I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but lately there’s been a shortage of goats in The ‘Hood. Dogs, cats, rabbits, sheep, swine, cows and village chickens that have since morphed into town dwellers and city slickers we’ve got in such abundance you’d think this here place is a bloody menagerie. Even rats, which had almost gone into extinction because of being over-hunted by Ziese Phiri, my rodent-eating former houseboy from Lundazi are slowly returning to restore the delicate ecological balance of our community. But goats? No.
The last goat, my investigations reveal, was roasted three Saturdays ago when the Nkhomas invited us over to celebrate a visit by their second born son, M-Net who’s been ensconced at the Police Academy for a while now training to become a law enforcer, if you could call ba kapokola that. Since then, there hasn’t been a single mbuzi anywhere in sight for miles around. It’s hard to believe that something as ubiquitous as goats have become like UFOs, never seen—only sighted. And that, good people, is a major cause of worry.
I will tell you why. Around here, goats have the same level of importance as camels in the desert. Not that we ride them the way them Arabs do, though a few weirdos have been tried to ride them in a manner civilised society considers abominable. Or, as our legal colleagues would say, have carnal knowledge of the poor creatures.
Roast goat, in case you didn’t know, is a democratic imperative—a crucial part of the intellectual discourse at the neighbourhood fleshpot and den of sin where The Brethren congregate seven nights a week to discuss matters of public interest over all kinds of intoxicants.
For the business of the day to go on smoothly and for debate to be rich and animated, a Brother has to have a stein in his left hand and a strip of michopo in the other. So when there are no goats to roast, informed debate suffers and democracy is all the poorer, if you know what I mean. But just in case you don’t, let me break it down for you.
A house for all seasons
You see, for all its shabbiness and tartiness, the neighbourhood fleshpot is a stolid and respectable institution. Sometimes, it’s just like your average refugee camp, a haven for internally displaced persons. Like husbands seeking refuge from the cold loneliness of that penal colony we’ve come to know as The Spare Bedroom and the wrath of irate wives intent on causing them grievous bodily harm. You know, women like Mrs. H. who is quite adept with a golf club and has scored many a birdie with her husband, Guften Haachipola’s head over the years. Other times, it is like a pit stop where nutcases come to see their shrink.
Most of the time, it serves as our own House of Parliament, complete with its own Comrade Speaker, its Sergeant-at-Arms, its front benchers, back benchers, hecklers and Members who sleep through debates, only waking up when they hear someone wants to buy a free rounds of drinks. Or when a clown like Clive Hatontola, after one stein too many, decides to regale patrons to an opera in Tonga like his name is Luciano Pavarotti.
But let me stop talking about operatic Tongas when what you really want to know about is where the goats went. Anyway, right now, nobody seems to know where they’ve gone, though there’s no shortage of conspiracy theories—from the ludicrous to the downright Chainamic. Some are even saying an alien space ship must have landed in The ‘Hood under cover of darkness and abducted our goats.
Anyway, in a bid to bring the situation back to normal, the Brethren have launched one of those hashtag campaigns that drives all them Twits on Twitter into a feeding frenzy. We’re calling ours #Bring Back Our Goats. We’re hoping that someone rich, famous and photogenic will be so kind as to help us mobilise international support for our cause.
Of hashtags & higher learning
All she needs to do is hold up a sign which reads # Bring Back Our Goats, have it filmed and posted on You Tube and pray it goes viral. God willing, we should have a lot more luck than the campaign to # Bring Back Our Girls.
And talking about girls. Don’t know whether to call it news or gossip, but a few days ago, I ran into Cherry, the once luscious fruit of The House of Mukundambolo, pushing a trolley full of shopping at the local mall. And she looked every inch a woman who has come into her own on Easy Street.
Today, she is light years away from the shadow of her mother, whose reign as the undisputed queen of makwebo seems to be under threat from an interloper called ba-na Guandong. But that’s another story worth saving for another day.
News is that her application to open a university has been approved and very soon, she will become the Chancellor of her own institution of higher learning.
Cherry, in case you’ve never had a chance to make her acquaintance, is a strikingly beautiful young woman with dewdrop eyes and more curves than an African gourd. Unfortunately, all the years she spent in some of the best schools in the country didn’t amount to much, which convinced everyone one around that she must have been born with the IQ of a wet chicken. Anyway, Cherry finished Grade 12 all right, but left school with a chain of 9999s that might as well have been a string of pearls.
Someone else would have been bothered, gone into a depression even. Not Cherry. “Why do I have to learn about things I don’t need to know about? Who cares about the Rocky Mountains, the prairies, the Great Lakes and what caused the First World War? I sure don’t!” she said in her defence. All she needed, she told her parents when they raised issue with her police toll-free number-results was what all any woman needs to find a man and keep him is a working knowledge of human geography and applied chemistry.
And she found her man in the form of a young Turk we came to know as abena-Raymond. They got married after a tornado (or is it a whirlwind?) romance, but somewhere down the line, Cherry’s wet-chicken IQ got in the way and was the source of many a skirmish on the home front. You see, her husband was afraid that their children would take after their mother, which would make them thicker than two planks, an Eskimo’s blanket and the trunk of a baobab tree all put together.
So it came as a big surprise to all of us when ba-na Cherry decided to go into the business of education. She opened a nursery school and saddled it with the unlikely name of Little Harvard Institute of Pre-School Education. Can’t tell whether it was the name or just a stroke of good luck, but the school became an instant hit and a veritable money spinner.
Which goes to show that people with plenty of unfinished business with the Ministry of Education can educate us. One of Life’s inexplicable ironies. Just like even men without a gospel having their own Mount of Olives.
Forgotten who said that actually, but hey, there’s a lot to be said about what we know for sure and what we think we know. For instance, the conflict History refers to as the 100 Years’ War between the French and the English in the 14th and 15th century actually lasted 116 years. And Panama hats don’t come from Panama but from Ecuador. Our friends the Russians celebrate the Great October Revolution in November. And the black box in airplanes are not black but orange. The Canary Islands in the Pacific are not named after a bird but after a dog and King George VI’s first name is not George but Albert.
Which is why, between you and me, I still think the years I spent at the village school on the edge of the Atlantic where even the headmaster was a barefooted troglodyte with lice and scabies were probably the most rewarding in all my life. Back then, you didn’t learn anything you didn’t need. You learnt very early that it was taboo to plunder the oceans and the seas on Tuesdays. You could say, in a manner of speaking, that actually Tuesdays are the fisherman’s Sabbath.
Oh yes, back in the day, you learnt in class that arguments are not settled by words but by fists. He who knocked the other out won the argument.
It was at the village school that I learnt the wisdom of going to bed with your thumb in your mouth. In case you didn’t know, it’s the best way to stop yourself from talking in your sleep and saying things that could land you in trouble.
If there’s one thing the human mouth has a weakness for landing you in, it is trouble, which is a lesson one of our neighbourhood residents learnt the hard way.
He made the stupid mistake of telling a visitor something you don’t tell an African visitor: make yourself at home. Before he knew it, he was homeless and wifeless.
The takeover was gradual but systematic. It started with small things. you know, like the remote control for the TV, the Chelsea coffee mug, the Samsung charger. Next thing to be liberalised was his host’s favourite sofa, his laptop, then his place at the head of the dining table, his best suits and one of his cars. The last straw was in whose warm and ample bosom cat decided to find solace, and even possibly, a bit of Bonnita.
The poor host decided that rather than nail the ingrate to the nearest cross and slice off his nuts while he was still breathing, he’d do the civilised thing and let the rule of law prevail. In other words, let the courts see to it that justice is done in line with the letter of the Law. And if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about the Law and the justice system from my long association with Japhet Bokosi (LLB. LLM) the erstwhile of Django Chambers, it is the role evidence plays in the scheme of things.
And in this particular case, the evidence was overwhelming. A roomful of witnesses who testified that the host willingly and without anyone holding a gun to this head told his guest to make himself at home.
“My Lord, I meant he should make himself comfortable, not take over my home, grab my title deeds and sleep with my wife!” the poor man wept.