Chapter 11 : The Church
Having the experience of setting up a company in Rep of Guinea had helped me a lot. I was more careful in Kinshasa. First of all I appointed a lawyer named Camara. Whatever I wanted to do, I consulted him for advice. My assistant admins was appointed by Dato.. and his name was Mr Benjamin… strange enough he also spoke Mandarin. I found out later that he used to study in Beijing. In the first 3 months I was there, I was busy trying to get the contract for the road re-construction project. Bloody Hell I couldn’t get it! I learnt that somebody in the Ministry wanted USD 2 million in order for us to get the project! I tried to get in touch with the President through various people who claimed to have a relationship with Laurent Kabila… They lied! All of them were after some money!
In the midst of trying to get the project, Dato gave me another reponsible to look after 5 different areas of 1 million hectares each of forest concessions for his logging project.. ie 5 million hectares.. I had to deal with the Ministry of Forestry and also the Ministry of Public Works at the same time.. busy like hell.. surrounded by greedy people who thought that I was just a little ‘Ray’ that they could push around.. While waiting for the road project to come to some degree of certainty.. I worked myself through the forest concessions.. As my investigation went on.. I found out that Dato was offered something like USD 1.00 per hectare of forest concession.. the total sales would be USD 5 million.. Then I found out that at least 3 areas of the concessions didn’t have any log!! It was just full of savana bush.. Somebody wanted to cheat Dato.. selling savana for millions of dollars.. OK.. I decided to fight! I briefed Dato on my discovery.. So, the first 3 concessions were cancelled! Now what? Of course somebody would be angry with me.. I was visited by various people trying to threaten me… I even received a letter from the Interpole accusing me of doing something wrong in Kinshasa.. OK, I just sent my lawyer there… I had no idea what my lawyer did but the letter was immediately withdrawn!!
One fine day…. I was visited by one of Dato’s friend.. he said “Ray my dear.. listen to me.. we must get Dato to buy the concessions.. and I will reserve your share!! Hundreds of Thousands Ray… You think about it my Dear…” Of Course I thought about it.. and I thought about being sincere to my boss, and I thought about being afraid of GOD! To hell with his friend.. I wouldn’t do it! What if Dato kill me one day??? NEVER!!!!!!!!!!! I stuck to my plan of continuing the investigation.. At the end of it.. there was only 1 forest concession worth buying.. located by Congo River.. easy transportation using the river to Kinshasa… I guess.. I had saved Dato USD 4 million there.. Now.. this was the reason of reconstructing the road.. so that the logs can be transported to Port Matadi by road for export..
And how the hell were we going to export the logs using the road right now? Five months had gone by now and there was no sign of getting the contract signed by the Minister.. Meanwhile.. Dato had already transported the machinery for the project to Port Matadi.. I received a call from Singapore Ship operator saying that the ship contained 30 units of Machinery worth USD 30 million.. As far as I was concerned.. we had already arranged a waive for the tax.. There shouldn’t be any tax imposed now as it was part of the memorandum of understanding between Dato and the government.. I had to receive many visitors from the Diesel companies offering me from USD 0.05 to USD 0.10 per litre as my share if I decided to buy diesel from them.. I had calculated that we would be using around 350,000 litres per day for the road construction! I would be very rich!!!!!! But as usual I had my own principle.. That is illegal or HARAM in Islam! I re-directed all offers to Dato.. he could take the commission as the money belonged to him..
About 3 days before the ship birthed in Matadi.. I went there with my road construction consultant-to-be.. his name was Mr Valero.. a French guy.. We expected to reach there within 12 hours.. but we were wrong.. We only managed to reach half way the journey due to bad weather and flood.. I was caught this time as I was not well prepared.. I didn’t bring enough food.. just a few bottles of drinking water.. You can’t drink water from the restaurant there fearing of food borne disease.. We had to put up the night in a small town.. I can’t remember the name though.. All I remembered was that.. they didn’t have any hotel.. And at night.. you just don’t want to be bitten by mosquitos.. they carry malaria.. Mr Valero said to me..”Voulez vous rester la nuit a l’eglise?” meaning do you want to stay the night at the church? “No way.. I said.. I’m a muslim!!” Then he said again..”Mais.. il y a du pain la bas.. et aussi des chambres a dormir..” meaning but there is some bread there.. and some rooms to sleep.. I was thinking to myself.. was it wrong for me to do this? At the end.. I agreed, considering the danger of sleeping in the car.. perhaps due to robbers and mosquitos.. besides, I was very hungry! I just couldn’t beleive it! First time in my live I entered a church.. just to sleep and eat.. The Father of the church respected my religion and didn’t say anything about religion at all… I am a Muslim… GOD Please forgive me……… I was just looking for a shelter in a foreign land..
to be continued.. DjRay