When the free became slaves again!

Slaves

No one could ever forget the night when slaves in Bulaya revolted. A hated slave owner, Mr Smith had just retired to bed when the slaves stormed his six-bed room mansion.  The slaves had long tired of being worked day and night in the cotton fields and sugar plantations suffering whips under a scorching sun and moreover without pay.

For some days rumors of an impending slave rebellion had been circulating about in Bulaya. Sensing danger, Mr. Smith, a nasty large scale sugar plantation owner, had taken to the habit of going to bed armed with a loaded rifle, which he rested next to his pillow case. However, when the slaves struck, he was fast sleep. By the time he awakened the slaves were banging hard at his door. He reached out for his rifle. But the mob had already pushed inside. They seized upon him and savagely cut off his head.

From Mr. Smith’s compound the slaves, marched on, torching slave owners’ homes, catching most unawares. They would go first for the men, particularly those with a reputation of being task masters, savagely slicing off their heads, and then move to decapitate their wives and children too. It was bloody. By the time reinforcement arrived from the Bulaya Protection Command Post, twenty slave owning families had perished.  The commander of the rescue forces later commented he had never seen this much bloodshed before.

After rounding up the vanquished rebellious slaves and quickly executing them, the terrified Bulaya slave owning community sat down.

“We are having so many slave rebellions!” one slave owner who had lost his entire family moaned. “Almost every year there is an uprising. We must find a way to end this business.”

“We were wrong to haul these people from their continent to work for us here,” confessed another grieving slave owner. “But since we have now machinery we can do without them. I suggest we agree to send them back and use our machinery to farm.”

A number of slave owners protested, insisting they owed nothing to these “darkies who have now ungratefully killed our own!” But a respected elderly church pastor rose and urged to free the slaves. “We have been using these people for centuries without paying them a coin for their labor.  We have grown rich from their sweat. I suggest we are kind enough not only to send them back to their country but put up a development fund to help them develop their new country.”

After a long debate the majority voted in favor of this proposal.

And so the nation of Baddu was born, formed of ex-slaves!  From among the returnees, Mr. Washington, who was the most educated of all was elected President of the new found self-governing nation. Mr. Washington had no other memory other than growing up as a slave and the task was formidable.  A prayerful man, he started well by nationalizing all Baddu land and mineral resources to save them from ever being snatched by people from Bulaya.

His nationalism pleased many who still felt bitter towards Bulaya.  But, when President Washington started preaching reconciliation with Bulaya and establishing good working relations, he was opposed.  “We still need these people,” he urged his countrymen, the ex-slaves. “They have the capital and technology which we need to tap into for our development.”

There were those who wanted to sever all relationships with Bulaya because of the old history of exploitation.  When President Washington decided to protect the Development Fund created by Bulaya, earmarking it only for long-term development projects, he lost more support. “Let’s use these funds to build the future by investing them in quality schools, modern hospitals, good roads, and save as much for the future of our children.”  He pleaded.

“Saving for the future!” Members of Baddu’s parliament cried in protest. “When we were in slavery we suffered so much. It is now our time to eat and enjoy life. The future is here already. Let’s have our money.”

Matters came to a head when parliament came up with a budget proposal where it sliced for herself a huge allocation for new cars, free medical care and allowances for unlimited trips back to Bulaya where the standard of living was much higher. The moment the bill came to President Washington’s desk he vetoed it without hesitation. “As a developing country we must learn to live within our means!”

That very night President Washington was overthrown in a coup, led by the head of the army, General Mathews, also an ex-slave. He had been contacted by some of the ex-slaves unhappy with President Washington’s policy of monetary fiscal discipline. In his first address General Mathews, accused the former President of corruption. To ease  his grip on power he decided to shed off his military uniform. He then organized elections which he controlled all the way. After winning handily, he was sworn in as an elected civilian President.

One of President Mathews first act was to recall the bill passed by parliament which his predecessor had vetoed and sign it into law. Of course, as President Washington had feared, the budget expenditure ballooned. Not long Baddu was struggling to finance her budget. It is then that someone reminded President Mathews there was the Development Fund. “Our money is sitting there and yet we are suffering,” one of the ex-slaves pointed.

President Mathews did not need much prompting. He raided the fund and started re-allocating money for the army and Members of parliament whose support he needed. He raised their salaries to become the highest in the world.  He bought for the army and his supporters in parliament brand new SUVs.  He sent his and their children to schools in Bulaya. Whenever any would fall ill the government would fund them to go back to Bulaya for medical treatment.

All of this started affecting Baddu’s development as essential sectors like agriculture were neglected for lack of funds. Once food secure, Baddu became a net importer of food. In fact most of the foodstuffs were now imported from Bulaya where farmers now used modern machinery and no longer cared for slaves. Baddu was actually helping Bulaya prosper as most of the household goods were imported from her.

It didn’t take long before the Development Fund run out. President Mathews now raised taxes. Yet people had no money to pay. So his government started printing money to help pay her bills. This led to sky rocketing inflation. Anyone who worked now found wages almost useless. Besides, because there was lack of investment, there was no one investing in building factories to create jobs. Since agriculture was neglected the youth who were the majority migrated to urban centers in search for jobs. But there were no jobs; so they  spent most of the day playing board games or loitering about aimlessly. Many occasionally engaged in petty crime.

One day something happened that caught the attention and saddened many good people in Bulaya and Baddu. A group of young men and women, grandchildren of ex-slaves, after finishing school and looking for jobs to no avail, happened to hear they could be trafficked to Bulaya where they could find jobs.

So, they saved and borrowed to pay the traffickers. After trekking through hills and forests, they led them to a boat down at the coast. The long trip started at night and took a slow and winding but sure path against the ocean winds to Bulaya. It was about dawn as the boat was fast approaching the coastline, with the youths on seeing the Promised Land their hearts pumping with joy, when a severe storm came from nowhere and knocked the boat aside.  All the occupants were lifted and swept out. None had a life jacket on nor knew how to swim. Sinking in the water the youths helplessly screamed out for help.

A rescue ship was dispatched. But by the time it got to the scene all the youths- grandchildren of ex-slaves had perished on the high seas! They had been fighting to go back to the country where once their grannies had lived and hated life as slaves!

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