The Ampe Cartel

When Kofi is punished unfairly by his French teacher, he sets out to make the most of it, and heaven have mercy on whomever gets in his way.

Whenever one door closes, another usually opens. The universe has a way of taking care of you. You just have to be looking out for the opportunities that are thrown your way. As much as the universe wants to help you, it doesn’t want to coddle you.

I found this out quite young and had become adept at spotting these opportunities. Some of them didn’t end up so well but hey, something must kill a man. This something for me was my dad, man had a knack for messing up my plans and making me pay.
I remember when my friends and I went in search of abrɔfo bɔɔla and almost died. One other time I thought it smart to sell my own textbook because I wasn’t using it much and almost got dismissed. Let’s just say I had quite a lot of experience in telling good opportunities from the bad. I saw all this as practice until the real thing came up.

These experiences are what let me know that I had hit the jackpot. Any one else would have written it off as an accident but I knew a goldmine when I saw one. Monsieur Akankude probably thought he had me right where he wanted. I was banned from his class for a week or until I could find my textbook which I said had been stolen; whichever came first I presume.
We had his period right after the first break everyday. It was the first day of my punishment and I had decided to go sit under a tree to wait out his period, the tree underneath which the girls played ampe.

I had been banned from the library during this punishment period because he felt I wouldn’t be chastised if I spent that time productively. I got bored sitting and started kicking pebbles around, that’s when I noticed something glinting in the sun. A closer inspection revealed it to be money. Money likes to congregate, reason why the rich play with the rich. I decided to look around and see if I could find more, I did. It hit me then, this must have fallen from the pockets of the girls as they played ampe. I started laughing, realizing this was the universe’s way of saying sorry to me after what Monsieur had done. Hahaha

The next day had me loitering around the tree waiting for the girls to leave so I could get to work. I spent the next few days in the same manner, getting paid. As the week drew near and the duration of the punishment lessened, I started wondering how to get more money. The ampe was played by just the girls in my class, if I could reel in all the girls from the other classes in my year, GOSH! I couldn’t begin to fathom the amount of money I would be making. Already, I was making three to four times my lunch money every day. A plan began to take shape.

The classes were fiercely competitive, there were weekly quizzes between them to determine which class was the best. I started a rumour that my class had the best ampe players in the entire class four, it didn’t take long for some girls in the other classes to start their own ampe game under a near by tree. They had to show their mettle you see, this led to the second part of my plan. Getting the girls to compete in an ampe league. A one-off competition won’t give me the money I wanted. I needed the numbers to make for a bountiful harvest. I didn’t forget to check the new ampe players though, the haul from them together with the one from my own classmates made quite the impression on me. I was more than motivated now.

My new change in circumstance hadn’t gone unnoticed by a couple of my friends. I was rolling in yoghurt and bread filled with condensed milk. They stuck to me like flies. Like moths, they were drawn to my flame; I was burning very brightly you see. I decided to rope a couple of them in, one of them especially, Jesse. He was in another class and was going to be my inside man there. He had one of the most important jobs, keeping his classmates pumped up about the whole ampe league. Keep them excited so they were all for it when we proposed the idea, someone else might even do it for us. He in turn also roped in two others from the other classes. These inside men kept flattering their ampe players and getting them toffees to curry favour with them. I did same in my class, letting them know they were the best and telling them I wish there was a way to prove that.

After a fortnight my stars alligned, Ameyaw, the captain of my class’s boys’ football team proposed that they have an interclass competition with multiple teams like the boys did with small poles. I was earnestly for it, and so were my cronies. Soon other people joined in and the teams were formed. This was better than anything I could have come up with, the various cliques amongst the girls in each class formed their own teams and competed within the class and the best teams were going to have a finale every Friday. I was exhilarated, some guys even joined in. I was challenging gender norms.
The first Friday was mind blowing, we made more than we could have ever predicted. It was more than ten times what we were making with individual class teams, it felt too good to be true. We had made it.

I had a team of 8 boys; Jesse and the two he recruited had brought in another person each. I had also brought in 2 boys from my class making the 8. 
We had a system, the 5 guys who had come in later did the grunt work. They were the ones who hanged around to collect the money after break was over, and then drop it off for safe keeping with a woman who sold at the canteen. We always bought food from her, she never asked questions.
The rest of us were supposed to cover for them in their respective classes. 
I will then go for the money after class. At the end of the week, I gave all the guys their share.

It had been over a month since the league started, everything had been running smoothly. Our system had never failed us. It was after classes and I was waiting in the canteen to meet Auntie Tsotsoo, the rice seller. She was attending to someone so I sat down to wait. I got thinking, over the past few days, the takings had been a bit slow. I had assumed it was nothing until I saw Jesse buying a lot more fanyogo and poki than he usually could afford; even with his cut. I had to nip it in the bud.
Auntie Tsotsoo was soon done with the customer and came over to hand me the takings, and yup, it was just like the past few days. A bit short. I endeavoured to look into it.

The next day, after Break time I tailed Jesse. He went to the washroom and stashed some money into his underpants. I had seen enough, I left. I called a meeting after school that day, and let him go. To his credit he didn’t deny it, but the look he gave me could freeze water. I couldn’t be bothered though, it was done.

Things returned to normalcy afterwards, and I focussed all my attention on setting up something big for Our Day. We had just a few weeks more to go. The school was organising a fair and inviting other schools. I had used this opportunity to organise an inter school Ampe competition. It had been a tad difficult to arrange but everything was shaping up nicely. The only problem was the fact that we had to come to school that day all dressed up. 

We only made money because the pinafore the girls wore had pockets which by their nature allowed money to fly out when they jumped. The girls wearing different clothes will hurt my business.
To prevent, that I started a rumour about the possibility of a fight between the various schools a couple of days before the Ourday. To make it seem authentic I paid some students to stage mini fights. I was hoping since it was only a few days to the fair and the various schools had spent so much time prepping for it that they won’t cancel and rather have us wear uniforms as always, so they can distinguish between us and easily spot which schools offenders are from.
They did exactly that. Adults can be predictable you know.
You should know that at this stage I was feeling very proud of myself. I walked around with a smug look. Not only was I rolling in poki and yoghurt. I had a lot of respect from my classmates. I had bought a football for the boys and some skipping ropes for the girls. You can call that my corporate social responsibility.

The D-day finally came, they were a lot of games happening. As well as film shows and an inter-schools quiz. I had planned for the ampe competition to happen using the film show. It wasn’t open to students in the lower primary, so they will definitely be at my ampe games. Everything had been going smoothly so far, Jesse had been giving me weird looks since I cut him lose, I had even stopped giving the money to Auntie Tsotso and was using a different seller. I ignored him, he was culpable too, reporting us won’t do him much good. Besides, it was the last day of school.

The competition started with no hitches, I was running a betting scheme on the matches and losers hadn’t acted over the top. Everyone had been quite nice. This could probably be chocked to the drinks I had bought from Auntie Tsotsoo and distributed amongst the students present. The games soon ended and most students dispersed. We waited for an hour and started to collect our bounty.

We had over ten times the usual takings, this wasn’t inclusive of what we made from the betting. I put everything in my school bag while we headed over to a more secluded place to split it. We chose the back of the JSS block. It was quiet and out of the way. No one will chance upon us.
No sooner had we got there than I saw Jesse coming from the other entrance. It had only two entrances. We ignored him and focused on splitting the spoils. Nicholas, who was squatting next to me tapped me, I looked up and saw Monsieur Akankude coming from the other entrance. I stood up calmly, they all did same, waiting for my lead. I looked back and saw four strong boys standing beside Jesse at the other entrance.
Just then I heard the boys shouting from behind me;

“Monsieur I am not among!”
“Monsieur I am not among!”

Idiots! Did they really think that will work. I said nothing, I just slung the bag over my shoulder and started running towards Monsieur, I was betting on him not expecting that. And yes he wasn’t. I was almost upon him before he thought to raise the cane he had in his hand.
I drew the water pistol I had brought along today. I wasn’t expecting trouble but it pays to be prepared, and I had a little surprise for Monsieur. I didn’t slow down, I raised the pistol and fired right in his face.

He screamed, he screamed like we did when he lashed us. I had filled the pistol with pepper water. After blinding him, it was child’s play to make my way out of there. I kept running, not stopping till I was out of the school vicinity. 

I got home, put the money bag in my room, showered and went to watch tv. I was so glad this was the last day of school. I felt pretty good, not only did I have my money, I had gotten the best of Monsieur.

This good feeling lasted all the way through supper. I didn’t notice every one was quiet. Neither did I notice when they left me alone with my dad in the living room.

I didn’t even notice when someone entered the living room, not until my dad asked me to stand up.
That’s when I noticed Monsieur, before I could say anything, Jesse popped up from behind him. I turned and there was my dad, holding my water pistol and the school bag with my earnings in his other hand.

“Why do bad things only happen to the innocent?”, my thoughts as my dad called for the cane.

Author: OsugyaniAbrantie


8 thoughts on “The Ampe Cartel”

  1. Monsiuer Akakunde is not as mean as my French teachee or you won’t try thte water pistol nonsense. Daicher was his name and he breathed fire. Good read. And I hope they returned his money him because he really deserves it. And as for Jesse he is a sore loser and deserves some stitches for the snitch he is.


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