Ali van Baba could moralise at length on the subject of pork; on the subjects of alcohol and adultery he was a little more circumspect. For you and me pork is no big deal; it’s a sausage or a slice of polony or a side of bacon; but for Ali van Baba, Bulawayo’s first, and to date, only suicide bomber, pork was a very big deal. Okay, it divideth the hoof and cheweth the cud, like cows and sheep and goats; but did cows delight in filth and dung? Did sheep? Did goats? No, people who eat pork live for the lusts of the flesh. Pigs are insatiable. They ejaculate by the pint. They gobble up everything you put before them. How did that poet, whatsisname, put it:
They chop a half-moon clean out.
They eat cinders, dead cats.
What’s more, they are carriers of the hairlike nematode worm, which causes trichinosis in humans, and in Ali van Baba’s view, any human who eats pork deserves the affliction.
Offensive books like Mein Kampf and The Satanic Verses and The Da Vinci Code couldn’t hold a candle, in Ali Van Baba’s opinion, to “The Three Little Pigs”, not to mention all those stupid nursery rhymes that cutesified the abominations: “And there in a wood a piggy-wig stood….” Sick! Ali van Baba had a mantra, and it went like this: “and he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew their house down”
It was his disgust for pork (and for other things about which he was a little more circumspect), which turned mild-mannered, retiring Ali Van Baba into a suicide bomber. And he it was who invented what has now come to be known as the strapless bomb. The explosive he made from an old IRA recipe and he attached the device to the front of his body by means of three suction pads, one on each nipple, and one, somewhat larger, on the belly button. He shortlisted three possible targets: the mosque on the Harare road (because its onion domes were painted a lurid green), the synagogue in Kumalo (because they wouldn’t allow him to pee in their flower bed) and the Blood of Jesus Christian church on the Old Esigodini Road (because it looked like a miniature Jaggers Wholesale building, which is constructed not of straw, nor of sticks, nor of bricks, but of state of the art zinc). Then he applied the pork test. Muslims eschewed the flesh of swine; Jews too, the tempting aroma of grilling bacon notwithstanding; but Christians, most of them anyway, loved it. So pork made him decide, finally, on the last named institution; pork – and practicality.
You see, Ali Van Baba had decided on the wooden horse trick to lure his victims to their destruction. If he chose the mosque, he would leave outside its gate a styrofoam camel on wheels, with him hidden inside. If he chose the synagogue, he would leave outside its gate, a giant bagel, with him inside (the cream cheese, so to speak). He couldn’t, at first think of an equivalent lure for the church. A giant jar of home-made jam? No. A giant pot plant? No. A giant braai pack? Maybe. Then it came to him… of course… two birds with one stone… a giant piggy bank. Most Christians ate pork; and judging by the Pajeros and double cabs that patronised this church, they weren’t averse to money. A piggy-bank wooden horse would be easier to construct than camel or bagel wooden horses, so he set to work, and before long he had constructed a piggy bank large enough for him and his strapless bomb to hide inside.
Sure enough, it worked. One dark Saturday night, under cover of an overcast sky, whispering, ‘he huffed and he puffed, and he blew their house down’, Ali van Baba, wearing his strapless bomb and a matching pair of blue overalls, wheeled the porcine contraption all the way from his home in downtown Bulawayo to the gate of the Blood of Jesus Christian church. It took him hours, and along the way he psyched himself up by repeating his mantra, and by muttering: ‘Three cheers for the big bad wolf! Down with the piggywig who was willing to sell his ring for a shilling. Down with Porky. Down with Petunia. Down with the old person of Bray who fed figs to his pigs.’ He climbed into the piggy bank through an ingeniously constructed trap door under its curly tail. Then he made himself as comfortable as possible and waited, eyes fixed on the coin slot above him, which grew progressively lighter. The first service would begin around 8 a.m. the next day.
He must have fallen asleep because the sound of excited voices took him by surprise. Then he began to move: through the gate, along the ground a way, up a ramp – the voices were growing in number and volume – into the warehouse of a building, and then up towards the holier end. He began to fondle the button, which would detonate the bomb. ‘He huffed,’ he whispered, ‘he puffed… and he blew their house down.’ There was a commotion about him. Suddenly a loud voice called for order, and order there was, and in those seconds of awed silence, Bulawayo’s first and, it is to be hoped, only, suicide bomber, pushed the button. Damn the IRA! Only the detonator went off, blowing Ali Van Baba out of the trapdoor, the pig’s vent, where he was received with rapturous applause by the congregation. Then that same voice, which had silenced the flock, announced in tremulous tones that the Second Coming was at hand.