Big catch – Part 1

 I was very confident that I was about to hit the big time financial­ly. I resigned my job with Lever Brothers, and was well rewarded for my ten years loyal service. In addi­tion to starting my own publishing firm, I had also invested my earnings in a fishing venture, after my friend Pa John had advised that it was very profitable.

Knowing that the publishing busi­ness would start providing returns after three years, I was prepared to work hard to succeed, with the as­surance that the fishing investment would take care of my needs. Pa John, in addition to being a Project Manager at the Agricultural Bank, had also invested in the business, and assured my that I would receive decent earnings very regularly.

His boat was as big as mine, but he chose the long voyage type of fishing, his crew going out for three weeks at a time, while I chose the short, one-day type.

He assured me that my nets were better than his, because they caught both medium sized fish like tuna and cassava fish, as well as sharks. He introduced me to Kofi Prakor, the Chief Fisherman at Tema New Town, who helped me recruit a crew of eight. With everything se­cured, I started out with such great hopes that I asked my fiancee, Sa­bina, who had just finished National Service, to manage the business for some time, and apply for a job if she wanted. I was so sure that with money about to roll in, she would prefer to take care of the business that spend time in an eight-to-five job that would pay very little at the end of the month. Moreover, she did not need to do much. She only went early in the morning to ensure that all their supplies were set, and returned home when they set off. She returned about four in the evening to supervise the sales, give them their due and go home with the money.

But one year on, we had very little to show for the investment. Apart from Sabina’s monthly salary and the fish which she took home, there was virtually nothing by way of profit, and I had started digging into my savings. I discussed this with Pa John, and he suggested that i meet with the crew and talk things over, and let them know that I would have to take some drastic action if things did not change.

If, Pa John said, there was no im­provement, then he would assist me to recruit a new crew. It was certain that the current crew were up to some tricks. But before I could even have the meeting, Sabina came home and dropped the bombshell.

‘Yooku, we’ve been together for two years, but things don’t seem to be going well. Your publishing business will not bring any earnings until after two years, at the very least, and the fishing investment appears to be a waste of time. I go there twice a day, and come home with virtually nothhing. I have been trying to help, but frankly I don’t like the environment at the fishing harbour. And my parents are worried that one year after my National Ser­vice, I don’t have a job, and my in­volvement with you doesn’t seem to show any good prospects. So Yooku, even though I am very fond of you, I want us to end the relationship. I am really sorry. If it will help you, I will ask my friend Tamara if she is willing to come in temporarily until you find someone. She is not work­ing, so she will appreciate the little you can give her’. As I sat dumb­founded, she got up and left.

The following morning Tamara called, and I went over and dis­cussed the business. She was inter­ested in the job, which surprised me because she was quite an elegant girl. I said I would try to offer her a better salary as soon as things improved, but she shook her head. ‘Yooku, I know the situation on the ground, but I also like a good challenge. Let’s go to the fishing harbour, meet the crew and talk to other boat owners, and see how we can change things’. ‘I am very grateful, Tamara’.

A week after she started, Tamara called one afternoon, very excited. ‘Yooku, are you in the office? I will be there in an hour. I have something interesting to report’. She came, and over the next thirty minutes I sat with my mouth open as she spoke. ‘Yooku, your boat is very popular among the fisherfolk, because your net is unique, as it catches both medium and large size fish. Your crew have been playing a wicked trick on you. Everyday, they stop some distance from the landing bay, sell the bulk of the fish and bring only a small amount to the docking bay. I be­lieve that if Sabina was just a little watchful she could have detected it. Now, it will soon be time for them to dock. Let’s take a taxi. We should be there in another hour. I want us to catch them in the act’. We hailed a taxi, and headed to the fishing harbour.

By Ekow de Heer

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