Letters from Kolentawezi Jail

air mail letter

‘More than kisses, letters mingle souls’ ~J Donne

It was hot. It was always hot near the equator. Watson paused over the paper before deciding how to start the letter. The crude pen felt slippery in his sticky hand. He dipped it in the bottle of black sludge, supposedly ink. Would this be his last chance? Would it solve his problem? With a bold stroke from a hand powered by a hopeful heart, the squeaky nib wrote:

‘Dear President Olanta,’ he had always started with ‘Dear’ even though sometimes people were not necessarily ‘Dear’.

‘Sir, I am not guilty of the murder of Honest Nyrere. I plead with you to take a look at the case. I have never used a gun and so my fingerprints could not have been on the weapon found at the scene of the crime as the prosecution claimed. I was sleeping in my apartment two miles away at the time of the murder. The police arrested me on the evidence of a man, Alfred Chimbonza, who owes me money, a lot of money, 40,000 licugi although he’ll deny it of course. He is lying.

I am a too-easy target. Please help me.

Yours truly, Peter Watson.

Kolentawezi Jail’

A few days later, Watson’s jailer delivered a crisp white envelope with the embossed leopard stamp of the president in the top right hand corner.

With breathless anticipation Watson read:

‘Dear Mr. Watson,

His Excellency, President, Prophet Olanta, thanks you for your letter; it will be receiving his full attention.

p.p. Prophet Olanta.’

Despite the disappointment, Watson, believing in the support of a notable British institution, felt he had another avenue of opportunity and he wrote to London.

‘Mr. Herbert Impotune, CBE.,

BBC, London, 13 April 1976.

Dear Sir,

I am a British subject held here in Kolentawezi Jail falsely accused of the murder of Julian (Honest) Nyrere. No one seems interested in my case. I am writing to you because my letter to the President has produced no result. I plead with you to expose the corrupt and incompetent policing and judicial systems here. I am running out of time.

I am a too-easy target. Please, can you help me?

Yours truly, Peter Watson.

Kolentawezi Jail

The blue air mail letter dated 20 April 1976 said:

Dear Mr. Watson,

The deputy controller of the Broadcasting Corporation (Overseas Affairs) has asked me regretfully to inform you that the overseas budget has been reviewed and we cannot justify the expense of a trip to Kolentawezi Jail to investigate your claims.

p.p. Herbert Impotune (Deputy Controller of the Broadcasting Corporation, Overseas Affairs)

Watson’s legs crumpled when he read the heartless reply. Desperate now, he turned to his long lost father. On the 23 April he wrote:

Dear Dad,

I know we haven’t spoken since you were convicted of mum’s killing twenty years ago, but I need your help. I am rotting in Kolentawezi Jail falsely accused of a murder and no one cares.

Please, can you help?

Love Peter

Kolentawezi Jail’

How could his father on earth fail him? He sealed it with a kiss, trying to remember the few happy days of his youth.

Rottingdean, East Sussex.

April 26

Peter, Sort yourself out, son. That’s what I tried to teach you. Dad.

It was if another blow had hit him in the solar plexus, like the many he had received from his father in the past.

He turned his pleas to his Father in heaven.

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury

Canterbury Cathedral, Kent.

1st May

Your Grace,

I have been a devout Christian all my life, but now I am facing the greatest injustice. My pleas to President Olanta and the BBC have fallen on deaf ears. Someone must hear my prayers. Can you help? I have been falsely accused of the murder of….

Respectfully yours in Christ,

Peter Watson;

Kolentawezi Jail.

Watson crossed himself before he handed it to jailer, saying, ‘Now my prayers will be answered.

Less than a week later, the jailer carried a letter with a cross on the envelope. He said with uplifted eyes, ‘The Lord be praised, I can fell this letter will deliver you. It just feels right.’

Watson opened the letter.

Cathedral House, The Precincts, Canterbury CT1 2EH, United Kingdom

6th May

Dear Mr. Watson,

His Eminence, the Archbishop has every sympathy with your predicament. He will be writing to the Prophet Olanta stressing the need for interfaith co-operation and understanding.

The ways of the Lord are wondrous and he will say a prayer for you.

p.p. His Eminence, the Archbishop.

He felt the ethereal pain in his solar plexus and the rubbed his temples. The national press! Why hadn’t he thought of them before? Hastily he demanded a pen and ink; time was short. He wrote to the editor of the Daily Despatch.

Daily Despatch,

Fleet Street, London.

10th May

Dear Editor,

Please, can you publish this letter in your newspaper?

My name is Peter Watson. I am falsely charged with the murder of….

I offer a reward of £100,000 to anyone who can help me.

Yours truly, Peter Watson.

Kolentawezi Jail

Days later he received a response.

Dear Mr. Watson,

I published your letter last week and the public’s reaction has been phenomenal! So many responses. I will send them all to you at the jail.

Good luck!

Yours truly,

Gerald Nose, Editor, The Daily Despatch

But Watson never saw the next letter to the Daily Despatch.

16 June 1976

Dear Mr. Nose,

Please do not send any more letters here. Mr. Watson was executed last week.

By Order of General Dhamney (Jails).

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