Sol Kerzner and the president - a poem by Norman HC Smith

(After Lewis Carroll)

President Sebe recalled how he had approached Mr Sol Kerzner. ‘I explained that we did not even possess a deposit (apart from) the Ciskeian nation. Those words pierced his heart’. Sebe called on Ciskeians not to see the Amatola Sun as a place for degrading excesses.


The Suns were doing nicely, thanks –

            Had been for several years –

And Homeland Chiefs who asked for one

            All wound up millionaires:

And this, perhaps, accounted for

            Their presidential airs.

Sol Kerzner and the ‘President’

            Were sitting hand in hand:

They wept like anything to see

            Such undeveloped land.

‘A gambling joint down here,’ they said,

            ‘Could make ten thousand grand.’

‘The time is past’, Chief Sebe cried,

            ‘For me to be discreet:

‘The fields are bare, the cattle lean;

            ‘There isn’t much to eat.’

‘Just stick with me,’ Sol Kerzner said.

            ‘You’ll be on easy street.’

‘Five Star hotels with pools and bars

            ‘Are what your people need.

‘Champagne and oysters every day

            ‘Are nice, you must concede.

‘I suppose you’ve tried them, haven’t you?’

            The Chief said, ‘Yes, indeed!’

‘I’d like to speak,’ Sol Kerzner said,

            ‘Of what we must disburse:

‘Of bonds and banks and overdrafts

            ‘And matters of the purse –

‘Like how much we shall have to spend

            ‘By way of sweeteners.’

‘I’ve told you once,’ Chief Sebe cried,

            Turning a little blue,

‘I’m broke, insolvent, out of cash,

            ‘I haven’t got a sou.

‘But take the people of Ciskei;

            ‘I’ll pledge the lot in lieu.’

Sol Kerzner tolled his eyeballs up;

            His face turned ashen grey.

‘My charitable heart,’ he groaned,

            ‘Is pierced by what you say.

‘But don’t distress yourself,’ he said.

            ‘It happens every day.’

‘One final thing,’ Chief Sebe said,

            ‘I really want to stress:

“I wouldn’t like my people here

            ‘Indulging in excess.’

‘Do you suppose they will?’ he asked.

            Sol Kerzner answered, ‘Yes.’

            Norman H.C. Smith

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