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A roach that tricketh and one that enricheth

By September 3, 2013June 6th, 2023No Comments

Sunday 1st September 2013

This week I’ve caught the mende bug (no pun intend….but how I hate those overused and over-abused expressions)! Anyway, I think you can’t escape such a bug when you think of Mr. Lambert Mende. Mr Mende, in case you don’t recall, is the communications minister and government spokesman of DR Congo. His full name is Lambert Mende Omalanga but he prefers to go by the simple epithet of Mende.

“Mende” is Kiswahili for “cockroach”, which is what makes it interesting when he chooses to associate himself with that illusive insect.

But, when you come to think of it, isn’t his way of explaining off things “illusive”, in itself? You remember how one time a fuel truck exploded and killed 230 people. Did anyone catch the meaning of his explanation that the truck was trying to overtake a bus? Or later when 80 people died and he explained that they died when a boat they were travelling in overturned.

It’d mean that in his DRC, when one truck explodes, it kills hundreds; a small boat sinks with almost a hundred!

But wrap your mind around this one. With his explaining gimmicks, he has pulled off the coup of convincing the world that Rwanda supports one of his country’s rebel groups, M23. So, when bombs rain from the skies over Goma, he explains they are from Rwanda. And how did he explain it when two bombs dropped on the Rwandan soil? The diplomatic gymnast Mende explained, with a straight face, that they were a love package sent by M23!

But don’t get me wrong. Mr. Mende is not the mende bug that I’ve caught. I’ve caught the mende bug of business.

I know, of course, that in your case when you hear of a cockroach, you immediately think of insecticide. It’s a thought you share with many. But have you ever considered that it could be that thought that has consigned you to the club of the impoverished? If you don’t believe me, you should ask one Chinese farmer called Wang Pengsheng. If it hadn’t been for a malicious neighbour, Wang’d be sitting at the same table as Bill Gates, as we speak.

But it’s not every time that a man falls that he breaks his “eggs”: there is still light at the end of the tunnel for Wang. So, those roaches that Habyarimana feared like the plague may yet haul him out of beggarliness.

While in our neck of the woods we dread these roaches, in China they believe that they provide invaluable medicine. Extracts from them are believed to treat ailments like cancer that’s laying our population to waste. Those extracts are also said to reduce inflammation and to improve immunity. I love the ingenuity of the Chinese; they find use for everything and harness nature in ways that are mysterious to us.

It’s no wonder these wonder beings, the Chinese, are said to eat everything with four legs except tables; everything that flies except aeroplanes; and the list goes on!

Anyway, Wang Pengsheng. Feeling that farming other things was not lifting his family out of poverty fast enough, Wang sat down and for six months developed a business plan. Then with a capital of 100,000 Yuan ($16,000), he bought himself 102 kg of these roach eggs. And the scientific name of those roaches? Periplaneta Americana – yes, they had to be American! American or not, however, he was to make $160 profit on every kg of “Americana” sold.

When we are talking about over 1.5 million roaches that hatched from those 102 kg of eggs, beat that for entrepreneurial dexterity. Question is, was Wang left alone to harvest his millionaire luck? Not a chance, courtesy of a neighbour burning green with envy.

See, the millions of roaches that were going to translate into millions of dollars were bred in a plastic greenhouse. And they weren’t eating your usual kitchen trash as they’d do in your house either, no sir. They were feeding like millionaire roaches, on fruits and biscuits. Yes, those little darlings that, in your place, you’d be hunting down as insufferable pests were feeding on buffet royal. And they should. After all, were they not going to mint millions?

Alas, a wicked neighbour has put paid to that prospect. The busybody dag a hole in the greenhouse and the little imps did the disappearing act. Now our poor Wang has to start all over again. But who said poking holes in plastic greenhouses was like poking them in entrepreneurial skills? Come rain or shine, Wang will win in the end. So, go win Wang, go!

If in Rwanda and Mende-land, DRC, we let our collective land lie fallow (which in DRC they do without any prompting, anyway!) and breed these roaches, instead of trading insults, how many zillions of Yuans shall we get in export earnings?

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