Inside the mind of Africa Strongman

By John Otim

Such a simple man he was! It was no chance but fate that threw him up. He was rough. He was impatient. He lived his whole life on the physical plane. He was easy to flatter. He was easy to provoke. When provoked he could kill.

He delighted in the art of seduction and barroom brawls. There wasn’t a bar anywhere within the vicinity of a hundred miles that he didn’t know. There he felt at home. And now here he comes. His Excellency General Mahmud Al Harun!  A bundle of raw energy. Obscene in a man so huge.

But here now he comes. Driving his own jeep! crowds roaring, cameras flashing,  grinning from ear to ear, waving furiously. A man full of jest. He ignores the elevators reserved specially for him. He brushes off security, leaves his woman behind, and bounced up the stairs two steps at a time.

         His presence filled the studio. It set everyone on edge. And to newscasters who were about to go on air he gave instructions. His mouthpiece really. Yesterday it was full of praise for the British, for the Americans and the Israelis, now it sang a song full of diatribes:

It berated the British for their hypocrisy.

‘Your time is up man! Get up and go! Your power is gone. Can’t you see. Others will now come and rule you.’ This was years before a young man called Rishi Sunak moved into No 10 Downing Street and set up a Buddhist shrine in a corner of the Prime Minister’s Office.

It railed against the Americans for their vulgarity. This was long before a man named Donald Trump arrived in the White House, gathered hundreds of supporters around him and told them, ‘Go out there and be wild!’ And Lord! they did.

 ‘Simple manners, you don’t have. You think money is everything!’

It kicked against the Israelis for their lack of compassion and their brutality.

‘You think life is all about revenge.  An eye for an eye is a primitive doctrine.’

These were his words. Amplified now by his mouthpiece. The media said he lost his mind. That’s a lie.


         All day long the mouthpiece carried the same message. You heard on the radio and on television. It was like listening to a broken record. Against saboteurs, against Imperialism, against Zionism. The Master’s enemies were legion. He hunted for them. He dealt mercilessly with those he caught.


Alas! That same day. One of his wives was discovered dead! In her own apartment, her throat slit. The mouthpiece said she was a saboteur. As if to prove that she was really dead, television cameras put her dead body on full view.

‘Let this be a lesson to the enemies of the State!’ The Strongman summed up as he entered the mortuary. Hands akimbo he stood over her dead body. His words sounded like he was making a confession.

         His broken English was on radio. His huge bulk was on television. He was on the front pages. People were fed up. But what could the people do?

His white friends called him the sick man of Africa. Although in reality from first to last he was their man. They trained him. They armed him. They made him president. When the masses rose against him, they helped him put it down..

         They did a roaring trade with him that ran into billions. He organized death squads to deal with the opposition. They gave him weapons. They sent him technicians to fix up things. And now they turn a blind eye. 

‘If he kills his own people, that is none of our business!’ amazingly a spokesperson said. Later disowned of course.

Thousands perished. Conservative estimates put the figure at 500,000 dead in five years. He told a rally assembled at the Mountain Capital.

         ‘You cannot run faster than a bullet.’                 

         Casualties mounted by the day.  From the merry land of sunshine, the country became the land of the living dead.