Gadumzi came to a place where the road splits into three.
The first road led into a primeval jungle haunted by the spirits of vicious but disloyal dogs that ran away from danger, leaving their owners to be shredded by hostile hounds.
The second road led to a false paradise; a garden of roses that turned into a quagmire in seconds, created to deceive the dogs that preferred to plunder in the time of plenty.
The third was smooth and short, a perfect choice for the lazy dogs that neither barked nor bit anyone in the Herebefore, and it led to a cliff.
Gadumzi looked back to where he’d come from.
“Do you think the past will be better?” asked Ploddy Paul.
“Shut up, you sheltered little tortoise. You’re always hiding in the privilege of your shell.”
“Ah,” said Ploddy Paul. “But I stick my neck out, and that, my canine friend, is the one character that is missing in your doggone country right now.”
“Character? No one talks about character any more. It’s all about money, currency.”
“Currency, huh? It bought everything, even your courage, so that even the dogs are scared to bark in front of their masters. They’re begging the highest court to make an order that compels them to bark silently and in secret.”
“It’s not that we won’t bark in public. We don’t want to be seen to be barking with other breeds. I am a Rottweiler, I can’t be seen to be barking with the Maltese.”
“But why won’t you bark with them?”
“Because the Maltese wants regime change, and the dogs that want regime change eat from bowls. They don’t have to tip dustbins for food. Their masters take them for walks every morning. If I bark with them, I’ll be back on the streets with the strays.”
“You won’t bark even if your master is in danger?”
“Danger is relative, Ploddy. To a seasoned rock climber, a cliff is not danger, but a challenge. To the novice, it is danger.”
“Why are you running from danger?”
“I am running from myself, Ploddy, because my master recognises no danger. The hordes of hounds that are barking at him are nothing but another challenge that must be overcome.”
“Has your master angered the hounds?”
“Let’s say he did!” Gadumzi shouted. “Isn’t that what being human is about – making mistakes? Don’t they say to err is human and to forgive is divine?”
“Haven’t you learnt, Gadumzi, that your masters are the most inconsistent species on Earth … and, if I may add, Gadumzi, the most ignorant.”
“Ploddy Paul, don’t use big words that confuse you. Human beings aren’t ignorant. They have dominion over all.”
“They’re not ignorant? Creating a civilisation that destroys Earth is not ignorant? Destroying a state is not ignorant?”
“What do you know about the state, Ploddy Paul?”
“Trias politica, Gadumzi, trias politica.”
“Use simple language, Ploddy.”
“It means the state is standing on three pillars – Parliament, president and judiciary. If there is any imbalance in that equation, the roof of the state will fall.”
“Your masters are too lazy to bark, beg and bargain. They lack the humility to compromise and, when they don’t get their way, they run to another pillar of state, which has turned your country into a dictatorship.”
“Which road must I take, Ploddy Paul?”
“The one paved with fire, Gadumzi, for fire forges steel into a prized sword.”
Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency