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It wasn't the kind of big business that came with larger than life entrepreneurship; No, for we
couldn't be talking about the large corporations called conglomerates or even companies. This was a
small family business in Ghana of West Africa with no book-keeping skills or elaborate beaurocratic
management hierarchy, but whose success story was evidence of all the customers that had bought
into it for heaven knows how many years. That was the home of Little Jojo and Miami, his younger
Jojo and Miami were the children of two clever and perceptive parents, who were themselves lucky
to have surviving parents before they sadly lost their lives and left the children and their
grandparents just one day. This tragedy would have affected the rest of the family even more, but
for the family's secret and highly successful business of a spicy African Soup.
The spicy African Soup that sustained the surviving children was no respecter of protocols. It was
simply safe, invigorating and sufficiently addictive. The soup was right to the extent that even the
president of the nation had gone beyond rhetorical endorsement to eat it several times, and this
was in the-life-time of the children's parents.
The children's parents had chosen neighboring Nigeria to enjoy their honeymoon after a successful
wedding ceremony. Their flight from Ghana to Nigeria went without problems. The crew was
wonderful, and Nigeria was an addition to the excitement. It was when the couple were returning to
Ghana that the technical problems developed.
Some three minutes into the return flight of about forty-five minutes, a strong unpleasant smell of
carbide suddenly invaded the passenger deck and set alarm bells ringing on the flight. There was
frantic activity in the cockpit, and the co-pilot could been seen coming out with instructions to
possibly allay the fears of two flight attendants who had taken positions just behind the hatch to
hear from them.
Matters took a turn for the worst when fire started in the cockpit and threw both passengers and
crew into pandemonium. Seconds later, a huge explosion jumped from the plane and sent it
tumbling through miles of sky space till it disappeared into the forest canopies below. The kids lost
both parents in the crash.
Grandpa upon hearing the news collapsed, and could not make it back to life. In a single day,
therefore, three important pillars in the family had fallen and the vacuum left was almost like a black
hole. The story of how poor grandma was going to fill the vacuum left behind, wasn't going to be
complete without reference to the family's secret of a spicy African Soup. In fact, she knew the
secret so nobody needed to tell her the way to go.
Grandma had to activate the family tradition and reveal it to the children in later life when they were
older and capable of keeping this secret.
Three years on, grandma had not done badly at all. She was doing modestly well picking the pieces
to keep everybody going and the home running. She took daily care of the children, feeding and
preparing them for school. After school, she would personally drive over and bring Jojo and Miami
Managing the children alongside the family business was not always easy. This, notwithstanding,
grandma never faltered with the traditional standards. People from far and near still purchased the
specially prepared spicy African Soup.
One Friday afternoon, grandma looked at her watch and thought she had to go and pick the children
up from school. She didn't want them to spend too much time playing after school to get hurt, so
she left the business in the care of a helper and looking at her watch the last time, jumped into her
car while holding her glasses.
Grandma thought her fears had come true when she got to the school. The children were busy
playing but contrary to her fears, they had closed not long ago, so nobody was hurt. She, thus,
quickly collected their bags from the grass and put them into the car. Then, pecking them one after
the other, she brushed the dust off their faces and dresses and urged them to get into the car.
Miami liked to ride beside grandma, so she jumped into her favorite front seat where she could feel
grandma's arm anytime she stretched hers. The back seat was for Jojo who liked to take special note
of everything, responding verbally to objects and people outside, and then making diagrams of them
while enjoying the ride.
Everybody had settled in their mould when grandma took off from the school and joined the first
thoroughfare enroute to the house. That afternoon, grandma made a mistake she had never made
all her life. She drove through the red light!
The burning bright sun may have affected her vision, for though Jojo was shouting, red! red!,
grandma ignored the warning from the lad probably as one of his idle pronouncements and jumped
the red light with tragic consequences for this family of three.
The crush was fatal, for grandma could not even see the faces of the children before breathing her
last. Her glasses flew far off her face and for her last ten minutes of struggle, she couldn't see
anything. Granny Boo Boo as they called her, couldn't even pass the family secret to the kids. They
were still young, so she had planned to wait till Jojo was fifteen. The two children were still stuck in
their seats. They were bleeding profusely and struggling to free themselves from the seatbelts.
Miami, the younger one, kept screaming out her lungs beside the convulsing body of Granny Boo
Boo, and it was evident that she was in severe pain. The driver of the other car that grandma had
accidentally run into had also sustained severe injuries.
The inflatable airbag and seatbelt of his car had certainly saved him. This, notwithstanding, his
injuries were bad enough so he passed out when he probably also realized that the old woman could
not make it. His car had done so much damage to granny's car. It had literally cut through the
dashboard in front and flattened poor granny to her seat.
Granny's unfortunate accident soon attracted many people to the scene but as was characteristic of
the emergency services and police in that part of the world, they were late in arriving. The old lady
had died. Her case was a hopeless one, so the emergency team recovered the three survivors from
the wreckage of the two vehicles and rushed them to the emergency ward for treatment.
Granny Boo Boo's lifeless body was a case for the morgue. While the other victims of the accident
were being managed, therefore, the police were also carrying out their investigations to find out
who was at fault. When their report finally came out, the deceased old lady was pronounced
culpable. The burning rays of the African sun had blinded her sight and compromised her judgment.
The death of the children's granny was unlike others. This was because, nobody had come forward
either as a family member or to claim the body for burial. Her only surviving grandchildren, Jojo and
Miami, were too young and on admission. The mortal remains of the granny were, therefore, taken
to the funeral parlor at the expense of the government.
Jude Maritz was his name. He had come to Ghana to enjoy his holidays after a year of hardwork in
the United States of America. He regained consciousness two days after the tragic accident and
woke up from his shock with the unfortunate event still fresh on his mind. He tried to think about
home, his life and the trip that had brought him to Ghana and was sure that he was confused. Maritz
leaving the hospital was not his confusion. It was his part in any settlements relative to the accident
that haunted him.
Maritz was greatly relieved when he learnt that police investigations into the cause of the accident
had exonerated him. He had been cleared of any guilt, but his real worry was to come when he
learnt that Granny Boo Boo was the only surviving member of the children's family before the
accident. This revelation sent the coldest of shivers through Jude's spine. He would probably had
walked away a free man, but that single revelation meant that he wasn't a free man at all; While he
couldn't be blamed for the accident, he couldn't also take himself out of the thorny issue of the
children's settlement, so he turned slowly on the hospital bed to lie on his back and soon relapsed
into the most difficult of thoughts.
Jude Maritz was single. He was a workaholic with little time to share with others, so his wife left him
for a different man when he was in his early thirties. At the time of the accident, he was forty-two,
and still had no kids. In fact, marriage wasn't something that he had seriously contemplated. The
issue of the kids at the emergency, thus, traumatized him even more and threatened to keep him
forever at the emergency department.
Maritz left the hospital having taken the decision to adopt the children. He was a victim of
circumstances and in order that his conscience would be free, he would adopt Jojo and the younger
sister Miami to give them a good life in the United States.
Working with the police, the staff of the hospital and the Ghanaian authorities, therefore, Maritz
waited patiently for the children to be discharged. Then, he went with them to their house to pack a
few important belongings of theirs. Following this, he sat the kids down and gently spoke to them.
He apologized for the fatal accident and went with them to see their grandmother's burial place.
Maritz took a few photographs of the burial site and felt like he was doing the right thing to release
his conscience from prison. He wasn't, however, sure how the children were feeling so he told them
about his plan to take them to America.
The news about the children going to America brought joy to their faces. They had heard about
America as a very successful country, so for the best part of that day, their faces lit up with glee.
They became despondent only when they came to the realization that Granny Boo Boo was not
going to be part of the trip. Miami was too small to know what death meant, but Jojo was better
informed and was still nursing the pain in his heart.
Jude sent the children to the US Embassy and had them processed for adoption. Jojo and Miami
went through the process successfully, and were granted full American citizenship. One month later
when his holidays in Ghana was over, Maritz flew with the children to the United States—their new
It was six in the morning, the 1st of January 1996 when Jude Maritz and the children he was
adopting arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City.
"Everything here is moving, Miami; Nothing stops!" Jojo exclaimed, judging by how busy that part of
the world was.
Miami smiled broadly and couldn't take her eyes off the beauty and stream of activity at the airport.
The children had truly arrived, and were happy to be in America. As they left the terminal building to
catch a taxi, Jojo scooped some snow from the ground and quickly rolled it into a ball. Miami
watched with amazement as he threw the ball at her and leaned forward to ball the next throw.
"This is the rain we see on television all the time!" Miami responded excitedly to her brother while
squeezing her own ball to also throw.
Soon, the snow-throwing game had begun in earnest and Maritz couldn't take himself out for he
wasn't spared. The children and their godfather had a lovely moment at the airport before hoping
into the next taxi. They were going home, and that was Maritz base.
Jude Maritz lived in the area of town where Americans called Ghetto. It wasn't the kind of
community that complemented the proper training of children. The zone was a haven for gamblers
and whores. These unfortunate members plied their dark trade both in secret and in the full glare of
every other person. Everybody else was a passive smoker in this Ghetto, a clear testament to how
infectious their activities can affect the innocent.
Maritz thought about his work-life and the maze of activities both clandestine and otherwise that
were the hallmark of the base where he was sending the children and couldn't relax for the rest of
the journey. If there was one wish he could make, that would certainly be bringing the old granny
back to life. Instantaneous resurrection would be his first wish because Maritz worked as a security
Jude's security night job kept his bills paid. He left for work at 6p.m and returned at 12 after noon of
the following day. This tight schedule was not going to allow him serious monitoring of the kids, so
Jojo and Miami found themselves in the care of a man with no parenting skills when Maritz began
his security work to maintain their rent. He would hopefully enroll them in school during the next
summer when all schools would have re-opened and his job would also have brought in some money
after spending more than his planned expenses on the Ghana vacation.
Each day Maritz went to work, the children were left on their own by their caretaker to play far off,
visiting the hood and roaming the streets to unburden their ennui. These worrying developments
came to a head when the children joined five other kids in the neighborhood and started lifting
shops and stealing snacks. The little candies, pastries and toy-stealing activity soon became fun, a
kind of hobby that increasingly complicated their life and finally defined their future.
Maritz did his best to place the children in school, but Jojo was first to drop out. Jojo dropped out at
sixteen and Miami who was fourteen then, followed up three terms later. How the fourteen year old
managed to even get their entire students' savings from charity into her greedy pocket was more
worrying. Perhaps, one needn't agonize too much over this because they had both attained
leadership position of their stealing group.
One day, Maritz returned from work to find that the children were not there. They had collected
their belongings and left the house without telling him anything. He made efforts to find them, and
soon learnt that they had rented a house with their friends and moved out because there was no joy
at home. They had already settled the rent when Maritz finally met them, so there was very little he
could do to dissuade them. They, however, promised never to make that place their house, but the
house ultimately became a safe place for storing their loots and frequently passing the night.
A heated argument over money, cropped up between Jojo and his sister Miami one night and never
got better. The gang had looted a mini bank earlier in the day and shared the money. Jojo had picked
an argument with his sister later that night because someone had grabbed part of his share of the
cash inside his wardrobe and he suspected his sister to be the one. The sibling had been sharing the
same room prior to the incident, and though Jojo had made advances towards another member of
the group, Sandra, the two never met in the room before the incident.
The mistrust and bad blood between Jojo and the sister was unfortunate. This was because, Giggy,
who had become envious of their leadership of the group perpetrated the theft to split them. In fact,
something tragic would have happened if Miami were not Jojo's sister, so the former had to part
company and go her separate way for sleeping dogs to lie.
Jojo and the sister remained separated for nearly two decades. During this period of separation,
Miami had met and trained four other girls to form her separate group and were in relentless
business as robbers. Jojo had also recycled what was left of the former group and made Giggy his
second in command, a position that Giggy was eternally grateful for. This way, the two groups
carried out their separate robberies for years and only passed by their former house only to leave
some money with Jude for safe keeping; They never thought about each other or met for a waking
minute till the day of reckoning.
This was a day unlike other days but perfect among days in their assessment of great days for there
was something really big in the day for both groups.
Ripple, Flow, Vanilla and Painkiller of Miami's group were loading up their gears for a desperate
operation in one of the biggest banks in the United States. Coincidentally, Jojo and his team were
also feverishly planning to go and rob the same bank based on intelligence an insider had given
them. Both gangs of robbers had, therefore, adequately strategized and were technically equipped
to overwhelm the staff and bank security. Then, they would fleece them for sleeping on their jobs
under just three minutes! How the robbers were going to succeed in preparing that kind of hot
pudding, given its complexity and high risk, was a matter for only the eating .
Jojo's team was first to arrive in the premises of the bank and posing as ordinary customers. Soon,
they donned their masks and had mysteriously overpowered the armed security. Some thirty
seconds after entering the banking hall and issuing orders for all to lie face down, Miami and her
group also arrived, hooded and looking like invaders from the moon. There was a certain
misunderstanding for the arena was sufficiently discordant and that might have led the gangs to
mistake each other for the swat team, so the whole place erupted into an angry shootout between
the gang of robbers.
Two minutes after the start of hostilities, a strong police team and swat had surrounded the
premises of the bank with orders to the robbers to surrender. The Director of Police in charge of the
security force was not a novice at his job; While his men ramped up the pressure on the bank
robbers to either surrender or commit suicide, he was on the phone with one of the bank tellers to
ascertain the situation inside, upon which he was informed that the robbers were in a fire fight with
each other and that everybody was fine. One of the policemen on secondment that day was,
however, not fine; He was lying flattened to the floor and would have had unpleasant words for the
Police sergeant Hocuspocus Ispoopoohs was crawling towards his semi-automatic after the robbers
had disarmed and ordered him to lie down. Nobody really targeted him but as the bullets kept
raining down, one pellet might have caught him accidentally in the left leg and starved his effort of
all momentum. His injury, notwithstanding, he survived the siege. It was Miami, Jojo's sister, that
lost her life.
Miami was not so fortunate. As the police and special forces closed in on them, pandemonium broke
out and in the ensuing confusion a shot from Jojo's shoulder-mounted Bazooka tore through her
chest and killed her instantly. Jojo and the others ended up in the hands of the security forces
against the grain of their resolve and unfortunate bravado.
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