An honourable fake, p.1
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       An Honourable Fake, p.1

           Terry Morgan
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An Honourable Fake


  AN HONOURABLE FAKE

 

  Terry Morgan

  Copyright ? 2017 Terry Morgan

  First published in the United Kingdom in 2017 by TJM Books

  www.tjmbooks.com

  ISBN: 9781370550975

  The right of Terry Morgan to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

  About the author

  Terry Morgan started writing stories and poetry while travelling worldwide with his own exporting company. He writes serious novels, satire and humour. He has worked in over seventy countries and now lives in rural Thailand. Not surprisingly his writing has a strong international flavour. An 'Honourable Fake' is his fourth full length novel.

  Website: www.tjmbooks.com

 

  Author's acknowledgements

  Living in rural Thailand I'm highly indebted to Google and Wikipedia for research. I try to write fiction that is not far-fetched and could, in reality, happen. Research is important and I try to be as accurate as I can but any mistakes in understanding the roles of various government bodies, especially those involved in defence and security, are mine. It's a novel, don't forget.

  I've also scattered Nigerian slang around in a lot of the dialogue but, like fashion, slang never stays the same for long. Nigerians who read it might scratch their heads at times. If so, I'm sorry, but I hope you'll get the gist and understand it's a while since I was in Nigeria.

  I'm also grateful to writers of many other e-books I've read during the writing of An Honourable Fake, but I'd like to mention two in particular. Tim Watkin's "The Consciousness of Sheep" was a good read for me. I'd already drawn many of his conclusions about the state of the world economy, the direction of Western society and the unsustainability of the world's population, but he puts it together very concisely. It's worth a read. And Teju Cole's book "Every Day is for the Thief" is such a good illustration of modern Nigeria seen from the eyes of a returnee and resurrected many memories for me.

  CHAPTER 1

  They thought there'd been a power failure.

  A thousand of them, young and old. Excited black faces and a sprinkling of white, all crowded into the south London arena as Nigerian Reverend Samuel Christopher Smith danced, waved and whipped them into joining the Brixton Girls' Choir singing along to thumping Afro-beat tracks from Fela Kuti's 'The Black President'.

  This good, light-hearted, community spirit had reached its climax when the music stopped and the lights went out. In the total darkness, a silence fell.

  Perhaps they knew, perhaps they didn't, but this was pure theatre, planned and choreographed to last just ten seconds because, as the lights came on again, there, standing centre stage, bathed in a single spotlight was the man they'd come to see and hear: Pastor Gabriel Joshua - black suit, bow tie, crisp white shirt, short black hair shining with gel.

  Backstage, Gabriel had been waiting for this moment - timing it, feeling it, moving with it, tossing the microphone and catching it. At times like that Gabriel became his childhood hero, Mohamed Ali, preparing for battle. With the passion and energy building, he was skipping, punching the air, dancing like a butterfly and ready to sting like a bee with words and catch phrases gifted to him from somewhere as if by magic.

  When the single spotlight picked him out, Gabriel was looking up, right hand raised in a fist, the voice loud, clear, baritone with its hint of a Lagos accent. "You have heard it said, a long time ago............"

  He waited just a few seconds for the cheering. the female screams and the shouting to die down and then, in a quieter voice, "You have heard it said...... thou shall not kill."

  He paused again. "And yet," he said slowly, lowering his head and whispering into the microphone, "What have we just witnessed? In my home country. Schoolchildren. Girls aged six. Innocent young lives, murdered. In cold blood. So, I'm asking why? In who's name? In the name of someone's God? So, whose God? What God approves of such slaughter? What sort of God is that?"

  Then, quietly, still whispering into the microphone. "Or....or is this not religion?" Now he was shaking his finger, instilling doubt, looking for something, someone, out there in the darkness. "If this is not religion, what is it? Is this something else? Something to stir a response? To start a reaction? To shock a nation?"

  Then in the louder voice: "If there is but one supreme God, one who sees all, reigns supreme, watches over all of us irrespective of who we are or where we come from, would that God approve of the slaughter of poor, innocent children?"

  Gabriel, microphone in one hand, placed the other hand to his forehead, closed his eyes and looked up. as if receiving guidance on what next to say. Then he put his forefinger to his lips to hush the audience that was stirring.

  "It was just another atrocity," he said quietly pointing his finger. "Only one. It always starts with just one. And we forgive. But then there are two atrocities. And we are patient. And then there are four atrocities and we become angry. And then.......... "

  The audience joined in. "Eight atrocities."

  Gabriel closed his eyes and raised his hand. "Too many atrocities." He stopped, hushing his audience into silence again.

  His voice gradually became louder and stronger. "And the atrocities become bigger atrocities. And then there are abductions. And the atrocities and the abductions move to our villages and become mass atrocities. And the mass atrocities become massacres. And the massacres move to our hospitals and to our schools. Ordinary, innocent people. Poor people, old people, young people, sick people. Surely, surely that is wrong in the name of everyone's God "

  He paused, his eyes still closed. "But why?" Softer, quieter now. "Do we understand why? Might this not be religion? Might this be something else?"

  His booming voice was now softer but his eyes were open, scanning the faces before him. "Do we understand? Do we fully understand what motivates such evil?"

  "No," murmured some in the audience.

  "Do our leaders understand? Do they understand the causes, the motivations, the reasons that lead to such atrocities?"

  "No."

  "So, what do our leaders do?" A pause. Wide eyes, waving and pointing his finger.

  "My friends, I'll tell you what they do. They sit and they watch, and they shake their heads, and they denounce and they say 'this must stop'. And then? And then, what do they do?" Another short pause. "That's right. They do nothing. As the divide between rich and poor grows wider, they do nothing because they are the rich. They can afford their protection. They are the elite. So, they continue to sit and to watch and to wring their hands pretending to care while millions of the poor they are supposed to represent struggle and the world runs out of food and water and even the space to live. But we can no longer wait. I say we cannot sit and watch."

  Gabriel was walking slowly now, a few steps one way, a few the other, facing the audience. the spotlight still following him.

  "And we especially cannot sit and watch in horror as those who do not understand the meaning of peace and tolerance allow others to come to our homes, our villages, our schools and our places of worship to massacre us. Is it any wonder that millions of poor people are on the move? Lost souls but real people. Good people desperate for jobs, for opportunities. Poor people living in hope but moving out, moving on, trying to move up."

  Gabriel walked a few more steps, then stopped, eyes open, scanning faces, pointing first at th
em and then at himself.

  "Yeh. See? I'm an African. I'm talking African poverty, African migration, African mass movement across borders, across continents. Millions of poor people looking for a better life. And I'm asking why. Why has it come to this? I'm asking for an explanation. What have we done wrong? What are we doing to put things right? I'm asking for understanding. I'm asking for answers. And........ I'm demanding a solution."

  Silently, he moved back to the centre. "You know," he said quietly. "We are taught peace, tolerance, forgiveness and understanding. Yes? But there is a limit to our tolerance, our forgiveness and our understanding. We have already tried tolerance. We have already tried patience. We have already tried forgiving. We have already tried understanding and we have already tried trusting our leaders. But it has failed. So, we are saying now, as one united voice, enough is enough."

  Gabriel lowered the microphone and then raised it again, pointing his finger, angry. "Enough is enough," he roared.

  This was just the start of a Gabriel performance. He'd been doing this for years now, criss-crossing continents, holding these events in crowded halls in overcrowded towns and cities. It was south London today but next up was Los Angeles.

  The Fela Kuti theme was new, the words varied, but the message was always the same. And once he'd got their rapt attention, that's when Gabriel started to rack things up.

  That dark, rainy night, in the crowded, multi coloured, ethnically diverse south London venue, Pastor Gabriel Joshua was the only man standing in a light that shone from above. This was never going to be a religious event for the praising of a God

  This was about poverty, the lack of opportunity, the theft of the assets of ordinary people by big business, the pillaging of Africa's natural resources, the lack of education, environmental destruction and the terrorism and conflict that arose from the pressures of overpopulation, ethnic tension and interference in another country's affairs.

  For Pastor Gabriel Joshua events like this in a densely-populated part of a big city had evolved into a common theme. It was what was separating him, marking him out, from politicians and religious leaders and academics. Right then self-styled Pastor Gabriel Joshua was aiming for a mass display of collective decision-making based on simple common sense. But the strategy, written clearly in his mind, required him to draw that final picture of impending disaster, to create an ultimate tension that would lead to a commitment to demand action.

  For twenty years, Gabriel had been performing like this. The words and music had changed over the years but the message had become clearer over the passage of time.

  At the end, he would always fall silent, and walk slowly around the stage deep in thought. That night, in South London, the ending was no different.

  "You understand," he said softly, shaking his head. "I don't need to tell you. I don't need to spell it out. It's just plain, common sense. There has to be a limit to our patience. Alone, we are powerless but together we have boundless strength. We have tried being patient, to forgive and to trust and we have even tried to understand the limitations of our leaders. They are only human we say. But that is an excuse. Power to change is there. We see it every day. But it is in the hands of the selfish and our patience has finally expired. With one united voice, what we are saying is enough is enough."

  And then Gabriel knelt on the stage, placed his hands together and closed his eyes. Speaking quietly, lips touching the microphone.

  "In the name of whatever Great Power there is, please grant us some of that power, that strength and that wisdom to face up to our future, to defend ourselves against the forces of evil and, for the sake of our children, to challenge our leaders to change direction before it is too late."

 

  That night the cheers inside the south London Conference Hall were still dying down to another Fela Kuti recording when, back stage, a mobile phone rang.

  Solomon, Gabriel's most loyal friend, adviser and follower since boyhood days in the Makoko slum of Lagos, answered it. He listened, nodded, switched the phone off and went to look for Gabriel.

  He found him in a side room, drinking water from a bottle and surrounded by a small group of journalists. By then Gabriel had discarded the black tie and had opened the top button of his white shirt. The flamboyancy, the stage act, was gone. It had become calm one-to-one politics - the rich-poor divide, education, opportunities, jobs, healthcare. Solomon listened for a while from the narrow doorway but then pushed inside and whispered in his ear: "Phone call, Femi."

  And Gabriel, seeing the concern on Solomon's face, excused himself and followed him outside.

  "There's a warrant for your arrest, Femi," Solomon whispered.

 

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