Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Supermarket

The Supermarket

‘A double,’ I said to the barman. ‘The usual will do!’
‘And the same for me!’ said a voice behind my ear.
I turned round like a flash to see who was seeking  subsidy from my meager resources. ‘Fintufingi Bantubonse!’ I exclaimed. ‘I haven’t seen you for years! What are you doing nowadays?’
‘Still teaching statistics at UNZA,’ he said sadly. ‘Every year I’m a year older, and every year my teaching notes are a year older, but every year the students are the same age.’
‘I thought you’d be drinking at Crapsodys, not here at the Anzac Arms! I laughed. ‘I know you could retire if you wanted! Isn’t it your family that owns Bantubonse Supermarket? Must be a little goldmine!’
‘That’s all you know,’ said Bantubonse sadly, as he gulped his brandy. ‘Unfortunately all my money is in your imagination. When my father died he left the shop equally to all his children. We thought we were only three, me and my two sisters. But at the funeral, another seventeen turned up!’
‘Oh dear, I am sorry,’ I said. ‘Funerals can be so upsetting. But even so, a five percent share of the profits must come in very handy. A nice little money-spinner like that! Cheat on the VAT! Cook the books for the ZRA! Nice little house in Kabulonga! Drink yourself to death on cognac! What a lovely way to go! How I envy you!’
‘How little you know, Kalaki. All I have is a five percent share in a very large overdraft.’ A tear rolled down his cheek and into his glass, further polluting the filthy mixture of industrial alcohol which Duncan Gilbert and Mortuary presume to call brandy.
‘My dear fellow,’ I said, putting my arm around his shoulder, ‘what happened?’
‘It all began four years ago,’ he began, ‘when we appointed a fellow called Nyamasoya as Manager. He seemed to be a very pleasant fellow. Very experienced in business. He had once run his own company.’
‘What happened to his company?’
‘That’s what we forgot to ask.’
‘So things began to go wrong?’
‘Terribly. He bled us dry. He employed all his own relatives as shop assistants, and they were all thieves. We found out too late that he was into all sorts of deals. He would buy stuff from the Chinese at a high price and then sell it at cost price. We only discovered later that he was getting a twenty percent back-hander under the counter.’
‘So you fired him?’
‘Of course. But not until he owned twenty mansions on the Leopards Hill Road, and we owned a twenty billion overdraft at the National Ripoff Bank.’
‘So you employed somebody else?’
‘Fellow called Super Chilufya.’
‘Why him?’
‘To get rid of the dreadful Nyamasoya.’
‘No, I mean why did you choose Super Chilufya?’
‘He was the only applicant. Very old, far beyond retirement age, but we had no choice.’
‘What was his previous occupation?’
‘Business consultant.’
‘Oh dear,’ I said. ‘But he promised to put the business back on its feet?’
‘His promises were marvelous. Everything would be back to normal in ninety days. He promised to get back the stolen money. He also promised that he would employ relatives of the shareholders as his shop assistants, that he would get rid of all the street vendors outside the shop, and that he would prevent the Shanghai Supermarket from stealing all our trade. He even promised that he would make enough profit to pay the school fees for all the shareholders’children, which presently number one hundred and thirty-four.’
‘More money in your pockets!’
‘And has he kept his promises?’
‘Far from it! He has closed the shop!’
‘What! Closed the shop! Why!’
‘He says that the first priority is to get back all the stolen money from the previous management. So he has sent all his new shop assistants to dig in the gardens of the previous shop assistants to see if they can find any Chinese bicycles buried in their gardens.’
‘So at least he did appoint the new shop assistants!’
‘Oh yes, he did that alright. But only from amongst his own friends and relatives. Most of them are very old and doddery.’
‘I’m still not clear why he had to close the shop.’
‘He says he first needs recover the stolen money to use as working capital to re-stock the shop.’
‘So no money to pay your children’s school fees?’
‘No, and school fees are going up.’
‘And no money in your pocket?’
‘We’re being bled dry by the overdraft, which is increasing every day.’
‘And has he cleared away the street traders?’
‘Since the shop is closed, he says that they might as well stay where they are.’
‘And what about the Shanghai Supermarket?’
‘It’s doing a roaring trade. They’re exporting dollars to Shanghai by the million.’
‘And what does Super Chalufya do all day? Does he just sit in his closed shop?’
‘Oh no. I’ll say one thing for him, he’s always very busy. He works hard collecting the evidence against the previous management as the basis for making detailed allegations at various police stations.’
‘What was the job of this Chilufya before he became a business consultant?’
‘He was a police constable.’


  1. He he he, kALAKI is hilarious.....

  2. awe ba kalaki naimwe.......lets give a chance......bt its really a gud satire n our leaders need this 4 sure.