For All Nails #172: State of Emergency
by Jonathan Edelstein
"So where do we go from here?" asked Richard Patten.
"There are two possibilities," answered Alistair Reid. "The Democrats have approached me about forming a national unity government..."
"In which they're the nurse and we're the charge, I expect."
"Quiet, Richard," said John Amalfi. In the week since the election, the caretaker foreign minister had subtly taken over the day-to-day leadership of the Victoria United Party. "Let's hear their terms."
"They want the Prime Minister's chair, of course," Reid said. "They'll let you have the foreign ministry, and half the cabinet less one, but they insist on Interior and Education. They want an end to martial law in Mombasa..."
"We were going to do that anyway," interrupted Amalfi.
"... and a reduction of the income qualification for non-white voters to three hundred pounds per year." FN1
"Can they do that?" Amalfi asked. "I thought the constitution said five hundred."
"The constitution says that non-whites with incomes of five hundred pounds or more can't be denied the vote," Reid explained. "The Democrats' interpretation is that blacks who make less than five hundred can be denied the franchise, but don't have to be."
"I'll tell you frankly, I won't brook it," said Patten. "We'd be signing our bloody death warrant if we go along with that -- there'll be six hundred thousand more niggers to vote against us in the next election."
"I'm sure the terms are negotiable..."
"I won't brook it, Alistair. I assume the other alternative is the Conservatives. What do the bastards want?"
"They're willing to allow us to keep the premiership..."
"Nice of the bloody gits." The Conservatives were something of a sore point with Patten, having run against their coalition partner in the election and gained twelve seats at its expense. "How many ministries do they want?"
"That's almost half the sodding cabinet! Do they honestly think they have any choice besides us?"
"The way they see it," reminded Amalfi quietly, "we're in much the same position."
"All right, then," Patten said. "Go on with it."
"They want us to endorse their racial platform..." FN2
"... and to guarantee a job to every white worker at four hundred pounds a year."
"That would break the treasury! And besides, even if they join us, we'd still only have fifty-nine seats..."
"No," said Alistair. "We'd have sixty. I had a chat with Lionel."
"And he answered?" said Amalfi. "What did you do to make him open his mouth?"
"Torture. But notwithstanding, he agreed to support us if we joined with the Conservatives."
"Does he want a ministry?" asked Patten.
"Heavens, no," Amalfi said. "That would be far too much like work." Lionel Mellor had represented Mombasa South as an independent for more than forty years, and had spent at least half that time asleep at his bench.
"It would," confirmed Reid. "He doesn't want to be part of the government, and he won't commit himself to supporting our initiatives, but he will promise not to bring us down if we approve certain funding for his district. I've looked at his wish list, and I think we can accommodate it without very much difficulty."
"What about the United Empire vote?" There was somewhat more hope in the caretaker prime minister's voice than before, but it was still tinged with an edge of nervousness.
"Oh, he won't oppose that," Reid said. "You know Lionel -- more British than the king. On the other hand, he won't go along with the Conservatives' racial plan, which will give us a bloody good excuse for not passing it, won't it?"
"And the Conservatives' jobs legislation?"
"I've been assured -- privately, of course -- that Lionel won't countenance any raid on the exchequer."
Amalfi looked around the table and managed a thin smile. "It looks like we just managed to buy ourselves four more years, gentlemen. I wouldn't have thought it, but it looks like we've managed..."
- Empire Square
- Nairobi, Victoria
- 16 June 1973
Lord Carrington made a point of not inviting Ambassador Sir John Gilmore to sit at the reviewing stand when he welcomed Victoria back to the United Empire. The Goldie diplomats are up there, Gilmore realized from his position in the crowd. I've been put in my place, I guess.
The thought, on further reflection, didn't bother Gilmore a great deal. His place put some distance between him and Richard Patten, which reflected his government's attitude quite nicely. It also put some distance between him and Lord Carrington, which meant that he could tune out the bloody bastard's blather and catch up with his aide instead.
"It certainly hasn't hurt Patten," Patrick Garrigan said. "The Empire vote was popular, even with the blacks -- they remember the British as something from before the war, before all the pass laws and the Conservatives."
"Has it helped him? In Parliament, I mean."
"You'd know better than me, but I don't think so. The opposition backed him on the United Empire for two reasons -- because they're sentimental, and because they want the trade benefits. From all I've heard, they aren't any fonder of the rest of his program than they were. He's still one vote short of a real government -- and if the United Empire vote had made him popular, he wouldn't need all this."
Gilmore looked where Garrigan was gesturing, and saw the machine gun nests scattered around the square and its surrounding buildings. The government was obviously taking no chances on a repeat of the April riots.
Still, it's saying something that the blacks are here at all. Gilmore was sure that part of the reason for their presence was simple relief; the last of the emergency restrictions on non-citizen assemblies in the capital had been lifted in honor of the occasion, and the working-class blacks were relishing the chance to be outside with their friends and families and without fear of harassment. The government had even laid on a picnic for them for after the speeches, although only citizens were invited to the official reception at Government House. But there was something else as well -- an expectation, as Patrick had said, that becoming an associate of the United Empire might make things better.
"... one people," came Lord Carrington's voice from the podium. "We were one people the day Victoria was founded, and now we are one people again..."
- Government House
- Nairobi, Victoria
- 19 July 1973
"I suppose you're wondering why I called you here," said Donald Allen.
"Yes, sir," said Antonio Marques, taking in the opulence of the Agriculture Minister's office. In the past three months, he had grown accustomed to middle-class comforts, but Allen's office was well beyond his means. The minister owned forty-six thousand acres in the westlands and made an easy million a year growing cotton, and he had spent lavishly from his personal fortune to furnish his work space. For Marques, the transition from the drab hallways of the parliament building to Allen's indoor manor was like a passage into an enchanted world.
"Michael Ruffin tells me you've been doing very good work for the party," Allen continued, pretending not to notice Marques' flush of embarrassed pride. "I'd like to offer you the chance to do more."
"I'd be pleased, sir..."
"Don't say yes until you've heard what I have in mind," said Allen with the easy manner of a country squire. "This will seem like changing the subject, but have you ever heard of my grandmother?"
"Quite a woman, Mary." He pointed to a fine oil portrait hanging to the right of his chair. "She may not look it, but she organized the first women's police battalion in Britain. FN3 They didn't want to have her at first, but she just kept at it until they had no choice. After she came here, of course, she was quite instrumental in setting up the Victorian constabulary. At any rate, there are two things she always used to tell me when I was a child..." He paused and waited expectantly.
Marques judged it best to live up to expectations. "What were they, sir?"
"Very good, Marques. The first was that when you need to do something, you don't wait for permission -- you just do it. And the second is that law and order are two different things. Do you understand?"
"I'm afraid not, sir."
"You will, you will. The key, for now, is that order is something above and beyond the law. Sometimes, the law isn't enough to maintain order -- but without order, we have no society, don't we? We need to maintain order, Marques, and you're the one to help me do it. I may be agriculture minister, Marques, and I think I'm a damned good one, but I'll let you in on a secret - my duties to the party don't all involve farming. Charles Nicholson -- you've met him? No? You will -- has asked me to organize a neighborhood watch. A crime prevention patrol, if you will."
"Like the police, sir?"
"Like them, but then again, not like them. The police do a fine job enforcing the law, but as I said, sometimes it's necessary to do more to maintain order. This neighborhood watch of mine will be called the Order Guards, and I'd like you to run it for West Nairobi. Are you in, Marques?"
It took only a moment for Marques to realize how far he might go under the Agriculture Minister's patronage. "Of course I am, sir," he said. "I'd be honored."
- Nyali, Victoria
- 26 August 1973
If Hans Stoller had lived in the Cape Kingdom, he would have been called Kleurling -- Coloured. In Fernando Po, he would have been a fernandino, one of the true people of the island. In Victoria, he was nothing.
There was no category for mixed-race people in Victoria. In theory, at least, they did not exist. Marriage and sexual relations between the races were prohibited by law, with severe penalties for all concerned in the event of violation. In the census and in racial legislation, they were simply described as "non-white," and subject to the same restrictions as the blackest Masai tribesman.
But mixed-race children still happened. Mixed-race people weren't "born" in Victoria -- they "happened." Sometimes, they happened when a master and his maid became amorous behind closed doors -- the sort of happening that had lately led to Harry Keller's downfall. Other times, they were the children of prostitutes -- a class of people that no society, no matter how strict its laws, had ever succeeded in stamping out. And then there were the Mombasa Bastards.
There had been two German garrisons in Victoria during the Global War, one at Nairobi and another at Mombasa. The Mombasa garrison, which also served the Indian Ocean fleet, was by far the larger of the two, and many local women had worked on the base during the war. The German soldiers had been rich by Victorian standards, and much kinder than the local whites - and they'd been exempt from the Victorian anti-miscegenation laws. Editors and politicians had fulminated, but nature had taken its course; six thousand part-German children had been born before their fathers left forever. The fathers were in Germany now, and the children had been left behind, to be doubly despised as non-whites and as the offspring of traitors.
Stoller was luckier than most; his father still sent money. He'd been able to go to school and become a paramedic at the Mombasa hospital; his income was just enough to qualify for citizenship. As far as he knew, no more than three of his childhood friends were citizens; there were no statistics, but the proportion of Mombasa Bastards who were enfranchised was quite possibly less than the blacks. The middle-class blacks, at least, help each other.
Often, the Bastards didn't even get the help the lower class blacks got. On the weekends, Stoller volunteered at one of the community clinics the Victoria National Congress had set up in the working-class suburb where he lived. It was in a black neighborhood, like all the VNC projects. Stoller had asked for their help in founding a clinic in his own neighborhood, but they had refused. They'd had a hard enough time accepting him, even when he almost got himself shot stealing medicines from the hospital during martial law. For all too many of the VNC, Victoria's struggle was a black struggle, and half-German bastards weren't wanted.
Things would be simpler if my father and mother had been decently married. Then I'd be in Germany now, and worrying about where to go for dinner...
- Extract from Hansard
- Parliament of Victoria
- 19 September 1973
SPEAKER: The Chair recognizes the Education Minister.
THE EDUCATION MINISTER (MR. CHARLES NICHOLSON): I have a question for the honorable Prime Minister. Mr. Patten, it has been four months since the elections, and the government has yet to pass many key parts of its program.
(Cries of "Shame!" from the Conservative benches)
MR. NICHOLSON: I refer, specifically, to the national security and jobs legislation that this government -- and the Prime Minister personally -- swore it would enact. I ask the Prime Minister why it has not passed?
THE PRIME MINISTER (MR. RICHARD PATTEN): I yield to none in my determination to see the government's platform enacted into law. However, I'm sure it cannot have escaped the honorable Education Minister's notice that the government holds only fifty-nine mandates. There is only so much a minority government can accomplish, and the wonder in this case is how much we have done rather than how much we have failed to do. We have passed a budget with tax relief and jobs programs, we have healed the wounds of the Global War by rejoining the United Empire...
(Sustained cheers from the Victoria United and Democratic benches)
MR. PATTEN: ... we have promoted law and order by putting a thousand new police officers on the streets. I remind the honorable Education Minister that the government of Victoria is a functioning government, and that the nation of Victoria is moving forward.
(Cheers from the Victoria United benches)
MR. NICHOLSON: If I may be permitted to ask the Prime Minister one more question. The Prime Minister, just now, mentioned jobs legislation. There has been some of that, yes. But does the Prime Minister deny that the majority of new jobs in Victoria have been low-wage jobs filled by niggers? Where is the white man's jobs program? What happened to this government's promise to guarantee every white citizen an income of four hundred pounds per year?
(Sustained cheering and stamping from the Conservative benches)
MR. PATTEN: I believe I have already explained this to the honorable Education Minister, and I suggest that he take it up with the honorable member from Mombasa South if and when that honorable member holds question time. And I also remind the Education Minister that he is a minister of the Victorian government and not a member of the opposition...
MR. NICHOLSON: The honorable Prime Minister is correct. I am not a member of the opposition -- which is all the more reason why, as a government minister, I reserve the right to call the government to account for falling short of its promises. And if the Prime Minister is not willing to be called to account, it may be that he should step aside in favor of someone who is...
- Kariaria, Victoria
- 8 October 1973
Anand Rajaram didn't like coming home late. The Nairobi suburb where he lived was infrequently policed and poorly lit; by two in the morning -- which it now was -- the streets were dangerous. It was on foggy nights like this that the government's expansion of the police force seemed most like a joke.
He heard the approaching figures before they appeared out of the fog; they were making no effort at stealth. Fair enough -- neither was he. As the shapes came closer, they resolved into three men dressed in shirts of the same color. To Rajaram's reporter's eye, they looked almost like they were wearing uniforms.
"Are you Anand Rajaram?" asked the largest of them, stumbling slightly over the unfamiliar name.
So this is personal. Ho, bloody ho. "Yes," he said, "although I prefer to take calls during office hours."
"The bloody raghead's a joker," said another one. "We don't like the articles we've been seeing in the Guardian."
"Who are 'we?'" asked Rajaram, slowly backing away. In fact, he knew who had accosted him; he had written a number of stories about the Order Guards' growing depredations in Nairobi's black neighborhoods. Evidently, one of them had hit close to home.
"Oh, we'll tell you - after we deliver a message from our boss..."
Rajaram had reached the entrance to an alleyway, where garbage was often thrown. He looked carefully to one side, keeping the three Order Guards in view, and then he saw it. Thank God for poor sanitation.
He knew he didn't have long before he was attacked, but he'd been in the kind of fighting where people were killed, and the Order Guards were too young to have that sort of experience. Bloody amateurs. He bent quickly to the ground, seized the length of pipe, and swung it around just as the Order Guards were on him. He smashed one of them in the head and punched the pipe at a second, hitting him below the ribs. The third, evidently having no desire for an even fight, turned and ran away.
I'll have to carry something from now on, Rajaram decided. He didn't have a weapon permit; as a citizen, he was entitled to apply for one, but they weren't often given to people with his last name. Still, it's better to carry than to be carried.
He looked down at his two former assailants -- only one of them conscious -- and spat on the ground between them. "Order Guards attack Guardian reporter," he said. "Page one tomorrow, you bloody bastards."
- Carrollton, Victoria
- 16 November 1973
Caroline Boyle gave two kinds of parties -- political and social. Her political soirees were always liberal, with both a small and a capital L, as befitted one of Victoria's leading supporters of progressive causes. Her social events, on the other hand, were social, and it would hardly be polite to snub a pillar of society because of an indelicate political affiliation. So tonight, she found herself exchanging pleasantries with Gloria Patten and discussing the disappointing theater season.
"Another cup of tea... oh, thank you, Sandra."
"What happened to Sharon?" inquired Gloria offhandedly.
"I had to let her go. She came to me last week and demanded -- demanded -- two pounds a week. She said that all the factory workers were getting more money because of the British trade."
"I've heard that, actually -- Richard tells me that skilled workers are commanding good wages now."
"But there are still plenty of people waiting in line to be domestic help, thank goodness..."
"Excuse me, ladies." Both women looked up from their teacups to see the Agriculture Minister, accompanied by an unfamiliar figure.
"I'm sorry to interrupt your conversation, but I thought I might introduce Antonio Marques, who is here as my guest. Mr. Marques; Mrs. Patten, and our charming hostess, Miss Boyle."
"A pleasure, Mr. Marques," answered Caroline. "May I ask how you came to know Donald?"
"Mr. Marques is the Order Guard commander for West Nairobi and Abingdon," the minister explained.
"The Order Guards?"
"Yes, I've forgotten, there isn't a chapter of them in Carrollton as yet. They're a neighborhood watch; an anti-crime patrol, assistants to the police. They aren't needed here, certainly, but they do very good work in the rougher neighborhoods. We're quite proud of them at Government House."
"That sounds like quite a worthy endeavor, Mr. Marques," Caroline said. She looked at him with renewed interest; she had originally classified him as not worth knowing thanks to his clothes and accent, but the fact that Donald Allen was taking the time to introduce him counted for something. And then, although he wore a wedding ring, there was no wife in evidence, and his gaze held a very ill-concealed interest.
Maybe he was worth knowing, after all.
- Kibera, Victoria
- 24 December 1973
"The very finest compliments of the season," said Magistrate Ian Douglas. "And might I add, Victoria, that you look good."
Victoria took the judge's arm and ushered him into an apartment already filled with her family and friends. "My appeals were decided yesterday, you know."
"Dismissed, I presume?"
"Of course. But so were the Public Prosecutor's. The conviction stands, but so does the sentence."
"And since they're my conviction and my sentence, I find myself in firm agreement," Douglas said. "Seriously, though, I suppose it's the best you could hope for. I hope everything else is better?"
"Substantially. I've finally registered Letitia's children as living with me, and they'll start school in the winter term. They've never gone, but I've tutored them at home for most of a year; I'm sure they'll do well."
They'd do better with their mother home, Victoria thought, but there was nothing to be done about that now. If things went according to plan, Letitia Ntimana would come up for trial at the beginning of the year, and with the way things were going these days, it wasn't likely that a jury would let her go. With the right judge, she might get two years; with the wrong judge, six. It was likely that the Ntimana children would be living with Victoria for some time.
At least they seem to be having fun. Six-year-old Dorothy was entertaining some of the older guests on the piano and, from what Victoria could hear, doing a creditable job. Like most children, she had adapted easily -- although, ten minutes from now, she might be crying for her mother. She hadn't stopped doing that yet.
"I haven't seen you in court much lately," said Douglas, bringing Victoria back to herself.
"I've had a shortage of criminal cases," she answered. "I've also been concentrating on my legal aid scheme, and it's taken time away from courtroom work."
"I think I've heard something about that..."
"For the neighborhood. I've been helping people with official forms, eviction cases, small claims, that sort of thing. I've been trying to get the All Citizens' Party to expand the program, actually -- we can't concentrate so much on representing citizens that we forget the people who will be citizens. It's a crime that the VNC is the only one doing anything..."
"You sound like you're making a speech, Victoria," Douglas said. "Will you be running for office next?"
"It's a possibility," she replied, ignoring his surprise. "The All Citizens' committee for Kibera riding has asked me to stand for Parliament in 1977; Mr. Ngilu is almost seventy, and he doesn't want a second term. I have four years to decide, and I'll probably change my mind at least ten times, but it's possible."
"That's funny. I was actually going to ask you if you might be interested in standing as a Democrat."
"Now I'm the one surprised. I hadn't thought that the Democratic Party fielded black candidates."
"We haven't yet. But your party doesn't have a monopoly on rethinking its practices. Black citizens have been quite an important part of our constituency for years now, and they'll be more of one in four years; it's about time we recognized them when we put together our candidate lists... I see you're being called to entertain, so we'll discuss it later."
Victoria looked around and saw that she was being demanded at the piano; it had become a tradition for her to begin the caroling at her Christmas parties. She decided to play the Coventry carol first; despite its mournful lyrics, it had been her favorite since the time when her mother had sung her to sleep with it. In a strange way, it had always given her a feeling of warm satisfaction, which seemed especially appropriate in light of Douglas' words.
It was clear now that the government was on borrowed time. The stream of immigrants from the Gold Republics was drying up, and by the next election, the growth of the black middle class would change the electorate beyond alteration. The economic benefits from United Empire membership alone should put half a million blacks over the income threshold by then; the VUP and the Conservatives would fume ineffectually for the next four years, and then time would sweep them away and Victoria would be set on course to become a state of all citizens. If even the old-line Democrats knew that...
Only one thought marred her satisfaction as she sat down to play.
The Conservatives know it, too.
Forward to FAN #173: The Rocky Mountain Horror Show.
Forward to 7 June 1973: Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair.
Forward to Victoria: Domestic Scene.
Return to For All Nails.