I sat on the edge of the pool, thrashing my legs in the warm water. It was late in the morning and surf, dragged up from the Gulf of Guinea, pounded the beaches at the end of the compound, rumbling with a deep roar. I tried not to worry about my brushes because if my suit had shrunk, at least it would be clean. I accepted a cup of coffee laced with condensed milk and thought of the education we were to deliver. The steward was hovering now, hands stuffed into oversized khaki shorts. It looked like he needed something and I guessed money.
‘Would sah like a cooked breakfast each day?’ He enquired.
‘Please,’ I said, knowing that lunch would not sustain or even appear.
‘Well sah, I am asking for ten dollars each day, and I can include the chicken eggs.’
I was not sure what other types of eggs could be included and that seemed reasonable for the two of us. The hovering continued. I needed to hand out cash now, otherwise the chicken eggs would disappear like David wanted to. The first lesson to be learned in Nigeria was ‘dash dah man dah cash’.
David appeared and he was in a serious mood. He was senior to me at the bank and wanted to discuss how we might get home as soon as possible. However I was sure that he wasn’t the expectant father and I was loving being back in Nigeria after thirty years. But business had to be done first and we had a tried and tested method to explain how easy it was to lose your shirt.
It was simple. We had a magnetic white board and a collection of red and blue metal backed plastic arrows that illustrated the flow of money. Red was called base currency and blue the non-base currency. So, if you were to sell your base currency, for example pounds for dollars, a red arrow would point out to the right. Underneath that arrow a blue, or non-base arrow would be placed pointing to the left illustrating the flow of the dollar amount. A value could be put on the arrows so a calculation could be made. Normally this was a straight multiplication. This illustration of the transaction was called spot, which meant that the flows from and to your accounts would not happen today but in two days time. However if you were dealing in Canadian dollars that would flow in one days time, and not called spot, but funds. If you wanted to have the trade on the same day then time was reversed on interest rates and yet more arrows would be deployed to show minute flows of pence or cents. Of course you could delay the trade and call it a forward. Then a simple transaction of borrow, spot and invest would take place with a combination of six arrows, the three pairs in tandem. Once that was mastered, the forward-forward position was next. This involved twelve arrows and many would be forgiven for losing the will to live under the onslaught of the hail of arrows, reminiscent of the Norman invasion. This was just for the first day and needed to be understood so they could all progress and there would be regular tests. Each student would have a large binder, papers, press cuttings and as we had managed to smuggle them in, a telephone between each group. The fun was going to be connecting them as they were not mobiles. In hindsight the string and tin method would have worked just as well.
Our preparation was complete, David was much happier and we shared a few Star beers, discussed the plans, arranged for the driver to collect us in the morning and awaited in anticipation of the breakfast and chicken eggs. Until I was to see them I was none the wiser.