An Open Letter to the American People

From Rufus T. Deby, President of the Republic, Head of State, President of the Council of Ministers, and Grand Poobah of Chad

It is true that never before has it been the case that the candidates for President of the US paid such attention to our country, especially as they are now doing in the great state of Florida. All the talk on the news is about Chad this, Chad that, pregnant Chads, one-legged Chads, swinging Chads – you know, I saw about a dozen or so Chads swinging outside my window just today. Now is the time that Chad must seize to make its case to the people of America – as one of our ancient proverbs says, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

Because of this unique opportunity, we are hiring the PR firm of Hill and Knowlton to create a brand name for ChadTM within the confines of your great country. As our spokesperson, we have hired the inimitable Chad Everett, who has been a dependable if low-key presence in movies and TV, what with his thick head of hair and mod athleticism. He will be most ably assisted in his efforts by two of my favorite singers, Chad Brock and Chad Lamarsh. These gentlemen, as we like to say in Chad, can play both kinds of music… Country and Western! Ah, to be out on the lonesome range, the dulcet tones of Chad Brock echoing from my Walkman…

But never mind all that. Working closely with Mr. Mahamat Nouri, my Minister of Human Organ Exports, Mr. Bassomnda Ndikibrulngar, Minister of Consonants, and the rest of my cabinet, we have been devising plans to make Chad a tourist Mecca. That is an example of our people’s joyous sense of humor, because, you see, we are Moslems, and, well, Mecca… But it is not for me to be the one to labor a point. Anyway, it is our hope that, in respect to the acquisition of a newly burgeoning tourist industry, that we can become the Mongolia of central Africa.

Also, I’m really hoping that our new-found prominence will prompt that very tall and blonde lady with those legs like the endless desert sky, who is she… oh, yes, perhaps Ms. Anne Coulter will come to our country to interview me, and maybe perform the dance of one thousand veils. I guarantee her eventual safe return to the US.

Those stories you may have read about our country, about the practice of arbatachar, where we tie the victim’s arms tied behind his back for torture employing a granny knot of a particularly nasty complexity taking many hours to untie, or stories of prisoners being forced to wear hospital johnnies that don’t close in back, of beatings with processed meats, and of endless days of being subjected to heavy sarcasm… these stories are all the most insubstantial of fantasies.

What is more, tourists no longer need have fear of any rebel groups. The Armed Forces Front for the Chad Republic, the Chad National Front, the Renewed National Front of Chad, the Chad Front for Democracy, the Dissident Chadian Front, the Chad Lesbian and Gay Alliance Front, or the Chad Front Against Drunk Driving – all of these movements have been brought into the democratic process of our nation, and now realize that their interests are fully represented in the person of the President.

Previous tourist efforts were largely unsuccessful, due to the corrupt and inefficient nature of my predecessors, who are now, thankfully, rotting in my prisons. The Chad ice festival was a complete and miserable failure. Our bid for the Winter Olympics was summarily rejected when IOC officials discovered that we have neither mountains nor snow. Speaking of which, I would very much like to meet this Miss Tonya Harding. Now she has what you Americans call spunk – she would know how to deal with her rivals in the harem, without whining to the President about her petty grievances.

But it is the future of tourism in Chad which is shining as brightly as the desert sun. Chad is rapidly entering the modern world. For instance, in our efforts to fully electrify Chad, we are now running the world’s longest extension cord from the Aswan Dam to our capital of Fort-Lamy. When this project is completed, sometime next year, we will be holding The Chad Film Festival, featuring screenings of all 4 versions of Beau Geste. Other events are in the planning stages, including a major Star Trek Convention and an episode of The Antique Road Show. And of course we will preserve traditional favorites, such as the famous “Hanging Gardens of Chad,” just outside the Ministry of Justice. Also, we have this thing left by the French, which we are sure you will enjoy:

(If anyone can give us any tips on what this is or does, we would be especially grateful to them in perpetuity.)

However, in our efforts to modernize, we will neither lose sight of nor mar the natural beauty of our land. Our breathtaking Lake Chad is surrounded by many miles of lovely, sandy beach. In fact, the beach stretches from the shore of Lake Chad all of the way to our country’s borders in every direction. (You know, if Ms. Coulter is not available, then perhaps your Ms. Paula Zahn would be as kind as to come and interview me.)

During these recent events of your presidential election, I have seen the pictures of your older citizens in West Palm Beach wearing the thick sweaters, and can see that the Florida environment is too chilled for their elderly constitutions. Here is a group who would love a vacation in Chad during their harsh Florida winter. I can reassure them that, here in our land, one can fry an egg on the sidewalk… if, of course, one can locate an egg or a sidewalk! Ha, that is simply more of our joyous sense of humor – of course, we have several sidewalks and dozens of eggs in our country!

Oh, and a final note to the lovely, blonde Mrs. Tipper Gore: If your husband turns out to be the loser, it may be that you would like to meet someone who knows how to establish his rule over a country. And I’m sure you would enjoy playing drums at our annual Dung Beetle Festival:

Yours truly, President Rufus T. “Do Not Call Me Debbie!” Deby

November 21, 2000

Gene Callahan is a regular contributor to, and Stu Morgenstern is contributing editor at The Frumious Bandersnatch.

2000, Stu Morgenstern and Gene Callahan