By Ade Fashola
It was two days to one of the Muslim festivals, when my old-time classmate visited my office. We had no discussion for over 20 years prior to two weeks earlier when we had a run in somewhere and fixed an appointment to meet at my office. My decision to avoid communication with him was deliberate considering his antecedent of storytelling. He once carried a story about me and witchcraft (the full story about this will be shared in my future write ups).
As a matter of fact, this guy is beyond amazing. He can conveniently be referred to as the encyclopedia of 1983/84 class for Nawair. He had information on anyone and everyone. What they do, where they are and their issues. He knew all the assumed big shots and the strugglers, how they made it and why the tides had turned sour for some. He even kept the mortality scores. What fueled his idiosyncrasy was his job. He works with a local government not too far from our secondary school.
Immediately I got the notice of his arrival, I knew “I don enter” meaning “I was in trouble”. I agreed to the meeting out of impulse but now I was asking myself “How would I get rid of this guy? I followed the receptionist to acknowledge him and request a few minutes to finish what I was doing. I knew any delay may lead to a negative rating or report. The strange thing about him was that his passion not driven by the need for financial gain and he can be easily irritable. Offend him and you will have to explain your side of the story to all our school mates. My 20-year barricade was broken. I needed a new formula. I decided to take him out for a lunch but requested my PA to notify me via call once 30 minutes was already spent. “Oh boy was I wrong” on our way he intimated me that due to the scheduled meeting, he had cleared his program thus he was not going back to his base that day as he wanted us to catch up all night. He was open to passing the night in my home or lodge him in any good hotel at his expense around my home. I knew the latter option was a trap. At this point, I gave up. I chose to enjoy his company otherwise my whole day and night will be miserable. We ended up in my house.
As we rode in the car, he asked “Fash, Will you be coming for Ileya? (the Muslim holiday). My head started spinning as I reasoned within myself, “Yes” meant he may want to come around during the period while “No” is dangerous because he will get to know when I come around. The truth was that I was going to be in Abeokuta for the festival. I reluctantly sat on the fence claiming uncertainty of my plans. My senior brother had not decided whether or not he was coming home. My classmate offered a word of caution to be very careful when I come around. I asked why? he started telling me several true-life stories of our mates. My PA called me severally before I eventually picked to tell him not to worry that I won’t be back soon. The gist started around 1.45pm on our way to lunch and did not stop till around 2.50am. I actually did not want him to stop as I multi-tasked in between picking calls, eating including watching TV, he talked through it. It was the best 13 straight hours I have ever had with anyone. It was also the turnaround of my career and the need for this article and its series.
I took him to Abeokuta myself the next day because I needed more. The main thing is centered around why is it that consistent growth is difficult in Africa? Why do people die young? Why are most businesses/organizations not surviving more than a decade? Why is transfer of wealth from one generation to the other a mirage in Africa? To him, the witches are responsible for all unpleasant occurrence. These and more were the questions that came to my mind after my encounter with this my particular schoolmate based on our discussion about our school-set in secondary school, Class of 1983/84. “The Witches Influence” as he said.
The main issues discussed were employment, marriages, investment, loss of job or properties, health issues, accidents, theft, fire incidence, business interruption and failures, retirement palaver (I forgot to mention, he has dozier about our teachers too) etc. He quickly reminded me of my own. I kept quiet knowing fully well he was wrong about mine. I realized he has no malicious intent and decided to gamble my entire PR by confronting him with some facts.
I started, Femi, I am very sure you know my background, I have practice around Africa, Europe and mostly in United State. Human threats (risk) are the same all over the world. The difference between Advanced worlds and most African countries is ignorance. The risk exposures in advanced countries are even higher. Are the witches responsible for their higher exposures to risk or are all the witches disappeared? Generally, all human beings and corporate establishments face these risks on daily basis. I continued. He was shocked because I was sure he was not expecting any response. We end up spending the next two years working on a project and also developed products addressing most of these issues.
The approach as to how we mitigate against these risks is what determine the consequences. Misfortune will continue to happen as long as human race exists. I will be picking the issues one by one. I will discuss those risks and despite that the frequency is higher in advanced countries, it has been contained. What are the effects of witches and witch crafts in all these? Because of time, I will pick the main 20 out of the 38 cases my friend told me.
Ade Fashola is the CEO of Universal Risk.
By Ade Fashola