by Bryan Russell
How to Become a Warlord
The government was taking all the money and so Mamud Aboto thought he would do something about it. He became a warlord.
It was not so hard. Revolution was very popular. It was easy to get guns, and there were young men everywhere sitting around. There was no work, no food. Hungry men, Mamud found, were quite motivated.
Mamud called it the People’s Liberation Front for Freedom, or the PLFFF. He blamed everything on the government and said they were going to take it all back for the people. Money! Land! Jobs!
The government was in the City. Politicians were all rich. Industry was always owned by foreigners, and there was no intelligentsia. The only way to make a lot of money was in public office. Which was not right, not by Mamud’s thinking.
Soldiers guarded the City. There were checkpoints. The PLFFF grew, they raided the checkpoints but a lot of people got shot. Luckily there were more hungry boys and men. The guns were light. Anyone could shoot them.
There wasn’t much food. International relief was great, but it was always delivered to the City, and all the politicians took it. The hungry people in the country stayed hungry. But that was good for the PLFFF, Mamud thought. More hungry boys!
There were rivals, though. Mamud was upset at first. The United People for Independence Movement (UPIM) and the Freedom Fighters for the People (FFP) and the Independent Liberators Front (ILF). Some people said they should get together and take down the government but, what, was Mamud going to share the spoils? How would that work?
They each had their own areas, all the liberators. They declared their autonomy and Mamud shouted to everyone that this is what he had always wanted. Independence! Freedom! He felt very successful. Extra guns for everyone. There were little border battles for territory. More people died. The guns were light. Anyone could shoot them.
But the boys started coming to Mamud. “President Chief,” they said. “We are hungry. There is no food.”
Mamud did not like this drought, all the dust. He tried to spit, but there was not much moisture. “Go north,” he said. “Get some food there.”
“UPIM is there, President Chief. If we go there it will be lots of fighting because they do not want us to take food from there.”
Mamud drank some beer.
“We are hungry, President Chief.”
“You have guns, don’t you?” Mamud said, waving his hands dismissively.
The boys nodded and went out to take whatever they could. The City was guarded. The territories of the other liberation movements were guarded. The local villages were not. This was much easier for everyone. The boys shot people and took whatever they wanted. Food, beer. Everyone got drunk and killed some more. And there were women now, too, and so the boys were happy, and so was Mamud.
The problem, though, was that the people were poor. They didn’t have much, and the PLFFF took everything. The other liberation movements were doing the same thing. Soon there was nothing left in the countryside.
Mamud called up the other warlords and said they must do something. They all went to the City and started the peace process. The government invited them in and made them governors of their respected territories. They all applied for grants to the World Bank. Ah, the peace process! Democracy! Rebuilding! The money poured in and it all went to the politicians and the warlords.
Mamud was very happy. Indeed, he was very rich. Certainly the World Bank had much more money than a bunch of starving villagers.