11th of April

To:

The First Citizen, Humble Comrade Bolongo

From:

His Excellency, President for Life,

Supreme Field Marshall, Doctor Erugegeaye Amin the First,

Conqueror of the People’s Economic Woes

and Eternal Defender of the Final Revolution.

I write this letter to you, my dear friend, hoping it meets you in good health. I apologise for missing the celebrations for your fortieth anniversary in power. I am still recovering from the injuries that rodent inflicted on me during his failed ambush on my convoy last month. Thank goodness for bullet-proof cars.

I tell you, my friend, these rebels grow more difficult with every passing year. I thought after the last public executions they’d give up their mad craving for power. Alas, that is not the case. It tires me. I would not admit it to anyone but you, my closest friend. Do they not know I rule for them? Who else can lead the country as I can? Let them tell me, who else?

If not for my new wife, I would have lost it. Your daughter outdoes herself. And her teachers tell me she is the cleverest in the school and, possibly, the country. I might consider allowing her to go to university. But how would I survive without her? My other wives hold no interest to me. If that rodent doesn’t kill me, surely they’d be the ones to. Do you know what it is like acquiring Gucci bags for eleven women when you’re faced with international sanctions? After our last diplomat was caught trying to sneak luxury goods in, we’ve not been able to use that method anymore and are yet to find a new route. And then there’s money.

Yes, my friend, I’ve been reduced to worrying about money. It is days like these I think of my first finance minister. That man could work wonders! Truth be told, when I seized power I had no idea how to run an economy (and still don’t, hee-hee) but he stepped in and took control of the whole thing. All I had to say was, “X, come, your worthy leader needs a million-kwi.” Before I blink, the bundles would be arranged in front of me. Ah! Those were the days. Remember? I was the darling of everyone; these same people called me their messiah. Now, the Justice minister tells me spitting on my posters has become a thing. But he also assures me that when trialled, the people caught have been found to be mentally incompetent. It is a pity that that finance minister became too popular and had to go. Without your suggestion to accuse him of planning a coup, who knows what would have happened to the nation if the fool had supplanted me? Still, the idiots I have for finance ministers now keep shouting, “No money! No money!” I tell them, “Print more money! It’s my face on it, after all! How hard can it be?”

The present one is the worst. He’s telling me to privatise. Privatise? How can I privatise the People’s property? God forbid! I’d have to replace him soon. I should wait till next year, though. He’s the third to occupy the post this year. I’m beginning to have trouble remembering their names.

My friend, I tell you the past ten years have been hard for me. I see why you said it would be the most challenging. Nevertheless, I will persevere! Perhaps, I should commission a new monument of national unity? The other day, walking on the balcony at my Hilltop Villa, I realised I have failed my people. How can their leader have gold-plated cars while the public statues are done in plain concrete? At the last unveiling I did, I noticed how drab the statue looked and the designer told me it was because it was done in concrete. What do you think?

And that insect across the border, what should I do about him? He irritates me daily, even more than the rodent! He’s their darling now. Why? He says he would step down from office next year. Hmm, let’s wait until then. Do you know what he did the other day? He moved a motion to have me blacklisted during the annual meeting of the head of states of the continent. In my presence! I assembled my generals immediately. I planned to launch a full-scale attack on his country to teach him to shut his mouth, but Khalim reminded me the army is still being restructured after that continental armed forces debacle (the one where they slandered us with accusations of fielding under-aged and improperly trained soldiers, remember?).

Do you even remember Khalim? General Khalim? The one who has been with me from the beginning? I know you two have been communicating in recent times. Your daughter informed me. I hope you become friends. I can’t overstate his usefulness in my life. Everybody respects him. When I talk and they move their feet sluggishly, all he has to do is stare at them and they jump. And he’s a true patriot, that man. Yesterday, I overheard him talking to a group of soldiers. “Friends, hold on, the time of tribulation would soon be over!” And when I walked into the room, you should have seen how modest he was, denying his words. I should give him another medal. Maybe, a Gold Star for services rendered to the state.

Speaking of gold, I apologise for the delay in the latest shipment. That rodent—you see how he keeps coming up?—has been attacking the mines. You’d think the country with the largest reserve of minerals in the world would be able to shrug off disruptions caused by a ragtag band? I’m surrounded by incompetents. I might take your daughter’s suggestion and insist appointed ministers are vetted first. But we would need a legislature in place for that.

Ah, my friend, that your daughter! My new wife has strange ideas. At night, in bed, she tells me we should leave everything and run away to the Caribbean to live normal lives. She cares deeply for me, but she is a strange one. Who would take care of the people? But, my friend, I was saddened when I found out you had a falling out with her. Is it the obsession with democracy? You should know it is an age thing. Remember, no one less than my prestigious self thought it was the way to go once. Give it time, it’ll pass. I hope when next I visit, I can reconcile you both. And hopefully, the doors to your home are wide enough.

I’ve had to have them expand the ones in mine. I’ve been having difficulty passing through them. I cannot begin to describe how distressing it is for my entourage to come to a halt and wait for their leader to squeeze himself through doors.

Look at me. I intended to write congratulating you and I’ve been talking about myself. Congratulations, my friend. You must write a book detailing how you’ve managed to stay in power for so long.

Hold on, I can hear gunshots. It must be rats again. The capital is suffering from a rat infestation, and the presidential palace is not spared. I’ve told them to show no mercy in executing them.

Till we see again.

Yours in power,

His Excellency, President for Life,

Supreme Field Marshall,

Doctor Erugegeaye Amin the First,

Conqueror of the People’s Economic Woes

and Eternal Defender of the Final Revolution.


Olamiju Isaac Adekunmi is a final year student in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Lagos, Nigeria. He is an avid reader and enjoys long walks during which he contemplates the deep abiding mystery of human existence, or so he claims. When he isn’t bent over a book deliberating biochemical pathways or sentence structures, he volunteers for the Red Cross. His essays and short fiction have appeared in Kalahari Review and Sub-Saharan Magazine.


This piece was originally published by Brittle Paper.

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