A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Wiseman Speaks

I have met many wisemen along the way, and I have even met one ‘Wiseman’. Yes, that was his name, and sure enough, he really lived up to it.

Wiseman is a taxi driver in Capetown, but he is from Malawi. He came here to earn his fortunes. The thing is, the taxi driver market is a tough world and competition is fierce. There is not much fortune to be had. Wiseman works on a 'kind of' commission basis. Each day he has to pay the owner of the taxi a set amount, about 200 rand. Then he has to pay for petrol, and once that is covered the rest is his. In the winter he tells me that it is difficult to earn the 200 rand a day, but he can make it in the summer when the crowds come.

I hailed him one evening and we got chatting along the way. He told me that there is an Irish man, a businessman, who has said that he will pay for him to come to Ireland to work in his catering business for a few months. He told me that this businessman would cover all the travel costs, and arrange for his stay.

When I first heard this I must say the little sceptical part of me kicked into action- why would the Irish guy go to those lengths and underneath all that, what does Wiseman want out of me?

But gut told me that Wiseman was a reliable driver. I needed a taxi for next day, and so we exchanged numbers.

I got home. Fifthteen minutes later the phone rang. It was Wiseman. I had dropped my wallet in the taxi and he was outside the door, ready to return it. He had driven back from Cape Town to give it back to me.

The contents were intact, including some money I had just taken out of an ATM.

The following day, I needed a taxi, and so called Wiseman. As we were driving his story unfolded a little more.

‘In Malawi’, he tells me, ‘we are taught not to steal. Honesty is what counts, and hard work. Do you remember I told you about the Irish businessman who has offered to support me to come to Ireland?’ I nod, and ask him to tell me more. ‘Well once he left a video camera in the taxi, and I returned it to him. He now wants me to work for him, so that I can earn some extra money, which means I can then return to Malawi to set up my own business’.

Wiseman it seems has learned the wisdom of returns. And when ever I now need a taxi in town, he is, of course, the first person I call.


Anonymous Venkadesan Tharshan said...

i like your country

1:15 p.m.


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