It is with great joy that I write this letter to congratulate you on your massive victory in the United States Presidential elections.
On behalf of my first lady, Grace, my daughter, Bona — who absolutely adores you (and swoons every time you come on television) as well as our three sons, I congratulate you on this great victory, which has made me as an elderly African statesman very proud.
I never thought in my heart of hearts I would live to see this glorious day when one of our own would win the highest seat in the US. I thank the spirits of the Gushungo clan and the spirit of my dearly departed mum, Bona (after whom my beloved daughter is named), who have kept me alive just so I could see this day. Those in the winds surely knew the objective of my continued existence on earth and in Zimbabwe’s State House. Our ancestors, yours and mine, knew that we have a joint mission.
I send my congratulations on behalf of my entire country, Zimbabwe. We are all indeed proud — barring of course the few misguided elements among us who think that only white people are capable of ruling nations. You know who they are. I don’t have to spell it out for you, my son. I am happy you proved them wrong, like I did.
I hope you don’t mind me calling you my son? I don’t mean to be disrespectful. But as you will know from the lessons learned at your father’s knee — albeit for that short time — this is the way of our people. Some people might even say I shouldn’t call you my son, as you and Grace are practically the same age! But that doesn’t make you less my son.
It makes you more so. In case you are wondering, Grace also loves you. I think. She hasn’t exactly said so in so many words, but I see the knowing looks she and Bona trade when we are watching you on the BBC. (Yes I thrive on watching the Beeb; don’t believe all that crazy stuff you read that I believe in so-called “100% local content” which my former minister of information thought was a good idea. Honestly! A serious man such as myself should have one’s hangovers. Mine is all things British. Oh I do miss my visits to Buckingham Palace, the shopping in Sainsbury and those dainty cucumber sandwiches that Number 10 Downing serves. But please don’t repeat this to Gordon Brown.)
A husband always knows when his wife’s heart is straying. Even an old one. In fact the other day I overheard Grace on her cell phone, saying to one of her friends, “that BHO is bho sha (that Barack Hussein Obama is great my friend)”. She also said you were hot! I asked one of my youngish security details what “hot” means, as I am out of touch with such language. Enough of this chit-chat.
I am writing this letter post-haste because I want to make sure you and I are on the same page. I want to share with you some lessons on leadership, which I have honed in my 28 years in power.
I want to prevent our enemies from getting to you with their side of the story first. And believe me they are already on their way to you. Passport or no passport, I am sure that cowboy in the White House will facilitate you-know-who’s entry into Washington soon.
I must say though I am rather frustrated remembering that you won’t be inaugurated until next year! You Americans are a funny breed. What is the point of winning if you don’t claim your prize instantly? Where is the gratification in that? Seriously, some of us can’t wait a whole quarter of a year before we take office. Who knows what strange things they will do to your office in these last few days? Watch and learn; I was inaugurated within 24 hours. My Zambian colleague, President Rupiah Banda bettered that; he was inaugurated in two hours and even better His Excellency Mwai Kibaki did it within 30 minutes flat! There is a Kenyan worth emulating my son.
One of the first things you must do is distance yourself from that lily-livered fellow Luo of yours, Raila Odinga. He just doesn’t think like us good African statesmen. You must change those constitutional rules of yours. A president must quickly take power. Three months is a long time to waste.
It is a great pity that my dear Comrade Eddison Zvobgo, who understood constitution-making so well and who of course knew the American system inside out, died many years ago. I would gladly have sent him over to you. The man was a genius. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have survived in office for this long. The man assumed that he was doing it for himself.
Can you imagine that he actually wanted to remove me from office before the good Lord that I pray to recalls me to his side? The Lord removed him instead.
You are so young; I am envious. You have at least about 40 years ahead of you in office. And if you listen to elders like us, you will stay until the White House is repainted maroon. Start working on fail-safe constitutional changes that will ensure your longevity in office. This business of being “recalled” out of power à la ANC is just totally unacceptable. People must wait their turn. And in some cases accept that their turn will never come.
When you choose your Cabinet ensure absolute loyalty. Plus fear. Look at my lot. None of them dares to say pwe (say a word) as we say in Shona, in my presence.
When they get too clever, demote them, humiliate them. Seal their loyalty with patronage, a soft loan here, and kickbacks there, turn a blind eye to mistakes sometimes. They will stay on side and on message. You may even learn some lessons from your predecessor on how he used the wars he is waging to buy loyalty from those who got contracts. Unluckily you can’t just kill your opponents over there, your laws being what they are, but hey, there’s always a way around these things. Let’s strategize once you settle down.
Now let’s move on to my problem. As I lamented earlier it’s a pity you won’t be in office soon. I need you to weigh in on this so-called crisis in Zimbabwe. As you can see our brother Thabo Mbeki is now out of his depth. So here is what you can do in the meantime. Start talking about Zimbabwe. Remind everyone about the armed struggle that I waged for independence. Then tell them that I am simply here to complete the mission of liberating our people. You, my son, understand history. I don’t need to remind you that both of us have a mission to accomplish. Comrade Obama, you are our new hope. You are the perfect person to make the connections with what I have been championing all along.
I will be happy to organize a celebratory event where you can meet many of my colleagues with whom I share these ideas. Just say when and it shall be done. We can use the event to talk at greater length about how we can work together for our continent’s benefit and I can share more lessons with you.
Please do not hesitate to contact me to chat very soon, because the task ahead of you is a heavy one. Your young shoulders need all the help they can get. Consider me the African father that you didn’t really have for long.
God speed and take care of yourself, my son.
P.S. Your Michelle is “hot” too by the way! I will link Grace up with her so she can share lessons on how to be a beautiful and quiet wife. She needs reining in now. You will have enough problems to deal with in the world. Managing smart, educated women is quite a chore! I had that with Sally. Yikes! As you Americans would say.
To be continued over cucumber sandwiches once you put in a good word for me with Gordon. He seems a more sober fellow than that one named after our local ablutions.
Ghostwritten by Everjoice J Win, a freelance journalist from Zimbabwe.
Disclaimer: Author is a freelance writer, therefore opinions and ideas shared in the above article may not necessarily be those of the staff and management of the Zambian Chronicle. The original text has been modified to fit Zambian Chronicle content and multi-media structure.
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