Kalaki’s Korner: Passport Problem

We were having a sundowner on the veranda when round the corner sauntered Sara’s cousin Kelvin. ‘My God!’ squealed Sara, as she hugged him. ‘Is it really you! What are you doing here? Why didn’t you say you were coming? How did you find us? Are you back for good?
That was more than a month ago. The very next morning he set off on the bus to Lundazi to visit his project, as he called it. For the past twenty years he’d been sending money back to his sister to build his retirement home, and now he wanted to have a look at it. ‘Be prepared to be disappointed,’ Sara had said. ‘Nowadays people are hungry, and can easily eat an entire house.’
‘Not my sister Enela,’ said Kelvin, ‘she’s the one who brought me up.’
‘Are you still married to that Malaysian woman?’ Sara asked.
‘That’s another long story,’ said Kelvin sadly.
It was a full forty years ago since Kelvin had disappeared into the melting pot of Glasgow, where he finally became Scotland’s only Zambian Glaswegian bus driver.
He had promised to visit us on his way back from Lundazi, But some three weeks passed and he didn’t return. ‘Maybe he’s found a new wife in Lundazi,’ said Sara. ‘There’s a few there who wouldn’t mind the inconvenience of a rich Zambian Glaswegian bus driver.’
But then, a week ago, he reappeared, dusty, dirty, unshaven and exhausted. ‘Good God Kelvin!’ I said, ‘What happened? Did they think you were a ghost? A witch? You found no house at all? We warned you!’
‘Nothing like that,’ he said, as he slumped into a chair. ‘Everything was fine in Lundazi, Enela is living in my house with her grandchildren, and the whole village welcomed me with a big feast. But I came back with no spare time to visit you, and had to rush straight to the airport. That was a week ago!’
‘A week ago! So why are you still here? What happened? Where have you been?’
‘Passport problem!’ he exclaimed. ‘Immigration confiscated it! And then locked me up!’
‘What, confiscated a British passport?’
‘No, I still have my Zambian passport. If I’d had a British passport I’d have been alright!’
‘So what was wrong with it?’
‘They asked me where my parents were born, and I said in Mzuzu.’
‘You shouldn’t have said that,’ said Sara.
‘They said I must have obtained it by dubious means, and confiscated it. Then they confiscated my cell phone and computer, and threw me in the cells.’
‘Your name must have been on their list,’ said Sara.
‘That’s how it turned out,’ said Kelvin. ‘They kept asking me about the Zambian Warthog, and insisting that I wrote stories for the Warthog, and demanded details of the identity of all the other journalists. It seems that one of the journalists they were looking for is also called  Kelvin Nhlane. After a week I got out on a police bond of K500, pending further investigations, but they’re still holding my passport. So I’m stuck here.’
‘Why didn’t you contact us?’ asked Sara.
‘I told you, they confiscated my phone and computer.’
‘You were entitled to one phone call, we could have got you a lawyer.’
‘They laughed in my face and said criminals don’t have human rights.’
‘We must apply to the court,’ I said. ‘We can get a judge to order that your passport is returned.’
‘What!’ laughed Sara. ‘All our judges are all hiding under their desks or under their beds. Even if you got a court order, the Immigration officials would tear it up in front of you.’
‘Haven’t you got connections?’ asked Kelvin.
‘Obviously not,’ I laughed. ‘Otherwise we wouldn’t be living in this little house in Chainda.’
‘What about my cousin Dingiswayo?’ asked Kelvin. ‘The one you said is an odious little bootlicker?’
‘OK,’ said Sara. ‘We don’t usually have anything to do with him. But I’ll take you to his place, and maybe he can just have a quiet word with somebody, and everything can be sorted out. Obviously there has been a terrible mistake.’
So Sara took him to Dingiswayo’s mansion in New Kasama, and they took him in, and took over the problem. Imagine our surprise when, only a couple of days later, we picked up our copy of The Post to find a screaming front page headline ‘Opposition Journalist Apologizes to Cycle Mata: Rogue journalist confesses his sins and pledges loyalty,’accompanied by a picture of the Zambian Glaswegian bus driver, now dressed up in a new bling bling suit.
‘Maybe that’s the way to go,’ I suggested. ‘Don’t try to contradict their nonsense – just go along with it.’
‘If Kelvin can find his way through the Glasgow traffic,’ laughed Sara, ‘maybe he can wriggle out of this!’
The next the day the front page of The Post had a picture of Kelvin shaking hands with the dreaded Splinter Kapimbe, under the heading Internationally Renowned Journalist Joins the Party.
The next day was even better: Kelvin Nhlane appointed Member of Parliament and Minister of Propaganda.
And we knew the problem was completely solved when we picked up The Post the following day and read Nhlane Leads Delegation to UK: Nhlane to instruct British government on freedom of the press.
Two days later Sara got an e-mail from Kelvin: ‘Phew! Thanks for your help. Am back in Glasgow, driving my bus.’ 

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