The Mobutu Letters


I like to delve in the area of art promotion and it's coming back to me now just how good I have gotten at it. I apparently have caught the attention of one Bashe Mobutu Sese-Seko, son of the late president of Democratic Republic Of Zaire. He has emailed me and claims, in so many words, that he was fortunate enough to have somehow spirited $30,000,000 (pronounced thirty million dollars) out of his native Africa into a confidential security company, and that he would like me to personally take custody of this $30,000,000 and to be his partner and to front for him in areas of such businesses that I deem might be profitable. Holy cow, how lucky can one guy get...just when I was starting to wonder where my next meal was coming from, down comes this windfall. Granted he's going to give me only $6,000,000 and any money spent on phone calls or traveling expenses in the course of this transaction, but what the hey, you can't have everything. Even though he didn't discuss the matter in his email, I'm sure Bashe's dad was on the up-and-up when he acquired this money from his fellow Africans. I am also sure his dad had much more than $30,000,000, but that he demanded the excesses over that be fed back into the African economy to help his fellow countrymen and women to combat poverty, disease, famine, and AIDS. What's this? I just checked my email again and I just received a pleasant missive from a Binta Konan Bedie, the daughter of former president Henri Konan Bedie of Cote d'Ivoire who says she got my contact through the World Trade Organization (W.T.O.), although I don't remember having any direct dealings with the W.T.O. regarding the Bedie family though I am getting more forgetful as time goes on, but you'd think you remembered if you tried to get in touch with a former African president -n-exile. Oh well. Anyway, she confided in me that when her father was in power, she was coordinating his special businesses, and was also in charge of all his deposit accounts with different financial institutions in Europe. It seems they have amassed some $35,000,000 that they want to put into an account of which I am to be the the signatory. This is so that no one in her country will find it. Phew!, I can see just why she was asking our dealings to remain confidential. This is heavy stuff. She's a negotiator to the end though and told me that she would discuss my remuneration when I replied. Bashe was more up front and honest about the money, which I like when I'm dealing with the children of deposed and exiled former African presidents.

'Pon my soul, Timothy Mobutu Sese-Seko has just emailed me that he has $20,000,000 he wants to entrust to me for a tidy 18% share of his fortune, plus, of course, the usual travel and phone calls. He and his mom want to make me a partner, too. I think Timothy is probably Bashe's brother somehow. It looks like they both have gazillions of dollars, but one brother doesn't keep track of what the other is doing. Strange, where they are both in the Netherlands in refugee camps you'd think they would talk to one another. I emailed Timothy back and asked him to front me $25,000 to get started forming some humanitarian organizations in his name that would help fight the real enemy's of his country...AIDS and the like. I'm hoping to hear back from him ...later today perhaps. This new money may arouse the curiosity and suspicion of the manager of the credit union I belong to. Here, all of a sudden, I'd be creating new savings account totaling $68,000,000. It would turn some heads and get people talking around town if I were to accept all these generous offers. I think I will remain my humble self and take a pass on this whole opportunity at this time. What I did do instead, to help out these Mobutu causes was to forward copies of each of their emails to the others, so that they might perhaps consolidate their efforts and thus fare better in the end. The US Attorney General's Office has issued a warning about this scam. I'm assuming that is because people are responding.

The positive part of this device is the sheer genius of it all, and should be a lesson to anyone who is aspiring. Here is a schmuck or a group of schmucks with probably little more than a computer and an email address who have created an email that was proper enough to be able to penetrate my filters which are all set on 'strong'. They've got the attention of probably thousands and thousands of people and made some money pushing there product. I'm not condoning the negative part of the process, the spam, the deceit, the thievery, but I'm saying that this same energy, imagination and creativity expended in other ways could be used in a most positive way to get your message across. Everyday, I come into my office, look over what I have to offer the world and think to myself, "This stuff ain't gonna walk itself out of the house, it's gonna need some help." It's then I pick up the phone, write a letter, yes, and even send an email or fifty. Heck, if you want to get out there, do what ole' Timothy Mobutu does...let people know you're alive.


J. Jules Vitali is a sculptor, columnist and poet who resides in Freeport, Maine. He is the creator of the art form, StyrogamiTM which can be seen on the web at For the month of August his work can be seen at the Ship's Inn Museum on Bustins Island, Maine. He is also an Artist in Cellophane (