Previous, Next, Numerical Index, Chronological Index.
Subject: For All Nails #51c: Victoria's Secret (Part 3)

West Nairobi, Victoria
26 February 1973

Even before Antonio Marques opened the apartment door,
his wife could tell that he was not a happy man.

"Did something happen?" she asked, leading him to the
armchair they'd brought from home.  "You sounded like
you wanted to kick through the stairs."

"I went to open a bank account this morning," he said,
relaxing as she massaged his shoulders.

"I know," she said.  "You didn't do it?"

"It was the bank where I went last week to ask for a
teller's job," he answered.  "There was a new teller at
the window this morning, and she was black."

"They hired her instead of you?"

"That's right, María," he replied.  "I found the manager
and asked him why, and do you know what he said?  He
said my English wasn't good enough.  Can't I speak
English, María?"

"Your English is fine," she said.  It wasn't, but she
thought it best to be tactful.  "You'd be an excellent
teller."

"Yes, I would," he said.  "I've been here a year.  I'm a
citizen.  But I'm still doing nigger work in the sun
because some bastard doesn't like my accent, and there's
a nigger doing my job."  He spoke the Portuguese with
which he was familiar, but the word "nigger" was in
English; it was one of the first words every immigrant
learned.

"Don't worry," María said.  "You work hard, and you're
doing well in your English classes; I'm sure you'll find
a good job."

"I hope so; I didn't come here to carry bricks and live
in a hole.  But let's talk about something else."  He
handed her the newspaper he'd bought that morning; he'd
been too ashamed of his poor English to ask any of his
workmates to translate it for him.  "Can you read this
to me?"

"Certainly," said María, sitting down beside him and
scanning the headlines.  "It says that pretrial motions
are being heard today in the Madoka case."

"What's the Madoka case?"

"Let me read; I'll tell you," she said.  "It looks like
Madoka is a black lawyer..."

"A black lawyer?" he repeated.  "I can't even be a
teller, and you have to do your own housework, and the
niggers are lawyers?"

"Quiet," María soothed.  "Let me read.  It says that she
was indicted for supporting a banned political party,
and that she's protested for black voting rights."

"Protested?" asked Antonio.  "Doesn't she realize that
in Esperança [FN1] she'd be a maid?  Here she's a lawyer -
what can she possibly have to complain about?"

***

Kigumo, Victoria
30 miles north of Nairobi
3 March 1973

If any white Victorian had overheard the conversation
Letitia Ntimana was having, they wouldn't have believed
their ears.  It was a conversation any of them might
have had, about politics and the affairs of the day -
but that is precisely what wouldn't have been believed.
Blacks weren't supposed to concern themselves with such
things.

If they had seen the person with whom Ntimana was
speaking, though, they wouldn't merely have been
surprised; they'd have been alarmed.  That person,
Charles Saitoti, was Kigumo born and raised, but he'd
been a fugitive with a price on his head for the past
six years.  He was also the district commander for the
Victoria National Congress.

Here in Letitia's home, though, there were no white
people around to see or hear.  There was no reason for
whites to go to Kigumo, a town of hardscrabble farms and
one-room hovels; the railroad station in the center of
town existed solely to take workers to and from the city.
Letitia's children lived here, and so did she on the rare
occasions when her mistress allowed her to visit them.
It would have been easier to sell the house and move them
to Nairobi - she'd be able to see them more often, and she
wouldn't have to pay the tax on unproductive land [FN2] -
but she wanted them to grow up with something of their own.

Her children's future was also the subject of her
conversation.  Saitoti had been listening for the better
part of an hour; he agreed that the Ntimanas should have
one, but he wasn't sure why she'd asked him to risk the
trip into Kigumo to hear about it.

"It's a crime, what they're doing to Victoria Madoka,"
she said.

"So you've come to the subject at last," answered
Saitoti.  "So tell me - exactly what does this have to
do with your children?"

"It should be obvious, shouldn't it?" she asked.
"Patten's declared war - he wants to make clear that
none of us can expect a place here."

"He declared war on us years ago," Saitoti said.  "Why
should I be concerned about what happens to a citizen?"
He emphasized the last word; the term was a deadly insult
in Victoria's nationalist movement, connoting a black
person who had abandoned the struggle in favor of
personal advancement.

"Aside from the fact that she represented you once?"
Ntimana asked.  "She's important precisely _because_
she's a citizen.  Think about it, Charles.  Why haven't
the citizens ever listened to you before?  They think
they don't need a revolution to get their share of this
country - all they need is to make enough money.  And
most of the ones who aren't citizens yet think that all
they have to do is _become_ citizens.  Now, Patten's
telling them none of that matters - but we have to make
sure they know they're being told."

"Are you suggesting we go public?"

"I'm suggesting a demonstration in Nairobi.  Let's tell
the citizens who's _really_ on their side - and let's
remind them that there are other ways to change things
than voting..."

***

Abingdon, Victoria
4 March 1973

In the hierarchy of black Victorians, most of the
residents of Abingdon were "second class" - that is,
earning between 100 and 500 pounds per year.  They
weren't rich enough to vote, but they could afford a few
luxuries - decent apartments, cars, school fees for their
children.  The schools in this working-class suburb were
old and overcrowded, but they existed; the street
sweepers and police patrols didn't come around often, but
they came.  Most of them could read; many worked in
offices rather than factories or private homes.  Anyone
who could afford to live in Abingdon had something to lose.

As for all black Victorians, citizenship was their
ultimate dream, and the fact that they were only one
step away made it all the more poignant.  Most second-
class blacks would never achieve citizenship for
themselves, but for many of their children, it had become
a reality.  The greatest joy of a second-class parent was
to see his child become a citizen - and the greatest
tragedy was to see it slip away.  For two of Abingdon's
parents, this ultimate tragedy suddenly seemed
terrifyingly near.

"Do you really have to go through with this?" asked
Sarah Madoka as she cleared away dinner.  "I'm sure that
if you apologized, they'd drop the charges."

"No, Mother," said Victoria Madoka gently.  "I can't."

"Look what you're about to throw away," responded Sarah.
"You're a citizen, you have a beautiful home, you live
just like the whites do.  If you kept quiet, they'd leave
you alone.  Are a few villagers and factory hands really
worth all this?"  Like most of her second-class
counterparts, Sarah didn't resent the whites nearly as
intensely as she despised the third-class factory workers
and fourth-class subsistence farmers beneath her.

"To me, they are," Victoria said firmly.  "If they're not
free, then I'm not - and I mean that in the most literal
sense.  If a policeman sees me on the street when I go
home tonight, will he treat me like a citizen?  When I go
to the theater, will the clerk sell me seats with the
citizens?  As long as nine tenths of the black people
here aren't citizens, then the whites will become used to
treating us that way."

"Do you have to pay the price for it, though?" asked
Sarah.  "There are so many other people who can fight
that battle - why do you have to lose everything you've
gained?"

"You could go to Bunyoro [FN3], at least," said her
father, Thomas.  "They let you keep your passport - I'm
sure they'll let you leave."

"And I'd end up like all the other political exiles -
I'd make speeches, be the darling of cocktail parties,
and accomplish absolutely nothing."  She looked at her
parents, partly in exasperation and partly in gratitude
for their willingness to lose her to a foreign country
rather than see her come to harm.  "There are things I
need to do here..."

***

[FN1] Esperança, which occupies approximately the same
territory as OTL Zimbabwe, is one of the "Gold Republics"
alluded to in part 2.  In the FAN timeline, the British
never took the Cape Colony from the Dutch, and there was
thus no Great Trek to the Orange Free State and Transvaal.
Instead, white settlement of the OTL Boer republics and
Zimbabwe came much later, after gold and diamonds were
discovered in the interior, and the area was divided
between several colonial powers.  Settlers began arriving
in large numbers in the 1870s, and the indigenous
populations were finally subdued only in the 1890s.  By
the 1930s, the Gold Republics had achieved independence
under white-dominated governments, but the white
minorities never exceeded 7 percent of the population and
ultimately lacked staying power.  In 1973, all the Gold
Republics have either passed to black rule or are in a
state of insurrection.  Many of the whites have been
recruited as immigrants to Victoria - but, as can be
seen, their expectations often exceed reality.

[FN2] Subsistence farms and pastures aren't considered
productive under Victorian law.  The rates are set high
enough to make it prohibitive for black landowners
without outside income to keep their land; as a result,
most villages have been cleared out and the land
distributed to white cash-crop farmers and agribusiness
companies.

[FN3] On page 189 of FWOAN, Professor Sobel states that
numerous Europeans emigrated to "Kenya and Uganda in East
Africa" during the 1880s.  Obviously, "Uganda" refers to
the highlands in the eastern part of the country that
bears that name OTL, because the organized kingdoms
around Lake Victoria could not easily have been conquered
or settled at that time.  Instead, these kingdoms -
particularly Buganda and Bunyoro - became protectorates
along the lines of Swaziland or the Indian princely
states OTL, and ultimately became independent monarchies.

***

Jonathan I. Edelstein in Kew Gardens, NY

"It's been a lot of fun." -- in memoriam, Alison Brooks