ROBERT MUGABE, PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE, arrives to consult the ORACLE
At the U.S.-Mexico border, 11:35 PM. The VEHICLE has arrived in a Jeep, driven by her friend MARIE AMIE's boyfriend, DAN DOCE. The Jeep's headlights are on, aimed across the border 22 miles west of Calexico. Thus far they are not illuminating anything noteworthy, though the Vehicle thinks she saw a pair of eyes, animal eyes, as they pulled up, and so is nervous, and staying close to the Jeep.
The Vehicle is in a red skirt, with matching flats and a silvery blouse, as Doce promised that they could go out dancing or something afterward and she wanted to be dressed appropriately. These plans are now probably off the table, since Doce is pissed at the world right now, having just gotten some news about his future he didn't care to hear from the Vehicle's vagina, which walks (with assistance) and talks (unexpectedly) and delivers the cold hard truth to anyone brave enough to ask (sometimes reluctantly). Said vagina, purchased and installed by employees of Supralute, of La Mesa, CA (since purchased by the Humbumpa Corporation of Singapore for a song, Supralute's stock price having gone down like Andrew Sullivan on an Abercrombie and Fitch model stuffed full of dollar bills), is now known as the ORACLE.
Only the Oracle actually needs to be here for the meeting. Agents of the Zimbabwean government, acting on behalf of its President and strongman [N.B.: not "dictator"] Robert Mugabe, arranged the meeting with the Oracle by telephone a week ago. However, the Oracle is housed in the body of the Vehicle, so the Vehicle had to come, and the Vehicle doesn't have a way to get to remote locations along the border, so various favors were called in to get Dan Doce to drive her in his remote-location-capable Jeep. DOCE is sulking, and finishing off a bag of Skittles next to the Jeep. The Vehicle is on the U.S. side of the border, looking through the fence toward the Mexican side and hoping very much not to attract any undue attention from Border Patrol agents, or wild animals. Mugabe's agents insisted on the location. It might, the Vehicle is realizing, have been more sensible to actually cross the border into Mexico and go around, as the current arrangement means that everyone is going to have to shout through the fence, which will attract attention if anyone else happens to be nearby. Also the Vehicle doesn't like when the ORACLE shouts: it gives her a queasy sensation like standing too close to a stereo speaker which is throbbing with bass, and she is already slightly motion-sick from the ride here.
Enter Robert Mugabe, on the Mexican side of the border, in a military vehicle borrowed from the Mexican government. His (armed, Mexican) driver stops and turns off the engine.
Mugabe [shouting throughout]: This is hardly the way to begin a meeting. Your attire is most offensive.
Oracle [shouting throughout]: The color red does not have the same connotation here. No insult is intended.
Mugabe: I fail to see –
Oracle: It does not signify sympathy for your political opponents, the Movement for Democratic Change. It signifies, literally, nothing.
Mugabe: And what if I don't believe you?
Oracle: Then you may return to your country without asking your question. Please. There are many changes happening in my own life, many things requiring my attention. Our time is extremely limited.
Mugabe: I have no questions.
Oracle: Then you have wasted our time. But come on, your country is in free-fall. Nearly two million infected by HIV, roughly one in four working-age adults. Two hundred twenty people die of AIDS daily. The median life expectancy has fallen to twenty-seven. Three-quarters of your citizens live in poverty. Malnutrition is widespread, as is violence. Most AIDS patients in your country have family living nearby, often in the same city, but the families abandon victims, do not provide for them, do not visit them, out of fear. Your medical infrastructure is broken: equipment fails, workers leave. Advocates for change in government are beaten and killed. Surely you must have some questions.
Mugabe: I am sure it isn't as bad as you say. Our farming, for example, this year we have an agricultural surplus.
Oracle: That is not true.
Mugabe: I am certain it is. We have declined food assistance from the World Food Program, though we are very grateful for their offer.
Oracle: You forget that I am the Oracle. I have complete knowledge of everything that is happening right now. And I am telling you that you do not have the food with which to feed your people. Many will starve and die.
Mugabe: Dying is a part of life. I do not seek counsel on how to prevent dying. I am not so naïve. You are not God. Only God has power over life and death.
Oracle: Let's talk torture and assassination, then.
Mugabe: I don't think there is torture and assassination in my country. You have some issues with torture yourself, I believe. Zimbabwe has no more torture and murder than any other country.
Oracle: But you do. Most of it by your orders, or the orders of those in power. Leaders of the MDC, assassinated by your orders, for example.
Mugabe: No, no. We are a happy country. We are prosperous. I admit that there is a slight problem with AIDS. I have personally lost family members, cabinet members. But the infection rate is declining already, and we have vast resources dedicated to the problem. Antiretroviral drugs are available, thanks in part to your own United States of America. In June you provided $280,000,000 with which to purchase these drugs. You will save many lives.
Oracle: But that $280,000,000 is only sufficient to treat 10,000 people. You have one hundred eighty times that many patients. What will you do for them?
Mugabe: We will help them, of course. You talk as though because we are an African nation, we must be a third world country. I tell you this is not the case. We thrive. We have a very healthy economy, and a population which cares deeply about the suffering of those with HIV. Our literacy rate is over eighty-five percent, among adults. Does this sound to you like a third-world country?
Oracle: I have met with many politicians. Do you know this?
Mugabe (impatient): Your reputation precedes you, yes.
Oracle: I have met with the heads of state, and heads of business, from many countries. And yet you are the only one who makes me wish that I could weep. [VEHICLE hangs head. DOCE eats another handful of Skittles.] Your denial is so complete, and so encompassing, that you condemn millions of your countrymen to death, in order to sate your ego, and you will do much more damage to your people before you yourself die. Why come here? Why come to me, if you claim there is no problem? Why drag us out into the desert to converse when you have nothing to ask?
Mugabe: I came to see America. To see the land of your so-called freedom, which I have heard so much about. Your problem is that you are thinking white. Why must white people always think white? Always concentrating on the bad things. Always afraid of your terrorists and your boogymen. Always wanting to fix things which are none of your business. Always wanting to stick your white noses into other people's business.
Oracle: It's not so much thinking white as just, you know, thinking. We value the lives of your countrymen more, it would seem, than you do.
Mugabe: You value them? You value them? You are monsters.
Oracle: Well I personally might be a little, I could see the word monstrous, maybe, what with all the recombinant DNA and such, but –
Mugabe: I come to America, to look at it, to see the land which says, oh, we are white, we have all the answers, we can fix your broken country, and I listen to the radio on the way here. Do you know what I heard?
Mugabe: I hear advertisements for food without carbohydrates. I see that man [points to DOCE] eating sugar pellets with no nutritive value. I see you dressed in your shiny red clothing, driving your shiny car, paying money to people to put you on diets and teach you how not to consume so much that you become obese. I hear advertisements for debt relief, for weight loss, for whiter teeth. You value my people? You value life? Then why do you spend money to invade Iraq and kill people, when the same money could buy antiretroviral drugs for all the people you claim have HIV in my country twice over?1 Either you do not believe Zimbabwe suffers as you claim, you look the other way because Zimbabwe is a black nation, or you are all monsters. 'By their fruits, you shall know them.'2 'Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.'3
Mugabe: You think we are starving to death, but someone who promises to teach you how not to eat can become wealthy? What do you do with all your food? No. I say, America says there is no problem, I do not personally experience the problem, my advisers tell me there is no problem, therefore, there is no problem. Take your empty moralizing, your empty threats of catastrophe, your obese hypocritical fear, to someone who still believes that you are good, cunt. I curse your country. I place a curse on your country in the name of God. May you suffer God's punishment as God used to inflict it: slavery for slavery, famine for famine, plague for plague, bomb for bomb. Then we will see whether you have spoken the truth about my country. Then we will see. Don't weep for Zimbabwe. Don't weep for Robert Mugabe.
[VEHICLE looks stricken. DOCE continues to munch Skittles. She walks back to the Jeep.]
DOCE: Hey. About what I said before. If you still want a bottle of water.
[VEHICLE and DOCE get into Jeep and drive away.]
1 Hey, do the math yourself. -J.G.
2 Matthew 7:16.
3 Check out Matthew 25:31-45, and notice that verse 32 implies that the dividing will be done on a national level.
To learn about what Oxfam has been doing to relieve hunger in Zimbabwe recently, or to donate, click here.
Please e-mail Jessi if you have information regarding other charities doing work on famine and/or AIDS in Africa, Zimbabwe in particular.
For more about Mugabe, keeping in mind that he is totally not a dictator: click here. By which point you should have the general idea.
(Story continues at OFFICER SETH ADEUX)