He had won the presidency. For a moment there, he didn’t think he would get it. A perverse sense of relief had filled him. It was however a passing moment and he did win. It was his first “unofficial” public appearance since his swearing in. Of course, Mapori would have to spend his Sunday morning giving thanks to God at the Jungoma Protestant Church as his PR team dictated. He gave a small chuckle; he was Catholic. Nevertheless, the popular church had given him the urban youth vote.
He thought he would be happier, elated even, like the tribal elders who’d groomed him for this position; the same position his grandfather had held. To everyone but himself he mused, he had been the obvious choice. His great grandfather and grandfather had built legacies within the community and the nation. His father, the only son had wasted his life on women and drugs, and as result had been hidden away from the public eye. Mapori though, the elders said, was different. Now he realised, they had meant malleable.
He was sweating, sweating like a sinner in church; which he was wasn’t he? He laughed. His laughter joined that of the congregation who were responding to a joke made by the preacher.
“Some of you are praying to God that my sermon ends in time to shake hands with His Excellency.”
He thought of all the plays that had been made to get him here. From the onset, everything had been manipulated. He tugged at his increasingly uncomfortable collar as he remembered the unfortunate fate of his opponent at the party nomination stage. He has disappeared allegedly for reasons relating to a multinational drug turf war. After all it was an open secret that Yewo had been a drug kingpin.
“To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, He will give eternal life.”
He thought of the personal jabs and accusations he’d hurled at his campaign opponent in the days running up to the presidential debate. He had no particular dislike for the man. In fact, their children went to the same private school abroad.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
He thought of greased hands and silenced whispers, back deals upon back deals and not to mention the promised favours. His hands were clean, the dirtiest of the work handled by those who had come together. Why then did he not feel gratitude?
His phone buzzed. A glance showed an email notification regarding the list of compulsory appointments to his cabinet. Suddenly his future flashed before him; a life of servitude and more backdoor deals for as long as he was president. How had this happened? Him, the President of Marashan! They had begun to groom him even before he knew what they were grooming him for. The courses he studied in university were those his grandfather was willing to pay for. The wife he had married was the one the council of elders approved of. Nobody had asked him if this was what he wanted. Not until it was too late had he asked himself what he wanted.
He remembered one evening, the council had met in his grandfather’s home. As if sensing he was overcome, his grandmother had laid a hand on his and said, “Sometimes the most powerful men are the least powerful men”. She must have known then, that his portion in life was that of capitulation. Mapori had always been a timid sort, but the campaign period had begun to shift something within him. His election served as the catalyst to this pivotal moment.
Stepping down would mean his death. Dead men could not expose the political underworld’s secrets. Was this it then? His birthright? To be a puppet to those that put him in power? To be like his father, weak and controlled by others? Mapori wondered who had controlled his grandfather when he was president. NOBODY. Now there was a conqueror of all he grasped.
“The Bible says, stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”
Although he was his father’s son there was more running through his blood. Would elders stop him? They were old and when they were dead he would make certain he had their successors in his pocket. Would benefactors stop him? He would tighten the country’s purse strings. They would not tell him who to appoint, what to do and when to do it.
He stood up and began to walk out. Like a perfectly choreographed dance, his security team rose to follow. “Sir… I mean, Your Excellency, where are you going?” his aide asked.
“I am going to mass.”, he bit out.
“Mass? But…you are to addr-“
“I am going to mass and I’m going to recite a couple of goddamned novenas while I am at it.” For forgiveness of all that had been done. And all he had yet to do.
“For Jeremiah 32: 38 says: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.”
By Aziza Mwendwa