The Optimist: The most intriguing man that loved in equal measure
Posted Sunday, October 27 2013 at 00:00
Even grown-up men with heavy beards knelt before him like he was a great god in some Nigerian shrine. But he had a raging rage, oh! Once he punched and kicked a man he had caught winking at his daughter. The man cried like a little girl, grovelling in the dust and begging for mercy. It was shocking the following day when the man still reported to work as if nothing had happened.
The men worked at the farm and the women worked in the gardens. As early as when the cock was crowing, up to when the sun went down, they worked. Sweat sprang from their faces and raced down their armpits and backs till every fabric on their bodies got drenched. And like demons, they worked on. When they finally lined up every evening to receive their pay, they did so with gratification knowing their boss was satisfied. Who would not think so after such a long hard labour day?
He was envied by men and worshiped by women. They were often overheard whispering lustily about the handsomeness and manliness of their boss. And they wished their husbands were like him. These were their secrets; secrets punctuated with sighing and soft laughter. Just what was the secret of the man who dominated their fantasies? Was it his rugged look, his revolutionary anger, towering height or the depth of his pockets?
It was difficult to tell, but he was different in many ways. He was a man who always meant business. Every soul in the village knew he could get school fees for his children from Mr Mugeiga, and food if they did not have any. But they knew his motto: No free lunch in Paris. You had to work for what he gave you: fetch water for his cows, or till his garden - you had to do it perfectly.
This man had been to the best University in the western world where he had earned a Doctorate. Yet he had rejected a white collar job with some ministry, in preference to farming. Close to his people in the village. He owned a red Honda whose effervescent vrooms around the village warmed up the hearts of his people. He would have easily won a parliamentary seat but he was not interested. In the bar, at school, in the marketplace, Mr Mugeiga’s name dripped from the mouths of people. They feared and revered him simultaneously. He was not loved for his books and wealth. They loved him because he loved them more.