Kalaki’s Korner: A Wonderful CV

Caton cliveBy Roy Clark

It was a warm afternoon in the village of Baluba. The men were dozing in the nsaka, and the women were away working in their fields. Suddenly children began to skip and dance and shout, pointing to a rising cloud of dust on the horizon. A vehicle was approaching!

          How could this be? There was no by-election. Perhaps some tourists were lost? They were still wondering when the Pajero drove into the village and stopped at the nsaka. Out stepped a man in a striped suit and tie, and started to shake hands with everybody. ‘Who are you?’ they asked. ‘Where have you come from? Are you a minister?’
          ‘I am much more important than that,’ he replied. ‘I am Clever Chiwa, the son you sent away to get educated. I have come back to visit my village.’
          ‘Ah ha,’ said one grizzly old mudala, ‘that was many moons ago, before the year of the locusts.’
          ‘Yes,’ said another, ‘So what have you brought back for us? Will you build a new church? A new road? A new school?’
          ‘Much more than that!’ said Chiwa, making a grand expansive gesture toward the horizon.
          And so, within the hour, after the indunas had been disentangled from their conjugal duties with their younger wives, and the Chief had been roused from a drunken slumber, the Indaba was ready to meet their long lost son.
          ‘My son,’ began the Chief, ‘It is thirty years we have been waiting for you to come back to this village, to reap our reward from our investment in your education. We are now assembled to hear what you have brought us.’
          Dramatically Chiwa pulled out his pocket a bundle of papers. ‘Here,’ he cried, ‘I have brought you my CV!’
          ‘Your See Vee!’ shouted the Chief, ‘What’s that! I wanted a Tee Vee!’
          ‘A CV is much better,’ explained Chiwa. ‘CV stands for Celebrated Victories! It lists all the marvelous things I have done in my life!’
          ‘Oh Dear,’ said the Chief sadly. ‘Things like failing to come home for your own mother’s funeral. Anyway, please read this See Vee to us because we have forgotten our spectacles.’
          ‘It would take too long to read it all,’ Chiwa apologized, ‘because my enormous accomplishments are so many. But suffice it to say that I have a doctorate in the anatomy of a cow…’
          ‘He could have stayed here to study the cow,’ muttered one of the indunas.
          ‘… and I am a Distinguished Professor in the Engineering of Stress Release Patterns in the Vertebrae of Bovine Species at the University of Donald Duck in Disneyland!’
          ‘Have you ever worked for a living?’ wondered the Chief.
          ‘Like all geniuses,’ said Chiwa, ‘My brilliant mind is in much demand. Currently I am the Royal Controller of Cattle in England, with special responsibilities to supply the Queen of England with prime-cut beef for all Royal Feasts!’
          Now at last the Chief’s interest began to perk up. ‘Then you could become my Royal Controller of Cattle?’
          ‘Indeed I could,’ agreed Chiwa. ‘Then at last I shall be able to use my incredible skills to develop my country. You must stop using your herd as a mere bank for capital, and instead begin cattle farming for a profit. And for that job, you have found the best man in the world. Congratulations!’
          And so that the villagers in Baluba began their three-year programme of building the sort of mansion which would be necessary to accommodate a man of such social distinction and global accomplishment. In the meantime Chiwa set up his house and office in Lusaka and began drawing up the contracts to establish a modern cattle ranching business in Baluba, involving the import of tractors, bailing machines, sileage plant, pasture grass, barbed wire, and so on. All to be supplied by Chiwa Agriculural Supplies Ltd, of Brixton, England.
          So every week the Chief sent a lorry load of 20 head of cattle to Lusaka, to raise the cash for the investment in this very profitable exercise. In fact Chiwa was so busy with drawing up the strategic plan, and acquiring inputs, that six months passed without him again finding time to return to Baluba.
          Then one day the children began dancing, and singing Bwana Chiwa, Bwana Chiwa, Bwana Chiwa. But out of the Landcruiser stepped a different gentleman in a black suit and black trilby hat. ‘I am Bee Jay Phiri’ he announced, ‘I left this village thirty years ago, but now I have returned to develop it!’ So, of course, this returnee was also taken to see the Chief and all his indunas.
          ‘I hope you’ve brought some money to invest.’ said the Chief.
          ‘Much better than money,’ laughed Phiri, ‘I have three degrees in aeronautical engineering from the University of Kermit in Muppetland!’
          ‘We already have a brilliant development manager,’ replied the Chief. ‘A man by the name of Clever Chiwa.’
          ‘I know Chiwa,’ said Phiri, ‘I met him once in Brixton. He was running a small butchery in Brick Lane.’
          ‘I’m told,’ said the Chief, ‘that he supplied beef to the Queen of England.’
          ‘That’s right,’ said Phiri. ‘That was the name of pub next door.’
          ‘Well,’ said the Chief grimly, ‘What’s your big idea?’
          ‘It’s a stroke of genius,’ admitted Phiri. ‘Just sell off all your cattle to buy an aeroplane, flatten the maize fields to make an airport, establish Baluba International Airlines, and we’ll all be rich!’
          ‘Isn’t it marvelous,’ said one of the indunas, ‘at last we have these young men returning home to help develop their own motherland.’