was still just a baby.

“How much did you hear?” He asked, completely unfazed and unpertubed.

“Everything,” I said. “Make me the First Daughter and I will help make you the best President this country has ever seen.”

Daddy laughed. Really really laughed because he thought I was joking, playing big people’s games.

He was wrong.

For years my father plotted his rise to grace. He left no stones unturned. When he came to the top, nobody saw him coming. They were not ready for him but he was more than ready for them. Everything was turning out exactly as he had planned.

Just when his old and new political enemies thought they knew what they were dealing with (an unexpected worthy adversary), I happened. Surprising both my father and a nation.

My name is Sandra Chalwe. I am the First Daughter of the Republic of Zenda. I have been for the past six years. I kept my promise to my father and helped him achieve his political ambitions. It was a long journey. One paved with twists and turns that sometimes threatened our very lives.

But still, we made it. And we want to keep going. That’s the thing with power. Once you’ve gotten hold of it, you have only two options available to you: maintain it or acquire even more of it. That’s all.

My time is now. For years I helped my father maintain his power. But now I want more. For myself.

It’s my time to achieve my own ambitions: to become the first female and youngest president of Zenda. After six years of being my father’s ally, I am about to become his greatest adversary. Just like he surprised and shocked his enemies once upon a time, I am about to give him the greatest shock of his life.

He did not see me coming.

At least I hope.

This is my father’s story. But it is also my story.

I am after all, my father’s daughter.

Some Uncomfortable Truths I Learnt about Myself and Others Living in the Diaspora

Today being African Freedom Day and all, I thought I should reflect on some moments in my life that made me feel very proud to be African. And what better moments to pick than those moments spent with non-Africans? 😊

There are certain uncomfortable experiences you’ll go through living with people of a different skin tone than yours, a different culture and a whole different outlook on life. Because you are having such a good time, you figure, eh, ama just ignore this. But sooner or later it happens again. Something in you wants to fight and scream at someone in your native language. Then you know you’ve just been thoroughly insulted.

One such uncomfortable truth for me was learning that the rest of the world (yes, am being very liberal with my phrases and terms here) thinks it knows more about all sorts of things than any African ever will. They think that just because they live in a first nation, they’re more intelligent socially, politically, economically, psychologically…you name it….than anyone coming from Africa.

And can you honestly blame me for making this assertion if the people I was meeting kept asking me if we have cheese in Africa? If we have tv’s, if we eat on plates, etc. Some even went as far as to offer me some of their clothes that they wanted to give away to some local charities but “oh dear, thank God I met you before I gave everything away!” The sound you’re hearing in the distance is the sound of my great grandchildren feeling insulted on my behalf.

Somehow, because I am African, I was in need of those clothes. I’m not saying I didn’t need the clothes. I love clothes! I like looking nice so if someone offers me clothes, I will jump at the opportunity.

However, if someone is offering me clothes because they think am a charity case, I will slowly choke them to death…in my head. It’s such an insult when someone who has the fashion sense of Hagrid thinks they’re doing you a favor by surrendering some part of their wardrobe. I met people that knew I was from Africa and possibly didn’t have enough warm clothes for the winter there and they gave me winter coats. It was obvious I needed those clothes, very obvious.

However, if am wearing shoes that cost more than half the stuff in your wardrobe (or when most if not all of my clothes look like they’ve only passed through the washer twice despite being cheap and yours look like they’ve lived through WWI and II) and then you offer me your stuff simply because I am from Africa, then you are insulting me.

And then there were the ones that wanted to teach me about everything…and I mean everything. There was just no way an African would know about the chaotic political scene in the USA or what Putin was/is supposedly plotting in the UK… or, that a human being can eat bread with cheese on it. I mean, how possible is that!? Cheese on bread??? I’m shocked to my tonsils that people eat so fancy here. Please.

So many times I silently listened to lectures about these things without anyone expecting me to make an informed contribution of my own. If they needed to hear something from me, it was to ask me if there’s anything like this in Africa or if I’ve ever heard of that topic at all. And I guess I should be understanding considering these people were meeting me for the very time.

However, if am in a group of people that are all meeting for the first time and you deliberately turn to me to ask me if I know who Kim Jong-un is or whether Hilary Clinton is Republican or Democrat, then lady I will take offence. Why arent you asking the others the same question? Why are you assuming that just because they’re citizens in this particular part of the world then they know everything about current affairs or politics in general? I know who Donald Trump is but I don’t even know the name of the Minister of Home Affairs in my own dame country! Wait, we have such a ministry right? Haha

What is worse about dealing with prejudice in a foreign land is when the object of it isn’t even aware of it…when in presenting their prejudices, they assume they’re being politically correct when in fact, they’re insulting you to your face.

I was not so much insulted by the question of whether we have Netflix in Africa than I was being asked if we had television sets. Until I travelled abroad, I had no idea tv’s or let alone cheese were such grand products that they couldn’t possibly be found anywhere else in the world. The things you will learn when you travel…smh.

The thing about Africans is that from time immemorial, we were constantly taught about a part of a world that was far much better than ours. There was always something wrong with the way we lived so some folks decided to take over our land and forcefully teach us about civilization while at the same time take away our basic human rights.

Yet somehow, we went down in history as barbaric residents of a dark continent. I am not sure about what others think but in my world, forcefully taking over land and all its resources, and then enslaving the original owners of the land and setting your self up as superior to them makes you barbaric. But what do I know? I’m just an African.

Here’s what I learnt: that because of my African background, I am well informed about the world around me more than the fellas on the other side of the fence. Now, am not putting this out there as if it’s a good thing because I think it’s a double edged sword of some sort.

The good side is that if you put an African in a room filled with people that have less melanin than him/her and they happen to live in a country that experiences four seasons in a year, the African is most likely to be the most informed person in the room.

We are aware of our own prejudices. We are also aware of other people’s prejudices against us. We most likely know a lot about your way of life both past and present otherwise we wouldn’t be in the same room with you after travelling thousands of miles across the ocean. And by virtue of us being able to communicate with you in your language and be understood, it means we’ve somehow mastered a part of your world whereas you haven’t ours.

Whether they have travelled there, lived there, heard or read about it, or watched something about it, Africans know more about the rest of the world than the world knows about them. The only time an outsider will learn about Africa is if they’ve come across some old documentary on the Discovery channel, from their aged parents who never even visited the continent, from their teachers who never even took a course on modern African history but somehow they heard about the slave ships.

Others decide to learn about Africa when they want to feel good about themselves…am talking about the ones that are ever big on charities and giving away stuff to some kids in Africa. Just because you give money and clothes to some kid in Ethiopia does not mean you helped a whole continent. We thank you for your kindness but honestly, it wasn’t that much. Calm down.

Unfortunately, as Africans, we are raised to pursue a standard of quality that is not our own. Before the invasion of Africa and its subsequent partitioning, Africans had their own standards of what was good quality and what was bad. However, the coming of Europeans into the continent brought an end to everything that Africans considered good. Only the things touched, invented or ‘discovered’ by the folks with less melanin was good enough.

And that was how Africans were screwed. For many years to come, the average black African lived with the idea that in order for him to be a worthy human, he had to look, act and live like a white person. To this day, there are some Africans that are still enslaved by such ideologies. Some aren’t even aware of the chains binding them.

We have become so corrupt that we think its natural to aspire to live or look like the people up north or west. Our religion, beauty, intelligence, our politics…they will never be good enough unless they mimic our former oppressors.

This standard was set for us and we gladly embraced it. And who can blame us for being in such a predicament? It is after all true that these worlds have produced some brilliant things that have propelled humanity to a whole other level of development and civilization. We started well with our pyramids but these folks propelled us to infinity civilization.

However, just because something is or appears that good does not mean anything else that doesn’t look or function like it isn’t.

I won’t pretend that I like everything about my Africa and the people. There are things I loathe and there are traditions I wish we would do away with. Likewise, I won’t pretend that I like everything about the first nations. Meeting a bunch of uninformed people proudly living in their cocoons with no knowledge of the world outside of theirs left an everlasting stench in my soul.

How is it possible that you do not know basic things about another continent and yet I know everything about your diet and your addictions to sleeping pills?

Like seriously, why would any human being living in the 21st century think Africa is a complete jungle? Why would you think I live with Lions or that I know Adebayo, the guy you met on a flight to Durban is when he lives in Nigeria? I don’t even know who my neighbors on the next street are.

You asking me stupid questions about Africa doesn’t mean you are a nice person. I despise politcal correctness. If you know you’re racist just stay away from black people. You don’t have to make small talk. We will appreciate you for that.

Asking stupid questions reeks of deliberate ignorance. We dont go around asking white American and Europrean men; “do you really have a small penis?” Yes, even us Africans hear some wild things about other races and cultures.

Instead of asking me if we have cheese in Africa, try instead: what do you normally have for breakfast in Zambia? Is it any different from what we have here?

There is also a general misconception that all Africans seeking to live in a first world nation is running away from poverty. Others leave for love, others are enticed by the idea of experiencing a culture different from theirs. Yes, others are tempted by the vast pay grade that a job in a first nation will give compared to the same job back home.

Yes, we love the opportunities that first nations provide but that does not necessarily mean we are coming from a godforsaken place. Yes, we acknowledge your nations are way more advanced than some nations in Africa but let’s face it, when it comes to humanity, the rest of the world has a lot to learn from Africans.

And that for me is freedom. We do still have a long way to go to be fully liberated, but let’s save that discussion for another day. For now, Happy African Freedom Day my pips.

πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡²πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡²πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡²

There’s no fate in hesitation

Words that inspired me today:

Fate doesn’t come to you at just anytime. At the very least if you want to use the term fate, it should happen, often at the most dramatic moments brought by coincident. That’s what makes it fate. That’s why, another term for fate is timing.

If I had not been caught at any of those dame traffic lights…if any of those red lights had helped me, even once….I could be standing in front of her as if it were fate. My love was always held back by that thing they call timing. That dame timing.

[But I was wrong.]

In the end, fate and timing do not just happen out of coincidence. They’re products of earnest simple choices that make up miraculous moments. Being resolute, making decisions without hesitation, that’s what makes timing.

He wanted her more than I did. And I should have been more courageous. It was not the traffic lights fault. It was not timing. It was my many hesitations.

KJH- Reply 1988

I’m Probably Gonna Burn Again

Am I the only one that sometimes finds herself wishing that life had some sort of manual? I mean, something of sorts detailing everything we ought to do if ever a certain situation presented itself before us.

For those that have hit rock bottom before and bore the brunt of life’s gruesome huddle at some point, I am sure you know what am talking about. If you picked yourself up and looked life in the face like a champion, then you probably started to look at life with renewed eyes.

Now you know exactly what you want from life. Your career, your lifestyle, ambitions, aspirations, your relationships, love, friendships, and basically the direction you want your life to take henceforth. I am exactly here…at this point in my life.

I know exactly what I want. Some of it is stuff made of genius and some of it has me shaking my own head in wonder. I know what I want. Dear God….I know. But what if it all starts to feel like deja-vu? Boy I certainly could use a manual!

Ever found yourself in a situation that made you pause to wonder? You look at the all-so-familiar scene and you feel like you’ve been here before? And because you’ve been here before you know how things are likely to go down. You play in your head all the possible scenarios. And then you feel it, ever so slowly. A shiver going down your spine.

You’ve played the moment over and over in your head and you know you gonna look back in time to this very moment. It’s a foreshadowing of some sort. You see the fire burning and yet you walk right through it. You know you WILL…MIGHT burn but in that moment you don’t care. The future you is telling you that you gonna look back at this very moment and chew yourself out for not listening to your gut.

Yet still, you walk through the fire.

Wishing and hoping you’re doing the right thing.

I have found myself taking risks recently. For the first time I want to experience life my way…by my own terms…without seeking another’s approval or permission. It’s an exhilarating feeling. There are things I want to do, to pursue. Very bold and daring decisions…but they also sound ridiculous. Risky.

See, I have been burnt by life before. What if I find myself back at square one, again? This fear of the unknown in me is an obvious product of my experiences. Though healed, the scars keep reminding me of the pain and in real time I experience it all over again. It’s all in my head.

Or is it?

Oh dear life…you truly know how to suck the life out of people don’t ya? Am probably gonna burn, again, won’t I?

Except, this time around, am carrying a bloody fire extinguisher with me!

#cheers to the known-unknown future folks! 🍻πŸ₯‚

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