28 September 2008

The Phiri Deception

I can just imagine if some kinda hi-tech assasin / spy movie was to be shot in Zambia. It would go something like this:

The government have set up an agency of trained killers. The killers are supposed to get their info by mobile phone. Now, the agency wants to kill one of their former officers M Phiri. Phiri has been spotted by an agency operative who is cleverly disguised as a street kid. The operative pulls out his mobile phone and takes a photo of Phiri. Now he sends it via MMS to Tembo... or at least tries to. Telecel, Celtel, Zain, or whatever that phone company is called today pops up with a message saying that's not possible. So our intrepid street kid uploads the photo to flickr by going on the internet and SMS's Tembo the URL. This is the signal for Tembo to track down and kill Phiri. Tembo is on the MTN network. He tries to get to the URL. MTN says, "connection error." Tembo cancels, tries again. His phone asks him for permission to go on the internet. He allows it. MTN doesn't... internet busy. Tembo SMS's the street kid for a location. He'll get the photo on the go when MTN comes back up again.

Tembo gets the message. Phiri was spotted outside Manda Hill. He runs to his trusty Toyota Corolla and starts it up. The car doesn't start. No fuel. Since petrol prices had shot up to K9500 per litre (about 3 dollars) the department used up its quota in the first two weeks. Tembo curses and jumps out. He flags down a blue minibus. Sensing his desperation, the conductor charges him 15 pin to go the two kilometres to the Manda Hill stop. On the way the MTN finally works and Tembo gets to the flickr photo page. The photo starts loading. Tembo sees a bold head... and then the phone gets stuck. MTN disconnected. So Tembo starts his Opera mini again... this time he sees Phiri's photo.

The bus hits the normal congestion at the Zain intersection just before Manda Hill. A million people want to turn into that place and there's only one lane, so it takes about half an hour. The bus finally drops Tembo off at Manda Hill. He quickly turns his head and scans for Phiri. Phiri is nowhere to be seen. So Tembo calls the street kid. Trial one: All circuits are busy... please try your call later. Trial two: engaged. Trial three: the phone rings. Street kid says he saw Phiri go into Milky Lane. Tembo races across the street amidst the normal cacophony of horns blaring and brakes squealing.

...to be continued...

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