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Subject: For All Nails #51h: Victoria's Secret (Part 8)

Magistrate's Court
Nairobi, Victoria
30 April 1973

"Please pull up right there, outside the front entrance."

The words felt strange in Victoria Madoka's mouth.  She had
never imagined that she might need to hire a loke and driver;
nevertheless, there could be no question of taking the
Underground to the courthouse today.  The building was
surrounded with journalists and curious onlookers; left to
her own devices, she doubted that she would even reach the
front door.

She had been besieged for days with interview requests from
the domestic and foreign press; somehow, she had found the
time to grant most of them.  Fortunately, she had managed to
adjourn most of her court appearances in preparation for
trial, keeping her need to venture from her flat to a
minimum.  Just as fortunately, this was not a case that
required much preparation.  She had said exactly what the
prosecution accused her of saying; the only thing to be
decided was whether her words posed a danger to the state.
There was no need to search for documents or canvass
witnesses.  She could prepare her arguments in the sanctuary
of her home - at least when she wasn't answering reporters'
telephone calls.

Even telephone interviews, of course, did not satisfy the
press; they only kept it at bay for a while.  The cameras
were out in force today; the reporters had no intention of
missing her grand entrance at the opening of the trial.  As
the car pulled up to the entrance, Madoka could see the
insignia vitavision stations from around the world - Germany,
North America, even Mexico.  They hadn't sent cub reporters,
either; she thought she recognized Theresa Gugliano from
NCCC standing next to that old rogue Anand Rajaram.  A
thought occurred to her, and she made a mental note to
arrange a meeting with Rajaram later; in the meantime, there
was no use waiting any longer.  She took a deep breath and
stepped out of the loke.

She was, she admitted, quite a fashionable figure.  Under
most circumstances, she dressed to call attention away from
herself rather than the reverse; she wanted the jury to
focus on her arguments rather than her appearance, and she
didn't want to risk prejudicing white jurors or judges by
appearing to dress above her station.  This time, however,
she was appearing as defendant rather than attorney, and she
had a very specific statement to make with her clothing.  The
world would be watching this case, and she wanted them to see
exactly who the government was attempting to repress - she
wanted them to see a woman as successful and sophisticated as
any Mexican senator or stylish North American lady.

So she wore a forest-green, above-the-knee tailored dress of
the style favored by Nairobi's leading hostesses, accented
with a single strand of pearls and black high heels.  It was
a fashion less suited to her than to women with husbands to
earn a living and maids to do the housework, but she had to
admit that it looked good on her.

Her arrival was greeted with the flash of camera bulbs and
shouted questions from reporters.  For a moment, she thought
that the journalists might break through and block her way
up the stairway, but the police guard kept the path to the
door clear.  She smiled at them - and at the reporters, to
let them know that it wasn't personal - and walked in to
face her day in court.

***

Kibera, Victoria
1 May 1973

"So what did you think?" Victoria asked.

"I must say," answered Anand Rajaram, "that I've never seen
a case before where it took two days to pick a jury."

"Neither have I, if that's any consolation to you."  Jury
selection in the Victorian courts was nearly always a
process of a few minutes, or an hour at most, but Madoka's
case was no more ordinary in this respect than in any other.
Nearly all the prospective jurors had heard of the case,
and most of them had firm opinions.  The judge had granted
one challenge for cause after another, and called for fresh
panels no fewer than seven times.  He had also given both
Victoria and the prosecutor far more leeway to question the
jurors than was usual, and had sometimes taken over the
questioning himself.  The twelfth juror hadn't been selected
until two o'clock on the second day, and it had been a near-
run thing as to whether a third day would be needed to pick
the alternates.

Madoka didn't think she'd done badly.  There were no blacks
on the jury, of course; black citizens had the right to sit
as jurors, but that right was mostly academic.  Those few
who hadn't been successfully challenged for cause had been
eliminated using the prosecutor's peremptories.  Fortunately,
she'd been almost as successful at ferreting out the worst
of the white racialists, despite the fact that they weren't
instantly recognizable by their skin color.  The foreman,
Max Klein, seemed like a fair-minded and thoughtful man.  So
did most of the others, although she wasn't sure about the
recent Esperançan immigrant, María Marques.

She cleared the thought from her mind as she returned her
gaze to the _Guardian_ reporter.  "You're probably wondering
why I invited you home."

"I suppose it was too much to expect that this would be a
social call," Rajaram said.  "Yes, I _was_ wondering."

"I intend to offer you full access," Madoka began.  "I will
meet with you in private at your convenience, you may ask me
anything you like, and everything I say will be on the
record.  I will reserve my right not to answer questions,
but if I choose not to do so, I will be honest with you
about the reason.  What I ask in return..."

A child of six entered the room and pulled at Madoka's hand.
"Aunt Victoria?  May I have a glass of water?"

"Surely, Dorothy," Victoria answered, favoring the reporter
with an embarrassed smile.  "I'll be back to you in just a
minute."

"Don't worry," Rajaram said.  "I know a higher authority
when I see one."  He returned Madoka's smile as she
accompanied Dorothy Ntimana into the kitchen.

Caring for children was something entirely new to Victoria,
and something that had been thrust upon her with no
preparation.  Letitia Ntimana's son and daughter were well
used to taking care of themselves, but by Victoria's
standards they were far too young to be left alone.  She had
engaged a part-time caretaker, and she wasn't afraid to draw
on the nanny's experience, but she was far too new a
surrogate mother to be comfortable with her role.

And that was only the beginning of her worries.  What, for
instance, was she to do about their schooling?  They'd never
been to school, and she thought they ought to go, but how was
she to enroll them when they weren't living with her legally?
She tutored them at night when she had time, and she'd asked
the nanny to teach them during the day, but she felt as
inadequate to that task as to motherhood.  Far better for the
children to have their own mother back - which brought her
full circle to the reporter sitting in her parlor.

"You were about to name your price," he said as she returned
from her mission.

"Yes," she answered.  "There are two things I want you to do,
actually.  I have a friend named Letitia Ntimana, who was
arrested after April fourth and is now being held at Nyeri
prison camp.  I want you to write an article about her -
front page - and I want you to help me get in to see her..."

***

Opening Statements in _State v. Madoka_
Magistrate's Court
Nairobi, Victoria
2 May 1973

THE DEPUTY PUBLIC PROSECUTOR (MR. HODGES): ... Good morning,
ladies and gentlemen of the jury.  You are here today to
decide an open and shut case.  This is a case, ladies and
gentlemen, that hardly requires a trial, and that can end
with only one result.

The accused is charged with violating the Sedition Act 1912,
by reason of speaking in favor of the Victoria National
Congress at a public meeting.  She has admitted, and I
believe she will continue to admit, to making the statements
charged in the indictment.  That, I say to you, concludes
this case.

I need hardly remind you, ladies and gentlemen, of what the
Victoria National Congress is - an organization of black
revolutionaries.  Their goal is nothing less than the
destruction of Victoria as we know it, and the way of life
we hold dear.  It is on the Attorney General's list of banned
political organizations, and for a very good reason.  This is
the organization the accused is charged with supporting.  The
accused, ladies and gentlemen, is nothing less than a black
revolutionary herself.

I put it to you that the accused is a danger to the state,
and one that must be dealt with severely.  Ladies and
gentlemen, your task is to punish her as she deserves...

THE DEFENDANT: ... Ladies and gentlemen, the learned Public
Prosecutor told you a great deal about this case earlier this
morning, but he omitted one minor detail - not once during
his opening did he mention my name.  Since he didn't see fit
to introduce me to you, I will introduce myself.  My name is
Victoria Madoka.  My middle name is Mary, after my maternal
grandmother.

Earlier, Mr. Hodges said that this was an open and shut case.
In a sense, it is.  There will be no dispute over the salient
facts; I freely admit that I said everything I am accused of
saying.  In fact, I will say it again, here and now.  I said
that Victoria belongs to all its people, that it is the aim
of the Victoria National Congress to make Victoria into a
state of all its citizens, and that its candidates should be
supported in the general election notwithstanding the
Attorney General's ban.  That was my statement, and I stand
by it...

... I said just now that there would be no dispute about the
salient facts of this case.  I was wrong, because the intent
of the speaker, and the circumstances of the speech, are very
salient facts in a prosecution for sedition.  These are not
facts that can be determined as easily as whether the speech
was made; indeed, they are facts that defy precise definition.
Nevertheless, your task will be to find these facts, because
there can be no sedition without a danger to the state.

What is sedition, ladies and gentlemen?  At common law, a
person was guilty of sedition if he advocated the overthrow
of the state through unlawful means.  We now have a Sedition
Act, and the definition has changed slightly, but the
foundation is still there.  Mr. Hodges would have you
believe that it is sedition simply to speak in favor of a
party on the Attorney General's list.  I say that his
argument is supported by neither law nor sense.

Am I accused of attempting to overthrow the state?  I
certainly advocated changing the party in power, but that is
no more than the Democrats or the Conservatives do every day.
I did not advocate violence, or even a change in the form of
our government; I called upon my audience to vote for members
of Parliament, as they do every four years.  Did that
endanger the state?  Is that sedition?  I think that if it
is, there will be precious little freedom of speech remaining
in this country - and I am speaking of your freedom of speech
as well as mine...

... Ladies and gentlemen, the only fair verdict in this
case, and the verdict I trust you will render, is a verdict
of not guilty.

***

Jonathan I. Edelstein in Kew Gardens, NY

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