“Today I did my share in building the nation,” accounts a Permanent Secretary’s driver in Henry Barlow’s poem Building the Nation. He then narrates how he drove the PS to an “important urgent function” that is, to a luncheon at the Vic.
The menu reflected its importance: cold Bell Beer and small talk. Fried chicken and niceties. Wine to cover the hollowness of the laughs and coffee to keep the PS awake on his return journey.
While being driven back, the PS yawned many times at the back of the car. To keep awake, he asked the driver:
“Did you have any lunch friend?”
The driver, amused more than annoyed at this belated concern replied that he had none, but was slimming.
“Mwananchi, I too had none, I attended to matters of state: highly delicate diplomatic duties, you know. Friend, it goes against my grains and causes me stomach ulcers and wind,” lamented the PS.
Two nation builders arrived home that evening with terrible stomach pains, as a result of building the nation, different ways.
What things are urgent and important for Africa? Are the so called “highly delicate diplomatic” functions doing Africa any good? Is Africa’s remedy big sounding words or down to earth approaches? Who is building the nation? Be the judge. Welcome!
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