‘Favour with others is worth more than gold, for a fortune like this lies in the hearts of the bold.”
In a secluded village on the outskirts of the big city, a life was taken away and a new one was given. In this life’s place was that of a beautiful bundle of joy, born of love and sorrow. The father of this child had been in an arranged marriage and like their mother, his eight daughters were arrogant and short tempered. The death of his first wife was not so easily mourned as he was then able to marry his first and only love. The daughter she left behind was, and still is, cherished: a fearless girl with wisdom beyond her years; as she goes by the name of Konadu.
After many months of mourning the death of his beloved, the father decided it was time to raise his daughters and teach them independence as she would have wanted him to. He involved them in his work as a Kente weaver, making it a family business and a popular source of fine Kente cloth for the many chiefs in the region. As Konadu reached the age of 15, she became aware that her career as a weaver was imminent. All her sisters were weavers and highly skilled ones at that. Konadu knew that her clumsy ways would not be welcome in the work place; moreover, as her father’s favorite daughter, she sensed their jealousy and resentment. She would much rather read in Bubu’s missionary library: her special place. She would spend hours on end in the clingy corners of the library, filling her head with the new ideas and fascinating wonders of the world that lay beyond the village boundaries.
The familiar creaks of the Kente weaving machines filled the hall as Konadu sat at her work station for the first time. The speed with which her sisters moved never ceased to amaze her.
“Hurry up then, why are you scared?” her hostile elder sister sneered.
“I’m not scared of anything,” she replied with confidence, receiving a disgusted look in return as her sister continued her fast-paced work.
Konadu slid the shuttle through the warp tendrils as she remembered her father had told her to do during her much-loathed weaving lessons over the past years. A smile slowly crept over her face as her hands started to get the hang of it; then all of a sudden, her treadle snapped under her foot and she managed to lose balance, falling forward onto her machine which collapsed under her weight in a heap of dust and splinters on the floor. The sound of eight cackling hyenas resounded through the hall as Konadu rose unsteadily to her feet, humiliated.
Her throat clogged up as angry tears threatened to escape.
“Aww, Little Miss Perfect is about to cry!” one of her sisters jeered, causing another round of laughter. A loud bang caused all the mockery to immediately cease and everyone to turn towards the door where their Da stood, looking annoyed as his eyes surveyed the scene and the obvious damage done to both his youngest daughter and one of his Kente weaving machines.
“What is the meaning of this?” he bellowed, “you should be helping your sister, not laughing at her; shame on you, all of you!” The authority in his voice had every gaze directed to the floor in shame.
“Konadu,” Da said, drawing her attention, “come with me please.” He turned around and proceeded to the door as Konadu quickly stumbled after him, not wanting to be in that room a second longer.
No words were exchanged as Da drove Konadu in his dilapidated Toyota truck, the pride and joy of the family. Konadu relished the sound of the engine, picturing the parts working in perfect unison as she had seen in the book on car engines she had read at the library. They soon arrived at the next, where Da parked the car outside a large house and turned off the engine. With his hands still on the ignition he turned to his daughter.
“You still remember what I always tell you and your sisters, don’t you my dear?” he asked seriously. “Fortune favours the bold,” how could I forget Da?”
He gave her a small smile.
“Right. Now do not allow your sisters to crush you. There are going to be moments in life where you have to stand up for yourself and do what is right, do you understand me, Konadu?”
“Yes I’m aware of that,” she said with determination.
It was moments like these when Da saw so much of Konadu’s mother in her: exuding confidence, strength and the will to fight.
As they entered the room, cold air hit the back of Konadu’s neck, a sensation unfamiliar to her. She turned around and studied the machine attached to wall, recognizing the humming white machine from an article she had read. Behind the mahogany desk sat Mr. Sekyi Gyan, Da’s loyal supplier of the fibres that made the cloth so valuable. He brought them all the way from Europe.
“Welcome my good friend, how is business?” the burly man addressed Da with a grin, revealing a gold tooth that glinted in the light. They continued to make small talk but Konadu tuned them out as she studied Mr. Sekyi Gyan. The multiple rings on his fingers flaunted his wealth as he stroked his thick moustache. His ample belly rippled when he laughed his hoarse crackle and his beady eyes bored into her very soul when he glanced at her every minute or so, making her stomach churn.
“I see the prices in Europe are not doing us any favours; still rising eh?” Da questioned from beside her, making her ears prick up.
“I’m afraid so, I do what I can to not wring you dry, you know, as a favour to a friend,” murmured Sekyi Gyan, handing documents for Da to sign. Konadu frowned as the gears began to slowly turn in his mind.
“What country do you get the fibres from?” she spoke up, causing both men to turn to her in surprise.
“Holland. Not that it concerns you; little girls like you should not involve themselves in the business of grown-ups,” Mr. Sekyi Gyan sneered.
“It concerns me if it concerns my father getting cheated by a thief,” she ventured, her heart beating nervously.
The man behind the desk chuckled awkwardly:
“What are you talking abou…”
“Textile supplies in Europe have been decreasing in price by 10% for the past 5 years,” Konadu said, recalling the recent feature in the economics magazine in Bubu’s missionary library, that had gripped her attention for a whole day.
“So if those logs on your desk are correct, you have been charging my father double what he should be paying you, which would mean, unless I’m mistaken, that you owe him close to GHS300,000.00.”
No one had ever seen Da in a better mood than he was on the morning after the meeting. His bubbly laughter filled the house and his joyous shouts drew his daughters out of their quarters and into the living room, grumbling and mumbling at the unexpected commotion.
“Good morning my beautiful darlings! I have an important announcement to make. Yesterday, your youngest sister – come forward my dear…” he gestured excitedly to Konadu in the corner, “…may well have saved our entire family business from future bankruptcy.
Whispers arose amongst the girls who looked at each other in bewilderment.
“She was brave enough to speak up for what she knew to be the truth and because of her actions, we will never have to worry about money again!” his delighted expression then became serious, “we all owe Konadu a lot for what she has done, and I expect you to show gratitude in the form of kindness and a new sense of appreciation.”
Apologies were spoken and for the first time ever, they sounded genuine.
“I’m very proud of your my dear,” he said gently, turning to Konadu, “you have truly honoured my ethos, that I have prayed will guide you all along the way.”
Turning to the rest of them with a warm smile he enquired, “and that is, my darlings?”
The girls exchanged wry smiles before chorusing…
“Fortune favours the bold!”
About the writer:
Hannah Yeboah is the winner of the 2016 Write-Away Contest. She attends the Beacon International School in Peduase. For her prize, Hannah Yeboah received a cash prize of GHc5,000 while her school was given GHc10,000.
Nicole Chinery and Goloh Lily Eli both from the Sap’s School in Accra placed second and third respectively.
The Write-Away Contest is an annual competition that is geared towards encouraging children to read and to write. The contest is for pupils between the ages of 10 and 14 years. This year, the contestants were expected to write a story that ended with the phrase, ‘Fortune favors the bold.’
The Write-Away Contest 2016 was sponsored by MoneyGram and the Students Loan Trust Fund.