[the gangster-style atmosphere of this piece seemed appropriate at the time in describing a political scene characterized by gangster-like relations between the three main political protagonists: the Umma Party of Sadiq al-Mahdi, the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) of Mohamed Osman al-Merqani and the National Islamic Front(NIF) of Hassan al-turabi]
I Don Ossamario il Morgosino, chief of the Catimoro clan and patron of its established Family (the Democratic Unionista Partito), being of sound health (so far) and sane mind (so they tell me), hereby write this testimony to be kept hidden in a safe place so that no one will ever lay eyes on it until someone can make me an offer I can (safely) refuse, or until I go (God forbid) into the deep freeze, whichever happens first.
This testimony bears witness to what many might consider the shabby way in which my Family had been DUPed. May I hasten to add that in revealing this rather sordid affair I am breaking no law of Omerta (deadly silence) and so no curse of the Costa Nostra (the powers that are) can be invoked against me.
First, let me make one thing clear. In making this sacred testimony, I am in no way whatsoever complaining about the Machiavellian, double-faced, creeping, abominable, stealthily and mean actions of my past, present and maybe (hopefully?) future partner, the most honourable Don Sadi (‘Big Mouth’) il Matti of the Ummarta family (no relation to Omerta, deadly or otherwise).
Having stated this, and before going any further, let me restructure my testimony. (My Family had been doing very well in the reconstruction before the other Mafioso began to muscle their way into our turf). My restructuring concerns the troubled nature of my relationship with Don il Matti since we went into partnership way back in April1986. This was after the self-proclaimed Capo of all Capos, the dreaded Don Tutela (‘the Imam’) Nomario was surprisingly (to us) liquidated by the small unprofessional gang of the Alleanza per la Savezza della Patria.
Don Sadl il Matti arranged with me to move into the vacant territory after easily shoving aside the inexperienced Alleanza gang.
“We will be equal partners, Don Morgosino” Don Sadi assured me. But he soon began a series of pushover operations. The first victim was one of my young lieutenants by the name of Joe Abborira. Some black market Mafioso of the Matti clan took him for a walk from which he never returned. How I grieved for Abborira! He was outspoken and rash, yes, but he was a brave and young soul. My consigliore (chief aide) Scerifo (‘The Indian’) Zaino wept like a baby and then went into hiding claiming that the Mattis would be gunning after him. I decided to break up my partnership with the Ummarata Family. I went to see Don il Matti.
“Don Sadi il Matti” I said to him, “you put a very unsocial hit contract on my man Abborira.”
Don il Matti interupted me saying: “so what? Pick any of my men and put a social contract on him. You can start by taking solo (‘Hot Temper’) Salami for a walk if you want to.”
I didn’t want to take anyone for a walk. I couldn’t stand the sight of blood.
“You see, Don Morgosino” Don Sadi was saying, “You can have a tit for tat if you like it that way. I liked your Abborira. It was not personal but strictly business that he was eliminated. He was a bit overzealous. I ask you as a reasonable man, what was he doing trying to control the ports and block all the smuggled stuff and disrupting our supply lines and market operations? Your own people would have suffered too from his unnecessary meddling. Besides, he couldn’t sniff cocaine without sneezing’.”
I was silent. Don il Matti kept on talking. I realized why they nicknamed him ‘Big Mouth’. He could talk you out of your last shirt. He smiled benevolently at me and said, “Don Morgosino, I will make you an offer you can’t refuse.”
Suddenly I was all ears and he must have seen the look of eager anticipation on my face for he smiled in his usual sly manner and said, “If you forget about Abborira, God rest his soul, I will…” He whispered into my ear (the right one) something which the harsh laws of Omerta forbid me from revealing.
I went back to the waiting chiefs of my Family. “If you find the body of Abborira,” I told them, “give him a decent burial and forget about the whole affair. I have struck a new deal with Don Sadi il Matti.’!
Things went smoothly for a while. Don il Matti was always courteous when we met. And he was right about Abborira. Some of the contraband merchants in my own Family did indeed want him out of the way.
Then there was the sordid affair when one of my top operatives was bugged while trying to shake down a foreign businessman for half a million pounds. Don il Matti laughingly referred to my implicated aide as “the walking cassette” and jokingly asked why he didn’t ask for a million pounds. But I knew he could use the tape to blackmail my Family so I kept my mouth shut.
At about the same time a member of my family was forced to make a voluntary retirement from the Grand Council of the Costa Nostra. I nominated as a replacement one of the old-guard of the Family by the name of Amado (‘Sidi Sadino’) Ammadore. Word came to me that Don il Matti wanted to see me.
“Look, Don Morgosino,” he said to me, “we can’t have your nominee. He was associated with the Mayo clan of the hated fugitive Don Tutelo (the Imam) Nomario.” I could see nothing wrong in that. Don il Matti explained that as a result of that association my nominee had acquired the stigma of “Sadinism” (an incurable disease). He suggested that we appoint someone “nazionale” (of a healthy character). I said that I would have to consult with members of my family. But before I could get home I heard over the car radio that Don il Matti had already appointed an obscure gangster to the seat of the Grand Council.
Naturally my Family was furious. “He can’t keep on treating us like that,” said my consigliore Scerifo il Bindi, who had reappeared from hiding. He did his hair-splitting bit and disappeared again. The Family took a vote and decided that the partnership with the Urnmarta Family be dissolved.
“You can’t do that,” Don il Matti shouted when I told him the grave news, “You will be forcing me to take up partnership with Don Assasino (‘Lucky Monsignor’) il Turbo, and you know how I hate him. That crafty fanatic will have all of us excommunicated unless we subscribe to his cult rituals.” I knew that the Monsignor has the habit of taking his victims to the confessional before making them ‘give up the ghost’ (rest in peace).
But I told Don il Matti that he could do what he liked but he wouldn’t have me to kick around anymore.
“Look, Don Morgosino” Sadi said to me in his charming manner, “I know you are upset and I don’t blame you. I will make it up to you by making you an offer you can’t refuse.” He leaned over and whispered into my ear (the left one) something which the binding laws of Omerta forbid me from revealing.
“Everything is all right,” I told my assembled Family when I got home, “forget about Amado. The Don had just made me a new offer I couldn’t refuse.” My consigliore Scerifo,who miraculously materialized from nowhere, went into one of his usual fits crying that if I kept on giving in to Don il Mati I would soon find no place to hang my turban on. He cleared his nose and disappeared again.
Cordial relations with the Ummarta Family did not last for long. Don Sadi summoned me one day to say that he had prepared a policy statement for the Assembly of the Families.
“What is it about?” I asked.
Don il Matti was evasive. “You know, Don Morgosino,” he said, “things are getting a bit out of hand and we need more control and discipline. I want to reorganize the whole affairs of the Costa Nostra, with your help, of course.” He paused and added slowly, “I need an open-ended contract to get things done.”
“What kind of contract is that?” I asked.
“There are all kinds of contracts” he said his eyes uneasily shifting, “social contracts, charter contracts, hit contracts, mandated contracts. The most preferable are, of course, the mandated ones.”
I did not like the idea of all these contracts. I had the uneasy feeling that any one of them could be placed on my head.
I told Don il Matti that with all due respect (of course) I had no option but to oppose his policy statement.
The whole of my Family cheered when I told them of my irrevocable resolve to stand up to the Ummarta Family once and for all. My consigliore who mysteriously emerged from his disappearing act gave a fiery speech proclaiming that our soldiers were immediately to ‘take to the mattresses’ (prepare for all-out gang warfare).
News came to me that Don il Matti was having secret talks with Don Assasino (‘Lucky Monsignor’) il Turbo. I countered by making contacts with the small ‘Sicilian’ (Southern) gangs. The lines of battle were drawn. Our tactics would be directly oppositional.
Then to my utter surprise Don il Matti came to see me. “Don Morgosino,” he said in a conciliatory manner, “what is this I hear about your soldiers going to the mattresses? I never wanted things to come to this.” I didn’t answer and he continued, “I know you are angry because I have been seeing Don il Turbo. But that has been strictly family (with a small ‘f’) business. As you know, we are related by a marriage of inconvenience. Besides, Monsignor Assasino il Turbo is not a bad sort really. He has his religious peculiarities but so do we all deep in our hearts.”
Don if Matti lowered his voice and chuckled, “but when it comes to the nitty-gritty he is as sharp a shark as any in the business.”
I didn’t need to be reminded that the specialty of the good Monsignor was loan-sharking. I didn’t even mention that the Monsignor, who was a special consigliore (adviser) to the deposed Don of the Mayo clan, was supposed to be afflicted with the now seemingly curable disease of ‘Sadinism’.
Don il Matti has a short memory indeed. But he was still talking.
“Let me put it this way, Don Morgosino,” he was saying, “The three of us must form a Costa Nostra Nazionale. Otherwise that upstart renegade, the self-styled Joe Gringo of the Poplo liberazione Movimento operating in our southern turf can come and pick up the pieces after we exhaust each other fighting. Or, worse still, the corrupt cops under our pay can seize the opportunity to milk the town dry while we languish in Koper prison – if we are that lucky.” ·
Don if Matti kept on talking. After a while I couldn’t hear a word he was saying. I could see his lips opening and closing in rapid movements, his tongue darting in all directions and a sound like the rattle of a snake emitting from his mouth. Then I thought I heard the word “offer” and he must have seen the gleaming glint in my eyes. For he stopped and smiled cunningly, “Yes,” he said, “I will make you an offer you simply can’t refuse.”
He leaned forwards and whispered into my ears (both left and right) something which the strict orders of Omerta forbid me from revealing
SUDAN TIMES SUNDAY APRIL 24 1988