How to make Money

With Christmas trotting towards us at unseemly pace (even in Muslim dominated, far from anywhere, Outpost we notice this: thanks to satellite television and the calendar counting of a ten year old).

Hat works up to her point with enormous grace and subtly. At first.

”I love Christmas Mum”.

”Do you? I do too’.

”Why do you love it?”

”Because the people I love most in the world are at home”.

”That’s nice”, she acknowledges, with a smile, ”I love it more than my birthday, even”.

”More than your birthday, why’s that?”

”Because on my birthday only I get presents, at Christmas everybody does”.

”That’s nice, Hat”. (I’m a bit distracted, I’m driving to the market and trying to avoid the bicycles that straggle untidyly and dangerous along the road)

”I like giving presents, Mum”.

”Me too”

”But I’m not sure if my pocket money is going to be enough to get presents for all the people I want to buy for” (I empathize – especially given that her list is about four times longer than mine will be).

”You’ll have to save hard”.

”Could I work, do you think? Do chores?” 

”If you promise to leave less of your rubbish scattered around the house, I may up your pocket money”.

She’s not impressed; she’s talking big bucks here. And grand schemes. Grander certainly than picking up her own dirty socks.

”Why don’t I go to work in Kaidi’s shop?”

Kaidi is the Arab who runs the local duka (we arrive armed with ambitious shopping list and leave with 40 loo rolls and a Bounty to make us feel better). Hat would barely be able to see above his counter far less get at stuff on shelves. She might attract business though; nobody’s ever seen a white child serving in a shop in this part of the world. Ever.

”You can’t do that”.

”Why not? I’ve seen Indian and African children working in shops here”.

”Yes, I know, but they’re Tanzanians, you can’t work here because you’re not”.

”How does dad work here, then?”

(This conversation is going waaaaaaay off track).

”He has a work permit”.

”Can’t I get a work permit?”

”No Hat, you can’t. Let’s think of some other way you can make some money”.

Hat does. That evening she invites me into her bedroom. Once again it’s decorated with candles, much like it was when we visited Madame Marcia.  Hat, however, looks a bit different this time; she has donned something resembling a multi-coloured wig made of that glitzy ribbon smarter people than I use to knot elaborately around gifts.

”Who are you?” I ask (I know better than to assume she’s still Hat).


(We have learned about Medusa as part of our History of Art course in school; Hat has drawn a picture of her which now glowers down at me from schoolroom walls).

”You seem quite friendly to be Medusa”, I observe

She grins and proceeds with business like haste, no time for small talk, Medusa, clearly.

”Now listen”, she instructs bossily, ”I have alot of useful things here for you to buy”.


She proffers a host of small dishes and bowls which as far as I can tell in the dim light thrown by two flickering candles contain the likes of soy sauce, coriander seeds, cinnammon bark and a mixture of unpopped popcorn and lentils.

”This”, says Medusa, motioning to the soy sauce, ”is dragon’s blood. It will protect you against snakes, but will attract bats. It is 50/- a portion” (Clever, clever girl; she knows I hate snakes but don’t mind bats).

”These”, she continues, indicating the coriander seeds, ”are memories, their smell is more than enough to knock a knight from his steed. If you manage to take a sniff without dying (I do – sniff – and I don’t – expire), your memory will become 100% better” (another clever obervation about her mother on my daughter’s part: I spend my life hunting for car keys because I can’t remember where I put them, whilst simultaneously swearing – I used to say pardon my French until Hat said ”I’m learning French now, you know, and that’s not French”).

”They’re also 50/-”.

Medusa/Hat proceeds, ”these are crushed dragon bones. They are brilliant in rabbit stew and if you eat them like that, you’ll be able to jump twice as high as you can now” (that’d be handy) although dragons won’t like you much (oh dear).

The cinnamon bark is snake skin, I am told, harvested from her own tresses/gift tie and will render me ”Medusa’s new sister”.

The small glass of what looks like apple juice is – apparently – pig’s urine which will quench my thirst for ten hours but then I will always have to drink it or I shall always be thirsty. Or something like that. Which will, of course, oblige me to keep buying the stuff … a very clever marketing ploy I felt?

Hat tallies up what I’ve bought – or rather she counts up the cost of the seven ingredients she has thrust upon me presuming I have a need of all of them. She looks crestfallen.

”That’s only 350/-” she says, but then she brightens,” oh that’s far too cheap, I’ve made a mistake: everything is 100/- each: 700/- please.  You can drop it at the door as you leave”.

I do. In fact I pay her double (which only amounts to about a dollar); the entertainment alone was worth ten times that.

15 Responses to “How to make Money”

  1. Primal Sneeze Says:

    Excellent! Hats off to Hat.

  2. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    I agree: Hats off to Hat. Apparently I got one thing wrong tho – the dragon’s blood attracts trolls. Not bats. Better get those memories out and down a few …

  3. Potty Mummy Says:

    I think your daughter has a great career ahead of her in advertising or sales promotion (but more money in the former, I’m sad to say). Who knows? She can’t do worse than the muesli ad, surely…

  4. R. Sherman Says:

    Interesting. She has identified the market, conducted research into the needs of the market’s consumers, met the specific demands of the market, created new demands, met those needs, and then adjusted the prices to what the market will bear. Capitalism at its finest. Methinks, Tanzania could use her as “Minister Of Economics and Silly Hats.” If not, there’s plenty of opportunity for her here.


  5. Tom Says:

    Her imagination and creativity is wonderful. I especially liked her reasons for liking Christmas more than her birthday. You must be proud.

  6. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Potty Mummy – I must get her insight into some of the commercials on telly, her slant would at least be more entertaining than muesli …

    Thanks Mr Sherman. great isn’t it. Her dad’s back this evening and she has offered him a visit to Medusa, ”bring your wallet”, she warned. He earns more than me, I hope she’ll adjust her prices accordingly.

    Thanks Tom – I am. But I’m especially glad that she’s here to keep me company! And entertained. If somewhat out of pocket at times …

  7. Casdok Says:

    Yes hats off!!!

  8. iota Says:

    I’m just wondering what she has in mind for Christmas presents.

  9. Judd Corizan Says:


    Congratulations! Your post of September 14, 2007 “My Tuppence Worth” has been selected as our Post of the Day on “The Rising Blogger”. It is a site that awards posts, not blogs. We will email your winning badge to post in your sidebar and all our info, if you contact us with your email address. To encourage your readers to comment on your award, it helps if you make the first comment on our post about your blog, yourself. We ask winners to nominate a post favorite of a fellow blogger. Call it “paying it forward”. Neither is a requirement. You have won this award because we truly feel you deserve it. To reach “The Rising Blogger” site:

    Have a great week!
    Judd Corizan
    The Rising Blogger

  10. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Casdok: indeed!

    Iota: I cannot imagine – books of spells? pet dragons? rabbit casserole? whatever she gives, it’s bound to entertain.

  11. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Judd – thank you. I am truly flattered. Not just with the award (which is very flattering on its own) but because of what you have written on therisingblogger about my post. I am so glad I articualted my message so that those outside of Africa could – perhaps – consider the plight of this continent is a slightly different light. I only got one (wishy washy) response from those I addressed it to directly. But I got alot of hugely meaningful responses from regular people. And that meant a tremendous amount. Thanks.

  12. Roberta Says:

    Your Hat is amazing!!

  13. Carolyn Says:

    What a girl!

  14. Great Stuff Says:

    Great Stuff

    Great Stuff

  15. On Wee Willie Winkie and Medusa « Reluctant Memsahib Says:

    […] groceries gather on the soft wooden counter of Kaidi’s duka. I scan shelves for inspiration for the merchandise is out of reach, unless Kaidi grants you […]

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