For All Nails #51J: Victoria's Secret (Part 10)

by Jonathan Edelstein

The Guardian
Nairobi, Victoria
4 May 1973

"I have a present for you, Raja," said Victoria Madoka. She reached into her purse and removed two rolls of film.

"What's that?" asked Anand Rajaram.

"Pictures of the interrogation room at Nyeri prison camp, and of Letitia Ntimana. It's what the people there look like before the guards clean them up for trial -- or before they're made to disappear. I want you to run them. I want Caroline Boyle to see exactly what the buttons are doing in her bloody name."

The reporter looked at her, taken aback by the vehemence of her words. "I don't see why not," he said. "It'll certainly sell papers. I'll have to run it by Olivier, though -- unless I miss my guess, you didn't take those pictures legally."

"You could say that," Victoria said drily.

"Then what do I do when CID comes down here and asks me where I got the pictures?"

"Tell CID you got them from someone inside the prison," she answered. "It'll be the truth -- I was certainly inside when I took them -- and it might bring some well-deserved trouble on those damned guards."

Rajaram snorted. "It might, at that. How was it in court yesterday afternoon? I was called back here at two o'clock, so I missed what happened after lunch."

"You didn't miss much, Raja," Victoria replied. "Hodges had one more witness -- a fellow from the Attorney General's office, to enter the list of banned parties into evidence -- and he rested about three thirty. The judge let the jury go home early, and after that it was just housekeeping. I actually got to Nyeri early."

"Good for you, I suppose," said Rajaram. "Are we still meeting tonight?"

"At the City Gardens, yes, and you can ask me all you want then. And now, I have to go to court..."

Magistrate's Court
Nairobi, Victoria
4 May 1973

"Does the defense have any witnesses?" asked Magistrate Ian Douglas.

"I have several, your Honor," Victoria Madoka answered. "I'd been meaning to discuss that with you before we started today, because there are logistical issues we need to consider."

"Logistical issues?" the judge repeated.

"Yes, your Honor. You see, I plan to call myself as my first witness, which will put me in the somewhat awkward position of examining myself. The trip back and forth from the lectern to the witness stand might grow quite tiring." She was rewarded with a scowl from the prosecutor, but the surreptitious smiles on six of the jurors' faces more than made up for that.

"I'm sure we can excuse you from that, Mrs. Madoka. Let's get on with it."

"All the same, your Honor, the spectacle of me questioning myself might not be entirely compatible with the solemnity of a trial. What I suggest is that we adopt a North American innovation, and put the case to the jury somewhat more directly. In Manitoba, jurors are allowed to put questions to witnesses once the attorneys are finished. FN1 I propose that we modify that system slightly, and give the jurors their turn first. If this is acceptable to the Court, I will take the stand, and the jurors may ask me anything they wish."

"This is highly irregular, your Honor," said the prosecutor. It wasn't Hodges today; Harry Keller himself, the Public Prosecutor, had come to take charge during Madoka's testimony. "Nothing like this has ever been done in a Victorian court..."

"I don't think there's been a case like this in a Victorian court either," interrupted the judge. "And I'm sure there are things the jurors want to know about this case that might not otherwise be addressed by the parties." As if to confirm his statement, the jurors -- who ordinarily endured legal colloquy with a keen sense of ennui -- were listening with real interest. "Mrs. Madoka's proposal intrigues me, and I'm inclined to adopt it. What if one of the jurors asks an improper question, though?"

"Then Mr. Keller or I will object, and you can strike the question just as if one of us had asked it."

"Your Honor," interrupted the prosecutor. "Do you really intend to entertain this nonsense? The accused is obviously hoping for an opportunity to make a speech..."

"She hasn't done that thus far, Mr. Keller, but this is her turn on the stand, and if the jurors want speeches from her, then that will be up to them. Rest assured that you will have a full opportunity to cross-examine her after the jurors are finished. I will grant the application. Mrs. Madoka, please raise your right hand."

Victoria did so, and was sworn.

"I will consider you to have been duly called, Mrs. Madoka. You may take the stand, and the jurors may put their questions to you."

"Thank you, your Honor." Madoka rose from the counsel table, walked to the witness box, and looked serenely at the jurors. "Mr. Klein, you are the foreman," she said. "Why don't you go first?"

She had expected him to take a moment to decide what to ask her, but he didn't; like the other jurors, he had begun to formulate questions in his mind as soon as she had suggested that they do so. "Mrs. Madoka..." he began.

"Go right ahead."

"Are you a member of the Victoria National Congress?"

"No, I am not."

"Are you in favor of their attacks on the farms in the westlands?"

"No, I'm not."

"Then why did you say you support them?"

"That's a very good question, Mr. Klein," Victoria said. "The answer is that I make a distinction between their cause and their methods. I don't support all their methods -- that's why I urged my audience to vote for the VNC in the election rather than to take up arms on its behalf -- but I do support their cause."

"What do you consider their cause?"

"Their cause -- and mine -- is a future where all Victorians are citizens, equal under the law, and where there are no preferences given to any race."

"You don't believe that the VNC wants to drive all the whites out of Victoria?"

"I think a few of them do, Mr. Klein. I'm certainly aware of Nicholas Biwott's speeches, and I know others have said the same thing; I'm not naive about the people I'm supporting. But I choose to believe what I've been told by the VNC members I've known and represented -- that Biwott does not speak for the group as a whole, and that white Africans, like all other Africans, will have an honored place in Victoria's future. That is, may I say, a belief I share; I believe that whites, from the oldest settler to the newest immigrant from Esperança or New Friesland, FN2 have something very valuable to add to this nation."

"Move to strike as nonresponsive, your Honor," interjected Keller.

"Overruled," said Magistrate Douglas. "She answered the question. Do you have any others, Mr. Klein?"

"No, your Honor."

"Very well, then," Madoka said. "I believe you're next, Mrs. O'Connell."

"I do have a question for you," the second juror replied. She was a matronly South Nairobi woman in her fifties; Victoria remembered that she worked as a secretary at a nearby bank. "You sounded very sincere just now about whites having a place in Victoria..."

"Objection, your Honor!" the prosecutor barked.

"Please ask your question without embellishments."

"Why do you support the VNC and not the All Citizens' Party, then?"

"I do support the All Citizens' Party, Mrs. O'Connell. I'm a member of the party, in fact. But sometimes the All Citizens' Party can be too focused on the political."

"What do you mean?"

"The All Citizens' Party is a party of the black middle class -- of which I am one -- and as such, it concentrates on areas of their concern -- votes, higher education, civil rights. There are millions of black Victorians, though, whose needs are more basic -- adequate food, housing, medicine. The All Citizens' Party doesn't provide nearly enough of those. The VNC provides more." FN3

"Oh," said O'Connell. She considered for a moment, and asked another question. "Are you a black revolutionary, like they say you are?"

"That depends on what a revolution is, I suppose," Victoria said. "If a revolution is an armed insurrection, then no, I am not a revolutionary. On the other hand, one of my professors at university once said that a revolution is a radical change in a society. I suppose that what I want -- a Victoria where all people are equal -- would be a radical change from what we have now. If I had my way, then nine of you sitting in the jury box would be black, and most likely his Honor as well. There would be black Victorians living next door to you, their children would go to school with yours, and they would look at you as person to person rather than subject to citizen. Maybe, then, I do want a revolution. Maybe they're telling you the truth..."

West Nairobi, Victoria
5 May 1973

Antonio Marques was a happier man than his wife María had seen him in many months. This morning, he had started work as an assistant bookkeeper at a payroll firm in Kibera to which he had been referred by a local Conservative Party leader. It was a beginner's job, and the salary was still less than what he had earned in Esperança, but it was almost twice what he had been paid as a construction laborer. And even more importantly, it was a white man's job, one where he went to work in a suit and performed his duties sitting at a desk. Ever since he'd been hired a week before, he'd never stopped being excited about what his new salary and status would bring them -- a bigger apartment, a maid, a late-model loke...

He'd told María to wait dinner tonight, because he had a party meeting after work. That was the other thing he was always on about -- ever since he'd heard that man Ruffin speak, the Conservatives had been the saviors of Victoria and its leaders the greatest political geniuses on the planet. Lately, he'd taken to watching the parliamentary debates on the vitavision, cheering every point the Reds made and shouting with derision every time a member from another party dared to open his mouth. Given that Antonio had never before shown the slightest interest in politics, María thought all this passing strange.

It was after eight o'clock when Antonio finally came home, aglow with the reflected glory of the Conservative candidates. He embraced María and kissed her soundly -- another thing he'd taken to doing lately; she had no complaints at all -- and accompanied her to the dinner table.

"How was your day in court?" he asked.

María was surprised; he hadn't seemed interested in her service on the Madoka jury before. She'd heard him talk about Victoria Madoka on occasion, usually borrowing the words of some Conservative sage, but the trial had seemed like an afterthought.

"It was interesting," she said. She wasn't sure what else she could say; the defendant had seemed pleasant and sincere, but she knew Antonio didn't like her. "Victoria was on the stand for the second day today, and it was my turn to ask her questions. Did you know she's just my age?"

"No, María," he said, his tone chiding her on her emphasis of such an unimportant matter. "That's not important, though. I want you to listen, because I have a message for you from Harry Keller himself." His face was flushed at the thought of carrying the words of such an exalted person. "He says that you have to find the Madoka woman guilty."

"How can I do that, Antonio?" she asked. "There are eleven other people on the jury."

"You have to convince them, María. Talk to them any way you can. If any of them are Reds, let them know that this is important to Mr. Keller."

"But the judge told us not to let anyone tell us how to vote," she protested.

"Who are you going to listen to, María -- the judge or your husband? You have to find her guilty as charged..."

Forward to FAN #51K (6 May 1973): Victoria's Secret (Part 11).

Return to For All Nails.

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