When at last the Father of the Nation arrived for Independence Day celebrations, no earlier than 3:28 in the afternoon, the citizens, congregated at the Jidada Square since morning, had had it with waiting; they could’ve razed the whole of Jidada with their frustration alone, that is, if Jidada had been any other place. But the land of farm animals wasn’t any other place, it was Jidada, yes, tholukuthi Jidada with a -da and another -da, and just remembering this simple fact was enough to make most of the animals keep their feelings inside like intestines. the fierce sun, said by those who know about things to have been part of His Excellency’s cheerleading squad by decree, had been up glaring since midmorning, doling out forceful rays for a ruler whose reign was nearing all of —not one, not two, not three, but four solid decades.
The Jidada Party regalia worn by most of the animals for the occasion—jackets and shirts and skirts and hats and scarves in various colors of the flag of the nation, many of the articles embossed with the face of His Excellency—trapped with the sun’s terrible heat and made the wait even more unbearable. But not all of the animals were going to stand for the torturous wait—some indeed started to leave, grumbling about having work and things to do, about places to go to, about the leaders of other lands who arrived at things right on time like God’s infallible machete. These disgruntled animals started as just a smattering—two pigs, a cat, and a goose—but the faction very quickly grew to a respectable mass, and, emboldened by both their number and the sound of their own voices, the dissidents headed for the exit.
At the gate the group found themselves face-to-face with Jidada Defenders, tholukuthi the dogs appropriately armed with batons, ropes, clubs, tear-gas canisters, shields, guns, and such typical weapons of defending. It was a known fact all over the nation and beyond its borders that Jidada Defenders were by nature violent, morbid beasts, but it was especially the presence of the notorious Commander Jambanja, distinguishable in his signature white bandana, that made the dissenters promptly turn around and retrace their steps, miserable tails between their legs.
ENTER THE FATHER OF THE NATION: THE RULER WHOSE REIGN IS LONGER THAN THE NINE LIFE SPANS OF A HUNDRED CATS. ALSO THE LONGEST-SERVING LEADING IN A CONTINENT OF LONG-SERVING LEADERS, AND INDEED IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD.
Now His Excellency’s car wove its way through the throngs with the slowness of a hearse, and the animals fell over themselves like intoxicates frogs, hoping to catch a glimpse of the legendary Father of the Nation. At this point the sun, upon seeing arrive the leader who was decreed by God himself to rule and rule and keep ruling, a leader who’s in turn decreed the very sun to head his cheerleading squad, took a deep, deep breath and throroughtly blazed to impress. A select group of dignitaries—all mals, most of them old—accompanied His Excellency on hind legs. Accompanying the accompanying dignitaries were decorated Defender leaders in military gear, colorful embroidered ropes cinched at the waist, caps pulled low, shiny constellations of medals glinting on solid chests, star insignias bouncing off the shoulders, white gloves on front paws; these were the generals, tholukuthi the true lynchpin of His Excellency’s rule. Throughout the square, animals whipped out their phones and gadgets to take pictures and videos of the procession of power.
BEHOLD, HIM, YES, THOLUKUTHI HIM AND ONLY HIM HIMSELF. THE ANOINTED ONE. THE ONLY ONE. THE SUPREME ONE. THE MOST MAGNIFICENT ONE.
From GLORY by NoViolet Bulawayo, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2022 by NoViolet Bulawayo.