As he spoke, onto the podium glided the imperious magician, extravagantly dressed in the cream satin suit of a Chinese emperor, although on his head was the cap of a police constable, and around his shoulders the red satin cloak of a medieval king.
Around the podium stood a ragged crowd of villagers, mostly men, for the women were away working in the fields. The scene was set in the middle of a dusty football pitch that boasted not a single blade of grass, in a bare landscape of miserable poverty.
The Great Ukwa moved slowly in regal fashion to the front of the podium, fixed them with the terrible glare of his beady eyes, and scowled. The crowd trembled in anticipation. Suddenly and unexpectedly his right arm shot out and punched the air, and simultaneously there was a fearsome red flash and crack, and a puff of white smoke rose up from his clenched fist. ‘I am the King of this Land and All Beyond! I am the Mighty Ukwa, the Great Magician. I have all the powers!’
‘Hurray!’ shouted the crowd, as they punched their fists into the air, although no clouds of smoke rose up from their fists, because they did not have any power, let alone all the powers.
‘I have come here today to ask you, in this by-election, to give your vote to the candidate of the Punching Fist,’ shouted Ukwa, as he punched his fist into the air, causing another crack, flash, and puff of smoke.’
‘What is the name of our candidate?’ laughed the crowd.
‘His name is Nangu Umo! I am giving him to you as your member of parliament!’
‘Where is he?’ laughed the crowd.
‘I have made him invisible!’ declared the Great Ukwa, with another bang and puff of smoke. ‘Members of parliament are never seen in their constituencies! They just disappear in a puff of smoke. If I were to show him to you now, you would never see him again. Better that you never see him in the first place!’
‘Then who is going to help us?’ shouted the crowd.
‘I, the Great Ukwa the Magician will help you!’ he answered, punching another explosion into the air. ‘I have brought this magic all the way from China and I can do anything! I have all the powers! Am I not the one who ended the drought in Southern Province by transferring the Mosi-o-Tunya to Choma? Am I not the one who ended the poverty in Chirundu by transferring it to Lusaka? Was it not my mighty Punching Fist which knocked Itezhi-Tezhi District clean out Southern Province and right into Central Province, thereby bringing it nearer to Lusaka!’ He gave the air another explosive punch, as another puff of smoke rose in the air. ‘And all done with immediate effect!’
‘But what are you going to do for us?’ demanded the crowd.
‘I am Ukwa the Magician, and I have come here today to announce a big transformation. For fifty years the government of this country ignored Nsala. But today you are lucky, I have noticed it. I therefore hereby declare you to be a District, which means that you qualify for six clinics and a secondary school, which will appear within ninety seconds, as soon as I punch the air!’ So saying, the Great Magician punched the air. Flash! Bang! Boomagazang! A huge cloud of smoke enveloped the entire podium. But when it had finally cleared, the Mighty Magician was gone. And with him had gone the six clinics and a secondary school. All gone in a puff of smoke.
‘Here one minute and gone the next!’ laughed the crowd.
Now the Master of Ceremonies leapt back onto the podium. ‘I now give you our candidate for Nsala, the famous Mr Butuntushi Butungulushi of the By-Election Bonanza party…’
As the crowd cheered, onto the stage bounced a fat and jolly gentleman. ‘My friends,’ he began, ‘We brought the Great Magician Ukwa here, not just to entertain you, but also to remind you of how we have been treated in the past. How were we treated?’
‘Promised everything, got nothing!’ chanted the crowd.
‘Exactly!’ responded Butungulishi. ‘How many clinics were we promised?’
‘Six!’ answered the crowd.
‘And how may did we get!’
‘Nelyo chimo!’they cried.
‘When did we ever get anything?’
‘Only during the election,’ they answered.
‘Exactly!’ cried Butungulushi. ‘During the election we got brown envelopes,
chitenge, bicycles, beer, fertilizer, relief food and empty promises. So what is the policy of the By-Election Bonanza party?’
‘More by-elections!’ shouted the enthusiastic crowd.
‘The voice of the people must be heard!’ shouted Butungulushi. ‘You shall have more by-elections! You just send me to parliament, and I will represent you by immediately selling myself to the ruling party for a hundred million. This money will be brought back here to you my people. Once I have sold myself on your behalf, this will trigger another rewarding by-election, when more gifts will be showered upon us. In this by-election, you can again elect somebody from the By-Election Bonanza party, who will of course again sell himself to the ruling party. As we continuously repeat this developmental cycle, we shall soon become the richest constituency in the country!’
‘Hurray!’ shouted the crowd. ‘Three cheers for democracy!’