Chilly King Cyril warmed by thoughts of Dr Nandi in the absence of magic beams from Eskom

Chilly King Cyril warmed by thoughts of Dr Nandi in the absence of magic beams from Eskom
Illustration generated by Midjourney.

The lady’s cunning – and her pretty face, of course – get the Boneless more energised than Eskom ever could.

  • This is satire

That morning, King Cyril the Boneless, who ruled over the falling-apart Kingdom of WakaBanana, had a short jog that left him slightly breathless, a hot shower and a hearty breakfast ahead of the meeting with his trusted trio of confidantes.

This trio, which had not only the ear of the king but access to other external organs, was made up of the Right Hand of the King, the Left Hand of the King and the Other Hand of the King. Those, at least, were their official titles; their given names, as per a tradition lost in the mists of time, were Gog, Magog and Cheryl.

King Cyril took an extra cup of humanely sourced and ethically ground coffee into the chilly office he called his own, though it really belonged to the nation. The weather was cooling now, with autumn shading into winter, and he wondered if there’d be enough by way of magic beams coming from the Temple of Eskom to keep his office warm. That, surely, was going to be something he’d have to discuss with his trusted trio of advisers.

But they were, or at least Cheryl was, keen to announce, almost before the king’s bum had reached a resting position on the lushly embroidered cushion on his chair: “They have been caught!”

King Cyril must have looked a little surprised or lost, because Cheryl immediately added: “The runaways, the escapees, Thabo and Nandipha!”

Optimism! That’s what I like to hear. I, for one, am optimistic we will get to the bottom of this debacle, that we’ll find out exactly how Thabo escaped…

“Ah, yes,” murmured the king, thinking back to a pleasant reverie he’d been having the previous night about the pair of murdering, thieving conpersons whose adventures had nonetheless captured the imagination of the nation. He repeated what he’d thought of as a great title for the TV series sure to come swiftly upon their story’s explosion into the public mind: “Thabo and Nandipha: A Love Story…”

“Oh, very good, Your Majesty,” said Gog.

“Of course, they’ve only just been caught,” said Magog, “so the Netflix contract is not exactly imminent. What’s important is that this capture is a great triumph for our great land of WakaBanana.”

“Well, they were outside our borders,” said Gog, “so they nearly got away. It’s not clear how they crossed our borders, in fact, when it seems Thabo the Murderer didn’t even have an official identity.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: In the Kingdom of WakaBanana, all hail King Cyril the Ditherer!

“Indeed,” said Magog. “Identities are a great problem in our land, so he may not be at fault there. Anyway, now we have to prepare ourselves for all the hard questions that have to be asked, that will be asked, by the nation.”

“You mean by the opposition,” said King Cyril. “By those who loathe and detest my government, my monarchy, my… my… everything. By those who want to see me embarrassed, who want to see me fall.”

He seemed close to tears all of a sudden.

“In fairness, Your Majesty,” Gog went on, “that covers most of the people who are actually part of your government. I mean the bit about ‘loathe and detest’, about wanting to see you fall…”

Magog interrupted quickly. “But that is not something we want to discuss in today’s meeting. It can wait for another time. The traitors are always with us, ha ha, so there’s no rush. We need to focus on this Thabo and Nandipha business today, and prepare for the backlash.”

“The backlash?” King Cyril looked worried, or perhaps he was suffering a little indigestion. That fifth rasher of bacon might not, in fact, have been a good idea.

“Yes, Your Majesty, we’re afraid so,” said Cheryl. “There will be, there are, accusations that our police service is useless, our prisons authorities useless…”

“But they are useless,” said King Cyril.

“Well, yes, but we can’t be saying that out loud, Your Majesty. Apart from the fact that it would annoy Chief Cele and other top cops, there are a lot of people saying your whole government is useless – but we don’t acknowledge that and we don’t acknowledge them. We can’t, as government, start repeating what your critics say. No, we must hold fast, put a good face on it, show confidence, pretend things are manageable, at least – even project some optimism about how problems can be solved. And that’s where Thabo and Nandipha come in.”

The pretty icky big picture

“Right,” said King Cyril, somewhat more brightly. “Optimism! That’s what I like to hear. I, for one, am optimistic we will get to the bottom of this debacle, that we’ll find out exactly how Thabo escaped…”

“We do know that, Your Majesty,” said Magog. “A dead body was smuggled into the prison, placed in Thabo’s cell, set alight, and he walked out – or, probably, was driven out hiding in the same box the body came in.”

“That’s a bit icky,” said the king. “They couldn’t find a new box?”

“We’re not up to speed on all the details,” said Magog. “Those we await. We have the big picture, though, and it’s not pretty.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: King Cyril the Boneless has no magic wand for Eskom or his falling apart Kingdom of WakaBanana

“Nandipha is, though,” said the king. “Such a pity that such a beautiful woman should be sucked into such a tawdry business. I’d like to meet her.”

There was a little wistfulness in his voice, as though he knew this would not be possible for him, even as king of the great land of WakaBanana.

“There’s every sign she was the mastermind of the escape, Your Majesty, which means she at least colluded in the death of the person who was burnt in the cell to make it look like Thabo had committed suicide.”

“Ah, well, you see,” said the king, “she’s not just a pretty face.”

The advisers were silent for a moment, then Gog pressed on: “I’m sure that’s why the nation is so interested in her, Your Majesty, but we have to focus on bigger issues. That’s why I say we must prepare for the backlash, for various insults to flow our way.”

“Right,” said King Cyril. “Got it. No problem. We’re used to that. Just think what that upstart warlord Juju has said about me! It’s unforgivable. But did I lash out at him? No. I kept my cool. I behaved with dignity.”

Just to display a little dignity, King Cyril rose and stood at his full height of 5ft 2in. He held his head up high and looked towards the future, or perhaps it was a cobweb on the ceiling, with a bright yet stern gaze.

“By the way,” he said, “I’m worried about heating here in the palace. Winter is coming, as everyone keeps reminding us. How is our new High Priest of Eskom doing?”

“Well, Your Majesty,” said Cheryl, “he had a good week or two. There were more magic beams coming from the temple, but then things declined again. I’m sorry to say, but the temple’s production of beams is now back to what it was a few weeks ago, which isn’t good.”

The king was silent for a moment. Then his eyes lit up, and he said: “Dammit, we need a new high priest, or some kind of organised person to, er, what do you call it, organise this darn Eskom temple! We need an Eskom mastermind!”

His advisers were silent, not knowing quite what to say in response to this unexpected outburst.

King Cyril forged on. “And now I’m giving you a royal order. Call Nandipha!” 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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