WHEN thieves broke into our house and escsped with my laptop two years ago, I was devastated. A completed manuscript for a book on personal financial management disappeared with the laptop.
The project was shelved. As a result of the pandemic, I took a decision to convey the principles of personal management through story-telling to make the information more accessible. I thought to share the first part of the story with The NewsHawks readers.
MaDube had a good marriage. She could not have asked for a better relationship. She began to notice that Manu, her husband was changing, was coming home late frequently. He was evasive when asked about his whereabouts. It did not take long before Manu disappeared from home.
MaDube was shaken to the core; how could Manu just disappear from her life just like that? She cried alone in the refuge of the bedroom. She did not want her three children to see her trauma. The landlord was patient for two months.
The landlord asked her to move out. She had not been the one working — Manu had been the one working to feed and clothe the family. She took the children and headed for their rural home they were in the process of developing. Fortunately, there was the roundavel kitchen and another hut. It was a difficult time for the three children who were not used to rural life.
MaDube had to put food on the table. She looked for piece jobs in the fields of people in the community. The little money she made, she bought maize and took it to the grinding meal, bought some relish, cooking oil and other essentials. She was a very prayerful woman.
On one of her daily personal Bible studies, she read through Genesis 30. Something caught her attention: Jacob refused to be paid in gold and silver, instead he asked to be paid in goats as his wages. It puzzled her how Jacob would do such an unusual thing.
Then she continued reading until she came to the last verse of Genesis 30. She could not believe what she had just read; Jacob ended up having more than goats, he now had cattle and other domestic animals.
She found comfort in the story of Jacob.
She said to herself “I will try this.” The following day she looked for a piece job and she asked the person giving her the job if she could work the whole week and then be paid with four chickens. So she toiled the whole week and got her four chickens. She was very happy and so too were her three children; they thought they would have a good treat.
Mum had bad news: these chickens were not for the pot. By God’s providence, the person who had given the wages of four chickens had told her she could not get a rooster.
She had to get a rooster from someone else to avoid in-breeding. She was advised to get 2 chickens and exchange it for a rooster. She prayed that she would find someone willing to swap. Her prayer was answered — a woman from another village passed by her home and and admired her chickens.
Taking advantage of the interest shown, MaDube offered her two chickens in exchange for a rooster. The visitor liked the offer; she was more than willing to offload some of her roosters. The following day, the visitor brought a big rooster and gave it to a very excited MaDube.
MaDube prayed daily for a blessing from the Lord upon her three chickens. One day, MaDube’s last born, Nku, who was in Grade Two, came running and screaming. MaDube was disturbed, her motherly instincts went into overdrive, leaving the plates she was washing, rushing to meet her son doing an Usain Bolt in her direction.
Huffing and puffing, Nku broke the news:”The red chicken has laid eggs.” MaDube was relieved, her Nku was safe. She called the other two children and gave a prayer of thanksgiving. She counselled her children that none of the eggs would be for breakfast or relish. It was really hard for Nku to understand; they could not have the chickens for a meal and even eggs too. Nku thought it was very unfair. Mum’s word was final.
One bright morning, visitors came to the door of the hut where MaDube was. She opened the door to meet her visitors. Twelve adorable chicks with an array of beautiful colours. She burst into song. The children knew their mother loved singing — but this singing was unusual — it sounded full of untold joy but engulfed by emotion.
They rushed towards the direction of the music. MaDube was on her knees while in song. The children did not need to be told what the occasion was. They burst into song, hugging their kneeling mother. Now the ground that had been watered with tears from MaDube, received more drops from the three. It ended with a prayer of gratitude. Heaven recorded the tears.
A week later, 11 new chicks arrived. Now they had 26 chickens. God protected the chicks from predators. Six months later, 18 of the 23 born six months ago were ready to start laying eggs. MaDube sold the six new roosters and the old rooster for US$15 each.
She got US$90. She returned tithe and gave a generous offering. She then bought two new roosters for US$30. She set aside US$5 to help those around her who were less fortunate than her. This left her with US$10. She bought her children some stationery and some good treats they would enjoy during the weekend.
Then things exploded. Boom! The 18 chickens hatched. Now MaDube had 180 chicks! She could not keep all of them! She let them reach a month. She still kept contact with people in town.
She advertised that she had one-month-old roadrunner chicks straight from emakhaya (countryside), naturally bred and fed. She would sell 160 and leave just 20. She got orders. She sold them at US$3 each, totalling US$480.
She showed the children. She explained to them why she had denied the chickens and eggs for this long. The children were amazed and appreciated the reward of suffering in patience.
MaDube then told the children how they were going to use the US$480. US$48 would be for tithe, another US$48 would be for offering, US$24 would be kept at home and help those in need around their community.
Then US$96 would be set aside to acquire something that grows like what the three initial chickens did. Another US$48 would be kept for emergencies.
The remainder, US$216, they would use it for the home and other expenses: food, school fees, clothes, for example.
The children were very happy with this arrangement. MaDube asked the children what the family should use the US$96 for, like they did with the initial three chickens.
After much consideration, they decided they would acquire goats. So they acquired two female goats and, like they did with the initial chickens, they bought a he-goat from a different person. They were really blessed; the two female goats were already pregnant.
MaDube thought the children were now ready to hear her story of how it all started. She told them how she had read Genesis 30 and how Jacob had refused to be paid in money but in goats.
So Nokuthula, the middle child, marvelled: “So because your piece jobs did not give enough you decided to start with the chickens you can afford?” MaDube smiled: “Yes my daughter, that is exactly why I did it that way.” The eldest child, in Form Three, Sisa, chipped in: “You are a very wise woman.” MaDube replied: “The Bible makes us wise. Tonight during our evening prayer we will study Psalm 119: 97-100.”
Nku asked: “So mum, now that we have goats, you will also do like Jacob and buy cows from the goats?” “Yes, sonnie, that is the plan.”
As they finished their study of Psalm 119:97-100 that night, a soft knock was heard. They asked who it was. It’s a voice they all knew. It was Manu.
About the writer: Brett is a management consultant and a classic grounded theory researcher who has published research in an academic peer reviewed international journal. He can be contacted through email: [email protected]