Democracy vs. Monarchy
“NOW IS THE TIME,” the voice, with its thick, African accent, bellowed from the TV. “It is time we join our Arab and African brothers and demand the end to totalitarian rule. Zoomoonda, too, is ready for 21st-century rule. It is time for democracy. Your fellow Africans said ‘no’ in Libya to oppressive family rule. Your African brothers in Egypt said ‘no’ to Mubarak. Your brothers in Tunisia forced an obstructionist of democracy into exile. Zoomoondans, it is your destiny to elect me, General Moammur Gadhafur, as your new visionary for democracy.”
The assuming African general stood fully clad in military regalia. He was flanked by his beaming wife and young teenage son, who looked like a mini-me version of his father. Also present was his slightly older daughter, who seemed less enthusiastic than her family. The general’s grin grew wider as an unseen crowd cheered him on.
Those spirited words emanated from halfway around the world and echoed through the private hospital room reserved for only the most important dignitaries, leaving an uneasy still in the air.
“Your brother never would have agreed to this ridiculous notion of a general election,” my mother, the Queen Mother of Zoomoonda, said to me.
“Turn that TV off,” I ordered my teenage niece, Princess Akeema. She snapped,
“Are you my daddy?”
“Akeema, you mind your manners, young lady,” Queen Mother said.
“Why does she disrespect me
and not the others? It irked me, yet I really felt for her. Losing both parents in a single blow had to
be awfully hard. These past couple of
weeks, I hadn’t been able to connect with her as I once did. Nonetheless, I didn’t know how much more of
her sassy mouth I could take. Thank
goodness Petals had agreed to come along and help me with my niece. After all these years, she was still very
devoted to the royal family.
“Mom, you need not worry. The people of Zoomoonda are extremely loyal. They know that, unlike the various toppled African regimes, we have been generous and compassionate rulers,” I assured her.
I turned and watched helplessly as my father struggled to speak.
“D-d-don’t let that madman ascend to the throne of Zoomoonda,” my father said.
Due to Dad’s ailing health, my wise older brother had replaced him on the throne nearly a decade before. My father had resigned and transferred all royal duties to him.
As a sign of respect and courtesy, my brother had bestowed on my father the title of Royal Emperor. My older brother had taken over the throne out of necessity, but he wanted Zoomoondans never to forget my father’s royal reign. Yes, my brother had been a good man. I wished I had half his discernment and wisdom.
Since his untimely death, I was beginning to feel more and more as though I was in over my head.
“Please, father—relax,” I said.
“Dear, you lie still. You know you’re not supposed to get upset,” Queen Mother said.
I watched as my mother hovered over my father, making sure he rested easy. Her gentle hands soothed his shoulders, calming him.
We were all placed strategically around my sickly father’s hospital bed. Even my smart-mouth niece was attending to her grandfather. Timmie, my best friend since childhood, stood next to me, and there were two burly African security guards inside and outside the exclusive hospital room.
The cable news network had been on because my dad loved watching world news, but, at that moment, I wished his room didn’t have a TV.
That was not the only thing I was wishing at the moment.
I wished I could take back the tragedy that had happened just weeks before.
As selfish as this may sound, I wished I could go back to my simple, carefree life of women, wine and pleasure. Timmie and I were known globally as affluent international players; not only was I a client, I was the chairman of the Trillionaire Boys Club, which boasted a who’s who roster of rich and powerful men. Sean “Diddy” Combs, Johnny Depp and the Prince of Monaco, to name just a few.
Zoomoonda was by far Africa’s wealthiest nation. It was regarded as the crown jewel of Africa. Our country was blessed with an inexhaustible supply of premium oil and boasted the world’s leading non-conflict diamond mines.
Our royal heritage could be traced back to the great kings and queens of the days of the Pyramids.
Yet, with such wealth and power at the disposal of my whims, I had no interest in rule or governance. That was for people like my older brother and his wife. They were the most beloved king and queen. Our nation will mourn their loss for many years to come.
And now, I, of all people, had to give Zoomoondans hope and inspiration.
Until now, Timmie and I had only had token titles in the royal court. We shamelessly sidestepped any real responsibilities and delegated our duties to flunkies while we enjoyed ourselves to excess. No princess or daughter of a wealthy dignitary was off limits to us. No celebrity, whether she was an actress or just famous for being rich, was beyond our reach.
I’ll never forget the American pop star Janet Jackson’s 21st birthday. I took control and showed her my velvet rope for several erotic days. Oh, well—that’s the way lust goes.
Back in her younger days, another pop icon, Madonna, and I would secretly jet to the most exotic places to explore our insatiable fantasies.
If only kings, shahs, presidents and world rulers really knew the freaks their privileged daughters were. But each of their daughters knew and respected the international players’ code. What happens inside my private jet, the royal Diamond G-Spot, stays there.
Slowly, the contents of my father’s IV began to take effect. He drifted into a state of unconsciousness. The Queen Mother used this opportunity to leave his side. I could immediately tell from her familiar, stern glare that she was in scold mode.
Timmie and I both straightened up.
“Come here. I want to speak to the three of you.”
We dutifully followed her as we stepped into her imaginary royal court.
“Ajeem, you are not your older brother. But it is time for you not only to man up, but son, to king up.”
“I know, Mom. I w—”
“You know your African history. Remember what happened to King Idris?”
“Who?” I said, as I glared at Timmie for an answer.
He mirrored back an “I don’t know either” glare.
“He was King of Libya till 1969. One of his army commanders led a military coup against him and took over the government,” Petals said.
Once again, she’d come to my rescue.
“Yes,” the Queen Mother said, impressed.
Petals, to her credit, no pun intended, had risen from royal rose-bearer to Zoomoonda’s National Security Adviser. She attended Ivy Leagues schools in the West. Petals graduated with honors, obtaining master’s degrees in Political Science and African Anthropology, and a PhD. in Psychology. When she returned to Zoomoonda, my brother wisely included her as part of the Royal Staff.
In time, Petals had become the only trusted adviser who had the king’s direct ear. She had demonstrated since the tragedy that I would have the same loyal support. Though middle-aged, Petals was still a very lovely woman. With the sturdy legs of a gazelle and shapely as a sleek cheetah, she had a commanding regal presence when she entered a room.
I never understood why she’d never married.
I’d never tried anything with her like I had with all the others. We grew up together, so she felt too much like a sister. But now I was grateful for her support. Seamlessly, she served as a wonderful adviser and now royal nanny to my angry niece.
“That must not happen in Zoomoonda. Do you hear me, Ajeem? Whatever it takes, you must make sure the royal throne remains in our family. Do you hear me, son?”
I know my mother had never approved of my playboy lifestyle. However, she didn’t protest as much as she could have, because my older brother was her pride and joy. But now that he was gone, her disappointing son had to fill his shoes and accept this huge responsibility.
I stared into my mother’s eyes and held her by the shoulders. “Mom, Queen Mother, I will not disappoint you. Besides, Prince Fayeem promised me he will keep an eye on General Ghadafur. I promise you the royal throne shall remain in our family.”
“It had better. Or I will disown you till the day I die,” Queen Mother said. I watched as she turned and gracefully returned to my ailing father’s bedside.
Excluding my younger brother back at home, I was left with my royal cabinet. Petals and Timmie tried not to have their eyes meet mine. However, Timmie blurted out, “Do you think the general will launch a military coup, AJ—uh, Your Majesty?”
“I don’t know. He’s obviously ambitious, but hopefully not crazy. The secret security forces, the Black Panthers, won’t allow it.” That was the best answer I could deliver to save face. Each passing day, I was beginning to wonder whether I had naively enabled the general in his insane quest for the throne.
“If it’s any consolation, Your Majesty, you may have unwittingly prevented a military coup,” Petals said.
“Explain, my Security Adviser,” I said.
“General Moammur Gadhafur had clashes with your elder brother. The general isn’t simply an ambitious man; he is also a skilled tactical one. He knows your reputation as a—” Petals hesitated and dropped her eyes.
“Say it, Petals. I need your insight. Give it to me straight,” I said.
“Your reputation as a player precedes you. No offense, Your Highness.”
“None taken. Continue.”
“Why take the throne by force and alienate its subjects and risk gaining the disapproval of the international community? He’s counting on the fact that you’re an unqualified…whore, and that he’ll be able to convince the people of Zoomoonda he is a better option as a strong, proven military ruler.”
I get the ‘unqualified’ part. But did she just call me a ‘whore?’
“That way, the man with the delusions of grandeur, that chest-pounding gorilla, has the best of both worlds. The general would have the royal throne, and Zoomoondans’ favor,” Timmie chimed in.
I took a deep breath and said, “When we return home, I have much work to do. I can’t allow my past to ruin Zoomoonda’s future.”
“There is something you can do to reverse your image and public perception,” Petals said. I gave Petals my full attention. She continued, “It is a bit radical, yet it could prove to be effective in the long run.”
I let out a heavy sigh and said, “At this point, I’m game for almost anything.”
“You can install hidden cameras throughout the palace. In the common areas, of course. Provide your Zoomoondan subjects a real day-to-day glimpse of you, their new king. Also, take to social media and communicate directly with your supporters,” Petals said.
“Yes! We can host The Royal Groom, seeking a queen for Zoomoonda. This could be huge, AJ! Beautiful, sexy, women from all over the wo—” Timmie said enthusiastically. But Petals interrupted his lascivious vision.
“We need to stay clear of any objectifying of women.”
“Petals is right, Timmie. We need to start thinking above the waist rather than below it. Nonetheless, Petals, as you said, that is rather radical.”
“Your Highness, perception is everything,” Petals said.
“Royal Reality TV?” I said.
“Your Highness, need I remind you that in eighteen days, social media played a significant factor in deposing Egypt’s longtime ruler. If used properly, it can aid in promoting a good public perception,” Petals affirmed. I thought about it. Petals might have been right. I could always pull the plug if I didn’t get the desired results.
“Okay. Make it happen when we return, Petals. Get me the best producer and public relations consultants on the planet.”
“So shall it be done, Your Majesty.”
Timmie however, shrugged and said, “No royal bachelor booty. No chance to properly test the contestants. So sad. Such a missed opportunity.”
“Using recorded cheering crowds won’t be enough.” General Moammur Gadhafur said.
“You’re right, my husband, my lord. The peaceful peasants of Zoomoonda need to be convinced that they need to jump aboard the democracy bandwagon. Their loyalty to the monarchy runs deeper than the Nile River.”
“Yes, but given the prince’s well known womanizing ways, it will be easy to assassinate his character and turn the people against him,” General Gadhafur said.
“Yes, but to secure the throne you need some additional, sure-fire ammunition in your arsenal, my husband, my lord,” his wife Nefertiti said.
“Please enlighten me, my beguiling, cunning campaign manager. No one in all of Zoomoonda is more ambitious than me but you.”
“We need to incorporate in your quest for the throne all the circumstances, tactics and maneuvers that toppled the other regimes in our region.”
“I had considered that. But go on. I like it when you articulate evil schemes,” the general said. Nefertiti offered a coy smile before she replied, “This has to be a major propaganda war on both fronts. The international community must believe that the newly appointed king, the former player, is just like the oppressive rulers who have been resisted in our region.”
“But in those sovereign states, the disgruntled citizens protested and demanded democracy,” the general said.
“So, my husband, my lord, hire fake pro-democracy Zoomoondans to stage protests and demonstrations all over the country. The world, looking on through sound bites and YouTube videos, won’t know the difference.”
“I’m sure I can get some from Uganda for the right price.”
“Yes, my husband, my lord. After the fake protesters get the demand for democracy in full tilt, we can next create the illusion of a military crackdown. We’ll make the Syria ‘cleansing’ look like child’s play.”
“But I’m the head of the Armed Forces. I don’t want—” the general stopped mid-sentence. “Hey, wait a minute…” the general’s eyes narrowed and he surrendered a beaming smile to his wife. “We can hire mercenaries, too. Claim that they’re—”
“Zoomoondan Loyalist Army,” they said in unison.
“Yes—a rogue, special branch of soldiers loyal to the throne. They’ll be so rogue they’ll refuse to listen to the military counsel. You’ll tell everyone they take direct orders from the king,” Nefertiti said.
“But they’ll actually be my hired mercenaries.”
“The international community, along with the United Nations Security Council, will be clamoring for King Ajeem to abdicate rule of Zoomoonda,” Nefertiti said.
“Wait till that naïve little lamb returns to Zoomoonda. He won’t know what hit him. My precious wife and queen-to-be, that’s why I love you. You’re amazing.”
“Oh, my husband, my lord, I want what’s best for you. Let me hear you call me queen again,” Nefertiti cooed. The general sauntered over to his wife and took her into his arms. He tenderly kissed her.
“My Queen Nefertiti. It has such a regal ring. I can see it now. Once I’m Zoomoonda’s new dictator—oops, I mean democratically elected president, I will be in control of its inexhaustible oil fields,” the general said.
“And it’s abundantly yielding diamond mines. A queen’s best friend,” Nefertiti said.
“Ah, yes. It will be a glorious new day. I’ll establish new allies; alliances with China, Russia, Iran and North Korea,” the general gushed.
“Yes, my husband, my lord.” Nefertiti’s voice echoed his enthusiasm. “Yes, the stakes are high. So you must be strong and unwavering in your ascent to the throne. By any means necessary. Nothing is inconceivable. You must be willing to spill Zoomoondan blood if need be to usurp the royal monarchy. Are you willing to spill Zoomoondan blood, my husband, my lord?” Nefertiti said with a sly grin.
For a brief moment, General Moammur Gadhafur and his beloved wife of many years exchanged sustained silent gazes.
Spontaneously they burst out into laughter.
“My precious better half, you already know.” The general grinned.
“Yes, Taraji, we’re all getting ready for the fundraiser dinner with the president and the vice president of the United States, along with their wives,” Petals replied to her sister’s image, which was displayed on the tablet device.
“Well, Big Sis, I will keep you apprised as to what’s going on here in Zoomoonda. I’m shocked at King Ajeem allowing General Moammur Gadhafur to campaign for the throne. It’s so ludicrous. Does not that mad dog know that Zoomoondans are quite content with royal family rule?”
“I don’t know what our new king was thinking. Not to worry—this will all blow over,” Petals said.
“So, let’s finish our discussion about Zoomoonda’s future queen,” Petals’ sister Taraji said with a definite hint of sarcasm in her voice. “You had better not allow this one to bring home another African-American. Don’t get me wrong, we loved our dearly departed queen. She grew on us and we came to adore her. But you know you’ve loved him all your life. Now is the perfect opportunity to get your man, your king and…for you to rule beside him. Stop being so—”
“Taraji, how many times have I told you? I’m fulfilled just being a servant to Zoomoonda.”
“Petals, you’re such a stubborn goat. You’ll be more ‘fulfilled’ where it counts when you can wrap your legs around him. Your ‘service’ can’t satisfy you on chilly Zoomoondan nights.”
“Sister, you are so crass. Sometimes I wonder if you were either switched at birth or dropped on your head.”
“Oh my, did my well mannered big sister just throw a verbal spear at me? I’m so proud of you. There might be hope for you yet.”
Petals simply chuckled. “I have to go. I’ll chat with you later.”
“Petals,” Taraji yelled from the small screen, “Get your man. Love you.”
“Bye, Taraji. I have to get ready. Love you, too.”