by Andrew Foote

Chapter 15

"Thilo! So very good to see you, except of course, the reason for your visit.

I was heartbroken when I heard about your parents and everything that happened at the farm. Your Mother and Father have been close personal friends of mine for many years and I'm finding it very difficult to come to terms with events."

"Thank you, Mr Samuels. I appreciate your sympathy.

May I introduce Viscount Broadhurst? He's my best friend and soon-to-be business partner."

We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries, then turned his attention to business.

"How may I be of service?"

"To begin with, I need to ask a favour of you. Could you get the head of your legal department to take a look at this contract and also, countersign my will?"

"I'll ask her to come up to my office and we can go through it together shall we?"

"The will is very straightforward, and merely states that Viscount Stephen Leon Broadhurst is to be the sole beneficiary of your estate in the event of your demise or otherwise deemed to be incapacitated sufficiently to be incapable of managing your own affairs.

Again, this is standard documentation which goes on to detail what constitutes sufficient incapacitation such as long term coma, severe brain damage, acute mental problems such as Alzheimer's or similar. The list goes on in some detail.

Are those your instructions Mr Roker?"

"Yes, but I would very much appreciate your opinion on the security of my will. I need to be absolutely sure that it could never be challenged through the courts."

"If these are your wishes, and all assuming Viscount Broadhurst is still alive, then nothing could challenge it."

"Wonderful. Could you notarise it and have placed in a deposit box for me?"

Next was the task of going through the document that detailed my appointment as Deputy CEO of Roker-Namibia, but this wasn't so straightforward.

"This has got holes in it meaning any solicitor worth his salt could drive a coach and horses through it!

In the small print, and had you signed it, this chap who drew it up would be under contract, not only to Viscount Broadhurst, but also to you and Roker-Namibia as the Legal Director with power to conduct all business matters whilst either one or both of you are out of the country. He would have legal control over all your assets and property to include your shareholdings in Roker Mining. It borders on the illegal, but he's been very clever. Had you both signed up to this, then subsequently challenged in a court of law, all he would have to say is that it was drawn up as per your instructions, and as it bears your joint signatures, he would be home and dry having taken you for the lot."

"I knew he was scheming something!

That was a very close call."

"Yes, indeed it was.

Will you allow us to put something watertight together? If you think he's been clever, we can do one hell of a lot better."

"We'd very much appreciate it if you could. It's like walking through a minefield."

"But minefields can also maim the people who lay them. Think on that."

Later that afternoon we were back at the bank and looking though the new contract.

"There are two copies, but one I will use so I can go through it with you.

You will notice that there are no clauses or caveats to trip you up, no small print that could lay the foundations of any legal arguments, just a simple agreement between Roker-Namibia and yourselves as the Joint Chief Executives. So far as possible, we've kept the wording simple and understandable in an attempt to maintain clarity of purpose, openness and transparency.

It goes on to state that Viscount Stephen Leon Broadhurst has been appointed to the Board of Directors in the capacity of Joint Chief Executive Officer of Roker-Namibia and will work alongside Mr Thilo Peter Roker, also Joint Chief Executive Officer.

A fifty percent shareholding has been allocated to Viscount Broadhurst in order that both Chief Executive Officers can work together as equal partners to further the aims and ambitions of Roker-Namibia.

Upon signatures of both parties, together with the witness signature of an appointed Solicitor in law, this contract is binding.

This contract can only be revoked if one or other parties is convicted of fraudulent activity against Roker-Namibia, upon the death of one or other party, or by mutual agreement, and in accordance with Companies Finance and Employment Act, Section 3a, subsections 1, 3 and 4, as passed by the Namibian Legislature, April 2004.

I can provide you with copies of this Act if you so wish.

It then goes on to state that; This contract supersedes all former contracts signed, or drawn up prior to the dating and signing of this document. This contract also prevents and blocks any hostile takeover bids of Roker-Namibia."

"That sounds pretty good. How do you feel about it Steve?"

"Not being legal trained, it appears to cover everything, or rather it doesn't leave us vulnerable like that other pile of poo did."

Mr Samuels gave Thilo the second copy, then spoke.

"If you wish to have it vetted by a third party, then please do so."

"I don't think that will be necessary. I'm happy to sign if Steve is?"

"I'm happy as well."

Contracts signed and duly witnessed, we walked back to our hotel.

"Just by writing your signature on a piece of paper has made you richer to the tune of around six-hundred million US dollars."

"And you poorer by the same amount!"

"Fancy going back to that bar and celebrate our new partnership?"

"I've got a better idea. Let's go back to the hotel and get ourselves shitfaced, then sleep it off in each other's arms!"

"I like your ideas!"

We didn't get shitfaced, we just got slightly drunk.

Thilo was anxious to charter a helicopter so we could go back to his lands up north and appraise the damage and didn't think that a three-hour air journey would be good sporting hangovers.

We managed to arrange for an American built Lockheed-Martin Sikorsky S92 to fly us from Windhoek International to the farm, departing at ten the following morning and staying around until it was time to come back.

About two hours in, Thilo had the pilot fly low so he could show me where his land began.

"By chopper, it takes about two hours to go from the southernmost point to the northern boundary, longer going east to west. Gives you some perspective as to the acreage, doesn't it."

"It's huge! Sod farming that lot!"

The Sikorsky flew in a wide arc over the main complex before touching down near the main house, and it was only then that I noticed the extent of the damage.

Thilo reached into his backpack and slipped into a light blue sleeveless jacket and a red baseball cap.

"Just in case I'm not recognised. I used to wear these all the time, so someone might remember."

The place looked deserted, but then Thilo pointed to a shed and whispers of smoke curling up out of the chimney.

"Gone to ground when they heard us coming I imagine, poor bastards, but let's check out that hut just in case someone's hiding in there."

Peering into the gloom, we noticed an elderly man trying to stand up on his one leg.

Thilo swallowed hard.

"Henry? Is that you?"

"What little is left of me, yes.

Thilo? Is that really you?"

"Yes. I had to come back."

"You shouldn't have troubled yourself. There's not much to come back for. Out of those of us here when the raiders came, only four survived. There were ten others working the fields. They're still here, but why move away? This is all we have. We still manage to make a living from the land. This is our home."

"Fourteen out of sixty-two only?"

"Yes. Are you going to sell the farm?"

Thilo shook his head.

"No. I'm not selling, I'm giving.

Did any of the kids make it?"

"Porky, and Myrah, but some of the young men have married and so we are hoping for others eventually."

"Where is everyone?"

"They fled when they heard the helicopter coming. I will call them back now I know it's safe for them."

"How do you signal them?"

"The tractor parked up behind the hut. Three short blasts of the horn."

"Then you rest up and I'll do it."

"Thank you."

"Do you manage to get fuel for the machinery?"

"The army together with your uncle have been very kind to us. We have been given a radio, so when we're running low, we call them and they deliver. The main generator took a bullet, but now we have a new one. Life isn't so bad."

"I'm going to try and make it better for you. I'll tell you how once everyone is here.

Steve? Could you head out back and sound the signal? I want to go up and check the house."

"No problem. You go ahead, but what if the people get back before you? They don't know me, and God knows, I don't want to freak them?"

"Henry will introduce you, won't you, old friend."

"I would be honoured."

I sounded the signal, then helping Henry to a chair, I began to ask questions.

"You speak excellent English. Where did you learn it?"

"Not so excellent, but I had met with missionaries as a small boy, and it was them that tutored me. I knew from my father that English was widely spoken all over the world, so I read books and gain knowledge."

"I'm impressed none-the-less. I can't hold a conversation in any language other than English!

Does anyone else here speak it?"

"Porky, maybe a little. Thilo was his idol and learned some from him, but otherwise not."

"Why is he called Porky? That's not an African name, is it?"

Henry laughed.

"No! He was an overweight baby! Much trimmer now though. He has the build that could've made him a warrior if those things still happened."

Just then, Thilo returned, and noticing Henry smiling, took over the conversation.

"So, you guys getting on alright?"

"Your friend is good company. You will be very happy together."

"Pardon me? What do you mean?"

"You love each other. Why else would someone follow you to this place when he knew what happened here Thilo? More than that, I know you very well. I was the one who taught you to ride horses, to shoot, to fight and to swim deep waters, so I know you wouldn't invite someone to share in your grief if you didn't love them?"

"You win again Henry! You're a devious old bastard when you set your mind to it!"

"I try my best!"

"On the subject of shooting? The gunroom is intact. Plenty of ammunition, and being able to supply more, would you teach the others to use guns?"

"If they agree, then yes, I could do that."

"I'm going back to England in a couple of days, and I'll feel much happier if you had the means to defend yourselves while I'm away."

"Then leave the keys in the usual place and I'll do as you request."

The building began to fill with the remaining villagers, all wanting to greet Thilo. He introduced me, but as my Afrikaans is non-existent, the only member of this small community that made an effort to talk to me was a rather large boy, not ten-years old by my reckoning, but built like a brick outhouse.

I guessed correctly that this was Porky. A handsome boy, muscular and fit with friendly eyes and a charming disposition. We high-fived and tried to talk to each other, but we were cut short as Thilo began to speak.

Later, I understood that he said this.

"You can have no idea how happy I am that you're still here, and also, how sad I am to know how many gallant lives were lost on that terrible afternoon.

Right now, I only have a short time to be here with you, but I haven't forgotten you, and neither will I abandon you to an uncertain future.

For my sins, I'm not as strong as you, so taking up the land again isn't an option for me, but I intend to divide it up into equal portions with each family sharing the water holes and lakes. These lands are my gift to you, but on the promise that you try to make the best of them, and should your families increase in numbers, then more land and pastures will be given to you according to your needs.

I will send engineers to fix the vehicles, repair the internet access so you can learn and communicate freely. Water pumps will be fixed, building materials supplied and the big house rebuilt so Stephen and I have somewhere to stay when we come back to visit you.

I love you, and I'm proud that I have your friendship, but now I must leave. The helicopter is waiting to take us back to Windhoek, but things will begin to happen very soon, and all for the better."

A round of applause, then Thilo fairly frog-marched me in the direction of the waiting helicopter.

It was good that he had chartered a big machine, because Thilo wept for most of the trip back.

"I thought maybe an hour, maximum two. I meant it when I told them I'd rebuild, send in engineers, fix things and divide up the land, but I couldn't live there again.

I don't know how I held myself together Steve. My heart was breaking, but you saw for yourself how good they are…… we had almost seventy people there at one point, all friends…… most of them gone now."

"I don't want you to think I'm not very sympathetic, but you have to reach inside yourself and find a little of the courage that they found.

Cry, no shame there, it's good therapy, but there must come a time where you square up to things, look it in the eye and make those promises a reality."

"You don't piss around at the edges, do you. Tell it how is and fuck the consequences!

Thank you! Sometimes I need a kick up the arse, and that last one connected pretty bloody forcefully!"

"So far, we're only business partners, but that's going to change.

We will do this, not you? It might be your village, your farm and your land, but I have a stake in it now. That makes it a joint responsibility, so please allow me to help you with this."

"I'm not going to turn you away, but this has become personal. I always wondered if I could kill another human-being, but now? I know I could.

You come with me on this, and you might be putting your head on the block alongside mine.

I love you, and I don't want to see you hurt."

"We will live together, and if push comes to shove, we might die together.

I could kill too. I came to that realisation a few weeks back.

Together Thilo. We're together!"

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