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When The Crocodile Smiles: Chapter 13 - A Precipitous Fall

... The hospital compound was filthy. Garbage was heaped against the wall where he had rested his bike. There were pigs nosing about in the gutters and scrawny chickens picking and pulling at bulging cellophane bags still full of kitchen rubbish. Old syringes lay scattered on the concrete paving, their rusty needles intact. A goat was urinating close to the entrance of the building. The old man went inside. He had expected order, some kind of greeting from someone in authority. He thought he would see spotlessly attired nurses and white coated doctors. This was the picture the Regional Minister had painted. Instead he found chaos. Hundreds of people were jostling and milling around as if in a market. ..

The old man has ridden his bike for four days to bring news of a menigitis outbreak that is killing hundreds of people in his part of Zungula.

Michael Wood continues his brilliantly woven novel set in a fictional country - a horrific, heart-rending, deeply involving story of life for many in present-day Africa.

To read earlier chapters of this unforgettable novel please click on When The Crocodile Smiles in the menu on this page.

Noah was kigeni. A foreign man. However he made it his business to have more than a rudimentary understanding of Zungula’s lingua franca. Now in his mid-fifties he was still poor after a lifetime of struggle to keep his head above water. From the time he was a young man he had been in many awkward situations including all too frequent brushes with hard-nosed policemen, especially in towns across his home country of Nigeria. Unavoidable dealings with corrupt men who were expert at extracting hard earned cash. Curiously, this helped him get by in Dedza prison. Fortunately he was too long in the tooth to appeal to physically stronger sexual predators, those who drove fear into more vulnerable young men and boys after the guards pushed to, and locked the heavy dungeon doors at seven o’clock each night. Noah understood the prime survival tactic was to mind one’s own business as far as possible. A god fearing man, he prayed for those who cried out in the darkness but he found it impossible to intervene.

It was like watching tooled up West Indian thugs robbing a boy traveling alone on the London tube, brazenly taking what didn’t belong to them, confident in the knowledge that no one would offer a challenge. People always pretended nothing was happening. They felt ashamed of their inaction and sorry for the victim but valued their own skin more than the imagined consequences of trying to help.

Noah found other ways of surviving in the stinking new environment he found himself. He arranged to do odd jobs for the guards as a means of currying favour. When prisoners were allowed cramped freedom of the jail’s inner courtyard by day, he polished boots, maintained bicycles, and for those guards who were single, he washed their clothes even if this brought derision from other prisoners who mocked his indulging in women’s work.

Within a few weeks Noah was trusted enough by the guards to be allowed two hours work outside each morning – a rare privilege – on nearby shambas belonging to the uniformed men. He convinced them of his vegetable gardening skills, which until then had never been tested. Soon the carrot, courgette, pumpkin and shu-shu seeds which he was given to plant and care for, were transformed into tender vegetables – valued supplements to the guards’ evening meals. Each day, Noah received a small reward for himself. And ever mindful of the hierarchy within prison walls, he was careful to share this pittance with known trouble makers inside who could otherwise make his life more miserable.

Many weeks after his incarceration, Noah Bamidele wondered whether his carefully written appeal to Sandy Mackelson would result in his liberty. He had promised the fat sergeant five thousand Kwacha if he was released within two months of the letter being delivered. He was confident this was enough of a bribe to ensure that the policeman did as he was asked – even if he realized the agreement would make him still poorer, and would require him to work so much harder in future. It would be difficult if not impossible to earn the money within the time that the sergeant demanded but the obvious first step was to find a way out of prison. Deep down, he feared that the white man – this High Commissioner – would not acknowledge and respond to his plea. Noah was also worried about the welfare of his family. He realized they wouldn’t have fully recovered from the trauma of the storm which had bashed Dombe that terrible night, and obliterated hundreds of ramshackle homes in Chabwele township, including his own. How he wondered, were his wife and children coping without the money he brought in from his trading?

He had good reason to be concerned. Noah’s wife had no idea where he was. When he went away to far off places to buy old artifacts from villages deep in the bush, he had always taken care to tell her about his plans, and to give her an estimate of when he might return home. This time he had simply disappeared. His wife had had no choice but to resort to other means of keeping herself and her children alive.

First she took the youngsters to Dombe’s rubbish dump. This was only a kilometer from Chabwele. She knew there were always food scraps to be found in this place and it therefore attracted dozens of desperate scavenging families. There were also bare-ribbed, mange-ridden dogs competing for anything edible, rats which scurried about, unafraid of their rivals, and hundreds of grey headed gulls which had drifted further inland from Lake Dzalanyama, karrh, karrh-ing in noisy unison. If people were lucky they might find some over ripe fruit or flaccid vegetables discarded from the market, or some stale bread, or even broken biscuits thrown out by the supermarket. There were other bonuses, Noah’s wife realized, such as old clothing and bits of material flung out by those who knew no better. There were rusted sheets of corrugated iron and planks of wood which she could utilize in improving the temporary job she had made of constructing the family’s new shack. There was other debris which she could burn at night to keep herself and the children warm.

However much a lifesaver the dump proved to be in the short term, there was still no money coming in. Noah’s wife therefore changed tack. Now that they were familiar with what they had to do, each day she would dispatch her children to the dump to scratch like skinny chickens amongst the rubbish. There was no way she could allow the older ones to go to school given the family’s circumstances. She in turn began to inhabit Chabwele shebeen – unlicensed grimy bars which catered for the detritus of society. It was not unusual to find men slumped on the ground outside having consumed cheap industrial alcohol in quantities which addled their minds– for in such places, even “shake-shake” was beyond the means of most.

Noah’s wife was realistic. There was no point trying to compete with younger, pretty girls who frequented the better hotels and guest accommodation in Dombe. So she sold herself to the specimens of manhood whom she found nearer to home. The trick was to identify drinkers who could afford the local massed produced chibuku, served by the bucket. She waited until a man had consumed one too many. Then in his stupor, she would take him behind a hut and initiate sex. At first she was nervous and frightened that she might be seen with her clients. She feared she might even be beaten by angry residents. But never discovered, she became increasingly blasé and even began to enjoy this new way of earning a crust. So long as she kept moving from one bar to the next, she invariably found men prepared to indulge. She took the money in advance, little though this was, before hoisting up her chitenge. Mostly it was over in a few minutes.

As planned, her husband had taken Sandy Mackelson’s deposit money for the steam engine nameplates on the basis of a lie – that he had already tracked down their whereabouts, and a contact through whom these precious bits of plating could be appropriated. With a sense of guilt and shame, Noah had sought to make amends by traveling at once to Kintyre. There, he entered the railway sidings at night. He told no one and was given no authorization. No askari had stopped him or challenged his presence. The place was deserted. Emboldened, he followed for a quarter of a mile, two parallel railway tracks, rusted through lack of use, into a huge timber clad building, its windows mainly broken, and one of the enormous doors on the verge of falling from its hinges, these bent with the strain. Although it was dark and he had no lamp or flashlight, in front of him now, he could clearly make out the shape of four ancient steam locomotives, shunted together, two by two.

In the past he had seen such machines from a distance, moving passengers and goods in and around heaving Johannesburg. Now he could only marvel at their staggering size and the engineering which had gone into them. “Ayyee”, he murmered, “white people were clever to bring these things to we Africans. And now we have spoil them.”

He walked to the nearest locomotive, crunching broken glass underfoot. A pair of rock doves, alarmed at his presence, clattered away from where they had chosen to rest in the corrugated tin roofing high above. The ground he noted, was thickly coated with their droppings and so too were the engines. This place hadn’t been set foot in for a very long time. He relaxed in this knowledge. Noah touched one of the enormous iron wheels and imagined the power that would be needed to drive it forward. A half moon outside provided a slither of light, enough to allow him to make better sense of the shapes and shadows around him. Like a fascinated young boy exploring a secret place, he climbed into the cabin of the first steam engine but could only gape without comprehension at the encrusted controls. On the cabin door he could make out the word “Darlington”. Could this have been what the white man sought? If so, both he and Mackelson would be disappointed. Noah could see the word was embossed into the metal, and not removable.

Climbing down from the cabin he carefully traced his way a bit further along the track, running his fingers down half the length of the locomotive’s boiler. Finally with delight, he spotted more lettering about three feet above his head. He had nearly missed it with the accumulation of bird mess on the metal. Noah found an old wooden packing crate a few paces away and dragged this close to the engine. He used it to provide a platform so that he was eye level with what was obviously the engine’s nameplate. He brushed off some of the debris. “Auld Reekie”, it said. He didn’t know what these words meant but he was sure this was what the High Commissioner had wanted him to search for.

Noah realized that the weight of the nameplate would be considerable. It was more than a metre in length and almost half as much in height. It was made from bronze. He began to examine how it was affixed and saw to his dismay that it was studded with rivets. Indeed he would need help with its removal, and probably also the cooperation of someone in authority at the railway yard, just as he had said in his invented story line to Mackelson.

As he jumped down from the wooden crate he thought he heard something above the sound of his own weight hitting the gravel. He crouched low and remained still, his senses fully alert, his heart pumping fast. Dogs! There was no mistaking them. He could hear their throaty threatening growls quite clearly now – even if they were still perhaps sixty or seventy metres distant. Noah knew instinctively that they were homing in on him. Behind them he could hear the encouraging voices of at least two askaris. He knew he was in danger of a mauling if he was discovered like this. He scrambled back to the locomotive cabin, and quickly scaled the little three-rung ladder which provided access. No sooner had he ducked down inside than the dogs burst into the building. They were barking and snarling now and he could hear their paws batting and scratching furiously against the locomotive’s scaly paint work as they jumped up to try and reach their quarry. The askaris were not far behind, the light from their powerful torches directed exactly to his place of hiding.

“Who is there?” one of them shouted menacingly, above the noise of the dogs. Noah realized there was no escape. Reluctantly, he stood up to reveal himself. He could see there were three men. Their dogs were still free and the guards had difficulty making themselves heard above the excited din that the animals were making.

“Come down here now,” one of the guards demanded.

“I am frightened to come with the dog going so,” Noah replied.

The guards were dressed in blue uniforms which bore the name and insignia of Nyanga Security Services. They agreed to restrain the dogs and put them on tethers. Still fearful of attack, Noah asked them to stand back with the salivating brutes. The askaris gave not an inch.

“You will come now now,” their leader said “or we will beat you with these sticks.” At this all three men raised their ndodo (weighted clubs) in a threatening manner. The thought of being struck by the heavy thick knobs of knotted wood, designed to inflict considerable pain, even broken bones, was not appealing. Noah had no alternative but to leave the sanctuary of the cabin. He began to climb down. Immediately the dogs lunged forward. One clamped its teeth into his foot, easily penetrating Madeleine Mackelson’s gift of her husband’s tennis shoes. Noah yelled out more from panic than pain and miraculously hauled himself back up the ladder again, in spite of the powerful dog holding its grip. The beast remained fastened to Noah’s foot, suspended, twisting like an croc with its prey. The askaris watched this performance dispassionately for they had seen these dogs perform many times before. To them, Noah’s predicament was almost routine, inseparable from the ridiculous evening military-style roll call to which they were subjected, or their two hour trudge each day into Kintyre. Finally the men put an end to the performance by beating the dog, not their captive, to the floor. The animals subdued, Noah was then able to come down otherwise unscathed. Within an hour he had been taken on foot to Kintyre’s central police station, where he was charged with conspiracy to steal railway property. His arrest coincided with an already planned transport of remand prisoners. In the company of seven others, he arrived at Dedza after midnight, following a much longer journey than had been Middleton’s – four hours from the former capital. Prisoners were always moved at night, to add fear and dread to the deep uncertainty they already felt about their destination.

* * * * * *

It had taken three grueling days but at last the old man from Dwangwa village had arrived in the regional capital of Bakili. To avoid the worst of the daytime heat he had cycled from dawn until an hour before midday on his rickety Chinese bike – a cheap imitation of the old Raleigh and Rudge machines, but all that was available in Zungula now. Then he would rest under a tree until he could see the sun beginning to lower in the bright blue afternoon sky. That was the time to battle on until dark.

He survived on handouts from strangers. Those who came to his aid were generous given food scarcity in the north, yet he expected this of them, and so had been forthright in asking for assistance, just as he had in Mponde. After all, he was an mzee, he thought, and the old should be afforded a degree of respect. He was also on an important mission. However, the further he travelled from the epicentre of the meningitis outbreak, the more he found it difficult to get people’s attention. They could neither believe he had travelled so far given his advanced years, nor that an unknown illness was killing his kinsmen in such numbers.

“Are you sure?” they would mock. “Why have your people not sent a stronger one? We are thinking that maybe you have had too much chibuku.” They would laugh at him standing there with his bike, its tyres worn bare and the spokes broken, the saddle long ago “upholstered” with rags. Maybe they also thought that the mzee was confused; that he had seen on his travels, corpses from the fighting. The old man knew better. He had to persevere; he must find the man whom one of the surviving elders in Dwangwa had commended.

It had taken only a short time to get within spitting distance of Central Hospital. Bakili was only a small town. There had been two or three road signs directing him past the Action for Disability and Development offices and the empty cattle market on Chitimba Road. From there he proceeded along to the graveyard. Then he knew he was close. It was normal for hospitals to be co-located with a place of burial – since colonial times when the mzungus had been easy prey to the malaria. After due consultation with living relatives, the medical authorities simply moved the dead “over the wall”.

At the graveyard the old man was surprised to see crowds of people attending several funerals simultaneously. Surely they did not have the mysterious illness here as well, he asked himself. Then he remembered the Edze. The other one which was taking people away – especially the young ones. He stopped to gape at one of the ceremonies. From the roadside he could see a pyre stacked high over a plywood coffin. He could also make out the figure lying on top of it. Family, friends and the plain curious surrounded the pyre. There were professional mourners, hired for the occasion. While they wailed and howled their sorrow the old man saw a burning torch being applied to the pyre. It quickly began to blaze. The air was soon filled with both sooty ash and the smell, not of burning flesh, but of incense and eucalyptus. The old man stood fascinated for some time, until eventually the fire began to subside and those paying their respects started to move off. The wailers migrated en masse to an adjacent funeral and their howls started up once more.

He could see the hospital now and was disinclined to jump back onto his bike. His bottom was sore from the long journey and the skin of his crutch was chapped. It was better to walk. He wheeled the bike into the hospital compound and rested it against a wall. Already the old man had raised an eyebrow. He remembered the Regional Minister visiting Dwangwa many years ago and saying that everyone had to be paying more in the taxes. When the elders asked why, that man who had come in the big Land Rover Discovery had said it was to help pay for the new hospital which everyone could use and have for free. The Big Man had said that there would be new machines from America to help cure the river blindness and other illnesses whose medical names the mzee did not comprehend; there would be supplies of drugs for the coughing disease; there would be a special place – “more clean than in your dirty villages” he had said – for women to have their babies; there would be a man who could give new teeth. The old man ran a finger through the wreckage of his own mouth and wondered how this treatment had eluded him.

The hospital compound was filthy. Garbage was heaped against the wall where he had rested his bike. There were pigs nosing about in the gutters and scrawny chickens picking and pulling at bulging cellophane bags still full of kitchen rubbish. Old syringes lay scattered on the concrete paving, their rusty needles intact. A goat was urinating close to the entrance of the building. The old man went inside. He had expected order, some kind of greeting from someone in authority. He thought he would see spotlessly attired nurses and white coated doctors. This was the picture the Regional Minister had painted. Instead he found chaos. Hundreds of people were jostling and milling around as if in a market.

He passed a ward which was swarming with those attending to their sick relatives. In fact he thought, they must have been living in the hospital. For there was no room to move given their numbers and accompanying paraphernalia. Every space was occupied. Women had even set up their charcoal cookers on the floor and were preparing nsima for themselves and the patients. The sick were lying two or three to a bed; others were underneath the beds. Some lay motionless with dull lifeless eyes. Many with horrible, unattended gaping wounds, groaned with pain. There was little sign of hospital staff. The reek of urine and faeces invaded the old man’s nostrils and made him gag.

He wandered bewildered through the maze of corridors. Then he came to a store room set into the wall. Above it he could see a sign which said “Pharmacy”. A young woman was sitting on a stool inside reading a magazine which had glossy lipped white women on the front cover. Behind her were a number of near empty shelves containing a few little bottles of liquid and what he assumed to be packets of medicine. The old man tapped on the window separating the young woman from the corridor. She slid it open and put out her hand as if expecting something. “Where is your slip?” she said peremptorily. The old man was confused and simply stared. She shrugged and closed the window again. But the mzee was not so easily deterred. He knocked on the window a second time. The woman was less than pleased to be disturbed from her reading again.

“If you come without a slip, how do you expect me to give you something from this ples?”

“Please,” he replied calmly “I am wanting Dr Michael. Can you tell me where I am finding him?”

“There is no such peson,” she said testily, and snapped the window shut for the last time. The visitor continued his search, asking here and there about Dr Michael but no one seemed to have heard of him. Maybe he had gone back to the land where the white people came from. To Europe, or was it America? He thought it was one of the two but was not quite sure where most of them lived.

In the hubbub of the crowded corridor, he allowed his mind to drift back to a time when he was a younger man. It was odd how the memory played such tricks, connecting apparently disparate events. He was sitting under a tree one evening with a girl whom he admired. She had come up from Kintyre for a few days to see her family, but after only a year away she was already quite changed. More confident certainly, but also now rather scathing of village traditions. The old man could not even remember her name but she had been beautiful in his opinion and he had even kissed her that evening. Her remembered as if it was yesterday. As they sat with their backs against the trunk of that tree, they saw a light moving across the night’s starry sky. The light was blinking on and off. Then his girlfriend had said something which he thought was ridiculous at the time.

“Do you see that light? It is a big thing called an aeroplane.”

“What is that?” he had asked.

“Ayyee. It is wonderful. It is like a big rolly which move white people up and down so. It has four engine to lift it in the air and then the passanejar hold tight until they come to England.”

The old man had not believed her, but since that evening with the girl whom he would like to have married, he had seen the moving lights many times and had tried to imagine what it must be like sitting in a lorry which flew from one land to another.

He had been moving around the hospital for an hour or more and was now quite lost and very tired. Then a woman came up to him and spoke. At first he didn’t recognise her but of course, he then realised, it was that one from the Pharmacy.

“I am sorry if I was rude before, bambo,” she said with more respect, “but I am thinking it might be Dr Huxley that you are looking for. He is also calling himself a Michael. Maybe I can show you his office.”

The two negotiated their way along the dirty corridor, stepping over people who were sitting or lying in the congested walkways. At last, there was the doctor’s office. A sign on the door proclaimed “Pediatrician”. They knocked and went inside. No one was there. The pharmacist suggested he take a seat and wait until the doctor returned. Alone, the old man gazed around at the posters on Michael Huxley’s office wall. There were messages about the Edze and others about those rubber sheaths which he knew white people put on their penises to stop the babies coming; even now some Zungulans were using them, he thought. There were also pictures showing child birth and breast feeding, and washing hands. There were magnified images of things that looked like insects in childrens’ hair.

The old man stood up and shuffled over to Michael’s desk. Suddenly he let out a yelp of exclamation and gawked at a grey plastic box in open mouthed disbelief. It was like the communal television he had seen in the village one time, brought by a visiting NGO. But it could not have been a TV as there was a thing like a typewriter attached to it. Inside it he could see some fish. Little ones with bright yellow and blue stripes just like those he had often pulled from the crystal waters of Lake Dzalanyama. There were bigger fish too which looked hungry and voracious, though obviously too small to harm him. There was a noise of gurgling water coming from the box, and air bubbles were rising to the top, but he could not see how the doctor had put the fish inside. Like Noah Bamidele, the old man had an unshakeable belief that white people were very clever to do such things.

When Michael Huxley entered his office some time later, the old man was asleep in the chair. He woke with a start but was pleased to see that the doctor was quite friendly. The two men shook hands in the African style.

“Now then. What is your name?” Michael asked with typical warmth.

“I am Fostinho Benedicto” the old man replied.

Michael was studying his diary and could not find an entry. Discretely he was taking in his visitor who looked weary, unwashed, hungry and thirsty. Michael offered the man a glass of water.

“How can I help you Fostinho?”

“Sah, I have come these last four days from Dwangwa,” he said, gulping down the tepid liquid. “My friends gave me your name and said you were the only one who can be helping us. We are all dying, God help us. And in Mponde as well so.” Michael’s attention was immediately focused. “First they go with pains in the head, and then come the fever and sickening. Young and old. There are too many, Doctor Michael. The illness is all over where I am coming from.”

Michael Huxley knew instinctively the old man was describing the symptoms of meningococcal meningitis. Those bastards in Dombe had still not reacted to the early warning signs. Now they seemed to have another major problem on their hands – of crisis proportions it seemed. He lifted the telephone and dialed Beauty Musajakawa’s number.

* * * * * *

Matthews Chihana had ambitions beyond running the Grain Marketing Board. However he had never been interested in politics. That was too uncertain a business, he thought. Only the very top men could feast like crocodiles on every opportunity which came their way. They took bribes and back handers, they stole aid supplies and sold these to the watu. They wanted a cut from every contract let to foreign companies. But junior politicians were merely cogs in the chain, yes men whose prospects for making big money were slim. Chihana preferred the back stage; a relatively low profile. He owned two businesses, both of which were operated by hired managers. The first was an import-export agency through which he was able to smuggle into Zungula, capital goods that were in high demand from those at the pinnacle of the social pyramid – TVs, DVD players, small generators to help cope with the constant power cuts, and refrigerators. Only nominal “fees” were paid to a contact in the Customs Department. The merchandise was then quickly sold on to Asian traders, making his company an effortless and very handsome profit. His second more modest money-spinner was an up-market brothel. Clients paid in foreign currency – dollars, pounds and euros. Chihana made occasional surprise visits to the establishment, to check that the Madame was not creaming off any profits. The money he had received from Joe Tembo for the part he played in the Kenya grain sale would allow him to expand the import-export enterprise. He was in Kintyre for a few days, ostensibly on GMB business, to push forward his vision for the enlarged company. Naturally Chihana had used the opportunity to stay at the whore house. There were pleasurable duties to perform. The Madame was always bringing in new blood to keep clients entertained. Chihana insisted he should be part of the recruitment and vetting process. When the mood took him, he tested the performance of new girls personally. That evening he was locked in combat with one such inmate – a long-legged harlot from Kinshasa who clearly enjoyed her work. Chihana had just begun to stoke the fire when there was an urgent knock on the locked bedroom door.

“What is it?” he called, maintaining his rhythm and causing the bed head to knock against the wall with each thrust. It was the Madame.

“There is another Congolese who has just arrived and I am thinking you want to have her also before she starts her weking.”

What an appealing idea, Chihana thought. “Why not?” he called. “I seem to be in exceptionally good form this evening.” He instructed his sultry bed mate to unlock and let the new girl in. He watched the sway of the girl’s lovely hips as she slunk over to the door. She turned the key with more than a hint of disappointment that her lovemaking was now to be interrupted by an interloper; that she would have to share Matthews with another.

Suddenly the door burst open. Five or six young men pushed their way into the room, their intentions clearly threatening. The Congolese girl began to scream hysterically. She was roughly shunted aside. The men had no interest in her. Chihana was their target. He was almost speechless with surprise and had no time to attempt an escape. Heavy ndodos rained down on him, applied systematically to his naked body; every expert blow aimed carefully to avoid his head, for their instructions had been specific – to ensure Chihana had a complete appreciation of his fate. The harlot whimpered in the corner of the room, covering her breasts, as she watched the beating progress.

Matthews was brave in the beginning and tried to fight back – in vain. Soon the weight of the clubs broke his ribs and his shoulder blades. He begged for help but none came. Now, the men mercilessly smashed his knees and crippled his legs. His cries were sickening. These thugs made the IRA look like amateurs. Not a drop of blood was spilled. One man came forward and stuffed a gag into their victim’s mouth and sealed it with several rounds of silvery masking tape wrapped tightly around the head. Matthews was then hauled out of the room and toppled downstairs. The Madame and the Congolese girl watched through a window as the gangsters brazenly emerged from the front entrance of the building. Matthews was flung like a carcass into the back of a Toyota Hilux pick-up filled with builders’ rubble. The five men climbed aboard and the vehicle sped away.

A mile out of town the driver stopped. His accomplices jumped down from the bakkie. In spite of his agonizing pain, Chihana remained conscious. He had wet himself in obvious terror and because his innards were damaged. Why was this happening to him? What had he done? What did they want with him? He could see the men had produced an enormous white sack from the front of the car. Still capable of rational thought, he wondered about the words “HM Diplomatic Service” stenciled on one side – it was a British High Commission courier bag acquired from God knows where. The ruffians pulled him to the ground, kicked him in the face for good measure and then hauled the bag over his head and torso. Matthews tried to cry out but it was impossible. He could only emit a series of horribly muffled grunts and gurgles.

The Youth Brigade – Party henchmen who would do the President’s bidding for the equivalent of a few beers and a couple of t-shirts, now threw Chihana back to the ground. They added some heavy rubble to the squirming contents of the sack and then tied it firmly with hemp. They dragged poor Matthews Chihana to a bailey bridge a few metres away. Three of them hoisted him with difficulty on top of the iron railing and then let him slip over the side. He sank immediately into the deep, dark, swirling water of the Marimba River, twelve feet below the bridge.

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