Raisedon Baya and Chrisopher Mlalazi: The Crocodile of Zambezi
“The year of fear”
A prison. Outside his cell a man can be seen walking about. His name is I. He picks a jerry can, gets some water and waters a pot plant. A prison guard can be seen keeping guard outside. He is heavily armed. The guard walks with a limp. His face is unfriendly. The prisoner and guard don’t look at each other though they are very much aware of each other’s presence. A cock crows from a distance. Once. Twice. A new day has begun. A siren wails from within the complex. The man coughs. The cough is severe. He spits. The guard also spits, away from the prisoner. I looks old, exhausted and worn out. He sits down. Another bout of coughing attacks him.
I: Prison is a form of sanction
Against flesh and the soul
It is not a place to seek truth
But a place to die a thousands deaths
It is not a place to be born in
Certainly not a place to dream about.
I’ve been here since independence
Prison garb and shaven head
Four cracking walls and a cold floor
My name a mere number
Purposeless tasks my daily routine
Made lonelier by rules against singing and talking
I am here
I have been here
I will always be here
Because my name is Conscience
And will not allow or watch
My people’s honor and dignity
Kicked and trampled.
My name is Conscience.
A railway station platform. The train is parked on the platform. There is commotion. Ribbons of different colours and placards with “Happy Birthday His Excellency” decorate the platform. The place is dimly lit. A police man in full uniform, baton stick in hand, gun visible in its holster, handcuffs dangling from his belt, paces about, inspecting the platform. The train whistles, once and then twice. It is ready to go. I, now in white clothes appears running. He looks exhausted. His pot plant is still held in his hand.
[I is refused entry to the Crocodile’s birthday train. A POET then tries to gain entry; the GUARD also bars his way.]
GUARD 2: (chuckling) I’m sorry but the list says in big bold black letters:
NO POETS, NO WRITERS, NO STORY TELLERS, NO JOURNALISTS WORKING FOR THE FOREIGN MEDIA, NO GAYS OR LESBIANS, AND NO MEMBERS OF THE OPPOSITION OR REPRESENTATIVES OF CIVIC GROUPS MEDDLING IN POLITICS. I think that’s clear enough.
POET: But why bar artists?
GUARD 2: They are big mouths for one, and shameless.