01.09.2004 Feature Article

Letter from The President: Bodyguards and Maids

Letter from The President: Bodyguards and Maids
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Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, I am very much ashamed of my Interior Minister. But I don't know what to do to him. You know he's very rich and he contributes a lot to our party's campaign and I fear that if I sack him, the party will lose his money. He also can behave like a loose cannon sometimes, saying things he needs not say. I know you know about all those things that have happened in his household. For those of you who don't know, I wouldn't mind taking on the unpleasant task of telling you about the shameful incident involving the minister's bodyguard and his maid. It happened that a ring went missing in the Ministers house. All the accusing fingers pointed in the direction of the maid and all the tongues in the household started wagging and spitting on her. After an intensive round of interrogations, the minister's bodyguard allegedly decided to employ Abu Ghraib methods to set the girl's tongue loose in order for her to confess to a crime she insisted she had not committed. The bodyguard, did not tie the maid to a leash as happened in the famous jail in Baghdad but he allegedly used all the 'macho' strength he had acquired over the years to beat the girl senseless. The story goes on and on and on but it gets even more interesting because Manhack, my Interior Minister, went on radio to dismiss the maid's allegations that she was beaten up by the bodyguard.

I don't want to bore you with the details of the scandal in the Minister's house because for me it is too shameful. At face value, one will be tempted to think that it is a domestic affair and that if I try to intervene in anyway, it will be a blatant attempt on my part to take on more excellent powers than I am due. But I feel a strong urge to intervene. At least if I can't sack Manhack, I should be able to say something about what has happened.

The incident in Manhack's house raises two important issues in my mind. First, is the issue of bodyguards and the purposes they purport to serve. How useful are these ministerial bodyguards. From afar, you might think they provide an important service for the ministers. As far as I am concerned the use of police constables and sergeants as ministerial bodyguards is one of the most nonsensical practices among politicians in Sikaman today. Let's do some mathematics here. You know there are about 200 ministers, deputy ministers and special assistants in Sikaman today. Each of these, ministers and deputies has a bodyguard. That means that we have about 200 able-bodied police officers following ministers around – pretending to be offering protection to our so-called honourables. These police officers could make themselves more useful by patrolling streets and keeping an eye out for people with evil intentions. They can even be more useful just sitting idle in police stations, attending to crime victims or doing nothing. If you speak to any of the very honest ministerial bodyguards, they will tell that they are tired of being bodyguards. Why? Because being a bodyguard is not really about protecting the 'honourable'. It's all about being his errand boy – carrying his briefcase, opening the door to his car for him, putting his speech on the pulpit and standing behind him like a log and watching him rumble nonsense, one function after another.

Sometimes, the bodyguard becomes the intermediary between the minister and his numerous university/SSS concubines. The bodyguards are also used send signals to all you ordinary citizens that the minister is more important than you are – yes, of course, he has one whole police officer to himself whiles many of you can't even get an officer to take down your complaints in the village police station.

Bodyguards do not guard anybody. I can bet my last pesewa that any assassin can 'waste' a minister without any challenge from the bodyguard. And the bodyguards know it – they know that most of the time, they are utterly useless. That's why, perhaps, Manhack's bodyguard did not waste time when he got the opportunity to show the poor maid “where power lies”, that is if the allegations against him are true.

I hate to see bodyguards standing behind me when I am reading my boring speeches and I even hate the sight more when the bodyguard is standing behind a minister. It's such a silly African sight. I watch CNN and BBC news quite a lot. The most hated world leaders appear almost daily on these channels. Take the Bushman and Ariel (not the detergent) for example. These are men who have made it their business to acquire as many international enemies as they can. Yet, they deliver fiery, provocative speeches without any bodyguards standing behind them. Yet, very few will dare to assassinate them. To my small, fickle mind, VIP security is best when it is covert but it crumbles very easily when it is so overly public that the very people who are supposed to be providing security for the VIP are reduced to file-carriers and maid-beaters.

So instead of unnecessarily defending his bodyguard, Manhack should let the law take its course. As Interior Minister, he should know better. He should make sure that reports about both the jewelry theft and the assault are properly investigated. He should shut his beak and interfere, only to ensure that the right thing is done.

The second issue of concern to me is the manner people recruit and maltreat maids in this country. It's almost like the slave trade. I am very much aware that people go to the villages to 'purchase' children, who are brought down into the big cities to work as househelps – maids, cooks, messengers, cleaners etc. Since times are so hard and parents cannot adequately cater for their kids, they have no choice than to let go of their dear kids – selling them off into slavery. But the matter does not end there. Househelps are generally a miserable lot. Most of them are often abused with their human rights trampled upon with such impunity. The girls amongst them are worse off – they get raped by he-goats who appear in public as responsible men. I will need to write a full letter to you on this subject of househelps. For now, all am saying is that I expected Manhack, being the Interior Minister – responsible for keeping everyone in Sikaman safe and secured – to act quickly on what happened in his house. He should have ensured adequate investigation into the allegation of assault on the maid instead of jumping to the defence of his not-so useful bodyguard. As you are well aware, I am a man who believes that nothing happens for nothing. Everything happens for a purpose. Perhaps, the incident in Manhack's house is a wake up call for all of us to seriously consider the uselessness of bodyguards and do away with them once and for all. In my next letter, I will tell you about how Manhack could redeem his image by promoting the rights of Sikaman househelps.

Excellently yours,

J. A. Fukuor

[email protected]

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