By Field Ruwe
At the end of the taxiway the plane turned and faced east. The president peered through the window again and saw that people were still waving. He spotted the VP for he was the only white person in the crowd. He was standing next to the Acting President, a man who only a few hours ago had been his junior.
Lately, the VP had begun to dread trips to the airport to see off the president. They were his worst moments. He often felt disregarded, demeaned and humiliated. There were times when he felt like a jerk—like a pawn, a stooge—times when he felt as rotten as he was feeling now. It’s the law of the land, he reminded himself for the thousandth time.
As he watched the plane, rage swept through him like an avalanche, taking with it all the wonderful moments he had spent with the president—the first meeting to form an opposition party; their victory celebration in September 2011; the memorable reception following his appointment as vice president; and his excitement at seeing the headline in the Guardian newspaper: “Zambia’s white vice-president hails ‘cosmopolitan’ new era.”
He stole a glance at the Acting President and saw that he still displayed the “pinch me, I’m dreaming” smile. He had been pinching himself since the president asked him to act. Not in his wildest dream did he envision becoming acting president, not for one day. To say he was shaking like a leaf would be an understatement. He could hardly keep his feet on the ground.
The VP tried, as he had done on several occasions on a day such as this, to remain composed, but his mind was working some negatives: I’m not going to address this chap as ‘sir,’ or ‘Mr. President.’ He can eat crow, all I know. I mean how can I? Why should I? I’m the second most powerful man in Zambia. I answer to no one but Michael.
The plane raced down the runway. The president waved as it began to climb on its way to cruising altitude. VP reluctantly waved back. The plane disappeared. The Acting President was still waving.
The head of the presidential security whispered in the Acting President’s ear: “Your Excellency, sir, he’s gone. You can stop waving now. You need to say bye to the VIPs and the Generals before you leave. Remember, when the army officers salute, you don’t need to salute back, just smile. Often we’ve had acting presidents use the wrong hand to salute. And one more thing, after all is done we’ll drive your back to your house and not Plot 1.”
Reminiscent of the previous occasions, the VP waited for the Acting President to lead the way. This was the part he despised the most. It made him feel unwanted; often dejected. He knew some cabinet ministers did not approve of him being VP. They often showed it when the president was out of the country. If they had their way they would relegate him to a ministerial position or confine him to the party.
Actually, the thought had crossed the Acting President’s mind. He was thinking of holding an impromptu press conference in the State House gardens the next day. He had spent the previous night preparing his speech. It read as follows:
Countrymen, I speak to you not only as your Acting President, but also as a compatriot mindful of the sacrifices you have made over the years. At the height of hunger, poverty, and disease you have remained resilient. Faced by these challenges, you have chosen hope over terror; over horror; over trepidation. You have remained a patient, loving people adored by the world beyond our borders. But what good is patience and love without the full measure of happiness? Why should we continue to be a patient and loving, but suffering people? Why can’t we carry our patience and love, which are our God-given precious gifts, to higher heights?
One lesson we have learned over the years is that happiness is never given on a silver platter. It is earned. It is earned not only through hard work, but also, and mostly through intelligent initiative—no more no less. The path to happiness is not for the lazy mind. It is not for those who are not innovative. It is not for the greedy and the corrupt. It is not for the privileged, the rich and the fortunate. Rather, it is for the positive thinkers, doers, inventors, and risk-takers, and that’s who we should be.
Countrymen, we toil too much, and sweat profusely because we refuse to use our heads. We accept narrowness. Time and again we sacrifice too much and blister our hands and break our backs so we may live another day, and yet we can do something about it. We can ease our pain.
How can we ease our pain? By being more creative than we currently are; by being as curious and as innovative as our fellow humans in the developed world. Our minds are no less inventive as theirs. Europeans and Asians are not a fortunate people. They are a hard-working thinking people. They think all the time. We think sometimes and often we think no times.
As your Acting President, I am here to lay a new foundation for our growth so that when the president returns he will find us picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off, and beginning to remake our country. Here is what I have decided. By the power invested in me as your Acting President, I have with immediate effect made major changes to the cabinet and created the Ministry without Portfolio to meet the demands of a new age. It will be headed by Dr. Guy Scott.
Let me briefly say something about Dr. Scott. As Vice President, he is a wasted talent in a country full of frills. He carries with him responsibilities without authority. We all know he will never be president. He’ll always be left to ridicule because he can’t even act as one. Yet, he is one of us. But let’s face it, in this world of prejudice, discrimination, and racism, our Dr. Scott can knock at more doors than even our president. He is much more believable at the IMF, World Bank, 10 Downing Street, even at the White House because of the color of his skin. It is not racism, countrymen, it’s the truth.
There are many things Dr. Scott can achieve on our behalf, but unfortunately he’s not patriotic enough. His heart is not Zambian enough. Here is a man who has taught robotics at Oxford University and yet he has done nothing for Zambia in terms of technology. There is not one single machine of value to us he has constructed, and yet he can. He can make automated processing machines for our factories, and robots for auto manufacturing. He can take us from hand production methods to machines. That’s what he should be doing at the Ministry without Portfolio. He should be encouraging abstraction, discovery, and curiosity. He should be creating a social order based on industrialization. The 2020 generation should remember him as the Zambian white man who revolutionized the Zambian industry.
Also, Dr. Guy Scott knows that copper is our lifeline. He knows copper is to us as gold is to the South Africans. While gold has made South Africa a prosperous nation, copper has turned us into paupers. Although copper may be down from the peaks of the 1970s when we ranked among the top producers in the world, we still have enough rock to last us a lifetime. Dr. Guy Scott knows it. He was born in this country. Growing up, he was a friend to some of the current Chief executives in the South African mines. Instead of him watching our mines run down by unscrupulous Chinese and Indians, he must broker a deal with some of his friends to come back and work with our Zambian team to pump life back into our most treasured industry and bring our copperbelt towns back to life. Our Zambian miners deserve better.
It has always been our belief that Europeans are organized, and it has been their belief that we are disorganized. We have one European from the cult of efficiency who can show us where we’ve failed. For him to behave like us is to fail us. When he became VP we were expecting him to be in the forefront in making our president appreciate democracy. Democracy is what has made Dr. Scott’s race successful. For him to fail to tap it onto our president is to deliberately divorce himself from our advancement.
Countrymen, instead of mounting Dr. Scott on the political anthill, stepping on helpless ants, chanting “Donchi Kubeba!” in a language similar to Bemba, and indulging in political shenanigans, let us put this, our dear muzungu, to good use while we are in power. Let us use him as a link in our quest for prosperity.
I have also decided to drop the Minister of Finance and asked Dr. Dambisa Moyo to replace him. Dr. Moyo has been inside the World Bank and seen shylocks at work, setting the security at a pound of our flesh. She understands how the institution has destroyed Africa; how it has enslaved us. She also understands the Chinese and their underhand methods and demands. I believe she holds the key to our economic growth. She will cohort with Dr. Guy Scott, an economist himself. As for the current Finance Minister, I thank him for a very long, long, long distinguished service. Thank you, countrymen.
Inside the presidential limo the Acting President finished reading the speech. He put it back in the folder. He was thinking about the press conference when it dawned on him that it was a pipedream. It was a waste of time. The VP was going nowhere. He was the throne bearer of the deity. He was a cosmic used to keep the ambitious and traitors at a distance. With him as Vice President there would be no heir.
The credibility quotient for this article is this: If it deals with politics it’s a fact; if it is dramatized it’s fiction; if it is outrageously unbelievable, it’s a fact.
Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner, historian, and author. He is a PhD candidate at George Fox University and serves as an adjunct professor (lecturer) in Boston. ©Ruwe2012
Readers please note: Lately there has been persistent efforts by some bloggers to cast doubt on my credentials and put my personal integrity in disrepute. I hold a Bachelor’s of Arts degree with a summa cum laude GPA of 3.89 in Mass Communications from Suffolk University and Fresno State University. I hold a Master’s degree with a magna cum laude GPA of 4.0 in History from Fresno Pacific University. Currently, I am a doctoral candidate at George Fox University. A doctoral program takes a minimum of three years to complete. An Adjunct Professor is a part-time employee who can hold another job outside the institution or teach in other institutions. As for me, I teach in more than one and run Africa Center (US) as CEO. With regard to my broadcast career, I was trained at the BBC Open University in Milton Keynes, U.K. I have been a member of the BBC Club since 1982. On December 29, 1990, I was presented with the “The Best Disc Jockey of the Year” award for all radio channels, thereby being recognized as the best radio DJ in the country.