Dec 31 St ‘in Charge’ – Lance Corporal Halidu Giyuwah

September 11, 2010

First, a distant, dull explosion, it seems from another world, and I try to shrug it off. It is midnight and I am half asleep by the time the next thundering sound tells me of something unusual. My senses sharpen and I lay awake, tense, listening. By the time the rapid exchange from a submachine gun echoes through the night, I know that trouble is on its way. Looking out through the windows does not reveal anything, and I continue to count the number of heavy artillery rounds that go down in direction of the Flagstaff house. No one has expected this to come, everyone is surprised. The night continues with the same sounds of heavy gun fire, not close, yet clearly audible. Nobody can find sleep by now, and is trying to receive information through the poor telephone system. Frantic calls are made from residence to residence, to no avail, nobody knows what is going on. The morning brings the first news, house staff coming from their various locations have heard that a Coup d’ Etat against the civilian government is imminent. The same Flight Lieutenant who has handed over to the Civilian government before is the Coup plotter, the fighting raging between the various factions is tough. People are cheering the return of the Flight Lieutenant, he still is the hero of the people, the defender of truth, the protector of the poor. Soon the radio broadcasts the first news and by now the last doubt is laid aside, we are in the middle of a Coup d’Etat. On the second day all is over, the last Ministers have been arrested by the Military and the President has been advised to turn himself in police custody for his personal safety. The constitution is abandoned, once again, and civil rights are non-existent. The second time in two years, a powerful wind blows through the African Nation. Amidst widespread corruption in the government, the voice of justice has spoken. No one can escape the swift spread of retaliation that follows the next days. All party functionaries who have not managed to escape, are being rounded up and sent to military facilities. Detention, interrogation, sentencing is all done in military style, military courts are set up in hastiness. The Army is in control, and, will apply their own justice, and the common people are jubilating. For a few years the party has once again ruled according to their own rules, nepotism, favoritism, hypocrisy and corruption the guiding principle. ———————————- The night before, I have a visitor, Richard, we call him Rich. He always stops by, for a drink or a meal, and he is what one calls a ‘facilitator’, he helps when one needs to go through bureaucratic hurdles, or other problems. He has contacts everywhere and he earns his money this way. He leaves at around 20 hours, no one guesses that he will never come back again. His old VW beetle is leaking from the exhaust, causing excessive noise. Driving though a dangerous city, rebel factions and military still shooting at each other, and runs into a checkpoint , set up half a mile down the road from where I reside. He never hears the shouts : ‘Stop, stop’, his muffler is louder than the voices. A fatal error, the salves of machine gun fire that erupt from behind take their toll, the car losing direction, running into a ditch. The military follows and pulls out his lifeless body. A common occurrence during such days. Rich is no longer, he has become a victim of circumstance, killed by trigger happy soldiers. For in such times, the venturing out on the roads is almost suicidal. ———————————- Next episode : man in charge – Lance corporal Halidu Giyuwah


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