Chapter 18: Independence Day
Greetings, my fellow Zubukians! I intended to address you today from the balcony of Government House. Unfortunately, current circumstances preclude that, so I must ask you to accept this television broadcast as a substitute. When I finish speaking here, I shall try to make my way to Revolution Square and review the annual parade of our magnificent Republican Guard, after the insurg ... er ... merrymakers now occupying that holiest of grounds have, entirely of their own free will, dispersed. I am informed that this will be within an hour.
For all of us, this is a solemn day, yet also a joyous one. Solemn because it gives us the opportunity to commune on a national basis, feeling ourselves at one with our ancestors, and joyous because it was exactly twenty years ago that we threw off the yoke of colonialism. Further, it is nineteen years to the day since the events took place which resulted in my becoming Prime Minister and, three weeks later, President of our beloved country.
I am deeply conscious of the heavy burdens placed upon me by the simultaneous holding of the two highest offices of our state, the more so as there is nobody who will, or can, lift them from me. I fear that I shall not be able to relinquish these duties this side of the grave. We live in troubled times. Everywhere in the world there is disorder, and we cannot insulate ourselves. There is no denying that we have our problems. Even in my own party, the National Alliance for Zubukian Integration, there has been unrest and, it must be admitted, corruption. Many of you will recall that only seventeen short years ago, I was obliged to dismiss the ministers of finance, home affairs, foreign relations and transport. Having no suitable replacements, I was forced to assume their portfolios myself- – yet more responsibilities that I shall, however reluctantly, be required to discharge for the rest of my days.
Why shall I not be able to cast off these millstones? I think you know. During the post-colonial disturbances, every party but my own in our hallowed land simply disintegrated, vanishing virtually overnight. It was left to us alone to carry the inextinguishable torch of democracy. True, there was an attempt made recently to form a viable opposition. To my deepest chagrin, that effort failed. I was greatly distressed by the collapse of the Alternative Progressive Enlightenment- – the APE -party.
Feelings ran high at the time, and the prevailing mood affected me as much as anyone. I cannot look back without a sense of deep sorrow at my last words to the leader of the aspirant rival organisation. I merely intended to convey my admiration of the man as, so to speak, the dominant male in his movement. It was regrettable that I referred to him as the chief ape. Also, my remark was ill-timed, coming as it did two hours before the untimely and, I emphasise, totally accidental demise of that fine young statesman. May his soul forgive me.
The unfortunate disappearance of the APE party was not the last of our troubles. Even now there are elements in our revered homeland intent upon fomenting strife. Indeed, it is for this reason that I speak now from the National Security Compound, surrounded by three- – yes, three- – concentric perimeter fences of four-metre-high electrified wire. I ask you to remember that fact, though the last thing I want is to be separated from you by the defences of a totally impregnable fortress. My dearest wish is to be among you, wringing your ... hands. Yes, my friends, your hands.
Our former colonial masters claimed to have left us with a working governmental system. I spit upon their assertion. If they had made adequate provision before their departure, why were we compelled to discard their arrangements? We even had to change the name of our country. The colonists left us with what? I will remind you. The stark and unimaginative Zubukia. With our modernisation plan, we changed that in less than two years to the People”s Democratic Republic of Zubukia, or PDRZ. Can anyone doubt that this is more appropriate to our status in the world?