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Fiction Black Suspense

 Freedom in certain foreign prisons is subject to work, good manners( as defined by the officers), loving yourself and your neighbors as you love your mama. Funny, right? Yet that is the reality in Maduri prison.

Built in 2013, one of the best in the world in terms of everything as the story goes. Building, it is up there with the best, food?- nearly there with the best, management? – nearly there with the best until you are picked on. The prison housed about one thousand plus inmates of which about three hundred were foreigners from thirty-four different countries. Almost all the continents were represented there.

  The rumor floating around that half of the foreign inmates in there don’t suppose to be in prison, that they were set up by the authorities and hounded into prisons as political bargaining chips. 

How true such stories are is subject to debate. The reality is that those inmates are in prison and some claiming to be the reality of the story are given five to eight years sentences.

To think that the country manages its prisons, especially the ones containing foreign inmates as you run school dormitories in your country is an indication of some stories of ‘bargaining chips prisoners' having some credibility to them.

    The way they treat foreign inmates differs from the way locals are treated. The officers they sent to the foreign district are treated differently too. Not minding that the foreigners are most docile, the officers sent there kept using the language and cultural differences as excuses for gaining special treatment from the central management. The management insisted that inmates must be encouraged to learn the language of the land despite almost all the major languages there having a local, quasi-local and pure foreigners that act as translators to the officers and inmates. 

  At times, there would b pure foreigners that do the translation work courtesy of their being able to speak the local language. Languages like Spanish, English, French, Arabic, Chinese, and Urdu have high concentrations of inmates that require each language to be translated each time any officer opens his or her mouth in formation, Factory, Auditorium, or during district weekly meetings.

Not easy to be a foreign prisoner during Harmattan season in Maduri prison. 

 To think those foreigners falsely believed that Africa is a hot climate that doesn’t have a cold season until they are caught in November to March month in Maduri prison. Some from colder weather have even suffered cold attacks there.

Some officers would intentionally station the inmates outside during the harmattan season and make unnecessary long speeches that require about five different translators to do their work to the consternation of the inmates.

  The translators are types that try to impress the officers and instead of summarizing what the officer said, they will repeat it words by word and stretch it to infinity just to show off. Some officers are in the habit of shifting their shortcomings onto the translators and are in habit of blaming the translators for not translating correctly to the inmates what they said while the translators would be swearing to high heavens that it was what they heard they translated.

 There are points attached to the post of the translator but just like being a line manager in the factory, there is equally punishment attached too. 

Such was the situation Cherif an inmate from Egypt found himself in when he accepted the role of Arabic translator in Maduri. 

  It happens that some officers had their own choice of whom they wanted for the job but the other camp won and appointed Cherif for the work and the losing side was determined to prove that they are right and the other camp wrong. They set out to frustrate every effort from Cherif.

Officers would say something in their weekly meetings and all the translators would do their work and some Arab speakers would do the opposite of what was said claiming that it was what was translated to them and some officers would blow it out of proportion to discredit Cherif. 

Almost all the inmates knew that something else is going on. They were all wondering if any other thing outside the point is attached to the work. “Why would an officer spend his time engaging in such sabotage each weekly meeting if there is nothing in it for him?” they kept asking themselves.

  Some claim bribery from their candidate or the man on the post bribed his way to it. The management was in the habit of sending junior and middle-ranked officers to the country they were studying it’s language to learn from the locals. At times, they would spend a year or more in such a country engaging in every activities organized by the locals or visiting their villages and communicating with the interior locals and learning from them firsthand. 

Whether the management calls the translators in secret, to enquire about certain officers in their districts, no one knows. At times, some officers would meet some inmates from the countries they were about to be posted to just to practice the language and engage them in any amount of the language they have learned in anticipation of traveling to that country. Most of the time, the management would cancel the travel arrangement they have done for some officers already. Why? Some claimed lack of good manners.

Only those officers and management can tell. Inmates are suspecting that it has something to do with why they took the translating work and who does it seriously as if it holds any other advantage outside points for cutting sentences. 

But Cherif’s incident is proving the inmates wrong. Translators hold unseen powers over some officers they don't even realize. Why would some officers be begging an uninterested inmate to take the role he doesn’t want when they are capable of others kowtowing for the work?

Maybe, it has something to do with making the officer’s work easier or enhancing their promotion chances. Too many maybes. 

The choice is with the inmate. Either you prefer to do your factory work and behave yourself in the dormitory gather your point and serve your sentence in peace and one piece and leave in peace and one piece over time or choose to pally with officers, control some inmates and accumulate enemies and either go home a few months earlier than the other person or risk some months being added to your sentence as result of your behavior not being good.

When the officers rise against themselves due to an inmate, the result is always when the going gets tough, the officers would understand themselves and sacrifice the inmate at the center of their quarrels. Esprit De corps spirit that rays it’s head often in their profession. 

Such was the situation Cherif found himself in with some officers and some of his fellow Arab inmates each week in the meeting and for months, it was smoldering among the officers that central officers stepped in to see what was happening. That was when inmates heard that one middle-ranked officer at the center of the noise was penciled down to travel to Iran and was canceled at the last minutes. He concluded after snooping around that it was Cherif at the center of his dashed luck while Cherif was swearing that there was nothing like that from his part. 

    Central office on their own staged investigation found out that it was the same inmate the officer was trying to replace Cherif with ratted him out.

They concluded that all they heard including those they threw in the dustbin as not being possible were true and the officer in the wrong profession. He was sent to man the gate at one of the gardens in the town. From officer in prison to gateman. 

 When he was told who was behind his ordeal, he decided on his own that he wasn’t cut out for the work. The last heard of him was that he was into pig rearing in his village.

December 17, 2022 05:34

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1 comment

Katy B
19:16 Dec 22, 2022

I really enjoyed this story. You are very skilled at setting the scene from the very beginning, and the first two paragraphs are perfect! There is a lot of humor and realistic detail. Well done!


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