President Michael Sata
File:President Michael Sata

The strange visitor

I had hardly settled in my seat before a monitor of a microfilm reader in the library when a bulky man with steel eyes, dressed in a charcoal suit, approached me.

“Are you Field Ruwe?” he asked.

The accent gave him away. He was Zambian.

His approach was confrontational, so I hesitated, but only for a brief moment.

“Yes,” I said.

He extended his hand.

“I’ve been dying to meet you. We need to talk.”

A bolt of worry ran through my body. I was going to scream for help when my sixth sense calmed me down. There was a woman at the next monitor. She took a quick glance at us and continued with her work.

Research on the Life of Michael Sata

Okay. Let me pause for a sec and set the scene. First, I must explain what a microfilm reader is. It is a computer–like device that compacts and stores documents. Libraries use microfilms to archive old newspapers, journals and records from around the world in microform. Some date back to the Gutenberg Revolution of the 1400s. I had just accessed the Northern Rhodesia/Zambia section.

For the past month, I have been perusing microfilmed newspapers and documents to find supporting evidence of President Michael Sata’s life. To do so is like sifting through soil for Acheulean fossils in the Olduvai Gorge. I am not a Louis Leakey, but a historian and journalist trying to chronicle the life of my president in its entirety. Armed not with excavation spades and brushes, but with my pen, I am looking for skeletons in the cupboard, buried deep in the sands of time.

The life of president Sata intrigues many. It is a rags-to-riches blockbuster laced with perseverance, tenacity, trickery, vindictiveness, deceit, back-stabbing, malice, and venom. It exceeds that of most Zambian men who walk the corridors of power. He is not charming but cunning; not loved but tolerated. So why not put his life in perspective for the curious mind and the fervent reader. That’s what I am attempting. If I don’t, no one will. There is no presidential biographer in the land of fourteen million people.

He has succeeded in blocking journalists from writing with a purpose of facilitating change and has instead turned them into propagandists.

We never chronicle our presidents. Apart from Kaunda who penned an autobiography “Zambia shall be free,” our leaders do not write their memoirs. They do not keep journals or diaries and when it is time to go, they leave not an iota of written life. We remember them orally for we are content with oral history—that branch of history that has earned us much scoff and ridicule. They say we muddle our memories in vagueness and imprecision. Our very own historians know this and yet choose to behave like scavengers feeding on Eurocentric acumen.

Perhaps the word “scavenger” is too extreme. There are some local historians who have made an effort. For instance Beatwell Chisala did an excellent job with “The rise and fall of Kaunda.” But many who have volunteered to document the lives of our leaders have been underrated, spurned, snubbed, held in suspicion, and turned away. This is the reason why my project bears the title “King Cobra: unauthorized biography of Michael Sata.” Before I embarked on the assignment, I took an oath to be fair and unbiased. I pledged to execute my work as both a journalist and historian, and not allow emotions get the best of me.

Shu shu shu?

I had intended to kick off at the end of the spring semester and put the summer break to good use, but for a good while a spell of discouragement percolated in my mind like the devil’s wind. It was sparked by a caller one May day:

“I’m trying to reach Field Ruwe,” the caller said.

“Yes, this is he,” I replied. “And who are you?”

“Never mind,” he said. “I just want to warn you to stop writing garbage about His Excellency President Michael Sata and the PF government. I have…”

“Who are you?” I interjected.

The caller ignored me.

“I have been reading your so-called ‘Hunt for Successor’ nonsense and I am least impressed. You’ve been tainting the good name of the president. You are portraying him to the world as an ignorant dictator. We know who is behind this and who is paying you. We even know how much. You are playing with fire my friend.”

“Who are you and who gave you my number?”

“You can’t hide,” he continued. “I know where to find you. I’ve all your cellphone and home numbers, your street address, and your exact location, even the plate number and make of the car you drive. For your own information, I’m not far from where you are. I know the color of your house. I even know the number of trees in your yard. They are eight. Count them. So, watch it. Stop the nonsense, do you understand?”

“You bloody assassin,” I countered. “Stalkers like you ought to be arrested and thrown in jail. You are the reason our country is stagnant. You are the ones who have turned your very own children, brothers and sister, nieces and nephews into lambs and dragged our country back to the stone-age. We can’t develop intellectually because of you.”

“Leave the president alone,” he retorted. “If you don’t I will make sure you are arrested and repatriated to Zambia to stand trial. Don’t say I did not warn you.”

“I’ll not be intimidated,” I replied.

“I’m coming for you,” he said and hung up.

For a while I was emotionally frayed. It was the third anonymous call in a month. The last one was from a woman.

“Mr. Ruwe,” she called. “I was your fan when you wrote ‘Zambian intellectuals are lazy.’ I felt inspired, but you began to criticize the president and our political leaders. I changed my mind. Why have you gone after politicians instead of concentrating on your message of invention and innovation? Do you know that defamation of a president is a very serious crime in Zambia?”

“Who are you?” I asked.

“I’m a woman who loves her country and respects her leaders. Of course you don’t. You choose to insult and demean them. You better watch your back.”

She hung up.
The very first call was short. It was male and deep-throated:

“Don’t you ever think of coming back to Zambia. We shall feed you to hyenas. Stay where you are.”

Fear

A languid feeling coupled with a sense of insecurity began to filter in. I had forgotten that I belonged to a trodden people lodged in the grasp of one man—the president. In my country the president is supreme; nonpareil; and he is a quasi-deity. He can do whatever he wants even when he sleeps on a bed of thorns. It is illegal and certainly taboo to say or write anything negative about him.

For president Sata, uncritical support and naivety are a symbol of loyalty and patriotism. We are expected to worship him. We should mutely watch him squander our trust and mismanage our lives. He can conceal his life and reveal only what suits him; that’s alright. He can leave the country whenever he feels like at our expense; why not. Those who dare challenge his authority are considered contumacious and pay a heavy price. They are hunted, blackballed, thrown into TB jails and left for the dead.

The recent anonymous calls, hate mail, hackings, and the use of my IP to block me from accessing some of the online media outlets, were an indication that I was in a similar predicament; that I had aroused enough concern to be put under surveillance. If I boarded a plane to Zambia I would land at Auschwitz in the same cell with those who believe in the freedom of the press.
The thought scared the bejesus out of me. I told my son I was abandoning “Hunt for Successor” series.

“I thought you taught me never to quit?” he said. “You did mean it, didn’t you?”

“Of course I did.”

“You said that when fear knocks I should slam the door in its face.”

“Yes I did.”

“So, why are you sounding like a coward?” he asked. “Why are you throwing in the towel?”

“Because I do not want you or any member of my family to be harmed,” I said. “The president is brutal. He’s pitiless. He’s throwing people with dissenting views in jail and shutting off any media opposition.”

“Tell me dad. If you quit, who is going to fight for those thrown in jail? Who is going to give Zambian journalists the full meaning of freedom? I thought by writing the series you were shedding more light on the untold stories and fulfilling the function of freedom of the press? If you are such a coward, why did you start the series? Didn’t you know the conditions under which journalists back home operate? Didn’t you know who you were dealing with? Didn’t you know it would come to this?”

Zambian journalists are pursued, prosecuted, and persecuted

My son had me thinking. I remembered the words of my professor in my investigative journalism class: “An investigative journalist must remain focused, fearless, and precise, just like a surgeon. He must have the desire to probe, prod, and uncover the truth. He must not wilt under pressure.”

This is the reason I became an investigative journalist and a historian. I have the desire to seek the truth and help to uphold democracy in my country.
From the day Sata became president, the development of journalism has stalled. It is retarded. He has succeeded in blocking journalists from writing with a purpose of facilitating change and has instead turned them into propagandists.

As a result Zambian journalists have become non-progressive. They are unable to fight the abuse of power, oppression, corruption, and nepotism. Those who feel a personal affront when they sense danger are banished. They are pursued, prosecuted, and persecuted. I am no exception.

I took another good look at my pursuer, the falconer in the microfilm room. For a moment I thought it was Wynter Kabimba. Obviously it was not. He was taller with thicker lips. His demeanor was best suited for a police officer.

He glanced at the monitor and caught the bold words “Zambia: Sata linked to emeralds scandal.” I had begun my day by reading a story in the Zambia Reports, written by George Mwenya, and featured on All.Africa.com.

“So this is where you do your research,” the man said after telling me his name was John Banda.

“John, how can I help you?” I was nonchalant.

“I need to speak with you,” he said. “Do you have a moment?”

“What do you want to speak to me about?” I asked.

“I can’t say it here. We’ll need to find a quiet place. It is important that I talk to you.”

All the while I was trying to connect his voice to the phone calls. I couldn’t place it. It was huskier with beer in it.

“I’m not moving out of this seat until you tell me why you are here,” I said.

I reached for my phone to call the emergency 911; that’s what the police had told me. I had reported the phone threats to them and they had assured me help would not be too far.

To be continued. Don’t miss Part II

By Field Ruwe

Text Part 1 to a friend. Permission is granted to other media outlets to publish this story with acknowledgement.

Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner, historian, and author. He is a PhD candidate at George Fox University and serves as an adjunct professor (lecturer) in Boston. ©Ruwe2012
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54 COMMENTS

  1. I have never EVER read this articles, now even up to 46? What is all about? Just the headline/title sounds so styupit to me.

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    • Its so sad that Sata should be intimidating everyone holding different opinions from him.RB was mocked,ridiculed day in and out and he never intimidated anyone.How many times did people mock him for his young wife?How many online media did he shut down? How many journalists had their homes ransacked?Who then is the mature of the two?We journalists shall not be intimidated.You can arrest us,confiscate our phones and computers but you can never keep the truth hidden.It shall always find its way out. Why should you send Shu shu shu to follow us all the time? don’t you have better things to do? When fear knocks we shall slam the door in its face.

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    • Ba Notradull, bena bekalafye pa computer kwati balibalowa. Limbi tababomba. Bikako amano ku family yobe not computer. Yikakupenya. If you work you must be fired.

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    • Notraidle is addicted to blogging. He does not read, he just blogs, and blogs, and blogs, from morning to evening, then goes home and tells his family that he is from work. Every story has Notraidle as one of the first bloggers. How can you blog without first reading the story? You have blogged enough, go on a one month leave. It might help you overcome the addiction. It’s too much mwana. I am just trying to help you.

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    • Field Ruwe has done it again. What a powerful article. Field, you are a brave man and may God watch over your soul. Sata and Kabimba a dangerous men. Please watch your back and seek help from the police. I am sure your stalkers are from Washington DC. You better not go to Zambia while Sata is still in office, you may want to wait a while. I know my life is in danger too, but I am not scared. Sata will be dealt with!!! I am a force of nature to be reckoned with!!

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    • Mr Bricklayer, you coward. You hide behind a blog name and yet claim your life is in danger? Give us a break by not comparing youself to brave Field Ruwe .

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    • It is true. This guy Notradamus needs help. He is found everywhere. Where does he get the time. The real Notradamus was sparingly thoughtful. This guy is obviously not. See a doctor.

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    • @Ruwe Fan……. I know you are one of my enemies who are trying to take me out. My name is Stephen Mwendabwamba and I reside in the USA. There!! I gave you my name. Now come and get me!!

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  2. Weird how some people could be so educated but ignorant in thinking.Looks like this education hasn’t done you any justice Ruwe.Man tone down on your unwarranted personal attacks on the president.Just work hard you will reach his heights.Spending your days sitting on your behind typing this garbage won’t help you much bwana failed career comedian.

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    • Why are you people so afraid of freedom of expression? Ruwe has a right express himself he is a free man…like you @saulosi so please don’t read if you are offended Sata is not a god please!

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    • @Rodgers you seem to be just as criminally stupi.d as this**** Ruwe!!! How can a normal human being confuse freedom of speech with the trash coming out of this ***** called***** Ruwe!

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  3. @Saulosi. Have you read the whole article you fool.If you can’t contribute wisely then you shut your arse.

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    • Field Ruwe is a journalist and he won’t rest until he has served us with his stories. Just as a footballer, mechanic or accountant takes pride in their skill, this man has to keep doing what he is doing. No retreat, no surrender!

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    • @Kongolo, sorry my dear,this chap RUWE!) is one perfect example of PRIMITIVE adults who in this day and age still think if someone is not your tribesmen they should be hated!!!

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  4. it amazing hw our exild highly educatd profesr hs paintd our country & presdnt blak. where was Field wen we suffred so muc @ the hands of the MMD? am a journalist mysf bt it appears there ar more media probms, abuses, oppresns in the prof’s mind thn there are in everyday opertns of the press. otherws Nation newspr, criticl private radio statns and even the Lusaka times tht has had very abusive & insulting postings frm th prof & othr blogrs wd not b opetnl today. Hw many pipo insultd Pres Sata whil in opposn & ar now in hs govt or ar jus operatg wtout any harasmt in the opostn 2day wen most of us wld ve bn temptd 2reveng. b serious prof don’t paint yo own country tht blak. if th authorities ar pesuing u its becos of yo own iresponbilty. freedm of press is not absolute evn in fac of…

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  5. From this article it can be deduced that PF government has sent assassins to stop Field Ruwe from expressing himself. Under international law this is a crime and those government agents doing Sata’s dirty work should know that the consequences of their actions can land Zambia into enormous problems that Sata can’t solve. Let people express themselves without fear of retribution.

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    • Ruwe is just hallucinating. Who would go after Ruwe’s ass when the chap is not even known in Katondo street. He is beginning to dream people are after him. He has become paranoid because of his own stupidity of writing fiction about Zambia and mistaking this for reality. He may have children but the man has no balls. Why writing against PF whilst abroad? Is it for aging Ruwe to earn himself refugee status abroad as an excuse for not wanting to leave America and come back to Zambia, or is it Malawi the country of his parents and forefathers?

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  6. There lies the problem! How do you reason with people that lack any form of education and exposure? I am tired of pumping brains into their heads. Let Saulosi and his likes rot in oblivion. Even his name sounds archaic. Great Britain the oldest democracy I know of does not shoot people down for criticising the prime minister or MPs. Even Thatcher was ridiculed in death – because she was a public servant whose policies were abhorred by some and revered by others. If you don’t want to be criticised then get the fcuk out of the public office and public eye – finito!

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  7. @tips lee – do you have a problem with the colour black? or are suffering from inferiority complex. In your use of the colour black I see so much doom and gloom and an ingrained second class stamp in your DNA makeup that you my dear need a quick double dose of equalityingodseyes jab.

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  8. Sounds like you have been watching too many spy movies Mr Ruwe. That is the only explanation I can come up with for the gross misinformation you have about Zambia. Reading your article one would think Zambia is worse than Stalin’s Russia or George Orwel’s 1984.

    Most of us just live our lives, governed by a president who loves his country. Does he make mistakes? oh yes like any human being. Does he get pissed when people peddle half-truths and innuendo? Sure he does (who wouldn’t). It is true some laws need to be looked at again and we are getting there. But to suggest that citizens live in mortal fear of the president is over the top. Most of us just live our lives. And we are prospering!

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  9. I really feel sorry for these bloggers backing the president. Its either they belong to the family forest or their livelihood is connected to sata. Mr Ruwe depicts what is happening in our society. The wise will learn!

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  10. @Decotex and others like the author u need a conscience ,be truthfull in yo life. As long as the Lord lives what u have said will’ve no effect. Yo lies will follow u even in yo graves.Have we 4gotten how evil was RB u tribalists? Ruwe u’re a demon !

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    • Ask the people of Zambia, who is a liar and demon Field or Sata. The lies he has told and the evil things he has said about other people. You are a blind PF cadre who when things change will rise against him. We know your type. All we want is freedom of the press and Ruwe is fighting for us. Just get your PF bribe and keep quiet.

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  11. What life is he dipicting ?Jehovah reigns. He won’t let liers like Ruwe go on like this.That dipiction lucks even intelligence becoz it beats de record of Hitler,Idmin, North korea,Iraq,Saudi Arabia,kaunda’s de least is endless.Falsehood!

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  12. Ruwe ulishilu.U are insane .Honest readers will c that. U are there and yo fellow demons are feeding u with lies. Where are we seeing that?lf a stu pid journalist is not ethical like u should he go scot free? Educated f o o l!Johavah reigns!

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    • PF cadre, go to school. You are an embarrassment to your parents and relatives. Grade 7 will keep you in slavery

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  13. One that loves his country doesn’t destroy it & the pipo he purpotes to speak 4 .U are not destroying Sata, u re destroying Zambia as a whole .Know that at the end u are destroying yoself.Who can even assasinate this being of no commercial value?

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  14. Even if Sata is not as educated as u claim he’s a million better dan u lier. 4 ten years was under de eye of both Levy and Sugar dad RB who wanted 2finish him at o cost but they both failed lamentebly. ‘King Cobra’ out smarted both of them. lunatic!

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  15. Chanda chimbe insulted sata with impunity he is still alive.Mumbi had a confrontational with sata he is still alive.Fred memmbe was a sworn enemy of sata ,he issues still alive.Even KK was a sworn enemy of sata but today they are friends.Field Ruwe you nid to convince me more than this story you have published.

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  16. This Ruwe fool, whats his point? Economic refugees have their way of attracting attention yaba!.insulting elders is what u call freedom of expression? Promoting homo sexiality as human rights? Pliz liv Sata alone.

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  17. Im really shocked with Ruwe, why should Sata sent assassins for Ruwe in USA? God help Ruwe if Ruwe hates Sata with passion that does not mean Sata will kill him through hiring assassins. It’s true when people say people who are generally born liars they will remains like that and if they can’t lie they are sick to the bone. In psychiatry Ruwe can be diagnosed as a person who lies and things he is above anyone I terms of lies and wealth. What has changed Ruwe from being a poor comedian to an investigative journalist who fears his own shadow? What could a cyber cheater achieve? It’s character assassination of those he does not like .

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    • You are a hypocrite. I bet if today Field Ruwe was assassinated you would be glad he was dead. I doubt you put a wreath on the grave of those do died under mysterious circumstances—Penza, Tembo, Kaunda, Nkumbula, Nguni. If Ruwe feels threatened he has the right to speak out, just like you would. I grew up with him and sang with him in the choir in Chiwempala, unless you know him better than I do, I and those grew up with him in Chingola did not associate him with lies. It is unfair for you to try and portray him as such. He may have been a poor comedian, but he truly has done well with his education. I love the way he writes.

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  18. It is his demons that he is hearing and seeing. This insect of no commencial value. Yo lies and hate are chasing u. Sata has no time to worst on pipo like u,cocroach!

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  19. A foreign journalist at the last UA heads of State gathering of wondered how on earth Zambians, a people he is familiar with, and considers intelligent could have Sata for president. Simple. We also have people like Saulosi. Shallow, mediocre reasoning and proudly a deaf and blind follower with a laptop.

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  20. just read the article Field Ruwe mentioned, “Zambia: Sata linked to emeralds scandal.”
    It is on the following site.

    http://allafrica.com/stories/201308070687.html

    Kagem Mining is owned by Mahtani. He cheated and kicked out partners from Mozambique, originally from India. Late Mwanawasa had a small shareholding with Mahtani, the Indians who had majority and ran the mines were kicked out in 2008. They know African Politics better than many foreign investors and kept quiet and moved on in life. The Senegalese is not the owner of that Mine and house does not belong to him. The house on Omelo Mumba Road was rented out for a long time to foreign nationals and the rent was paid to Mr. Sata.

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  21. Demons slander and defem .Wat is yo mission? U WILL NEVER SUCCEED RUWE. U ARE PERSONAL.SATA HAS NEVER AT ANY TIME HURT U. HE MAY NOT EVEN KNOW U. IF THAT IS THE WAY U ARE SELLING YOSELF ,WE ARE NOT GULLIBLE. U WILL DIE BEGGING THERE.UBU FONTINI !

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    • Osmore with his rubbish. This is the reason we Zambians must insist on a better education. When we end up in Grade 7, we can’t see beyond the horizon. It is sad for a Zambian to write the way this chap does. Sometimes I feel like crying!

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  22. I have said demons are pretenders and very boastfull yet they are empty. That’s the case with Ruwe and his supporters. Journalist must know that you don’t have the monopoly of wisdom. In most cases u behave fo olishly. This is the case with Ruwe.

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  23. Another manisfestation of demonic possesion, they will claim to be more educated than anyone ,wiser than any,holier than any yet they re empty. Tell me u f.o .ol ,does it mean press freedom u’ve 2 insult nd lie? Does it mean u have to spread hate?

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    • Osmore.How can you understand the article when you can’t express yourself well. If you are Sata’s relative ask for sponsorship to school. If you are a PF cadre I weep for you because you are wasting your life. Discard that laptop and find something better to do. You must be a let down to your parents who were hoping you would become something better in life. If you are a shushushu I understand why we’ve problems in this. It is because of people like you.

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  24. Ruwe,you’re a powerhouse in investigative journalism.I’ve always made sure to read every line of your articles.Plz continue with the good work and fear no evil as no person is god.

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  25. What Ruwe has written even my grade 1 child will easily interprate .Dere is no objectivism in wat u demons above have said. Have a conscience u fo ols,traitors who’r fighting a loosing battle. Don’t u c dat it is unwise 2 always hide yo id iocy….

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  26. ..in yo so called education that has made u unwise? Yo education is of no value to my nation. Yo education is fire without heat. Tell the truth nd u’ll b free from yo demons dat are scaring u when dere is no 1 chasing u.lnsects dat have no value .

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  27. Look at yo shallow mindedness! Do i nid to b Sata’s relative or pf cadre to disagree with yo idi ocy? I agree with pipo that have said be 4 that some of u think with their tribes.lf Sata is evil as u try to dipict him ( tho in vain)i could tell him.

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  28. If it were that bafoon called Proud u could be at a mountain top praising his rubbish.Now that you think with yo tribe 0 that jagon is okay. Jehovah reigns. Sata,Sata.. from ashes to the state house! Go hang if u can’t c this.

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