Mohamed Beshir Hamid

H.E.: The Great Victory [1]






[Author’s note: this is the first installment of a trilogy which has a personal background to it. Shortly after the end of the Transitional Period in 1986, the American University in Cairo renewed an offer for me to teach there (originally made before I joined the Transitional Government). But the then Egyptian Ambassador in Khartoum, who had labeled me as anti-Egyptian during his service as Minister of Culture and Information, warned his government against my sojourn in Cairo as constituting a ‘threat to national security’. The Egyptian authorities then refused the residency permit (which was not even required under treaties in effect at the time between the two countries) declaring me a persona non grata and thus blocking my teaching career at the AUC. This humor article was the first in the trilogy lambasting the activities of the Egyptian Embassy in Khartoum at the time.]



His Excellency, the High Commissioner of his country in Khartoum sat in his office Cromer-style, although he probably never heard of Lord Cromer and might even have difficulty spelling his name. But he certainly regarded himself as the Lord High Commissioner. He was surrounded with his top aides, and from the smug expression on his face, he was apparently feeling veryproud of himself.


“You did again, Excellency,” said one of his aides, “you showed themwho is Boss around here. That will teach thema lesson or two.” His Excellency, fingering his prayer-beads, nodded approvingly.


“How did you do it, Excellency?” asked another aide.


“Well, handling such serious matters needs using one’sbrains,” replied the High Commissioner pointing hisfinger to his head and whatever substance itcontained.


Ofcourse, Excellency, you have enough brains to be President of our country,” rejoined another aide.


At that the High Commissioner looked very alarmed. He stood up and shouted, wagging his finger at the aide. “You stupid fool. You should know better than saying such things in front of other people. Any other remark like this end Iwill have you transferred to the Eastern Front. You have beencomplaining about the heat in Khartoum but wait tillyou see what it means to be posted to our Consulate in Siberia.”


The unfortunate aide clasped his hands in desperateappeal and whimpered, “1 go on my knees to begthe forgiveness of Your Excellency. I meant no disrespect to anyone, and no indiscretion.”


His Excellency becalmed himself and satdown. He was wondering if, as the aide had said, he had enough brains to becomePresident. Of course, chewing gum and being able to walk at the same time is a very hazardous exercise, but with enough practice he should be able to do it. After all, he could think of some Presidents whowith intensive efforts were able to masterthe art. Yes, the prospects of the Presidency were within the realm of possibility and even of probability. Given the right circumstances and littlehelp from Providence perhaps … But the High Commissioner quickly dismissed these dangerous thoughts from his mind. You never know, one ofthose present in his office could be a mind-reader.


“By all accounts it was a great victory,” the senior aide was saying, “and the way you handled it was really very neat and decisive. You singlehanded saved our country from subversion and our young students from political contamination.


The High Commissionerthought it might be more appropriateto assume a humbledemeanor. So he said “it wasreally no big deal. All I had todo was to send some reports about this despicable guy, andwhen I went to our country during the summer, I saw toit that his case is dealt with ina way that left him no chanceat all. The plan was perfectand our intelligence peoplewere too intelligent to givehim any means to mount a counter-attack.”


His Excellencypaused and then addedwith a smile, “You know 1have connections in very high places. We didn’t even have to consult the High Command.”


All present nodded in agreement. The senior aide asked, “But Excellency, what if our Great Ally refused or resisted to go along with the plan? After all, the guy was going to teach in one of their institutions and you know our allies never cease talking about human rights, academic freedom, fair play, and all this kind of rubbish.”


The High Commissioner smiled cunningly. “You must be kidding,” he said, “all we had to do was to mention to them that we suspected this guy of being an undercover agent of the ‘Mad Dog’ – and possibly a subscriber to the ideology of the ‘Evil Empire’ and our dear allies were falling all over themselves to give him an unceremonious eviction from their institution.”


“You think of everything, Excellency,” said the aide, “But he still got off rather lightly. A car accident or a case of poisoning would have been the right kind of punishment.”


H.E. The High Commissioner pounded the table with his clenched fist and shouted: “You are absolutely right! After the insolent way in which he responded to my orders he deserved a fate worse than death, like..”  His Excellency couldn’t immediately think of a fate worse than death. He paused, again fingering his prayer-beads.


One of the aides suggested, “Like forcing his Government to send him on a peace mission to Jerusalem?” Luckily for the aide, the High Commissioner did not hear that or perhaps pretended not to have heard it.


“What if his government took some retaliatory action against us?” asked the senior aide.


The High Commissioner leaned back on his seat and spreading his arms said, “What could they do? Any unauthorized move on their part and we would have the Republican Palace surrounded with tanks”.


The senior aide added “we could then, Excellency, issue them an ultimatum to reinstall our Great Friend as President.”


His Excellency expressed his approval of the fine way his senior aide was putting the matter. “These Sudanese only understand the language of force. If we did not treat the Sudan as our Protectorate, then we would have to impose a Camp-David-style accord on them.”


“You are right, Excellency,” said one of the aides, “they lack the basic notions of democracy. They now have  only a Prime Minister as Chief Executive who didn’t even get 99.999% of the vote.”


“What is worse”, said H.E. the High Commissioner, “they no longer have a President like our greatly talented and much lamented Great Friend who for sixteen years tried to teach them the correct notions of democratic rule. Look what they had done to him for his great efforts!”


“Well, Excellency” said the senior aide, “our country is really fortunate to have you here to teach these Sudanese the folly of their undemocratic practices.  After this great victory I bet they are all trembling in that den of subversion called the University of Khartoum Academic Staff Club.” The aide, who was still worried about the possibility of a posting to the Consulate in Siberia, added hastily, “Why don’t we blow up the damned place so that our next Great Friend wouldn’t have to worry about subversion from that quarter in the future?”


H. E. the High Commissioner was thinking of something else. “What concerns me in the present situation is who is next in our hit-list?”


The senior aide said, “well, we have been encountering some difficulties from the present Minister of…” The High Commissioner interrupted him: “No. Not now we will deal with him later. Our basic strategy is to hit the trouble-makers after they leave office. The whole point of our great victory is to remind present and future Sudanese Ministers of what will happen to than if they don’t toe the line. Who else is on the list? And I don’t mean the whole Sudanese people however desirable that may be.”


There was silence in the room and all the aides were scratching their heads thinking deeply. Some left the room and returned carrying huge files. After looking into all the confidential reports one of the aides said, “We have this report on a dangerous subversive type. He goes by the name of Mandela, Nelson Mandela to be exact”. 


H.E. the High Commissioner leaned forward, his eyes glowing with anticipation of another great victory. “Very well done,” he said excitedly, “the name sounds familiar to me. We will also teach him a lesson too. Now, what position did he hold in the Transitional Government of the Sudan?”


SUDAN TIMES 4 November 1986


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