Have I ever told you that Aggrey and I were once real investors? Yes, we happened to own a real business way back in the mid 90s. The business was not in form of importing and selling merchandise.
No way! Instead, we put our skills in the area of customer service. Yes, our customer service was to be delivered in our newly opened bar which was somewhere near Sonatubes in Kicuciro. The name of the bar was “Isange Bar”.
Aggrey and I were the shareholders as well as the Board members. In fact, we also were the Managers of this Kicuciro joint, whose main services were to sell frothy products from Bralirwa.
This joint was created to answer a couple of questions. One of the questions at hand related to the fact that the Gikondo warehouse, where Aggrey worked as the storekeeper, happened to be full of goodies which would serve several camps of displaced and disadvantaged people.
Since we had considered ourselves to be part and parcel of the disadvantaged flock, we were able to encourage this young storekeeper to take a lion’s share from the Gikondo stores straight to our Kiyovu residence.
He brought goodies on a daily basis until our store plus spare bedrooms became full of sacks. The contents of those sacks ranged from dry beans to posho, whose colour had changed from white to brown and then yellow.
Then there was the famous YUSA, which was always a favourite for our elderly neighbour. She was so fond of frying chips, hence the high demand for the YUSA cooking oil. Of course, YUSA was nonexistent. What was in our stock were cans of cooking oil with the inscription U.S.A.
Whenever our elderly neighbour looked at the cans, her tongue would twist into a semi-circle. Once her tongue was in such a shape, she would find herself pronouncing the initials of the United States of America, as YUSA.
Anyways we thought that it was the ripe time to dispatch some YUSA products to the market.
That is why Aggrey and I invented this brilliant idea of setting up a joint within Kicuciro area. But whereas we had intended to illegally trade in these NGO products, our official mission statement was designed along certain lines. Such lines included turning dry and thirsty throats into wet ones.
Isange was also designed to turn well respected persons of society into real drunkards. Those men of society were supposed to enter Isange joint in a well composed fashion, but return to their homes staggering and singing praises to their creator.
Well, once the idea had been well conceived and acted upon, we sat down to strategize.
How were we going to achieve our goals of changing upright thinking human beings into cabbages? Although it was evident that products from Bralirwa would serve this purpose, it was the “how” and not the “what” that bothered us so much.
We had to figure out how to maximize profits by having our clients dip their fingers in their pockets to pull out bundles of white and green crispy dollar notes! There could be one way only. Employ staff wisely.
So, Aggrey and I went on a headhunting spree. During the mid 90s, the night club labour market was in the advanced stages.
That is why we found ourselves heading towards a night club named Vertigo. Sometimes, we referred to it as La Villa. We had been told about this hot spot, being a favourite joint for foreigners. Most of them were expatriates or heads of NGOs.
This is where the real cash was. And this is where the ladies hanged around in hopes of hooking up with an expatriate, who would possibly fulfil their dreams of getting them that most sought for visa for Canada.
Since we could not offer visas for Canada or Belgium, we tried to convince some of these ladies to come and work for us at Isange Joint in exchange for real dollars.
In addition, we would pay them in kind, by smuggling a few cans of YUSA to them. Some of the ladies shunned us.
But some desperate ones agreed to consider our offer. So, amid the loud booming disco music and thick cigar smoke, we managed to shortlist four desperate candidates for the job.
The conditions for winning were that the candidate had to show the ability to communicate in both English and French.
After rounds of verbal interviews, in which the candidates rapped in very broken English and “torn” French, we confirmed the candidates and asked them to report to work the next day.
It was the following day that we realized how true the following phrase can be; Good from far but far from good. When these candidates arrived at Isange Joint, we were shocked to the core.
Not only were they very ugly; they were somewhere into their late forties! Indeed, the disco lights of Vertigo had completely fooled our eyes!