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In the Kingdom of WakaBanana, all hail King Cyril the Ditherer!

In the Kingdom of WakaBanana, all hail King Cyril the Ditherer!
Photo: Leon Neal / Getty Images. Graphic: Vecteezy

Choosing a new council of noble backstabbers to help him reign this cursed kingdom was just so distressful.

In the magical, mythical Kingdom of WakaBanana (affectionately known to the common people as WakaFakaTapa), King Cyril the Boneless faced some hard decisions.

It was that time of the year when, his ceremonial duties having been concluded, auguries pronounced and various other forms of royal magic performed, he had to reorganise the King’s Council.

All that dressing up in ermine and wearing of the Heavy Crown had taken its toll on King Cyril, but it was just a prelude to the real task – a task that made the crown feel yet heavier, even when it wasn’t on his head.

He had to work out how the political powers had shuffled themselves around since his last Calling of the King’s Council. And he had to work out a new arrangement of members of the nobility to serve as his advisers and executors. This was done, theoretically at least, to help him run the Kingdom of WakaBanana.

Realistically, however, it was done to reward supporters, sideline opponents, dispense with the dispensable and appease competing factions among the noisy, arrogant, backstabbing bunch of nobles who existed (again, theoretically) to do the work of this great God-given monarchy – and that glorious monarchy had only one purpose: to serve the people of WakaBanana.

Part of the difficulty lay in the fact that the kingdom was having a very bad time, you might say a catastrophic time, and a great number of serious issues had to be dealt with. Pestilence had swept through the land, then floods, then more floods, and the whole country was already battered by decades of decline and, well, simple messing about by those supposed to succour the nation in its hour of need. “Those” being the government of WakaBanana, in fact – a thought King Cyril determinedly tried to hide away in the furthest recesses of his mind.

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There were great curses placed on the land, possibly by malign foreign wizards, though nobody really knew – the curse of the climate, which included the aforementioned floods, and the apparent curse of the temples. This was causing the Great Temple of Eskom, a central site of national devotion, to crumble and fall. The Temple of Prasa was already ruined, its priests howling in the wilderness.

So, which of those preening, chattering, bickering, self-serving aristocrats would really be able to help the king run this land and save it from collapse and anarchy?

The trusted three

Gathered with King Cyril the Boneless in a chilly corner of the royal palace were his closest advisers, the very few he could truly trust while he wielded the Sceptre of State, as they liked to put it in the PR department.

His trusted advisers were three, and they were known as the Right Hand of the King, the Left Hand of the King, and the Other Hand of the King.

For simplicity’s sake, the chroniclers of old refer to these three key figures, respectively, as Gog, Magog and Cheryl – the latter used in a non-gender-specific way, of course.

They were in the midst of a careful consideration of who could perhaps be got rid of, by way of a first step in this process to reform the King’s Council. Space needed to be made for the new and the fresh, younger people who could come with new ideas, new energy.

What to do with the Dowager Duchess Endeezee? Also known to her devoted cult members as Nkosazana, she was an ancient but apparently deathless lady, fit as a fiddle and solid as a rock, or perhaps it was the other way around.

She, of course, and all her clan and cult, would like to see King Cyril in his tomb, but they had to cling to what power they had and pretend to serve his government while biding their time or undermining him from within.

“Put her in charge of the whole darn mess,” suggested Magog. “She can be the Minister of Disasters!”

“Excellent idea,” said Gog. “And when it all goes to shit she’ll be blamed.”

“Well,” said Magog, “there’s not really much hope of that. I mean, she’s been in charge of local government for years, and in that time local government has declined from bad to worse. She had a big plan to bring it all together, I seem to recall, but in fact municipalities are collapsing left, right and centre.”

“That is true. Okay, great,” said Cheryl, “so Nkosazana is the Minister of Disasters. Tee hee.”

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“Okay, moving on,” said King Cyril. “Such a pity we can’t put old Baron Gweedy out to pasture. He really is the most useless, obstructive old fart…”

Baron Gweedy, known to both friends and enemies as Baron Harkonnen, was in charge of the mines of MinuthTenPerthent, which fed the coffers of the king, or fed them what was left after the baron had handed out a few percentages here and there. This made him very hard to displace. He essentially had the government of King Cyril by the throat.


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His ardent followers called him by the nickname Samson, believing him to be extraordinarily strong, even though he had no hair to speak of. Some feared, perhaps, that like Samson he would bring down the whole temple or edifice with his bare hands, but that was a risk they were willing to take.

“Really nothing we can do there,” said Gog. “No,” chorused the others mournfully. They’d just have to let Baron Harkonnen get fatter. “Nothing we can do.”

“What about the Great Warrior Thandi Modise?”

She was in charge of the army, the air force and the navy, though these were barely functional. They had just been on some exhibitionist manoeuvres with the armed forces of allied nations, in particular the Grand Genocidal Dukedom of Muscovy and the Great Empire of Beijingaling, in the hope that these leading nations would come to the assistance of the Kingdom of WakaBanana in its hour of need – Beijingaling might be able to rebuild the railways, say, and Muscovy could perhaps smuggle in some illegal but much-needed diesel.

“No,” said Magog with a sigh. “You remember she went to Muscovy last year and came back with the latest cyborg technology implanted all over her body? She’s not really human any more, and we can’t offend Muscovy by firing her, can we?”

“No, we can’t,” said King Cyril mournfully. “Nothing we do must offend Muscovy. We’re terrified of Muscovy. I can’t remember why, but we are, aren’t we?”

“Yes, we are,” said Gog. “So she stays. And, for the same reason, so does Plenipotentiary Pandor, because she’s so good at pandoring to the narcissistic needs of the genocidal dukedom. Look at how nicely she licked the bum of Ambassador Lebedebedev.”

“Yes, that was a sterling job,” said King Cyril. “I hope that Muscovy is very pleased with the Kingdom of WakaBanana right now. I certainly did my bit, soft-soaping that murderous tyrant the Grand Duke.”

“Yes, indeed, a great job, your majesty,” said Magog. “But we have to find some room in this King’s Council, and we have to do that by ridding ourselves of the dead wood…”

“Indeed,” said Cheryl. “Can we perhaps look at the water and sanitation portfolio? Sir Senzo is in charge of that, and now we have a water crisis as well as a sewage crisis. In fact, all our clean water will soon dry up and the land will all be covered in piles of shit and wet rags of toilet paper.”

“Not his fault,” said King Cyril. “I blame his predecessors, particularly that useless bigmouth, Nomvula. And we will forestall that disaster,” he said, his voice rising into the register of determination and leadership. “I will appoint a minister of sewage and a project manager of water and they will sort it out chop-chop!”

“May I remind you, your majesty,” said Cheryl, “that the term ‘chop-chop’ is now deemed Sinophobic? Perhaps I could draft a note to your speechwriters?”

“Ah, yes, thanks for that,” said the king. “Please go ahead. I’m glad – that’s a sign of progress. And we’re not making much progress with this new King’s Council, are we?”

“No,” said Magog. “But progress is always slow.

“Now, what about the Princess Lindiwe?”

“Aargh,” cried King Cyril, clasping his head with a dramatic gesture. “Suddenly I feel terribly, terribly ill…” (To be continued) DM168

Shaun de Waal is a writer and editor.

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25.

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