Thursday, November 08, 2007


Interpreting a local American Gangster

Having watched ‘American Gangster’ over the weekend then spent a couple of trips around town with a major business player, you get to understand why a certain group of people with mundane jobs can get so wealthy.

It’s understandable how the police do it (roadside bribes), but you can also bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants (PA’s) and even secretaries to that list

They are not necessarily corrupt but they are around centre of power and power players and have a chance to observe. By working closely supporting business and political leaders, they are unique situated to be around when the big deals happen, know what major developments are taking place and are able to spot arbitrage opportunities before anyone else.

Focus on drivers: They are in the company of ministers and other business leaders who talk deals in the cars and over their phones. Like the Frank Lucas character (played by Denzel Washington) in the movie American Gangster, drivers/bodyguards their bosses to meetings and get to see secret deals/big investments develop made by their boss whether it’s a new block of apartments, factory or even a new mistress. They also overhear conversations between the boss and engineer/architect/banker who’s sometimes in the car or over the phone as the boss dashes to/from meeting these same people.

The boss may be buying a building, but his driver may buy a small piece of land in the area or drop a line to a distant buddy to make another small deal. They observe secrets and learn skills at the same time.

Also bosses are human and have a compulsion to brag and backbite like all the rest of us - discussing with their driver the merits or demerits of an ongoing investment, or whether the person who has just hung up is a genius or an imbecile.

So it’s no surprise when a driver retires, he often has a sawmill, matatu or two, and three pieces of land or buildings, with wives scattered all over the country to manage them

His boss never groomed him and he never waited for Christmas or when the bosses’ good fortune sparked a feeling of goodwill and generosity that made him throw some crumbs at his henchmen.

So the driver creates a mini-empire silently over time to cater for his/her retirement, completely legitimate and by one who uses an opportunity to the maximum.


Riba Capital said...

Banks are you let us in on something here? Or am I reading too much into it.

Good diversion and definitely for the wise,.. food for thot.

sunnykay9 said...

Wololo, another way to think of the driver. You know, come to think of it, nowadays there are female drivers, think Libya.What potential for growth, though, by being a perceived minion.
I felt rather elevated by the AG flick, not just because of Denzel(insert your swoon word of choice here) but because he learned so much and leveraged his experiences to create an unstoppable product.
In some ways it reminded me of Shawshank Redemption, but no jail bust at the end.Good movie times.

just what? said...

getting rich on such mundane jobs is not necessarily illegal, but highly irregular.
sample this;my boss sends me to buy 1000bags of cement for his highrise,the seller gives a 10% discount, which works out to 100bags.i dutifully pocket the 100bags and proceed to build my lowrise.irregular is the word.

how is it you are able to watch a movie (AG) slated for release next year? irregular once again...

aegeus said...

LOL at Just What?

Anywho, watch and learn is the name of the game.

bankelele said...

Riba Capital: Pure commentary, I am merely an observer

sunnykay9: a driver’s empire may never approach his boss in size, but it can still be significant

Just what?: Good examples using cement.
How an ‘American Gangster’ DVD is on the street of Nairobi in Nov ’07 is another LAG story in itself am sure.

aegeus: Great movie, but rather similar to 'New jack City' from 10 years ago

Mashatall said...

Hi Banks totally concur with you, know of a personal assistant to one of the top dogs in the previous regime, who amassed so much real estate and is a tycoon now, yet he did not make it beyond class seven. Classic example is for every deal he pulled off for his boss, he had an acre or two on the side that were his, bet you he is now more comfortable than even his former boss!!


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