For All Nails #51N: Victoria's Secret (Part 14)

by Jonathan Edelstein

Magistrate's Court
Nairobi, Victoria
16 May 1973

"I see that everyone's here," said Magistrate Ian Douglas, "and now seems as good a time as any to end the drama. Criminal case for sentencing, number 73-751, State of Victoria against Victoria Madoka. Will the defendant please stand?"

The defendant rose gracefully to her feet.

"I'm afraid the passion play isn't quite over yet, Mrs. Madoka. This is a courtroom, after all, so there are speeches to be made first. Mr. Hodges, you may proceed, assuming you have anything to say."

The prosecutor pretended not to notice the magistrate's disapproving tone. "Yes, your Honor," he began. "Rest assured that I will be brief, because I believe that, in spite of the theatrics that have marked this trial, it is not a complicated case. The defendant has violated the Sedition Act -- an act, I might add, that is intended to protect the very foundations of the Victorian state. She has been convicted of giving aid and comfort to black revolutionaries whose aim is nothing less than the destruction of everything we cherish. A jury of her peers has convicted her, and now she must pay the penalty. I submit, your Honor, that the egregious nature of the defendant's crimes merits the maximum penalty available under law -- two years' imprisonment."

"Thank you, Mr. Hodges," said the judge. "Mrs. Madoka, do you wish to speak before I pass sentence?"

"No, thank you, your Honor. I believe that everything that can be said about this case already has been."

As they had during the trial, Victoria's composure and dignity drew the judge powerfully. If truth be told, he had admired her for a long time, but he had always rationalized his feelings as those of a father for a daughter. He wondered, not for the first time, whether he was being honest with himself.

"Is there any reason, Mrs. Madoka, why I should not pass sentence on you now?"

"No, your Honor."

"Very well. As Mr. Hodges just pointed out, you have been convicted by a jury of your peers. Over my years on the bench, I've noticed that prosecutors often like to point that out. 'Your Honor, the jury has spoken, and the defendant is guilty.' Well, the jury in this case has certainly spoken -- but in addition to its finding of guilt, it also said something else."

"Your Honor..." Hodges began.

"I will ignore the interruption, Mr. Hodges. I realize that the jury's recommendations are not binding on me, but I may still consider them, and in this case I believe they are well taken. The defendant has violated the law, but she has not done any of the things the law was intended to prevent -- quite the contrary, in fact. I have carefully reviewed all the circumstances of this case, and I sentence the defendant to one day in gaol -- which she has already served -- and a fine of three hundred pounds, payable within one week."

"Your Honor, I must object..."

"You have the right to appeal, Mr. Hodges -- as does the defendant. The court's sentence stands. Mrs. Madoka, you are free to go."

The reporters were waiting in the hallway. Most of them were local -- for most of the foreigners, the drama had gone out of the case after the verdict -- but there were a few North American and British broadcasters still there. As luck would have it, Theresa Gugliano of NCCC was the first and loudest.

"Would you do it again, Mrs. Madoka?"

"No, I wouldn't."

Gugliano's expression was almost enough to crack Victoria's composure; obviously, that wasn't the answer expected of a crusading champion.

"I'd rather that the people who died on April fourth were still alive, I'd rather fight for a cause than be one, and I'd rather build bridges than burn them."

She made her way past the reporters and out to the street.

Kibera, Victoria
17 May 1973

It wasn't exactly a victory party, but Victoria decided that it would do. That the case was over, and that she could reflect on it at home rather than from a cell, was reason enough to celebrate.

It was a small gathering - her parents, nearby relations, and a few close friends. And Anand Rajaram -- after what he had done for her and for Letitia, he was a friend as well. A better one, in fact, than some of the people I trusted.

She had taken the day off and spent most of the afternoon making dinner. That was over now, and the party had adjourned to the parlor -- accompanied by the Ntimana children, who were bewildered by the adult conversation but unwilling to risk missing anything. Victoria wondered vaguely whether she ought to put them to bed, but decided to let them find their own way when they were tired of being spoiled by the guests.

She turned the vitavision on at ten o'clock; the polls had closed two hours before, and the first returns were starting to come in. As always, Nairobi and its suburbs reported first, and the initial results were encouraging; with so many more black voters on the rolls, a vote for the All Citizens' Party was much less likely to be wasted, and middle-class ridings that had voted for the VUP in 1969 were swinging to the Democrats. A cheer went up when the All Citizens' candidate took Kibera, and another when Harry Keller lost his Langata seat to a Democratic challenger.

Despite Keller's fall, though, it soon became clear that the day's biggest winners were the Conservatives. The Victoria United Party had lost at both ends; those who were afraid of an incipient police state defected to the Democrats, and those who feared black revolution went Conservative. By eleven thirty, there could be no doubt which fear ran stronger in the white working-class neighborhoods and the rural ridings. Victoria wondered, not for the first time, whether the news of her sentence in that morning's papers was responsible for any of the Conservative victories. But on the other hand, how many Democrats did my indictment elect?

Madoka doubted that Richard Patten was a happy man. The VUP, which held 58 seats in the current Parliament, would have only 37 in the next. Their Conservative coalition partners -- if that was the right word -- would increase their share from ten seats to twenty-two. The Democrats, who had made modest gains, would have 46 seats, the Liberals seven, the All Citizens' Party six ...

It wasn't until Victoria tallied the numbers in her head that she realized how divided the country was. The VUP and the Conservatives -- the parties of white supremacy -- would have fifty-nine seats. The egalitarian parties, also fifty-nine. And the balance of power would be held by a cranky independent from Mombasa South who hadn't uttered a word from the benches in years.

Where will we go from here? Where can we go from here? FN1

Forward to FAN #52: Rocket Science.

Forward to 24 May 1973 (Victoria): State of Emergency.

Return to For All Nails.

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