Subject: For All Nails #51a: Victoria's Secret (Part I)
14 February 1973
Her name was Victoria. That was also the name of her
The courtroom in which she stood was familiar to her.
She was an attorney, and she had appeared in this court,
before this judge, on many prior occasions. This was,
however, only her third appearance as defendant.
She rose by instinct as the magistrate entered the room
and the bailiff announced his name. "The Magistrate's
Court in and for the district of Nairobi North is now in
session, the Honorable Ian Douglas presiding..."
Magistrate Douglas - a man in his sixties, graduate of
Victoria's best public schools and veteran of twenty-
five years on the bench - took his seat and waved
Victoria into her own. "Good morning, Mrs. Madoka," he
said. "I've seen you looking better."
"A night in gaol doesn't help one's appearance, your
Honor," she replied. "I trust any failures in that
regard will be pardoned."
"I suppose I can make an exception this once," he said,
smiling to acknowledge the awkward situation. "Case
for arraignment, number 73-715, the State of Victoria
against Victoria Madoka. The bailiff will read the
"Victoria Mary Madoka," said that worthy, "you are
accused of violating the Sedition Act 1912, in that on
or about the tenth day of February 1973, you stated in
a public place that the cause of the Victoria National
Congress was just and that its candidates should be
supported in the upcoming parliamentary elections, said
Congress being a party banned by regulation of the
Attorney General pursuant to the Emergency Powers Act
1955. How say you?"
"I plead guilty to saying that," said Victoria, "but
not guilty to sedition." Even by the increasingly
repressive standards of the Patten government, it was
unusual to charge sedition merely for speaking in favor
of a banned party; the indictment against Victoria was
likely motivated more by desire for revenge than
anything else. The guerrilla leaders that the
government _really_ wanted to get were safe in Bunyoro
or Abyssinia, so the public prosecutor evidently
intended to satisfy himself by indicting the members of
their political wing. And its associates as well;
Victoria wasn't a member of the National Congress, but
she was the attorney to which its members came when their
advocacy of African rights resulted in criminal charges.
_What does Patten hope to get out of this?_ wondered
Victoria. _If I'm convicted of sedition, I'll be
sentenced to a fine, or six months' gaol - does he
really think that prospect frightens me? I've gone to
gaol before, and I was back in court the day after my
release. He must be hoping that this time, they'll take
my law license - but I've lost _that_ before, too, and
it hasn't stopped me..._
"Very well, then, Mrs. Madoka," said the magistrate.
"Your plea is entered and you are remanded for trial.
Does the public prosecutor have anything to say about
"Yes, your Honor," said the deputy prosecutor - Victoria
remembered his name as being Hodges, but there was
little to distinguish him from the other grey-suited
young gentlemen of the public prosecutor's office.
"The accused, Victoria, is a repeat offender..."
"Excuse me, your Honor," Victoria interrupted. "I ask
that you direct Mr. Hodges to refer to me by my married
"I will certainly refer to you as such, Mrs. Madoka,"
said Magistrate Douglas. "I believe you are entitled
to it. As you are aware, however, use of your married
title isn't required by law, so I have no power to
direct the public prosecutor to do so. I will take
this opportunity to _request_ that he refer to you as
Mrs. Madoka henceforward, but I can't force him. You
may continue, Mr. Hodges."
"As I was saying your Honor," said Hodges, "the accused
is a repeat offender who has been convicted of seditious
speech on two prior occasions. I have every reason to
believe that, if released pending trial, _Victoria_ will
continue to flout the law. I ask that she be retained
"Do you have anything to add, Mrs. Madoka?" asked the
"Only that Mr. Hodges is correct in every detail."
"Application denied, Mr. Hodges," the judge said. "Mrs.
Madoka, you are released on your own recognizance. Do
you have counsel?"
"I intend to represent myself, your Honor," she said.
"I'm sure you're aware that you have a fool for a
client, Mrs. Madoka," said the magistrate, "but I'll
presume that you know what you're doing. Trial is set
for April thirtieth."
"Thank you, your Honor," said Victoria. Hodges followed
suit, sounding distinctly ungrateful.
"Before you leave, Mrs. Madoka," interrupted the judge,
"I'd like to know one thing. Your presence here, on
these charges, puzzles me a great deal. You're
obviously an intelligent young woman, and I have a great
deal of respect for your abilities in the courtroom.
I'm wondering why someone like you would support those
radical terrorists. This country has treated you well -
allowed you to be a citizen, to practice law..."
"I believe, your Honor," said Victoria, "that your use
of the word Ćallow' in that context sums up my objection
to the current state of affairs in this country."
"Surely you don't believe that practicing law is a right
rather than a privilege?"
"About practicing law, I can't say. But I do think that
being a citizen is a right, and that I shouldn't be
required to show an income of five hundred pounds to
qualify for it - especially since I wouldn't have to do
so if my skin were a different color."
"But surely a government is entitled to restrict the
franchise to ensure that it is exercised responsibly?"
asked the judge. "It's entirely reasonable, I think,
for those without a tradition of self-rule to show that
they are qualified for it by education or substance."
"I've heard that justification before," Victoria
answered, "and I don't mind saying that it reminds me a
great deal of Joseph Sarian's play, _Carousel_. Without
an opportunity to exercise self-rule, how are Africans
supposed to develop a tradition of it?"
"A fascinating subject for discussion, no doubt," said
the judge. "And no doubt we will have occasion to
pursue it, the next time we see each other. But I have
other cases on my calendar today, Mrs. Madoka, so it
will have to wait. April thirtieth, both of you..."
Jonathan I. Edelstein in Kew Gardens, NY
"Who is wise? He who learns from all."
- Ben Zoma, Pirkei Avot 4:1