The other Wednesday I was reading The Daily Times, one of the two main dailies in Malawi. The techno-junkie that I’m, I flipped through the first few pages in a mad rush to read Computer Cross Talk, Marshall John Mdeza’s weekly column. Boy, wasn’t I shocked! According to Marshall, and I’ve no reason to doubt he had marshalled all his facts correctly, I was a wanted man way back in 2003. Apparently, whole editors were out looking for me.

You bet, I’m flattered. But shocked, nevertheless.

In fact, I’m so shocked I can’t write. Luckily, a friend of mine, Bakili Muluzi says he has something to say to you. So as I scamper off to the Capital Hotel bar for some chemotherapy in the form of a cold Carlsberg Light, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls and everyone in between, here is…Dr Bakili Muluzi, the former President of the Republic of Malawi…

                                                                                                                                ***

My name is Dr Eleson Bakili Muluzi, the former President of the Republic of Malawi.  But as you’re probably aware, I’m not overly fond of my first name.

My enemies have sullied that name just to score some cheap political points. Do they think I wouldn’t have managed to wow Annie had I not given myself an extra six Pounds pay cheque? Don’t they know that in the 60s being a court clerk in a rural area was on its own enough attraction.

Be that as it may, I prefer to be known simply as Dr Bakili Muluzi. And at this particular point in time, I should add, I’m one very amazed Dr Bakili Muluzi. Yes, I’m surprised that an insignificant number of misguided Malawians are making noise about the budget, or rather the lack thereof, let me hasten to add. Imagine a few foolish ones are even leaving their spouses for days on end to camp at the War Memorial in Lilongwe.

For what?

You see, budgeting and me have always belonged to opposing parties. I remember before I became president, many of my cheques, some of them as small as K2,000, would boomerang to me with the words “Return to Drawer” inscribed on them in red ink. What cheek. Who told them I was an artist specialising  in drawing cheques?

Anyway, the point is, I used to give away too many cheques. But bankers, an uncharitable lot that they are, didn’t appreciate my philanthropy. So they would bounce some of them. With hidden political agendas, of course. Otherwise, how did some of those cheques end up decorating the front pages of the country’s newspapers?

 

Unluckily for them, I still became the chief custodian of the nation’s coffers.

When that happened  budgets became even more irrelevant and bankers more accommodating. Not that they had a choice. After all, I had the phone numbers of everyone with keys to the state’s cash vaults.

But I digress. What I wanted to tell you is that I don’t care about the government budget. After all, what benefit do I derive out of it? As you know, they’re only giving me a seven figure monthly allowance to subsist on. Yet month in, month out, I’ve to pay the Mpasus of this world and thousands of other hangers-on.

What they also seem not to get into their tiny government brain is that even men like me, men who don’t rely on Viagra, can’t operate on charm and reputation alone. We need constant cash transfusions to worm our way into the skirts of beautiful women. Now if they give me a pittance like some beggar from Kapoloma, how do they expect me to survive? Start raping?

Which reminds me. I hate child rapists, perhaps even more than I hate my successor Bingu Wamtharika. I can’t understand why a whole man would want to rape a child. Why not its mother?

But again I digress. What I was saying is that the allowance the tight-fisted government gives me isn’t enough for me to be doling out 50s to my troupes of praise singers. You may recall that in my hay days, I would give out envelopes of crisp new 50s. But with the alms I now get, it’s hard for me to continue conjuring illusions of wealth for my praise singers.  What the government doesn’t realise is that by depriving me, they’re also denying their own poor citizens their once in a life-time shots at virtual wealth. Never mind the fact that these poor Malawians have pitifully short life times.

Did I mention the word virtual? It’s an interesting word that, with lots of interesting possibilities. It’s one word that, with a more techno savvy crop of advisors, would’ve opened doors to untold wealth. I would be totally independent of this joke of an allowance.

Yes, I would’ve been rich because I would’ve patented virtual reality.  I invented it.

Oh, yes!

My enemies think that when I was a tenant at State House the only thing I used to do was surf sports channels on DSTV. Rubbish! Fosteki! Once in a while I would do some thinking, too. And these thoughts would’ve nothing to do with images of naked women or newly minted money.

How else would I’ve conceived virtual reality? OK, let me be truthful for once. I borrowed the idea from the paymasters in my education ministry who used to have thousands of virtual teachers who they faithfully paid in real money every month. What's more, these virtual teachers received real pensions when they retired.

Having seen the possibilities this idea offered, I commandeered and perfected it. That’s how I came up with the brilliant idea of giving my poor teachers and policemen around the country, virtual wage increments. That’s how I gave every poor Malawian a pair of virtual Italian shoes.

I built virtual hospitals as well as virtual schools all over the country. And to demonstrate that real life and virtual reality can co-exist, each one of these virtual schools had real brick-and-mortar wall fences. Stroke of genius that, eh?

Heh, I even gave my people in Chitipa and Karonga a virtual highway to link the two districts. The country was literally littered with donor funded virtual projects.

Did I get credit for it?

No! Instead there was a donor outcry. And a few misguided Malawians called me all sorts of names, including long ones like kleptomaniac. By the way, I used to love that name until Willie Zingani…or was it Ken Lipenga?...spelt out what it actually meant.

Yet again I digress. It’s virtual reality we’re talking about. And, of course, the opportunities I lost by not patenting the idea. Today there are such whole virtual worlds such as Second Life (http://secondlife.com), There (http://www.there.com) and Active Worlds (http://activeworlds.com). And I can't sue them for breach of patent.

What a loss!

I understand these days there’s a scramble for virtual property on Second Life. As a politician I’ve told many lies in my life. In my first life, so to speak. But believe me, people are paying real money to acquire virtual property. Ironically, even the donor countries that used to raise eyebrows at my virtual projects are now spending thousands of dollars opening virtual embassies on Second Life. I’m told even real life for-profit entities are setting up virtual shops in the make-believe world and virtual currency is being exchanged for real green ones.

Wow! If only I had the foresight, I would be laughing all the way to an offshore bank. Most likely Bill Gates would be my neighbour. Or better still, Bill Clinton. At least we’ve one thing in common with Bill. Lesser men call it a weakness. A weakness?

In any case, I would be so far from Malawi, I wouldn’t have to be force-fed all this nonsense about an unpassed budget. Not only that, I wouldn’t be living this nightmare of every few months having to pack an overnight bag because of rumours that I’m about to be hauled to prison for spending real money on virtual projects.

It seems technology has passed this government by. But let them arrest me. With no DSTV and only ugly women prison warders to feast my eyes on, I’m sure I can come up with other ideas in time for my next tenancy at State House.

Oh, yes!


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12/01/2010 16:42

He who looks outside dreams, he who looks inside awakens!

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