This series follows the life of Terence Gatiba, an influential Kenyan businessman, and the ‘Giants of October’, his unscrupulous, hardworking, often corrupt, Board of Directors in one of Africa’s biggest conglomerates.
You can read Part 1 of ‘The Consummation of Power’ by CLICKING HERE
Four decades earlier
Pamela Gatiba, a young and strikingly beautiful businesswoman with a medium thick and dark mane and a flawless butter and caramel complexion, sat dumbfounded on the Serengeti sofa in the living room of her Upper Muthaiga mansion, as she reflected on what her husband, Lesley, had done to her.
Well, part of that statement was true – he had done a lot to her! But, he wasn’t her husband. He was simply her lover! The charming, gregarious and very English man who had stolen her heart and trampled on it mercilessly, leaving her emotionally destitute… but on the other hand, devastatingly wealthy!
She could still smell his aftershave in the bathroom each morning; envision his shoes next to hers in the closet; see him walking through the doorway after work on weekdays. Why did she still feel the same giddy way she had a year ago; that feeling of complacency and endearing longing? She knew why, she was still in love with him! It was that simple, and yet just that difficult.
Terence’s wails cut through her thoughts, as she rushed to feed her hungry child who had been asleep for more than three hours now. She hurried into the lavender-furnished room and scooped the seven month old child from his crib. Rosalind, the maid, was on leave and so it was only her and her loved one in the ten-bedroom mansion. She settled down on a rocking chair adjacent to the crib and cradled him, lovingly placing a baby bottle full of warm milk into his fragile pouty mouth, as she reminisced about the fateful night that had changed her life as she knew it.
It was as if it had happened but a moment before…
Pamela’s heart was palpitating ridiculously, as her mind tried to solve the puzzle of how exactly she was going to tell Lesley the truth. He would definitely kill her when he found out, but it had been THEIR fault- not hers alone! It was a moment of brash abandon and they just hadn’t cared what would happen. After all, it didn’t just happen on one night after many before, did it? They were in love, weren’t they? She had steadily convinced herself. But now the bitter fruits of regret were ripe and ready- not to satisfy, but to poison.
The door suddenly burst open and a drunken Lesley wobbled into the room, unsteadily making his way towards her. She stood up and went to him willingly, the breeze from the open door fiddling with her black mane like a violinist playing his instrument. Before she had a chance to speak, he had dragged her into a deep embrace and kissed her.
“I’ve missed you all day, Mela! If you only knew…” he managed huskily.
Wearily but determined, she gently but firmly pushed away, holding her head to cool the blood that rapidly rushed to and from her brain.
Lesley stuttered before he came forward again, sensing the unusual withdrawal. Now, he was rather confused and asked, “What’s the matter, Mela? Is something wrong?”
She shook her head furiously, both in refusal of his statement, and to the fact that this could have happened at such a wonderful time in their relationship.
“No, Les. It’s not like that at all.”
“Is it my breath…the smell of this whisky… or my clothes? Do I smell because I can take a…” he went on and on, swiftly.
“Lesley,…” Pamela began, stepping back and taking in a deep breath. She flinched as if searching for something that was not there and then went on to carefully ask, “Do you really love me?”
“What is this?… Oh…it’s a game, just one of your games, right? Come here honey.” He grappled for her again.
Stepping back once again, she vehemently stated, “This is not a game Les! I’m serious!”
“Well, that’s a ridiculous question, Mela! You know I do! I love you…I really love you” he smiled as he sobered up a bit in response to her funeral tone of voice. He then paused, as the alcohol seemingly evaporated from his bloodstream. “Is there something more to this than you’re telling me?”
“Why won’t you marry me? I mean…” Pamela began.
“We’ve been through this a thousand times! When we met, I thought you understood our the details and intricacies of our relationship? We agreed that…” he began again in frustration because he had not expected all this drama when he was at the Country Club a short while ago.
“I know what we agreed! But things have changed now, Les!”
“What do you mean ‘things have changed’?” He asked, slightly confused. He watched her expression turn from vulnerable to determined. Impregnable silence enveloped them as if to welcome Pamela’s ground breaking revelation.
Pamela instinctively held her cheek as she remembered both the hard slap she had received at the time, and the look of disbelief in the eyes of the father of her child, and her everything. He had stood up with outrage she had never witnessed before, all emotion vanishing from his eyes, and wordlessly walked out the door.
She had never, since that day, met Lesley face-to-face again.
Sir Lesley October is a British expatriate on assignment to Her Majesty’s regional High Commission in Nairobi, assigned as the Director of Foreign Missions for the neighboring Somalia.
The job Sir October held was not a very demanding one, as he had a lot of operational, financial and on-site assistance from International Non-Governmental Organizations, the African Union and the United Nations. This naturally handed him exorbitant amounts of free time which consequently led him to start a two key local businesses, more as a hobby rather than a stern effort, in the then virgin transport and horticultural sectors in Kenya.
The former British East Africa Protectorate was enjoying unprecedented economic growth and political stability, in comparison to most of her neighbors. East Flowers Limited, registered under a holding company, is a floricultural company that works hand-in-hand with an Ethiopian subsidiary to export alstromeria and carnations to the European Union. The October Corporation on the other hand is a transport and logistics company which has enjoyed illustrious business, mainly as a result of the routes it specializes on: Lokichoggio – Sudan, Eldoret – Northern Uganda, and North Eastern Province – Mogadishu.
Numerous international organizations and independent companies, including the United Nations peace-keeping missions that constantly travel to the tumultuous Horn of Africa and the Eastern Sahel to the North, pass through Kenya en-route to their destinations. This was an opportunity which Lesley had stumbled upon while on official duty to Juba. Being the shrewd businessman he was, he carried out the necessary research on the limited availability of transport in the areas of concern: Capitalizing on these cracks was what served to further sharpen the entrepreneurial and managerial skills he possessed, thrusting him into some little limelight, and knight ship from the Queen herself in his service to the crown in Eastern Africa.
Lesley would have wished to have traveled with his family to Kenya, but his wife was a successful architect in the Isle of Man for huge corporates that took advantage of the tax incentives on the British-dependent Island. His two sons, Benjamin and Leroy, were also attached to their boarding schools in Liverpool, England and wished not to be transferred (neither did their mother agree to such a disruption). He remembers how it had been a a dull and rather reluctant day when he left the John Lennon Airport in Livepool, but the moment he landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, and eventually got to know the love of his life, Pamela, all his regrets had vanished into thin air. It was like discovering the perfect woman, a soul mate, except that he already should have!
Pamela Gatiba, on the other hand, was a very vibrant and successful middle-income Kenyan professional who thrived not just on her alluringly good looks, but on her creativity and wit at the NGO she worked in. Her electric and sharply principled personality earned her the respect she deserved from those who worked with and for her. Her passion, dedication and intelligence were unrivaled, which made her a pearl in the torrential corporate ocean. In an acting capacity of Director of Concepts (she was the Assistant) at Regional Medical and Relief Fund (REMREF) headquarters at the Wilson Airport area in Nairobi, her work was mostly research and strategy oriented, as it was up to her to get more effective ways of getting aid to its destination faster and more efficiently. The REMREF Director General basically entrusted her with directing the entire organisation’s path, as far as expansion was concerned. She handled a lot of public relations, especially with transportation and commercial financing companies.
It was therefore up to Pamela to keep up with emerging trends in ICT, transportation and human rights, so she also attended numerous social gatherings and often rubbed shoulders with the elite of the aristocratic society of the Kenyan capital.
At one of these gatherings, in late September of the mid seventies, she was knocked off her heels by the young, attractive, dapper and ambitious Sir Lesley – regal in an immaculate black dinner suit and positively beaming confidence as he made a short but riveting speech about the successes of his relatively small transportation company. His speech capitalized on the future prospectus October Corp had for its investors and financiers in relation to the growing global economy, and the emerging trends of doing business in an emerging economy. The magnitude of his short but inspired words earned him a hearty round of applause. Satiated with the response, he retired to the mini-bar near the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel.
1970s Nairobi was as laissez faire as it could get, the the willowy vachellia, tamarind and jacaranda trees of the capitaal’s suburbs bracketing a spatter of colonial streets and single to five storey brick buildings. The corporate scene was rather dull and uninteresting, overshadowed and controlled by multi-nationals, save for the occasional breakout local outfit run by an expatriate, but it was still a society ripe for regional supremacy and dominance: a society that still, however, basked in the tenets of tradition and pecking order.
Would it be unusual for the girl to ask the guy out? Pamela had argued with herself. She decided to play her cards smoothly and strategically placed herself within his view.
Lesley glanced around him and took another sip of his martini, summing up his night out. Social events had never been his niche and once he had fulfilled what he had gone there to do, he decided to call it a night.
That is, until his eyes settled on the most beautiful figure he had ever come across. The dark haired and prim-figured woman was secluded from the group she sat with which made him conclude that she was alone. She held onto a wine glass with perfectly manicured nails, and the way her eyes lit up as she listened to and watched the hotel band performing a set accentuated her warmly chiselled features further.
I’m married for heaven’s sake! What would Martha think? He ruffled his tie and loosened it as the temperature in the room all of a sudden shot up. He studied the curves of her body and her mannerisms for a while longer. From the green cocktail dress that deliciously molded to her, to the slender but elegant fingers that held the drink in her hand. There was something flirtatious yet innocent and hungering about her… but he didn’t mind! He gathered his wits and moved in.
“Excuse me. May I join you?”
Pamela glanced up and pretended to have been taken by surprise. He looked even more handsome up close, she noticed! She drew in a deep breath totally forgetting she had been asked a question.
Lesley was silently pleased with the reaction he read from her visage. He smiled revealing his perfect dental formula, thanking the stars for that whitening he’d done on a recent trip back to Liverpool, and repeated himself.
“Is there anyone joining you… or may I?”
Once she had snapped out of her trance she realised, rather embarrassed, that she had been staring, she quickly recovered and accepted.
“…Of course! Sorry.”
He slid into the seat beside her smoothly and was genuinely taken aback by the alluring beauty that beamed from her eyes. He had temporarily forgotten he was committed to someone else as he struggled to find the right words to say as he fumbled for level-headedness. He felt like a silly school boy again!
It was at that point that Pamela noticed the wedding ring on his right hand, which should naturally have sent warning bells through her head, but something still foolishly kept her rooted there. The combination was refreshingly and palpitatingly new, and equally alluring to both of them.
For a relationship that had started out so simply and fascinatingly, its end turned out to be just the same. The same way Lesley had looked into her eyes when he fell in love with her, was the same way he had when he left her. And the same way she had felt when he looked at her, was the same way she felt two tumultuous years down the line when he left her.
Predictably enough, she became the Chief Executive Officer of October Corp as Lesley wanted her to spend more time with him during the course of their relationship. She was more than qualified, and a female CEO in those days was a remarkable feat. It would also, they convinced themselves, make their relationship a little more manageable, though it had been difficult being careful not to let anyone know about it, both at the office, or elsewhere for that matter: Discretion was the order of their days.
Lesley came to a suitable arrangement with her and made it clear that he was a married man. albeit in love with Pamela rather than with his wife. REMREF were reluctant to let her go and even threatened to sue over the poaching and breach of contract, but the stones she had moved at the Organization, and the respect and admiration she commanded, would ensure they adequately survived the loss of one of their most prolific and creative employees. In a matter of weeks, REMREF came to a suitable arrangement with the Board of the October Corporation.
Eventually, when Lesley left the country after requesting a transfer to Cape Town after the silent breakup, he had left the corporation to Pamela and his illegitimate son, Terence. This, of course, threw the media into a frenzy as gossip floated into every echelon of the society, making it one f the biggest sensations of the decade, but nothing was ever substantially proven. That is of course until the birth of Terence. Pamela was left heartbroken, but financially affluent.
The Kenyan corporate society swallowed the PR efforts of October Corp, viewing the move as a strategic gamble to localize a traditionally foreign logistics and transportation company into a national model. Little did they all know of the intrigue and drama that clouded the October sky.