Didn’t quite get a Reader’s Corner submission that made the cut this week, so I’m posting an excerpt from a book I have not published yet, of the same title. Enjoy.
The story is told of two young hunters in a small town called Ojo-ola. The first was called Foyegbe, while the second was called Ajirebi. They were both very skillful and sharp hunters and also very good friends, who often went on hunting expeditions into the deep forests together. However, Ajirebi was a more skillful hunter than Foyegbe, as he was naturally stronger, bigger and faster. He usually had a bigger catch than Foyegbe. Now, since there was an abundance of prey in the bush, they had not learnt to preserve their game. They went to hunt everyday, ate what they could of their game with their families and sold the rest cheaply at the village market.
The truth was that they were living from hand to mouth. If there was no catch on one day, there was no food for that day. However, one day, Foyegbe sat to think. He began to ask himself some questions. Why must I wake up every early everyday, go hunting for a good part of the day and return with nothing home for tomorrow? What would happen if there were no catch for a whole week? What would happen to their families if he and Ajirebi fell sick at the same time? What would happen if there was a serious fire in the forest one day, killing everything living there? He saw how unwise their approach was and decided to learn how to preserve his catch. He created the art of roasting meat, and began to roast the leftover from his daily catch, rather than selling them cheaply at the market. Very soon, people began to seek him out, offering big money for his roasted meat. This was because the roasted meat was less messy, better tasting and longer lasting than the raw meat.
As demand for the roasted meat began to increase, Foyegbe began to buy raw meat cheaply from Ajirebi, roast it and add to his stock. Soon, Ajirebi’s family too wanted roasted meat. Rather than take the pain to learn to roast his meat from his friend, Ajirebi would sell his own raw meat cheaply and then buy roasted meat from Foyegbe at a very high price. In no time at all, Foyegbe became the wealthiest man in the village and he was respected by both high and low. Ajirebi’s fortune (which was quite small before) steadily dwindled, as no one was interested in his raw meat again. The only person who bought raw meat was Foyegbe. Because of this, Ajirebi was totally helpless and at Foyegbe’s mercy. This influenced Ajirebi’s choices. Because of his disadvantaged position, he made very bad deals with Foyegbe, which left him buried deeply in debts.
One day, Ajirebi had a great idea. He thought within himself – rather than hunting everyday, why not just trap live animals of both sexes, take them home and take care of them so that they can reproduce under his supervision. And that was exactly what he did. Before this time, there was no domestication. Ajirebi’s domestication idea was a first of its kind, just as Foyegbe’s roasting idea was a first of its kind. Unfortunately, even though this led to Ajirebi having more meat available, it did not translate into wealth for him. Rather, it translated into wealth for Foyegbe, because he continued to sell the meat cheaply to Foyegbe. This enabled Foyegbe to meet demand more quickly and expand his business.
Like the title of Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka’s book, The man (Ajirebi) died. His children, rather than develop their domesticated animal business into a more profitable venture, decided to sell it to Foyegbe. Of course, being the shrewd businessman he was, Foyegbe’s children bought the farm and the idea of domestication from them. Over the years, he had trained his children in the art of roasting, but more importantly on the value of using their minds more than their bodies. On his deathbed, Foyegbe’s final words to his children captured it all. With a weak voice, he told them
“The secret of the wealth is not in having the meat,
But in the roasting of the meat.”
Ajirebi’s children soon finished their money and came back to work for Foyegbe’s children on the farm that used to be their own. They were employed as laborers, underpaid workers on a property that was their inheritance. Foyegbe’s children however took their father’s life lessons and dying words to heart and worked with their minds. They invented new ways to process and package the meat. They made suya, stick meat, spiced meat, sausage rolls, tasty fried meat, and many more. They brought in different kinds of meat ranging from bush meat, to chicken, turkey, goat meat, and it continues to grow. All these continued to make them tons of money and the Foyegbe wealth continues to grow exponentially. Of course, with money came respect, prestige, power and nobility. The descendants of a certain hunter are today the most influential people in Ojo-ola and environs.
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