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Two Hangmen, One Scaffold Book I

Baiting the Hangman

Basil Diki

Publication Year: 2012

When an ex-commando, a man seeking celebrity status, prepares to rob the Louvre Museum of the Mona Lisa, his ëwifeí discovers that she is his mistress. In the eye of a cyclone, her son and she base their lives on hope. With a business proposal is another murderer prophesied as ëa demon in human formí. At the Vatican, he once aspired to be the first black pope. He is angry with God and his eyes are set on a billion-dollar heist. The ex-priest baits his archenemy and makes his way to a scaffold. Of the happiness he found after cursing God, he is tired. Scars disfigure his manhood. The two men are fugitives lethally dangerous to the other. While the ex-priest desires to honour the same gods and spirits that wrecked his priesthood, the ex-commando must rise above his limitations or he risks total ruin.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title page

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Copyright page

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Foreword

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pp. iii-iv

Although fictionalised, actual events inspired Two Hangmen, One Scaffold; therefore the storyline, the major characters and a majority of the elaborate incidents and locations in the story are factual. In pursuance of an editorial recommendation, I had to split the tale into two, Baiting the Hangman and In the Hangman’s Shadow, for technical conformity; ...

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Prologue

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pp. v-x

For members of an impoverished mining and farming community, New Year’s Eve was a time to bury a terrible year and learn what the coming year offered. The Johannes Masowe shrine, an open acreage on a gentle hillside slope, was the place for everyone wishing to know what the coming year had in store. ...

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Chapter 1

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pp. 1-6

With Christmas approaching, Binga Jochoma alias Akar Muja saw nothing but glaring desperation in his life and became at loggerheads within. Since the beginning of the year, the feelings of disaster and more poverty were closing in on him. These feelings brought sweat beads on his forehead and a sensation of alligator pepper in his stomach. ...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 7-18

More than thirty minutes after returning from the compound borehole with water, Matipa couldn’t understand her husband’s disappearance as she fried chicken and cooked rice on a two-plate electric stove. She suspected the norm. ...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 19-36

Anticipating an uplifting, Binga Jochoma alighted from the bus about forty-five kilometres away at a small roadside rural village near Empress Mine. Through endless refresher courses, the army had taught him systematic self-improvement. In that vein, he pursued excellence and dominance in his line of work. ...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 37-48

Cocks in the mine compound and far beyond crowed, heralding the breaking of a new day. Nine days had passed since Matipa’s husband sneaked out of the compound. As usual, she had no idea where he was. A gamut of images of Akar in compromising positions with women flickered relentlessly in her imagination. ...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 49-60

Matipa had no idea how long she sat on the bed trying to gather her senses, but instead stared blankly at her reflection. Several times, she heard Mr Emedhi begging her to come out. ...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 61-66

As the sun went down in the western horizon on 25 November, Binga Jochoma alias Akar Muja arrived at Mupamombe’s tomb to offer thanks for the success he had had in the last nine days when he roamed the locality. ...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 67-76

By eight o’clock that evening of 25 November, absurdly the wretched but blessed day of her husband’s dismissal, Matipa was already in bed. In the other room, Peza searched through satellite channels in case he might catch glimpses of his favourite international soccer players. ...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 77-82

Binga was determined to change his livelihood. He saw himself in the near future casting the axe into a tumultuous river. If the river failed to carry the axe to the Indian Ocean, at least it would dispose of its spirit. As he looked at Empress Mine below, the thought that he was on the brink of wealth motivated him. ...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 83-94

Matipa was falling asleep when a knock came on the main door. Her heart leapt with joy. No one from the compound visited anyone at that hour unless there was something terribly wrong, usually an illness or death. Chances were it was no one else but Akar. ...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 95-100

It dived from a vermillion sky and snatched Peza. He was in his infancy and lying in the shade of a tree outside their house. She was in the lounge and saw the entire incident through the main door. She came out running and screaming, but the eagle and the infant were already airborne and ascending. ...

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Chapter 11

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pp. 101-114

He vied for brawls to test Mjomba’s juju. Within six months, he guessed, he would be the proud owner of a mansion by any standard. On its walls would hang original paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso and Dali, while human-size sculptures by renowned sculptors would stand in its gardens. ...

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Chapter 12

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pp. 115-120

Matipa spent 26 November fasting indoors, only emerging to pray. After breaking the fast in the evening, she bid Peza goodnight and went to bed, but the prophet’s words haunted her as she lay under the blankets. What tormented her was the certainty of the prophecy. ...

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Chapter 13

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pp. 121-132

At 9:15 pm, Matipa came out of the house in her apostolic garments and locked the door. Peza was in the sitting room watching television, which would occupy him until he slept in the sofa. If the demon came in her absence, it would find the door locked. Peza wasn’t to speak or betray his presence in the dwelling. ...

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Chapter 14

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pp. 133-136

The raindrops were cold and struck Binga Jochoma like small pebbles. He felt the equatorial rain on his body, and woke up with a start and found himself lying on hard ground. The battlefront was dangerously quite. Instinctively, he vainly felt for his AK 47 on his right and then on his left. ...

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Chapter 15

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pp. 137-144

At house number 5988, Mtombeni St in Tshabalala highdensity suburb of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second capital city, Nomathemba missed her wedded husband. The evening was hot. Coupled with the heat, frustration, despair and uncertainty disoriented her. ...

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Chapter 16

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pp. 145-152

His wristwatch said it was 9 pm. If he ascended that very moment, he would emerge any time during the day on 29 November. He had descended and would now ascend for his exaltation. Everything pointed to it. ...

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Chapter 17

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pp. 153-158

Because most elders of the apostolic sect deduced the arrival of the demon was imminent, they agreed to attend a caucus meeting Madzibaba Tinashe convened under a shady mango tree in the compound of Sakis Mine. Had the meeting been strictly for the elders alone, the elders would’ve deemed it sublime and held it at the sect’s shrine on the hill. ...

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Chapter 18

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pp. 159-162

Aware the charms and juju he relied upon disturbed babies, Binga Jochoma carefully avoided public transport, shunning a repeat of the hysteria he roused on the bus from Gokwe. From Patchway Mine, he hitchhiked to the small farming town of Chegutu via Chakari, a large-scale functional gold mine. ...

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Chapter 19

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pp. 163-180

From about 11 am on 29 November, Matipa stood at the window and looked at the gathering of elders and the acolyte under the mango tree. Now it was almost midday. Routine monthly maintenance service had brought the gold mill to a halt, suspending the perpetual thuds that were the order of life at the mine. ...

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Chapter 20

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pp. 181-186

Pleased with himself, his ancestors and the charms Mjomba implanted in him in the form of skin-deep incisions stuffed with juju, Binga Jochoma spent the rest of the morning at PaGomo Heights. Though the government declared it a city, nothing was metropolitan about Kadoma and its inhabitants never referred to it as a city. ...

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Chapter 21

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pp. 187-190

Upon coming to about half an hour after the mysterious horde abducted Peza and left, Matipa wailed, throwing herself at the floor, at walls and on the ground in suicidal leaps. It took many men and women from the compound to restrain her. They pinned her to the ground and tied her ankles and wrists together, ...

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Chapter 22

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pp. 191-202

As Binga Jochoma stood at the window, an excited boy riding a BMX bicycle along an avenue in Mashumavale reminded him of Peza, the peak, the banderillero and the gem of his life meant to be in the limelight of his thoughts. Contemplating the people dearest to him, beginning with any other order was wrong and despicable of him. ...

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Chapter 23

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pp. 203-206

With Peza almost lifeless and draped like a towel on Bomani Kumanda’s shoulder, the six men kept away from footpaths and human settlements. Three standard metal trunks and three Gule Wamkulu drums burdened the men but didn’t slow them down. ...

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Chapter 24

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pp. 207-210

By nightfall, the police search units started to return, their effort vain. Returning crestfallen and tired, the men saluted and reported in Matipa’s hearing that neither they nor members of the public had sighted the alleged horde and the boy on any of the surrounding mines and farms. ...

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Chapter 25

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pp. 211-214

Night fell, with it returned more members of the police Support Unit from the search. Every time their boots clattered on the ground as they approached Matipa’s house, her heart beat faster with expectation. She hoped against her falling optimism that the police would bring her son back. ...

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Chapter 26

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pp. 215-220

Night fell, with it returned more members of the police Support Unit from the search. Every time their boots clattered on the ground as they approached Matipa’s house, her heart beat faster with expectation. She hoped against her falling optimism that the police would bring her son back. ...

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Chapter 27

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pp. 221-224

In the east, the rising sun was a nugget of molten gold, yokeyellow and mesmerising, that squirted Binga’s eyes. Looking forward to a romantic evening in Harare this day 30 November, he left PaGomo Heights in a taxi. It took him to the gate of the Kadoma Ranch Motel and Conference Centre, ...

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Chapter 28

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pp. 225-232

By noonday, the situation at the Mujas’ homestead had the appearance of a funeral. More sympathizers conversing in low tones had gathered since morning to console Matipa. Four couples from the apostolic sect including Madzibaba Tinashe sat in her sitting room. ...

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Chapter 29

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pp. 233-238

At two o’clock when he had had lunch at a cafeteria on the mezzanine floor of ultra-modern Eastgate shopping mall, and was through with shopping, Binga drove out of Greater Harare in his hired air-conditioned Toyota Hilux. He took the Harare-Beit Bridge highway and turned left into Mbudzi Cemetery ...

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Chapter 30

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pp. 239-250

Soon after sunset, Matipa left the compound for Prophet Jatropha’s homestead. There was no one to restrain her. In her apostolic garments and headscarf, she quickly walked towards the obelisk and vanished in the forest. Her garments flared in an easterly breeze. ...

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Chapter 31

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pp. 251-260

On waking up, Bomani clicked his tongue in anger. His failure to find Binga at Sakis Mine was his waking thought. Partly out of anger and partly as bait, he had kidnapped Peza, but his vein of anger wasn’t exhausted. At thirty-two years old, and having hunted men, subdued or killed them for five years now, he didn’t believe in failure. ...

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Chapter 32

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pp. 261-264

Evans Emedhi bought a small packet of oranges and apples in a supermarket in Kadoma, and walked across the small town to the government hospital. This day, 1 December, was a great day in his life. For the first time he was acting on behalf of the mill manager. ...

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Chapter 33

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pp. 265-272

With incense pervading the cathedral air as the priest in his fascinating robes conducted Requiem Mass for Jackson Mpaya Gadaga in Chitungwiza’s St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, 1 December began to prove a day for reflection and religious meditation for Binga Jochoma. ...

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Chapter 34

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pp. 273-290

Whenever Bomani Kumanda idled, he recalled his boyhood and family in painful detail. As he waited for the gunman to cast the signal, he reflected on the way he grew up in rural Malawi, and the stubborn curse that shattered his family and altered his perception of God. ...

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Chapter 35

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pp. 291-310

Evans Emedhi glanced at his defaced digital wristwatch flicking 11:55 hrs, all the while feeling like a character in a nightmare. The hospital visiting hour was drawing close. This being December 5, his visit to the institute would be his fifth ever since he started visiting the teenager on December 1. ...

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Chapter 36

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pp. 311-320

Nomathemba felt sexually deprived, negated and starved; a kind of depravity that humiliated any woman and shrunk her self-esteem. There seemed to be a witness to her depravity and negation, the Neolithic figurine. The archaic sculpture stood on the headboard, a headless first-rate witness to her misery. ...

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Chapter 37

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pp. 321-328

At noon on 7 December, Matipa emerged from her house in the middle of household chores, now a vain preoccupation in a bid to forget about Bomani Kumanda and the worst that could’ve happened to her son. She was washing dishes beside the house when she looked up and saw a figure in stripped hospital garbs approaching the compound. ...

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Chapter 38

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pp. 329-342

In the space of two martinis, Gillian was already babbling about her futuristic dreams of proprietorship of an international news company headquartered in London or New York, and someday becoming a cabinet minister. Overtly ambitious, she spoke of the future with a fervent determination ...

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Prelude to Book II: In the Hangman's Shadow

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pp. 343-346

His brow puckered, Bomani Kumanda woke up in the night recalling his Catholic past. Recollections of Roman priests, archbishops and cardinals in their immaculate robes and skullcaps, the Vatican and its vaults, irritated him to the point of clenching his fists. ...

Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789956727131
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956726349

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2012