satirical characterisation of how politicians will forever be cunning
| Another People
It appears poverty always awaits an honest life as surely as is the teaching that heaven awaits the righteous. Ordinary men always carry with them a hope to be rich first and then go on to adopt faith in God one day. Without riches the testimonies of Gods providence to a poor man are hardly enviable and the want of righteousness resolutely discarded, for to him, what is salvation if not a liberation from material misery to promote devotional affinity. As such prayer becomes Gods reward for His generosity. This is the bearing of an ordinary man rendered spiritually invalid by want, materially imprisoned by envy and practically tested by faith and ready to secure civic glory by burning the emblem of heaven. To such a man heaven is for the richly favoured and the sanctity of devotion is something that he is not born for.
Worse still if he can feel betrayed by divinity then he falls at the mercy of politicians. They come knocking at his door. They promise him better governance and eradication of his poverty. A free house, free medical care, free everything only for his proverbial penny that resembles an X ticked over a ballot paper. He wakes up every day hoping for promised favours to materialise. What a fool he is to believe such promises for once. What comes then is more poverty and despair. Rarely do politicians say you must work for all you want . The promise it. Yet they work in a way for their game to bring food to their tables. Telling people that you must vote for me because I want to remind you to go and work for your families seems to be a political taboo yet it is what seems right.
Once upon a time in the wilderness of a beautiful forest on another planet the Chameleon and the Elephant emerged as the challenging pair to become rulers of the kingdom. The final ritual to choose one among the two was a race to be run over a distance from one point to another where all other animals eagerly awaited, their eyes anxious to see who would win and sit on the glittering throne. To all animals in the kingdom the race between the two was less exciting but rather a ceremonial comedy that would confirm the beginning of life under the leadership of the Elephant. How a snail slow Chameleon could challenge Elephant and expected to win the race baffled all except him whose solitary show of gallantry was his stubborn insistence on taking on the giant than pull out as most of the other animals encouraged him to do. On the fateful day as the two walked side by side towards the track, the mere contrasting pictures of size and form between the two connecting to every one’s sense of desperation hanging around the Chameleon’s neck. The throne sat on that far end of the finishing line where all other animals were patiently waiting to witness the King claiming it. When the Elephant had the courtesy of talking to his opponent as they strode away it was to remind him that by the time Chameleon reaches the winning point everyone else would have dispersed. However nobody knew that Chameleon had crafted his own strategy in the bag to survive. Just when the race conductor shot his gun off the Chameleon changed colour, jumped and grabbed onto the Elephants tail, who, pumped up with excitement and energy ran the course like mad, happy at seeing the Chameleon never in sight. Beckoning as a glittering chair of honour, the throne invitingly prompted gallantry and the Elephant accelerated with supreme pomposity, languid comfort and happiness. Yet little did he know that he was working so hard for Chameleon who grabbed even tighter, the misery of tactic encouraging a little bravery to win at all costs. In the eyes of the two what the horizon covered under was the concave nature of power which gave one the liberty to rule over others and demand honour no matter the contents of character would have better been served by dissent. The Elephant , so big and intimidating by nature saw the big chair as a monumental estimation that leveraged its size to measure but to the chameleon riding behind the tail of a muscular short sighted Elephant was one fun too many all better brains played on those who did not invest pragmatic politics.
Huffing, puffing and galloping the Elephant accelerated with frenzy as he approached the crowd, racking through all that was in front of him with impunity. Nobody saw Chameleon in sight nor expected him to be anywhere nearer. It was unimaginable he could be competing for real if not that his insistence to take on the Elephant was a way to satisfy ego and publicity. As the Elephant came before the throne, the gratuitous hoaxing and coaxing of his supporters descending into a rapturous welcome he felt a champion. He approached the chair and turned back to seat, its tail coiling over the seat. As it touched down the Chameleon jumped off the tail onto the chair and poked him at the back. He only had to say to the bemused Elephant: "Yes you might be big but can you not see that there is already someone sitting on the throne? I arrived here before you did." The Elephant stood there, mouth opened and began to walk away to everyone's surprise. It was only after the Chameleon called out a hurrah that everyone saw that he was sitting on the throne. Everyone wondered how Chameleon had run faster than the Elephant but the mystery was never divulged at least as long as he ruled the kingdom.
He was my grandfather. He told us this story one night, me and his other many grandchildren, sitting in his wife's round mud hut. It was raining outside and the dark sentiments of a violent storm and winter density forced us to sit in a tight oval group, the excitements of the story loosing us into a sort of a delirium. We cramped around the fireplace all of us sitting on the floor while he towered us from his wooden stool that gave we never had a chance to sit on any day. It was a stool for the majesty. I remembered these times with fond memories.
In the years that came forth the Chameleon grew unpopular. The other animals complained that they really did not know which Chameleon ruled over them. When one went up to his palace and presented a problem he might talk to a green Chameleon but when he came back he would be met by a yellow Chameleon who would claim to know no green Chameleon who lived there. The Chameleon lived unaccountable to his subjects. He used the cunning skill to change colour and round clock his eyes to deceive. It was also said that as a small creature who could not fit the whole of his throne, he would invite his kinsmen, tribal chiefs, political comrades to sit with him on the throne. It appeared there were too many shadows of the Chameleon ruler. Some members of his tribe could be seen spying around his palace each time to see what colour he wore so that they could duplicate and go into the kingdom as his impostors. Some went around and claimed to be his children. In time it was not possible to deny any chameleon a favour because you were not sure who you were dealing with. And none of them was accountable because they could change colour as well. In every sector of the kingdom Chameleon was the mogul. Chameleon the banker. Chameleon the mine owner. Chameleon the minister. Chameleon the prince. Whether they were really other chameleons or it was Chameleon the king who controlled all these sectors could not be ascertained. The other animals hated it. They revolted. But who they revolted against remained unknown because the last time they were sure of the Chameleon the king was when he momentarily sat on the throne when he outsprinted the Elephant. Since then they knew only his shadow better. And so until today the animals in the kingdom are still debating on what to do. They cannot pass a resolution to chase all chameleons away. They cannot let Chameleon the king get away with it. They want all he looted. Grandfather said the animals in the kingdom are still looking for their king lost among themselves.
From that day I grew up giving respect to the chameleon. If only I could be half a politician like him I would live this life doing nothing but rich. I would call all my family and tribesman to the party. The Shona people have a saying: Chawana idya ne hama mutorwa ane hanganwa. (Rather share with your blood relatives, other people wont remember it)