'Well Khoza,' I said to my eldest grandson, 'now you're in Grade 10, you should be thinking about your future career.'
'I'm thinking about it a lot,' he replied glumly. 'My future is bleak. The only way to avoid unemployment is do brilliantly at Grade 12, and get into Yunza. Even that will only postpone unemployment for another four years.'
'If all else fails,' I said, 'you could go into politics.'
'Its too late for that,' he said sadly. 'Those entering politics are sent to Nichekeleko Secondary.'
'What!' I said. 'Where's that?'
'Down in Chamba Valley,' he replied.
So the next day I was there, to check out the story. Sure enough, there it stood, a ramshackle building rising proudly and unexpectedly out of the sewage ponds. I walked down the main corridor, looking for the office of the headteacher, but could find only a door marked 'Headboy'. I knocked, and a voice answered. In I went.
A huge old man sat behind a grand desk. 'Come in Kalaki, we've been expecting you. After all your years of writing about politicians, you've finally found out where they come from!' He extended a gnarled hand in greeting. 'I'm Allabee Nyamasoya, the Headboy.'
'I was expecting to find a Headteacher,' I said.
'A school for politics works differently,' he explained. 'We have only prefects, no teachers. The pupils elect their own prefects from amongst retired politicians, and they learn from our experience and example.'
'Shouldn't they be electing prefects from amongst themselves?'
'Really, Kalaki, have you ever heard of a school allowing such a thing?' he laughed. 'That would be carrying democracy too far! We need experienced politicians to run this school!'
'Well, er, ah hrum,' I began hesitantly, 'Um, aren't you a bit old to be a Headboy?'
'I was elected to this post to show these young people how we did it in the old days. The previous Headboy, may his soul rest in peace, rather let things slip. He tried to introduce Good Governance into the curriculum, so of course the old skills and values of Nichekeleko were getting lost.'
I looked up at the wall, where the school crest proudly proclaimed the school motto, EVERY MAN HAS HIS PRICE. 'To tell you the truth,' I admitted, 'I was rather surprised to find a school especially for politics. I thought all schools produce politicians.'
'Certainly not!' scoffed Nyamasoya, 'Other schools have a most unsuitable and counter-productive curriculum. Other schools teach values such as honesty, integrity and fair play, and intellectual skills such as logic and rationality. Their graduates are therefore deliberately made unfit for politics. The higher their qualifications, the more unfit they become!'
'But surely,' I said, 'never mind which school we went to, we're all supposed to take part in politics.'
'Certainly not!' he laughed. 'Politics is for politicians, who have been properly trained in the art of manipulation and deceit. All others are supposed to pay their taxes and keep their mouths shut! Come with me,' he said, pointing towards the door, 'and I'll show you around.'
As we stepped out onto the veranda we found two buses filling up with pupils. 'They're off to the Solwezi by-election,' he explained, 'to provide various services such as buying voter cards, distributing free sugar and stoning opposition rallies. Its all excellent basic training. We give an annual prize to the pupil who embezzles the most from party funds. That's our main source of school funding.'
'Do you provide thugs for all political parties?'
'Of course not. We are pledged to support the government of the day, the Movement for Maintaining Dictatorship.'
'They're the ones with the taxpayers' money!'
As we walked on, we came to the dining room, where there was a long queue. 'They've been there all night, queuing for their bean ration,' explained Nyamasoya.
'Is there a shortage of beans?' I wondered.
'Of course not,' he laughed. 'The ones queuing have failed to understand the system, don't know how to bribe, and can't even find the back door to the dining hall. This is our system for identifying the inadequate pupils who are too dull to ever make the grade.'
'So what happens to them? Where do they go?'
'We usually find places for them in the police force.'
'So you would never find a prefect in the queue for beans?'
'Good gracious no! They have their own dining room, where only meat is served.'
'And in the school election for prefects, is there only the ruling party, the MMD?'
'Oh no. For purpose of training in thuggery, bribery and rigging it is essential to have an opposition party. So we allow the Punching Fist, the PF, to contest. But we don't allow PF members to attend classes or get any food from the dining hall.'
'We can't encourage partisan
politics. We want a peaceful and united school.'
'But suppose one day the PF wins! Then you prefects will be out!'
'Oh no we won't! We'll all join the PF!'
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