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#1 Mar 26, 2022 9:15 am

New Historian
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The pilot and the plane load of cash

Rhino Pub
Sheraton Kampala
Uganda

We'd played a game of pool, swapped a few Tusker beers and got to chatting, as you do. He was a pilot, flying cargo planes around Africa and Europe for the better part of two decades, and told me an interesting story. He was flying a C-130 Hercules, workhorse of the military and cargo operators worldwide, taking a cargo from Abuja Nigeria to Zurich, Switzerland. Cargo pilots are the most laconic guys you ever saw, I once asked one of these cowboys, piloting an ancient, oil-streaked DC-9 transport, if he wasn't nervous, at the decrepit state of some of these birds. "ah it's okay," he casually remarked. "Once you get 'em into the air, they tend to stay there."

My guy was no different, as they were loading the cargo onto the plane with forklifts, he was relaxing on a deck chair, preparing for the all-night flight ahead. All of a sudden: CRASH! One of the forklifts had fallen off the plane's cargo ramp, and fell about twenty feet to the ground. The forklift driver was shaken but unhurt, which was more that could be said of the crate he was carrying: it shattered on impact.

And out flowed: cash! Bales and bales of cash, spilling over the warehouse floor like water. American greenbacks, all hundred dollar notes. The pilot, like everyone else in the warehouse, looked on in shock, immobile. But the soldiers weren't immobile, they leapt to pick up the cash, guns drawn. This was serious, the pilot began to sweat, he was now clearly in danger: dead pilots tell no tales. The soldiers quickly swept up the cash and put it into a fresh crate, then had a confab. Luckily for the pilot, the cash was no use in Nigeria, they had to get it to Switzerland, so after a nervous couple of hours, the plane was loaded and took off.

The pilot said: that was the longest flight he ever took! Throughout, he and the co-pilot kept whispering to each other (soldiers had accompanied the precious cargo on board): what about when we land in Zurich, are they going to kill us then? Fortunately for them, upon landing the plane was met by Swiss soldiers who swiftly unloaded the plane into trucks and sped off, leaving the stunned pilots staring at each other: what had just happened?

What had just happened was just one of many such flights of cash from Nigeria to Switzerland, for 'safekeeping'. In other words: looting. This was during the short, violent, corrupt reign of Nigeria's Sani Abacha, arguably Africa's most venal dictator, in a long line of venal dictators. As usual, the Africans are corrupt dictators, while the Swiss were too happy to accept their obviously ill-gotten gains, no questions asked.

Life in Africa.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/ … to-nigeria

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#2 Mar 26, 2022 9:19 am

Wide Sargasso Sea
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Re: The pilot and the plane load of cash

We would like you to post scenes from your stay in Africa!

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#3 Mar 26, 2022 9:47 am

New Historian
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Re: The pilot and the plane load of cash

Wide Sargasso Sea wrote:

We would like you to post scenes from your stay in Africa!

As is you, my Top Ten:

Key:

1. Petrified trees that were flooded when they made Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe

2. Matusadonna National Park, Zimbabwe: I call this picture "Bookends"

3. Cape Point, the southerly most tip of Africa

4. I waited forever for that lion to yawn!

5. This snake had a hearty meal, under my bed in Kruger National Park, South Africa, at midnight. I figured he'd be satisfied and wouldn't come after me, but I didn't get much sleep that night. In the morning he was gone. It was only when I developed the picture and showed it to a warden that he told me it was a Green Mamba, the most poisonous snake in Africa.

6. Dhow, Zanzibar

7. "Hopelessness": Zimbabwe under Mugabe and his corrupt ZANU-PF

8. Local festival in Ghana, on the way to Cape Coast Slave Castle

9. Kinshasa, "Democratic" Republic of Congo

10. Fulani horsemen, Ghana

There you go!

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Kinshasa-street.jpg


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Last edited by New Historian (Mar 26, 2022 10:21 am)

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#4 Mar 26, 2022 10:24 am

Wide Sargasso Sea
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Re: The pilot and the plane load of cash

I love the fact that you've been to Zanzibar. I want to go there too. Mali is a must for me to honor Kamau Brathwaite I do not like Congolese culture. Many people from the Congo were shipped to South America. Lots of Cubans and Brazilians. Cape coast Castle was where our journey began to the New World. Good pictures and it is the proof I needed that you've been to the Mother Land!!

Irie I.

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#5 Mar 26, 2022 11:27 am

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Re: The pilot and the plane load of cash

You needed proof? Ooman how you so cynical, suspicious and jus' plain bad-mine? smile

Mali is hot and dusty, I didn't get to go to Timbuktu because it cost a fortune, and now it's overrun with Boko Haram militias. I love Congolese music and dancing, especially the famous "SAPEURs":

Francophone Africans are far more fashion conscious than their Anglo neighbours and Congolese are the most fashion-crazy of them all. I wanted to see that for myself. The famous “Sapeurs” (Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes!) – the men for whom clothes are king, followed closely by music and dancing. War, strife, poverty, hunger – nothing will get in the way of their pursuit of sartorial elegance. You see them everywhere, strutting like peacocks in their Dior shirts (real, never fake) and crocodile skin shoes. They may earn only ten dollars by day, but half of that will gladly go towards a shoeshine and laundry service to keep those creases razor sharp. Truly a sight to behold.

Another sight to behold is the mighty Congo River, flowing fast as it wraps its way around the city of Kinshasa, with its mirror image city of Brazzaville on the other side. Two Congos two cities, one river. The river here is particularly wide and navigable – further downstream it tumbles through a series of rapids and cataracts until it reaches the Atlantic, spewing forth millions of tons of water, mud and topsoil into the sea. They say the river has enough hydroelectric potential to light up the entire African continent; of course only a tiny fraction of it is tapped; at a hydroelectric power station at Inga Waterfalls. From the roof of the building I sat and watched the river go by, bearing boats, debris and assorted other traffic. The river is the main mean of transportation from the hinterland to the capital. Here everything is bundled onto trains and trucks for on-carriage down to Matadi, Congo’s only seaport.

Sad sights are the thousands of giant hardwood logs being exported, never to be replanted. Despite the tears of the tree-huggers, this decimation of the African rain forest will never stop, so long as the people who live in the forest have no other way of making a living. To them the choice is simple: it’s food on my table, versus this tree.

Last night ten of us went out on a farewell dinner to “Chez Maman Colonel”, deep in the heart of the Kinshasa ghetto. Getting there is a major trek, through what long ago passes for roads, not helped by the mini-hurricane that had just passed through. Chez Maman is a must-see on the Kinshasa circuit and when you get there you will see a surprising amount of “les blancs”, experiencing a piece of le vrai Afrique. There’s no menu, the waitress simply asks: “Poulet, ou poisson?” Chicken or fish? And man, talk about tasty! Having grown and eaten millions of pounds of tilapia during my late Jamaican period, I wasn’t too keen, but this was the most delicious tilapia I’ve ever eaten. Arlette Baliki Mandungu and I were fighting over the heads. The original finer-lickin’ good.

Afterwards, at the hotel, David and I gate-crashed a Vodacom party for a nightcap. A band was swinging and we enjoyed the sounds and sights on display. Man, those Congolese dancers can MOVE! We got there pretty much at the tail end of the shindig, which was just as well as we had a crack of dawn wake up call to contend with.

PS: Seen all over town – posters advertising “SPECIAL APPEARANCE, BIG SHOW, STARING – BILL CLINTON!!” Turns out he’s a big Kwasa-Kwasa star!

Last edited by New Historian (Mar 26, 2022 11:28 am)

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#6 Mar 26, 2022 11:52 am

Wide Sargasso Sea
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Re: The pilot and the plane load of cash

...You needed proof? Ooman how you so cynical, suspicious and jus' plain bad-mine?... Mi nuh bad mine or suspicious. Proof is that you do have the experiences to go with the talk.  The mighty Congo River is renowned but dangerous to navigate with its crocodiles.  I agree with you: Africans do cook fish very well-- I love the fish they cook in NYC.  I was aware that the 'dandies' were fashionable men, but it is irresponsible to spend so much money on designer clothes and live in poverty. I don't buy designer for it's too expensive and I would rather to utilize my money in a different way.  I wouldn't think that going to Timbuktu would cost such a fortune. I consulted with a tour group recently, but they told me that it was dangerous to go there. I've wanted to go since the 5th grade.  The great mosque built by King Mansu Musa is still standing. Africa is complex structure for it's a wealthy continent with its leaders have primitive minds therefore, they cannot utilize its resources to benefit its people.

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#7 Mar 26, 2022 12:19 pm

houston
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Re: The pilot and the plane load of cash

"5. This snake had a hearty meal, under my bed in Kruger National Park, South Africa, at midnight. I figured he'd be satisfied and wouldn't come after me, but I didn't get much sleep that night. In the morning he was gone. It was only when I developed the picture and showed it to a warden that he told me it was a Green Mamba, the most poisonous snake in Africa."

Good lord man, that story will give me nightmares?
How could you even attempt to go to sleep knowing that there was any type of snake underneath your bed?
All interesting photos, thanks.

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#8 Mar 26, 2022 1:01 pm

houston
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Re: The pilot and the plane load of cash

One time I was tent camping and it thundered and poured all night long. During the storm I felt a snake slither underneath the tent floor to seek shelter. I could feel it slither under the heat of my back where it parked for the night. I did eventually fall asleep knowing that my new friend was warm and cozy.
The next morning it was gone too. When I packed up I could see the snakey trail it had left in the sand.
Pretty sure it was an Eastern hog nose snake. Harmless but large enough to give the heebie jeebies.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_hognose_snake

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