Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 292
“Oh, there is no God except for Allah. Praise the wakil!”
Ombuti shouted with overwhelming joy. He was born a merchant. 100,000,000 francs? He couldn’t even wrap his head around that huge sum. He wouldn’t have believed it if the president of Chad had said it, but whatever wakil said went. That wasn’t the Angel of Death, Azrael, but the second coming of the God of Wealth, Islamse. He finally understood the saying that went, 100 rolling date palms couldn’t contest a rolling pumpkin.
The Wakil Commerce Company had 3,500,000 francs as its starting fund, making it the largest grain dealer in Chad, excluding international major grain dealers. Wakil’s colleagues—Paul, Emil, Jang Shin, and Bellman—had invested 1,300,000 francs. Alongside wakil’s investment, it totaled up to 1,700,000 francs. He had rearranged his entire fortune to invest 500,000 francs. If wakil had invested 100,000,000 francs, the entire company would belong to him.
“Wakil, did you open a central bank in France?”
“Mitterrand gave me around 100,000,000 francs for working hard.”
Ombuti’s mouth hung open at the crazy answer. Mitterrand must be mad to have given wakil 100,000,000 francs. At that moment, he realized that there was another reason for wakil’s late appearance.
“Ombuti, this is the beginning. As a future leading businessman in Africa, you shouldn’t be so surprised by such an amount.”
“Ah, yes, of course! You’re right, sir. Still, it’s too shocking.”
That was true. With a capital of 100,000,000 francs, he could contest for first place in Africa against international major grain dealers like Cargill, Continental, Louis Dreyfus, and Bunge.
For someone who had operated a caravan since his 20s, he used his business sense to quickly come up with an estimate of the numbers. A 20 percent annual net profit from conservative operations could earn him 20,000,000 francs. In terms of grain trading systems, which referred to money as money spent, that level of profit was like swimming on the ground. With the annual revenue of 20,000,000 francs and a processing plant, wakil’s wealth could accumulate like Mt. Emi Koussi. Ombuti’s loyalty limited his mind from thinking of ways to increase his master’s wealth.
Wait, one-third of 20,000,000 francs is 6,660,000 francs. According to wakil, I need to contribute twice the amount of our current capital to the Sahel each year. To waste wakil’s precious wealth and that large amount of money for nothing? No, no way!
Ombuti’s business instincts triggered an internal scream. Was his wakil trying to save all the beggars in the world?
“Wakil, those people have nothing to do with you. Are you spending all of your precious wealth on people who don’t even know what wealth is? Half of the Sahel’s residents are the wicked FROLINAT!”
Ombuti protested his decision like never before. It wasn’t as though he didn’t understand his wakil’s warm heart, but they were also in a situation whereby even the Chad government had given up on helping. Why should wakil, who wasn’t even a Chad local, solve their hunger problems with his massive wealth? Moreover, it was the FROLINAT too!
“Ombuti, hunger is the greatest suffering. When you’re hungry, you cannot be human. Ombuti, you and I, the Tuareg tribe, and the Anghel tribe are no different aside from our skin color. You know most of them are cooperating with the FAP because of the threats and violence. Ombuti, if you didn’t follow me, you would probably still be the DGSE’s informant, don’t you think?”
“Yes, that’s true. I would probably be buried in that sandy ground already.”
Ombuti looked like he was in torment. Black Mamba smiled.
“Humans are distinguished from beasts because they have a compassionate heart. When you meet someone, you grow to be attached. When you’re attached, you become family. The FROLINAT are humans too. Even the nastiest of people shouldn’t starve. Humans are humans, and hunger is hunger. I’m doing this because my heart is telling me to do so. That is called one is all, and all is one.”
Black Mamba wrung his brain out, trying to convince Ombuti. His resonance waves automatically activated and merged with Ombuti’s emotions.
“One is all, and all is one! Oh, Allah! My master is a true savior.”
Ombuti was impressed. Wakil wasn’t the Azrael or the Islamse. Wakil was wakil. The inhabitants of the Sahel, who were starving to death, were pitiful. Still, no one thought to offer them help.
Ombuti thought that they were being punished for sinning against Allah. However, wakil unhesitantly said that he would help by feeding them with his wealth. His heart that pitied humans, that was the heart of God. One is all, and all is one. Everything should be given without hesitation—that was the words of God.
Humans are humans, and hunger is hunger.
Those were excellent words. Allah’s words poured down like a rain of flowers from heaven. That was the words of his young master. Despite his limited understanding of French, his heart resonated with every word. He was wakil’s first servant. He grew immensely proud of himself.
Ombuti started a lengthy prayer. He thanked Allah for gracing him the chance to meet wakil and praised his wakil’s noble will. He looked back at his past life. He had only thought of himself and his own family’s comfort. He never thought about the hunger and suffering of others. That was natural. He didn’t have the leisure to look after others in the barren desert.
“Allahu Akbar! I understand wakil’s noble will. I will send food in the name of wakil. Wakil, you are the true leader. Wouldn’t it be nice if those pigs inconsiderate of the citizens’ deaths understood wakil’s noble will? Humans are humans, and hunger is hunger. Those are truly the words of God! Allahu Akbar!”
Tears gathered in Ombuti’s dark eyes. Tears similarly accumulated in Edel’s eyes, who’d been listening silently. Her eyes hadn’t been wrong. He was too great a person. He was a human who understood the meaning of true love. There were so many words she wanted to say, but her mouth didn’t move. All the praises she could think of seemed to contaminate Dubai’s pure humanity.
“Woah, woah, why are you guys crying? Don’t spoil the mood. Hahaha!”
Black Mamba laughed awkwardly.
“Of course. Bread must be shared for it to be delicious. I thank God for sending you to me, Black.”
Edel wiped away her tears with a handkerchief and smiled softly at him. Black Mamba’s face burned. What was the point of piling up money? He’d only asked Ombuti on a whim after recalling the pain of hunger from when he was little. Now, he was embarrassed. Even quoting the words of monk Sung Chul made him feel awkward.
“Now, this is embarrassing. I’m doing what anyone else would do.”
Ombuti immediately refuted.
“Wakil, it’s not something that everyone can do. Chad wouldn’t turn out like this if anyone can do it.”
“My teacher’s in Korea. He taught me not to hope for anything in return and do whatever I want. I’m just doing what I want to do.”
Ombuti was, again, impressed.
Do whatever you want without expecting to be rewarded. It was similar to the words recorded in the Quran.
“Those are great words. I will engrave wakil’s words in my heart. Corruption and the unstable political situation are both problems, but the greater problem is the grain majors. They are taking advantage of the miserable situation in Africa to satisfy their greed. The whole of Africa, including Chad, are bruised by their greed.”
“What are you talking about? It is my first time hearing about grain majors. What’s the relationship between Africa and these grain majors?”
Black Mamba was unaware of the international grain trade system. He grew up in Korea, which had been cramped, and wandered the battlefield as a mercenary. It would’ve been weird if he knew. When he was little, the school distributed loaves of bread called “small bread.” It wasn’t until he was an adult did he realize that the bread came from the U.S.
“Last week, I stopped by Kinshasa to buy flour and cassava. We secured the quantity of cassava but gave up on flour because it was too expensive. The Congo Basin is the main regional producer of wheat. I couldn’t find out why the wheat was so expensive in a wheat-producing area. The region’s a rainforest, so it was unlikely that there were droughts like in the Sahel.”
“Did you find out why it was so expensive?”
“It was the grain majors’ interference. There is a multinational grain company called Continental in Kinshasa. Those b*stards played a joke.”
Where is Kinshasa?
Black Mamba didn’t know much about Africa’s newly independent countries. He only came to know of Chad when he first entered the operation. He searched through his memories before recalling that Kinshasa was Congo’s capital.
“Isn’t Kinshasa the capital of Congo? Have they started trading already?”
“The African border is not very strict. People can do business with other countries without going through complicated procedures. Unlike Chad, Congo is a country rich in resources. Knowing this information will help you later, sir.”
“Ugh, I’m already sick of Africa. If you didn’t open a company, Ombuti, I would have already left for Korea. I don’t even want to know.”
Mu Ssang shook his entire head. The thought of the Sahel’s flies and mosquitoes and the endless wastelands and deserts made him shudder. Besides, how much blood did he shed on that land? If he hadn’t bothered about creating the autonomous region, he would have returned to the temple and rested his back on the heated floors.
Black Mamba didn’t know. At that moment, he couldn’t have guessed that less than a year later, he would be wandering through the Congo Rainforest until he got tired of it. Humans never knew what would happen in their lives. Life got boring if you could read your own future, after all. It was hell because humans didn’t know. That was why the Gods of Olympus admired human life.
“So what’s the problem with this Continental?”
“Continental established a modern flour mill in Kinshasa in 1973. With the shortage of dollars, Congo signed a contract with Continental to pay copper in exchange for flour. The southern part of Congo is a region with a large number of copper reserves, called the Copperbelt. Congo couldn’t properly pay Continental due to a major accident at the copper smelting plant.”
“Congo must have requested a delay in payment.”
“You’re right, sir. Continental exploited the Congo disaster. They didn’t accept any deferral requests, and they drastically reduced the wheat supply. Congo’s wheat is monopolized by Continental. People with baskets form lines in front of the bakery, and grain vendors are on fire trying to monopolize said stores. So it became an ironic situation in which people starved to death because of the lack of flour in a wheat-producing region. 10s of 1,000s of people died in Kinshasa alone due to the ‘Continental Flour’ incident. Those b*stards won’t be able to escape Allah’s wrath.”
“Anyone who plays around with food deserves punishment. By the way, couldn’t they have just paid the price with copper ore?” Black Mamba raised the question.
They didn’t necessarily have to pay with copper. If the smelting plant was destroyed, they could have settled the deal with ore.
“Congo, of course, said they would pay for it with original ore. Continental did not accept that. They used the typical method of taming governments, which is frequently used by major grain vendors. The aftermath remains, which explains why flour is priced outrageously.”
“Those damn b*stards, a world-class company committing such an atrocious deed? They must have expected the disastrous results.”
“They probably did that because they expected it. Eventually, Mobutu admitted defeat. He gave Continental the exclusive right to buy wheat, the exclusive right to supply flour, and the remaining amount was paid in cash by the central bank. Congo still couldn’t set up a mill because of Continental’s clever interference.”
“Ha, impossible! That means Congo sells all of their wheat to Continental, only to buy back the flour that they make at a higher price!”
The more Black Mamba listened, the more dumbfounded he became. He knew the company had acted pompously, but he couldn’t believe a state was being bossed around by a company. At that time, Black Mamba knew nothing about the power and greed of the major grains.
“That’s exactly it. They bought all the wheat and sold the flour at an outrageous price. The flour in Kinshasa is 20 percent pricier than the flour in N’Djamena, a city that still suffers from food shortages.”
“They are doing a lot of things. Not only are the dictators threatening their lives, but a grain major’s suffocating them too. The African locals have become gazelles thrown into a crocodiles’ pit.”
“You’re right, wakil. The people who have leaders such as Tombalbaye, Goukouni, Habib, and Mobutu are pitiful. They don’t care whether the country is struggling or if the people are starving. They are the same breed as the grain majors, in which they only focus on their greed. Wakil has nothing to do with Chad. That’s why I respect wakil.”
Black Mamba shook his hand.
“Hey, stop that. When I get the chance, I should use my hand to mess up that company called Continental.”
“Please do that.” Ombuti smiled in satisfaction.
Wakil never spoke empty words. Continental was bound to get seriously hurt one day.
“I’m sorry for deviating from the main conversation. I’m currently purchasing flour from Sudan. I will bring the ledger and report the capital stock and business situation in detail later. Firstly, I think I have to report to you about the location where the autonomous region will settle.”
“Do that. Business stories are bothersome. Ombuti, you handle that on your own. Oh, right, unlike his status, that idiotic gang member had an off-the-shelf luxury Opinel.”
Black Mamba threw the Opinel, which originally belonged to the gang member, toward Ombuti.
“I don’t need it, so you use it, Ombuti.”
“Ah! It seems like today’s a blessed day for me.”
Ombuti’s dark, deep eyes sparkled like a child receiving a toy. Ombuti was also a warrior. A good knife was a welcome gift. Ombuti, who was studying the knife with vague interest, suddenly jumped in his place.
“This is a Tasenzoter! Oh, Allah!”
“Why are you so surprised, uncle? What is a Tasenzoter?” Edel, who’d been listening silently all this time, asked.