18 August 2009

The Phiri Deception II

Click here for the story so far....

...or enjoy the abstract... errr i mean summary...

A high-tech spy / assassin type movie is being shot in Zambia. The plot is that the government is using an assassin called Tembo to kill one of their former agents, M. Phiri. Phiri has been spotted at Milky Lane in Manda Hill and Tembo rushes there to locate him...

Malcolm Phiri gets his regular vanilla cone with chocolate dip. As always the chocolate doesn't cool fast enough and drips on his hand. He licks it off, chocolate is chocolate, doesn't matter where you get it from. He walks out and proceeds to the Game store. Seeing the Barclays ATM reminds him that he only has 40 pin on him. Petrol for two days will leave no change from that. So he stands in the queue and gets to the ATM. Puts his card in and wonders if he'll ever see it again... The ATM informs him politely that there are no advice slips available. Hopefully there's some cash available. Luckily a mix of newly minted 50- and 20,000 bills come out of the machine... and the card pops out too. Malcolm wonders why it always feels like winning the slots in Vegas when this process goes well.

In the meantime Tembo rushes up the stairs by O'Hagens. The smell of fresh shepherd's pie brings him back to the days when he was dined by benefactors. And then those happy memories are obliterated as he runs into a cloud of smoke. The usual 'young gun' crowd is hanging out by the stairs, puffing on their cancer sticks. Coughing, Tembo makes it through the smoke and gets obstructed by the tables that line the stores. The crowds at this time... and it looks like - in addition to every flavour of food - every flavour of human in Lusaka is at Manda Hill. Pushing through the crowd, Tembo makes it to the outside of Milky Lane. Phiri could be anywhere. Using all of his police skills, Tembo spots a free chair amid the melee and sits in it. All these people... rushing past... they don't know that the future of the country depends on Phiri being eliminated.

Phiri walks to his friend's car that he's borrowing for some time. Phiri's own car was hit from behind and is doing the requisite time at a body shop just opposite Arrackan Barracks on Burma Road. The place looked shady, but that was all the 'accidenter' could afford. It was either this shop or drive around with a big dent in the car and let the other guy go to jail for a couple of hours until he bribed himself out, or pulled some strings. At least the perpetrator had offered to wait around while they fixed the car. Apparently he'd left his car unattended at the shop before and... well... it wound up missing a few mirrors and the odd alternator or so when he got back. The garage fixes things but they don't do security.

Malcolm gets into the borrowed car and starts to reverse, braking centimetres from a car that was about to hit him. He uses the 'minibus' technique to join the stream of cars passing by, inching a little more and more until the cars coming have to swerve. Bastards still won't stop. Eventually he moves just enough to where the silver Land Cruiser bearing down on him feared rolling over when it swerved and stopped. Success! Phiri sets off on the long wait to the Manda Hill gates. Why don't these guys build a couple more entries and exits from this place ? Oh yeah... they didn't get planning permission. Probably didn't fill the forms out in triplicate at the City Council, or made someone angry. After a lifetime of moving forward, he finally gets to the lights. A lady stands by his car asking for money... he refuses and she moves on. A youngster tries the same... for mealie meal, he says. The smell of glue wafts over Phiri. This young man could be working instead of begging, there are so many jobs now with the minibuses but this glue sniffing addiction has made him lose all his self-respect. The light changes, finally, and Phiri turns on to Great East Road going towards Addis Ababa, the road, not the city. "When will our people stop having to beg?" he thinks. Maybe it's a national illness... this culture of aid. Maybe Dambisa Moyo makes a lot of sense. It took Rozalla to remind us that everybody's free to feel good... and it takes a Moyo to come along and tell us the freedom is not free.

To be continued...

Click here for Part I of the Phiri Deception....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

... and then?