Most of those sitting around the fire agreed that at one point they nicked something from work. This is how the discussion went:
Man in blue overalls: This is a big problem in combis, taxis, buses, filling stations, construction sites, wholesalers, everywhere.Wherever you go people ask each other: a ke tlaa ja sengwe? (will I eat something)
Man in white hat: I worked as a conductor for a Route 11 combi, ke ne ke gwinya 100 bucks everyday. ( I used to steal 100 bucks) I am not joking, this happens and our boss knew it.
Man in black jacket: How do go about it, where do you start? Let us say it’s your first day in a combi and you have to convince your co-worker to “pocket” something. I mean…
Man in striped shirt: (Interrupts) A 100 bucks everyday! You are a very brave, young man and can make a very good soldier.
You must join the Kenyan soldiers in the fight against Somali militants. (Everybody laughs)
Man in black jacket: This means you milked more than 500 bucks a week from your employer. Oh my God!
Man in white hat: You have to open your eyes and keep your ear on the ground, bra.
You do not have to “hammer” on your very first day, not even a thebe; you just have to be a good boy.
I do not have to say this; everyone knows how to behave during his first week of employment.
The boss knows that new conductors do that all the time. The next thing to do is to “rub” shoulders with the ‘veterans’.
These seasoned guys will teach you all the tricks of the trade: dealing with difficult customers,mekunyata, (stealing) everything.
In short, you register today day and graduate the next.
If you do not know anything about teamwork don’t ever dream about getting into this industry, we scratch each other’s backs.
Man in black jacket: May you please answer me young man. How do you win your co-workers trust?
Man in white hat: You just have to work hard; your co-worker will always give the “signal” when the time is ripe.
There are no formal signals, you just watch his body language and learn the jargon.
Man in blue overall : I worked for a number of bakeries and dairies in Gabs delivering their products.
We used to “hammer” very hard. My neighbours called me “Bread man” because of the stacks of loaves and buns, which I brought home every day while delivering.
Money was flooding in as I sold much of the bread; we spent the money on booze.
Today I have nothing to show for it after wasting so much “easy” money.
Mokunyata brings bad luck. You can never buy anything useful with the money.
Man in white hat: It depends on who you are.
Man in black jacket: We must all work for money. Those who did not sweat for it will always blow it like dust.
You can learn this from your close friends and relatives who inherited riches from their parents.
Man in white hat: We wake up at 4 o’clock with one aim: To bring home something.
So we have to “hammer” while the iron is still hot. There are those who bought cattle, tractors and taxis with mokunyata.
It does not bring bad luck. You must always focus on your plans when you deal with money.
Man in black jacket: We also have examples of those who have nothing to show.
Man in striped shirt: (Referring to the Man in black jacket) Are you referring to your neighbour, Rra?
Man in black jacket: No! I never mentioned any name. Please! Don’t land me in trouble.
(All the men roar with laughter)
Man in blue overall: Things are getting out of hand. Let us change the topic before disaster strikes.
Man in striped shirt: (Referring to the Man in blue overall) Where are your victims? I mean the companies, which you swindled.
Man in blue overall: Some have grown big, while others have collapsed.
Man in striped shirt: (Referring to the Man in blue overall) what caused their collapse? (Everyone listens carefully)
Man in blue overall: I do not know. Oh .Now I get your question. Maybe, just maybe, I was responsible for the collapse, Sir.
Man in striped shirt: (Referring to the Man in blue overall) you saved time by telling the truth, now it is time to start your own business and go through the same injuries your bosses felt.
(All the men giggle)
Man in black jacket: He will never, ever start a business. He does not want to be swindled.
Man in striped shirt: I believe this mokunyata is a big problem not only in our country but also in the rest of the continent.
There is a story of an African president who was richer than the state. (Everybody laughs)
Man in white hat: That president must have been a “dangerous” accountant who could cook his books. I always ask myself how this affects foreign investors.
Man in black jacket: Every African believes that podi e fula fa e bofeletsweng teng, ( a goat grazes where its tied) so this is the problem at all levels.
We need solutions or else investors will keep a safe distance from us.
Man in white hat: We only have to change our mindset and stop asking: a ke tlaa ja sengwe.
Man in blue overall: People who are addicted to mokunyata are very slippery.
There were security cameras installed in one of the dairy companies.We stacked empty crates to obstruct the view of the cameras and continued the “hammering”Security officers realised very late that the stacking of the crates was strategic.
It is very hard to stop this. You need to be patient and have a ‘bird’s view” of all the operations of your company.
Man in white hat: Winning this war is not a joke.
At secondary school, our football coach liked the following expression: It is not how hard you hit the ball that makes you score, but how you hit it hard.
To win, you must always modify tactics.
Man in striped shirt: It is now getting late Gentlemen; the pots must be ready before sunrise.
We have learnt a lot from the discussion.
(All the men turn to their respective duties to prepare for the busy day ahead)