How to read Uncle Tom

How to read Uncle Tom

GATHER around the fire my people. Today Aunty Muckraker has a gripping tšomo to tell. Here it goes.
Once upon a time, a famous Mokhotlong farmer decided it was time to replace his trusted but old cock (a rooster).
Say Qoi!

The old cock had sired countless chicks but it was time for it to meet its Maker.
Its bones too old, the cock could not keep up with the young hens that persistently demanded conjugal rights but always wanted to be chased miles around the yard before the deed was done.
The old cock had neither the energy nor the patience for such romantic escapes. It had done that for years.
One day the farmer brought a young cock to replace the old time.

He spared the old guy’s life for a few days in the hope that he would teach the young cock a few tricks before he is sent to meet his ancestors.
On the second day the old-timer walked up to the young cock who was slouched under a tree after a long day of chasing the insatiable hens.
“Young man, I know I am old and about to die but I can bet you my last penny that you can never outrun me in a race,” said the old-timer.

The young cock laughed loud and asked why the old cock wanted to embarrass himself just before he kicks the bucket. But the old-timer insisted that they race to the gum tree near the gate.
The young lad eventually relented and granted what he thought was the old timer’s last wish.
And so the hens cleared the track and the chicks cheered.

But just as they were about to start the old-timer makes a request.
“Young man, since it is obvious that you will embarrass me I was wondering if you could give me a ten metre head-start?”
“And why would I do that old papa,” asked the young lad scornfully.

“Just so you can beat me with some dignity, son. This is probably my last race and I don’t want to be humiliated.”
The young lad agreed and the race started with the old man ten metres ahead. With the chicks and hens singing his name, the young lad was snapping in the old timer’s heels but he could not catch him.
Just as they were about to reach the tree, with the old-timer still leading, there was thundering sound. Boom!

The old-timer looked back to find the young lad’s lifeless body in a pool of blood. The farmer, who had been watching the race from the barn, had shot him dead.
Over the next few years the farmer would bring more young cocks he would shoot in the same races instigated by the old-timer. No young cock survived that race.
Then as the old-timer was lying on his death bed some years later one hen asked him why the farmer kept killing all the young cocks that raced him.
“Well, mogelie, the farmer thought those young cocks were chasing me because they were gay. He had no use for young cocks that coveted an old cock like me. He had brought them here for you girls,” said the old-timer.

He winked and died.
By appealing to the young lads’ egos he had lured them into a death race. The farmer too had been hoodwinked. In the end the old-timer retired on his own terms and time.
The lesson: never underestimate old wisdom.

This is a lesson to all those who think that Uncle Tom is finished. If you believe that Uncle Tom is going anytime soon then you can believe that you are not your mother’s child.
It’s either you are naïve or just too trusting for your own good.
Read Muckraker’s scrumptious lips: Uncle Tom is not going anywhere fast. He might be old but he is certainly no fool. He remains the same shrewd politician who liked to tell friends that you must not worry about your enemies but friends close to you.

Uncle Tom has no motivation to leave office. His story about age catching up with him is just a ploy to get dozens of monkeys off his back.
Never in his fifty-something years in politics has Uncle Tom wanted to hang on to power as he does now. His wife is on the run and his own future out of office is not assured.
What stands between him and a mountain of troubles of his PM title. Without it, he is a sitting duck. His attempt to cling on to power is a natural reflex for self-preservation. It’s not political ambition but survival.

He knows that even those profusely professing their love for him are hiding sharp daggers to stab is 80-something-old back if he leaves office.
He is aware that Lesotho is teeming with two-timers ready to turn on him. All those bootlickers will lynch him if he leaves office.
The dozens of nurses around him too are only running his errands and tending to his needs because he is still prime minister.

Uncle Tom did not get this far in politics by being daft. This is a game he has mastered and played well. He is the Lionel Messi of political scheming.
He had been dribbled in the past and that experience has taught him to also dribble both opponents and allies.

Nyoe, nyoe Uncle Tom is so old that he doesn’t remember his own ministers.
Nyoe, nyoe, nyoe he doesn’t remember what he ate for breakfast.
Nyoe, nyoe, nyoe, nyoe the old man cannot even spell his name under pressure.
Nyoe, nyoe he sleeps in cabinet meetings.

That’s all true but the old-timer knows that he is still the Prime Minister. He remembers to fire police officers who investigate him and his wife.
He recently told a newspaper, in a surreal interview, that he is still cooking up a plan to fire Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli.
The old man therefore can still smell threats from miles away. Don’t be fooled by his act during the press conference. You see him pretending to forget pages and you think he is finished.

He still remembers he is married to a Feselady who desperately needs his protection.
He recalls that the police budged into the State House as they looked for his wife.
He knows that the police are investigating him. And that is all that matters. What more can a man of such advanced age want apart from living out his last days free as a bird and next to his young sweetheart?
Muckraker knows these truths will rile those who thought they had the old-timer in a tight corner.

This could possibly spook all those who have been emboldened to shout on rooftops about their ambition to replace him. Watch your step boys and girls because this old-timer might be cooking something sinister.
Keep your mouths shut because you might soon be pounding Kingsway, jobless. Uncle Tom might be here until 2022.
You may ask how Muckraker knows all this. Well, she has a PhD in Thabane studies. Watch the old man dancing and you will thank Muckraker later.
Don’t say you were not warned.

Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuu!

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