By Juliet Rogers,
It was as chill as a dense rainforest in the open morning air at the normal meeting square in SABODU. The crowd was unimaginable. It was large and thick, charged with expressed anger. They had one opinion, one thought, and one determination that the illustrious sons of SABODU, Dr. Stevenson Jago, Engineer Suriaya Tibo, and Professor Alison Hinga, must go. The facial expressions were the same, expressions that could clearly reveal their common emotion, thought and intention; they were angry, and their anger was directed towards the illustrious.
When Engineer Suriaya, Dr. Stevenson, and Professor Alison arrived, it was difficult to understand their purpose – children, adults, men and women, sucklings and suckling mothers with children strapped on their backs wore unfriendly looks. The three of them stood still in that chilled morning.
They soon realised the purpose of the gathering. Chief Sidie Seyia and council of elders arrived at the meeting square. He stepped forward majestically like a pregnant cloud, swinging his arms with reckless abandon. “My people of SABODU, I greet you,” he started. It is two years since we welcome our brothers home, after their voyage abroad. We admired them when they came. We felt they learned will add value to our communities. But after a while, a little past one year, instead of embracing us, they are despising us and our customary values, telling us which water to drink and which one not to drink.” He paused for accumulated anger to flow among the crowd. “Yes,” he continued, “Who are they to teach us the values of our society. And since they feel they are better than we are, we have decided to ask them out of this chiefdom and put into practice whatever thing they have learned elsewhere.”
Before the chief ended his speech, the youths burst into a thunderous hostile song of vendetta without the slightest opportunity given to them to respond.
The three illustrious stood dumbfounded, thinking of that same crowd that welcome them two years ago. Traditional dancers were in attendance then, to add flare, pump, and pageantry to their return. Motivated by this rousing welcome, they soon started installing the water treatment plant to help their people to avoid drinking water from the nearby streams. Next, they thought of mechanized farming to meet food sufficiency and economic status of ruralites.
Failure to understand brought the rift between them and their community. As they stood there in that open field among once friendly crowd now turned hostile, they thought of many things.
But Dr. Stevenson Jago had a view contrary to individualism. His opinion of a joint business was easily granted by his colleagues. “We can have a farm, acres of farm, miles away, across valleys, plains and mountains, Professor Alison added.
There was silence, only to be broken by Engineer Suriaya who believed that Dr. Stevenson would medically treat them as brain workers of the farm so that they failed not in their work. “We might fall ill; we shall need the service of a medical doctor,” Engineer Suriaya concluded.
With the little resources they individually acquired, they instituted a joint business and called it Trio Associate Agricultural Company (T.A.A.C). Soon the three professionals set to work, strongly agreeing to establish two sets of farms – a rice farm and livestock. They harvested and processed tons of rice that first year.
Getting enough proceeds from the rice cultivation, more machines were added to the existing ones, and the business became healthier. “I think we can also rear animals which will attract international partners,” Professor Alison suggested.
Hearing of their gargantuan success, the villagers, their very people, were shocked at the quick gains of those whom they had considered as vagrants and vagabonds. They were lost in imagination at their long chain of caravan of cattle, Mama Sedia reacted, “The rejected stone had become the head corner stone.” What do you mean? Ya Bom asked. “The foods these professors produce has become the main source of food supply in this region and beyond – illustrious sons indeed! Mama Sedia exclaimed.
Every aspect of the farm was a success – the engineer, the medical doctor, and Professor Alison began to live a life of affluence – built a dwelling house each – then greed and selfishness entered Dr. Stevenson Jago as he and his wife drove their car one late afternoon through the farm. Mrs. Janet Jago, wife of Dr. Stevenson, admired the farm and the gains – the piggery, poultry, cattle stalls, and fields; she looked at the vast expanse of the joint farm. Walking back to her husband, she beckoned to him and Dr. Stevenson moved closer. “I think we can own these, all by ourselves, provided that you are strong enough to accept the dirty gossips, ” Mrs. Janet Jago whispered into his ears as if there was an eavesdropper nearby, lest the person hears what she said. “How can we do that, when the company is for all of us?” Dr. Stevenson questioned. “Don’t question, don’t mind the evil persecution, we shall enjoy it with Christ though acquired with the devil – give charity, feed the hungry, needy, ophans, make huge contributions to churches, the list goes on. So forget about morality. We’ll get morals afterwards.” She argued.
At home, he deeply thought of this crooked idea his wife had infused him to stem away from the others. Being the most influencial, he felt he could have his way. Dr. Stevenson put himself at work, worked on the documentation of a sole proprietorial – connected all the business partners to him, and him alone. He changed the website address, fax, postal, E-mail; he personalised all.
He walked into the proprietors’ canteen where they had sat to have their tête-a-tête and connected business partners. Dialing a set of numbers, he held up the receiver of the telephone. “Hello, is that Super Continental Exporters? – You mean joint partnership? – dissolved – TAAC – no longer a partnership – yes – sole proprietor – these guys worked for me – after all – I only need to – Oh yes – compensate them – no longer talk to them – yes – sure.” He dropped the receiver. “Were you talking to Super Continental Exporters?” Engineer Suriaya enquired. “Sure,” came the quick response confidently from Dr. Stevenson. While Professor Alison was still at a lost, trying to figure out what was happening – as if he had fallen into a trance – Dr. Stevenson made another call. “Hello River Cess Security and Exporter – I was on another call – sorry – Ohoo- no – it is now purely mine – No more partnership – yes completely dissolved – yes – those lines and contacts have been changed – that’s why you didn’t get me. Kindly share – to other partners abroad – the Mano River Basin Rice Production and Exporters, African shipping Agency – all the others – report to me back, please.” He dropped the receiver.
Engineer Suriaya can no longer hold on the silence. He turned to Dr. Stevenson, and looked straight into his eyes and let out his emotions in these words: “You think you are smart, but you aren’t. TAAC is for all of us. But let me tell you one thing. What is for us will certainly become nothing without us,” he concluded.
“Let me just quickly add this,” Professor Alison said softly, “In the first place, if we leave, we are going to take along all our machines. And of course, you must compensate us for our services rendered to this company so far – Remember what he said – nothing for you, and nothing for us without us – you’ll derive nothing good from this selfish and devilish act of yours.” As he said these, he turned to the engineer and continued: “Our lawyers will meet him and complete the rest of the remaining bargain with him regarding our machines and compensations – we wish him the worst in this business – Good bye – Let’s go,” he concluded as he beckoned to the engineer for them to leave.
When they turned to go, it was the most doleful and solemn moment, hard to witness.
There Dr. Stevenson stood, gazing at them as they matched out of TAAC. Memories of their humble beginning, especially at the time when they were asked out of SABODU by the community hunted him – he kept looking until guilty conscience fainted him. Those parting words from his colleagues were heavy to carry, perhaps more than one ton of cargo on his head.
After the return of the machines and the payment of the compensations, business indicated a flicker of life, hope and sustenance, but was short – lived. He could not get the quality of the machines of Engineer Suriaya. Although he replaced them, but not the quality. Hence, production level dwindled: First, slowly, then faster and faster.
The animals began to die with no adequate treatment – he can clinically treat only humans, and not animals. Insects and other crop consumers invaded the rice farm. As such, market value of both crops and livestock dropped because the professional service of Professor Alison Hinga saw no match after their departure.
“My friends have gone, it is true, that I’ve been foolish, and now I’m reduced to almost zero. Certainly, a kind of nemesis has plagued this business,” he concluded. As he looked into the empty barns, hen-runs, cattle fields and sheds, lazy and gentle tears from his eyes freely flew down his checks, down into his mouth, tasting sour in the same way his colleagues felt.
Juliet Rogers is a Societal Engineer, Life&Emotional Intelligence Coach.