Dear Prince Mohammed bin Salman…

Congratulations on getting invited to join Brics, a grouping that was surely created with Saudi Arabia in mind. Your nation’s impressive human rights record is second only to that of Cambodia during the glorious reign of Pol Pot. Ah, how Mr Pot would’ve loved to be a member of this exclusive club.

I imagine you used a creative combination of threats and bribes to secure the invite. Threats deliver well enough, but they work best when accompanied by a nicely crafted “incentive”. Was Cyril Ramaphosa your first point of contact? Our president’s inability to say no is the stuff of legend, especially if the request is accompanied by couchloads of foreign currency.

South Africa can learn a thing or two from the House of Saud. Or should I say sword? Ha ha. Sorry, that’s a rather poor death penalty joke. The execution needs work. Can you believe our journalists are allowed to expose government corruption and still get to live? If a reporter ruins your day, you simply send your men around for a chat. We have our own Khashoggis. Many are easily lured to events with the promise of free drinks. If our Fikile Mbalula is addressing them, some might even volunteer to be dismembered.

Obviously, you can’t take a bone saw to every troublemaker in the kingdom. Where would you put all the parts? That’s where your judiciary comes in. Mohammed al-Ghamdi is not even a reporter. He’s just your average Mo who made the mistake of criticising your government on social media. Never mind that he only has nine followers. It starts with nine and the next thing you know, men are shaving their beards off and demanding to be called Fatima.

It’s only right that your Specialised Criminal Court would sentence this dissident to death. In fact, death is too good for the likes of those who post messages in support of so-called “prisoners of conscience”. Off with his head, I say!

What is this “conscience” thing anyway? As a South African, it’s an alien concept to me. And to my government. And all your Brics brothers, come to think of it. Apart from maybe that Brazilian bloke. He’s something of a socialist. Keep an eye on him. These people tend to suddenly go mad and try to make the world a better place for the poor. The poor! Can you imagine. Jesus was a friend of the poor and look what happened to him.

I believe you’ve executed 94 people so far this year. Is that all? Don’t go soft on us, now. You’re already allowing women to drive. What’s next? Letting them make their own decisions? Allowing them to walk around with their heads uncovered? If you’re going to be a member of Brics, you can’t show weakness. Your old rivals, Iran, have executed at least 354 people so far this year. It’s one of the reasons they were invited to join Brics. Don’t let them outshine you on that front. You need to kill more critics. I’m a writer and I regret not having heeded my advice early on in my so-called career.

By the way, I like the way you’re dealing with the Ethiopians trying to sneak across from Yemen. Fair play to you. The British complain about refugees coming over from Europe but then hold back on opening fire on them. Where are the machine guns and mortars? The snipers and the napalm? It’s their own damn fault for being so weak.

So your country has an insatiable appetite for livestock imports – mainly goats, it seems. Well, my friend, we have goats to spare. I know a man who will do you a job lot of goats for a very good price. Take a hundred and he’ll throw in a free sheep. I also know a man who does pangolins, if you’re interested. Maybe that’s more China’s thing.

Speaking of which, China tossed us a bag of cash to help with our electricity problem. It won’t do much, given our government’s compulsion for stealing and squandering money. But I was wondering, what are you going to give us? Since Brics is all about trade, how about we do an oil-for-goats thing? We need cheaper petrol, you need … actually, why do you need so many goats? Forget it. What you do with them is your business. No judgement from me.

I do like this de-dollarisation malarkey, though. I hear some refiners are already buying Russian oil with dirhams and yuan. You also need to start accepting payments in currencies other than the infidel greenback. Not the rand, obviously. It’s having a little lie-down at the moment. We’ll have to give you something else. How about chickens? Five hundred chickens a barrel. Subject to fluctuations in the oil/chicken exchange rate, of course.

By the way, I love how you’re trying to buy all the top soccer players from around the world. It’s like human trafficking but instead, you’re putting them to work on the pitch and we get to watch them score goals instead of shagging them. What a time to be alive.

8 thoughts on “Dear Prince Mohammed bin Salman…

  1. Robin Palmer says:

    Salman fishing in South Africa!

  2. JudyMoo says:

    Yup! Have to laugh or I would cry – or run out screaming!!
    Scary stuff but Its easier to read than the dry as dust reports.
    Please avoid visits to Saudi Embassy buildings!

  3. Frank says:

    Dear Ben, you are a very funny man. I too am a very funny man. When I visit my prisons everyone, even those about to die, laughs very loudly at my jokes. I say prison but actually it is more like a mini-break holiday with Salman telling jokes. Please come to visit my beautiful country, at my expense. We could go to a football match to watch some millionaires kicking a ball around (I am an avid reader of your column and know that we have an equal regard for the game), and then visit a prison where I could tell some jokes and we could all laugh together – at least until I leave.

  4. Ben Trovato it is incredible the way you write, with irony, but seeming to be so soft. I appreciate it very much your description of Principe Mohammed bin Salman, the man that is collecting our Brazilian football players… By the way, every line is a real pleasure. Why do I not receive your texts more often?

    1. Ben Trovato says:

      Thanks Marilvia. If you go onto my website, you can enter your email address, click subscribe and you’ll be notified whenever I post something.

  5. Roland Peter Rink says:

    Fatima!!! 🙂

  6. Charlotte says:

    OMG. You nailed it again.

    I’ve been ticking that “Liked” box of yours for want of an alternate option. Can’t you put another one next to it? I’d suggest “Help! I’m drowning in my own tears”.

    Or better yet: “Let the comet come and to hell with it all!!”

  7. Pierre van Eeden says:

    On point as always 👍🏼

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