Déjà vu in Detroit

Mulenga Harangua stops in to talk in circles all over again

"I thought you stopped drinking."

I knew that high, whiny voice. I turned and there was Mulenga Harangua dressed in a sharp suit and holding his own plastic cup of wine. We'd both showed up for a reception at a local nonprofit. 

"I did stop drinking," I replied, "but I'm holding onto this so that people stop offering me drinks. It seems like when people start drinking they expect everybody else to drink too. I got tired of refusing them."

Mulenga took a sip from his cup. "Well, you can give me that one when I'm done. I'm still drinking. As a matter of fact, I'm thinking about getting into winemaking. It's not that hard; you just have to be patient."

"So," I said, using my cup to indicate his jacket, "where did you get that suit?"

"My uncle died and I got some of his clothes. My aunt always had a soft spot for me."

"I thought you were gearing up to be a sexy bigwig Detroit man again."

"Aw, man, I've changed," Mulenga protested. "I ain't about that anymore. I'm just a simple man with simple needs."

"Well, there's an opening for a new sexy man."

"What do you mean?"

"Police Chief Ralph Godbee is sexy man emeritus. Make that ex-Chief Godbee."

"Yeah, man, we're going through police chiefs around here the way we go through mayors. Every time you turn around we're getting a new one." Mulenga finished his wine and reached for my cup. "Now, it seems like you called him one of the good guys in your last column."

"Well, when it comes to police work he talked a good game."

"I guess he talks up the ladies pretty good too. He's a budding Kwame Kilpatrick, with a wife, a girlfriend working in his department and reports that he's traveling around the country with a third woman."

"Maybe it's the Kwame vibe. He's back in town for his trial so he's spreading a bit of déjà vu around.

"Maybe he sprinkled it on the city as he flew in."

"Now, this is kind of interesting. When I went to the forum on crime at Wayne State University, Godbee was on a panel talking about police department reform. He said that he might not be around to see it through because the reality of politics was that when new administrations come in they want their own choice in place for police chief. I thought he had a little inside information on Mayor Bing's plans on whether or not he was running for mayor again. Now I'm wondering if he knew this shit was about to hit the fan and figured he was going to get fired."

"Could be," Mulenga said as his eyes roved around the room. "Man, I don't recognize hardly anyone around here."

"Well, your old girlfriend June is over there."

Mulenga seemed to shrink down inside his suit. "I don't want to talk to her. Last time I saw her she was throwing bricks and I was running for my life. Besides, she's married and got about five kids. It's safer over here with you."

"Maybe that's what Godbee should have thought before he got involved with one of his officers," I said. "I guess we shouldn't be too surprised. It's not like we didn't know he'd had an affair with another officer before."

"Oh, yeah, the same one that Warren Evans was involved with when he got squeezed out of the job as police chief. But he was forced to resign for making that promo for a reality show."

"That's what they said. As far as I was concerned it was a little bit of this and a little bit of that."

"Given what Bing already knew about Godbee's affairs, he probably shouldn't have hired him as police chief. It seems like the chickens are coming home to roost for Godbee. And Evans has even raised his head to comment with some weird logic on Facebook. "

"Yeah, I saw that stuff he wrote about 'single man dates single woman,' and 'married man dates single woman' stuff. It's kind of twisted logic. One thing for sure, this Facebook stuff gives you the raw emotions." I grabbed a couple of hors d'oeuvres from a tray as a server passed by.

"Then there's that thing Godbee's wife put on Twitter about, 'Know that you are not the only one in his life.' Man, talk about sticking it to him."

"Well he already stuck it to her ... and a few others."

"That could have been Carlita Kipatrick tweeting that one. Lord knows she put up with enough." Mulenga laughed at his own quip. "I guess the Kwame déjà vu really does have us in its grip. We can't get away from it."

"OK, let's leave that alone for now. So what do you think about Bing's chances of getting re-elected? Or do you think he's even going to run? We've got prospective candidates starting to pop up now."

"I don't even want to think about that until after the presidential election next month," Mulenga said. "I only want to think about one election at a time. We've got a lot of stuff pending in this one."

"So what do you think about Proposal M, to legalize possession and use of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults on private property? We haven't heard much about it, but it's on the Detroit ballot."

"I think anything that stops police from grabbing young brothers off the street and sending them to jail to get an education in how to really be a criminal is fine with me," Mulenga paused and frowned a little. "But there's nothing in the proposal that talks about where they are supposed to be able to get it. They've shut down most of the dispensaries across the state."

"I don't think finding a supply has ever been much of a problem. Folks are getting it now." I looked around the room. "I wouldn't be surprised if somebody in here has some."

"Me neither. I expect we'll have some ministers howling about it being a highway to hell or something, but I think folks are going to vote for that."

"There's a good chance. Look I've got to go and make some calls. I need to get the yard dug up so I can get my drain fixed."

"I know how you can get your yard dug up for free," Mulenga grinned.


"Call the police and tell them Jimmy Hoffa is buried back there."


Larry Gabriel is a writer, musician and former editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].

About The Author

Larry Gabriel

Larry Gabriel covers cannabis for Metro Times. He also writes the Detroit Watch in the monthly Michigan Cannabis Industries Report. Larry's chapter "Rebirth of Tribe" in the book Heaven Was Detroit, from jazz to hip-hop and beyond chronicles the involvement of Marcus Belgrave, Wendell Harrison, Harold McKinney,...
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