The Leader

Written in response to a Critique Circle challenge. Your character is the dictator of an arising nation. They’re charismatic, intelligent, emotional, and extremely deadly. Explain their motives and rational behind their terrible deeds (whatever they may be) in a convincing, realistic manner.

The Leader
With his mini tape recorder running, Peter Jones, Head of CNRBC’s overseas news operations said, ‘Now Mr. President, could we start the interview?’
Andilpe Zoomba waved his carved-ivory, horse-tail, fly swatter at an imaginary insect in the air-conditioned room overlooking one of Africa’s largest waterfalls.
Handsome Andilpe looked impressive. He was impeccably dressed in a pressed white suit with a red handkerchief puffed out of a breast pocket. Blood on a white body thought Peter Jones wondering about the symbolism of his attire….
‘Mr. Jones, before we start may I offer you a drink, tea perhaps, I always enjoy a cup of Earl Grey at eleven o’clock, I find it settles the stomach and cools the brow.’
Peter Jones, a pupil from Darlington Comprehensive noticed immediately the educated accent of the president and the disarming charm of a man reputed to have killed hundreds of his political adversaries in the last six months.
‘Er um, can you tell me why you came into politics seven years ago?’
‘Mr. Jones,’ he said relaxing into the padded armchair facing Peter, ‘I saw how our tribe, the Grause people, suffered under the rule of the imperial foreigners. They needed a voice and my whole life has been devoted to speaking out for oppressed peoples. Look how the Grause people have benefited: an independent nation free from the shackles of the imperial overlord, people free to vote for their representatives, and an equality based on the individual, not his money nor his land.’
‘Oh I see, yet you came from the one of the noblest of families, you even studied politics at a European university, I believe.’
‘Of course, to lead a nation one needs more than just strong emotions, one must have a vision of the end goal, who cannot but be inspired by Marx, by Lenin, by Stalin, by Mao Tse-Tung…names ignored, or at best, poorly understood by many world leaders.’
‘I notice they are all communists have you studied any western leaders, Washington, Gladstone, Napoleon, Voltaire?’
‘Of course, there are so many, but we have the challenge of a feudal state perhaps a hundred years behind your “enlightened” democracies. Longola needs a strong leader every bit as a much as an intellectual head of state. Napoléon, now there’s a leader and an intellectual; France still runs on le Code Napoléon today.’
Peter took a deep breath and asked ‘So, is this how you can explain the massacre of your leading opponents at their rally in the Konnilinga Stadium three weeks ago?’
Momentarily, the president’s eyes darted furtively to his left. He adjusted his body in the padded armchair before saying, ‘Mr. Jones, firstly I must tell that there was no massacre. Some people died in a terrible incident. A fire broke out I am informed.’
‘Reports from eye witnesses say shots were fired.’
‘In any tragedy, and this was a tragedy, reports become confused. All the bodies of the dead that were removed had been burned.’
‘But is it true that all the dead were high profile members of the opposing political party, the Way Forward Party?’
‘No. And I must tell you that the number of intellectuals who are hostile to our state is very small. They do not like our state, and the rule of the masses. They yearn for the old discredited days. Mr. Jones, only through my party, will Longola develop into a modern state and benefit the lives of the ordinary man. The serious problems: the education of the peasantry, the care for the sick and the protection of the state against hostile external forces requires a socialism which only my party can deliver. I have faith, faith in the masses who are ready to advance step by step under the banner of the Nationalist Party. We practise democratic centralism and we serve the people. My duty is to hold myself and my party responsible to the people. Yet wherever there is a struggle there will be a sacrifice. You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs, I think you say.’
He sat back in the chair.
Peter thought that his eyes, the colour of polished mahogany, his nose, as fine as an eagle’s and hair, as black a raven’s feathers, gave him an imperious look like his imagined Buchan’s character, Prester John. He sipped the final dregs of his delightfully prepared Earl Grey and placed the fine bone china cup back on its saucer with a gentle clink.
‘Can I ask you when you plan the next elections?’
‘Mr. Jones, may I, firstly, remind you that I replaced the democratically elected leader, our party has not changed. Secondly, I am always willing to submit myself and my party to the opinions of the people, who in good time will recognise the value of our new regime.’
‘But could I have a date, Mr. President?’
‘I think you have finished your tea, Mr. Jones. Good morning.’


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