Category: Hannice Knight

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 12.3

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.


Knight after Knight. Chapter twelve, part three.

Gabriel and Evaristo returned to their homes and businesses. Mary, one of Lindy’s top IT support people, went with them to set up their systems. She remained there for three days until the contracts and schedules arrived. She printed two copies of each of them, which the two men studied. Gabriel signed the documents and Evaristo witnessed them. Mary then returned to Dar-es-Salaam with the documents. We had something of a sign-fest when they came back; Lindy, Moses, Max and I taking the role of signatory or witness on both sets of both agreements, one copy of each of which we subsequently returned to Gabriel by post as well as scanning and emailing them (in case the post failed – something that can happen in any country).

Max and I busied ourselves setting up the mechanisms we would need to have in place to support Gabriel once he set his project in motion. We knew that Evaristo would get him started on the legal and regulatory aspects, so we wouldn’t be needed until he was ready to build his management structures. We also worked closely with Lindy’s Holy Island team and Moses’ investment team to make sure we were all pulling in the same direction.

It was whilst we were engaged in this venture that a message came to me from David. Short and sweet, it said simply ‘Jess has started. Can you come?’ I responded to say I’d be as quick as I could. Less than five minutes later, I received a call from a man who announced himself as Harry Smythe, manager of Black and Gold Air Charters. He told me that, on the instructions of Knight Global Trading, an aircraft was standing by at Julius Nyerere International Airport ready to leave in one hour, and that he had dispatched a car to pick me up at my office in fifteen minutes. Wow, I thought, the boy moves quickly and decisively. Just at that moment, I was immensely proud of him.

“Trouble?” Max asked, apparently sensing that I was somewhat wrong-footed.

“No,” I said, “I had a text from David saying Jess in going into labour. That phone call was from a charter outfit telling me they have a plane standing by to fly me to London and a car is on its way to collect me.”

“David did that?”

“I imagine so.”

“So why are you standing here? Don’t you need to pack a bag?”

“I still have a flat in Knight Towers; should be plenty of everything there.”

As I said that, there was a knock on the outer door. It opened and an early middle-aged man wearing what looked like a chauffeur’s uniform entered.

“Mr Knight?” he asked.

“I am he.”

“Good morning, Sir. My name is Abel. I am to drive you to the airport as soon as you’re ready.”

“You have identification?” I asked.

“Of course, Sir,” he said, extracting from under his jacket an ID badge suspended on a lanyard.

I examined it and nodded. “Let’s go then, Abel.”

“Do you have any luggage, Mr Knight?”

“No, just me.” I turned to Max and placed my thumb and pinkie finger against my ear and mouth and said, “I’ll call you when I get there.”

Max wished me a pleasant journey and went back to her work.

Outside the office building, with half a dozen small boys guarding it, was a silver-grey Jaguar limousine. Abel thanked the boys, gave one of them some cash and opened the back door for me.

“Thank you, Abel, but I’d prefer to be in the front,” I said.

“Very well, Sir,” he said, closing the rear door and opening the front passenger door. I got in, and we drove through the morning traffic to the private charter area of the airport.

On arrival, he drove me to the apron where an impressive-looking aircraft was standing. A man whom I assumed to be the pilot was walking around the aircraft, touching various parts of it while a fuelling truck was pulping fuel into its tanks. A young woman in pilot’s garb approached me.

“Mr Knight?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“My name is Geri. I’ll be your pilot today. George, my co-pilot, is completing pre-flight checks. Thank you for coming promptly, Mr Knight. We have a tight schedule to keep to. This aircraft has to be in London within twelve hours to give us the turn-round time we need before embarking on a long-term charter. This flight was going to be fully crewed but without passengers. We’re delighted to have you aboard.”

“So my son managed to hi-jack an existing flight, rather than having to pay for a special flight? Crafty little devil.”

“As far as I know, we don’t have another aircraft available that could take you to London today. This one, a Dassault Falcon 7X, has an operational range of nearly six thousand nautical miles and should be able to make Heathrow non-stop.”

“How long?”

“Ten hours, give or take. Please,” she said, indicating the steps leading to the interior of the aircraft. I climbed the stairs. The interior of the plane was probably one of the most luxurious and comfortable-looking I could recall seeing. Two other cabin crew were in the aircraft and introduced themselves. Tom was a young Australian man, and Paalika, a woman of Indian heritage who was born and raised in Tanzania. They made me comfortable whilst Geri joined George on the flight deck and the engines started.

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 12.2

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.


Knight after Knight. Chapter twelve, part two.

Having talked through the principles the previous evening, the meeting in Lindy’s conference room – our little suite doesn’t have a room suitable for six people to sit comfortably – got straight down to details. Gabriel explained, in great detail, the business plan he and Evaristo had drawn up together. For his part, Evaristo told us that, although not directly involved in the project, he had come on board as an unofficial advisor.

When asked why his position wasn’t part of the plan, Gabriel said, “although Evaristo’s input, particularly on the difficult topics of fiscal and regulatory compliance, is invaluable, it would not be correct for a politician to be a partner in the co-operative.”

“Does that mean that once the business is up and running, you’ll dispense with him?” Max asked.

“Not at all, Ms Matham. If you look at the appendix to the business plan, you will see that our ultimate aim, if we can meet all the relevant requirements, is to register the co-operative as a charity. In that event, we would seek to ask Evaristo to serve as a Trustee, maybe even Patron. Of course, whether he wishes to join us in that way has to be his decision. We would never assume that his agreement would be automatic.”

“Let me put on record now, Gabriel, that you can safely make that assumption,” Evaristo said.

“Thank you, Sir.”

“Two-nil.”

“I’ve heard people say that a lot recently,” I said, “what does it mean?”

“I thought you’d never ask,” Evaristo replied, “It’s the English translation of what the French say.”

“It is? What do they say?”

“They say ‘Deux rien’. Deux means two and rien means nothing or nil, hence two-nil.”

Max, who spoke French like a native; although a native of where is still open to question; laughed.

“What’s funny?” Evaristo asked.

“It’s an easy mistake to make,” she said, still guffawing, “they actually say ‘de rien’, which means ‘of nothing’. I suppose it’s the equivalent of…” she said, looking at me with raised eyebrows.

“Think nothing of it, old chap,” I said cheerfully.

Max continued, “Precisely. And many Americans say ‘ain’t no thang’, which has the same meaning.”

“Oops. I won’t make that mistake again,” Evaristo said, joining in the laughter which, by now, had spread around the table.

I looked at Max, raised my eyebrows and, in my lap, gave a subtle thumbs-up sign. She nodded briefly. “Decision made,” I said, much to everyone’s surprise – everyone except Max, that is, “HanMax Consultants will provide logistical support and management consultancy from Dar-es-Salaam. No charge will be made for this. Should you require us to attend your premises, you will be responsible for our travel and accommodation costs but there will be no further cost, apart from reasonable and necessary out-of-pocket expenses.”

While I was saying that, I noticed that Lindy and Moses were conversing in hushed tones. When they stopped, Lindy said, “Knight Investments will provide start-up funding for the initial amount mentioned in your business plan, at an interest rate of three percentage points below base or one per cent, whichever is greater. This will be available for you to draw in accordance with a schedule to be agreed by my colleague, Moses Malunda, and yourselves. Any additional funding needs will be the subject of further discussion at a later date. In addition, Holy Island Services will provide remote administration and accounting services from this office including, as needed, the training of your own personnel with a view to taking over those functions. My staff will prepare an implementation and cost schedule and send it to you by secure email within seven days.”

Gabriel looked as though he were in shock. He turned to Evaristo and said, “Did I hear that right?”

“Yes, Gabriel. We’re in business. All you have to do is to sign the legal documents and then you can hit the floor running.”

“We were hoping you’d feel that way,” Lindy said, pulling a sheaf of papers from his briefcase, “I find that I have the papers here for the financing agreement.” He pushed them across the table to Gabriel. “Take your time, look them over, and if you’re ready to sign them I’ll be in my office.”

“Thank you, Mr Aldredge,” he said.

Lindy rose from the table, shook Gabriel’s hand and said, “Two-nil!” He nodded to the rest of us, and he and Moses left the meeting room.

“So what happens now?” Evaristo said.

“The jobs that Mr Aldredge and Mr Malunda are doing used to be mine,” Max said, “I say that only to indicate that I know how the system works in detail.”

“In fact,” I added, “Knight Investments and Holy Island Trading were Max’s idea.”

“Yes, I still think of them as my babies,” she said, “Now. Once you sign the Financing Agreement, Knight Investments will place the agreed amount into an account to which you have access. All that will be required is for you to agree a drawing schedule with Mr Malunda, but I don’t imagine that will be an issue, as you have an outline schedule in the appendix to your business plan. Holy Island Services will prepare a contract in, usually, no more than three working days and transmit it to you for signature. Your signature will need to be witnessed by a suitably qualified person. You, Evaristo, are suitably qualified. Hannice and I will draw up a contract in the same time-frame, so you can expect, within a week from today, to be ready to launch your project. How does that sound?”

“That sounds splendid,” Gabriel said, “in a scary kind of way.”

“Scary?” I asked.

“Well, after months of talking and planning, it’s suddenly becoming real. I’m actually going to be able to help these poor people.”

“I’m going to have Knight Global set up secure email and computing facilities for you,” Max said, “not for your business as much as to manage your relationships with us and with them. HanMax Consultants is an independent business but, as you know, Mr Knight and I are former directors of Knight Global Trading and we maintain a close working relationship with them. However, we are not part of that group, neither do we have any financial or business relationship with them beyond renting this office.”

“I did my homework before coming here, Ms Matham, and I know that you were regional director for Africa, then Chief Financial Officer for Knights, and Mr Knight was… well… Mr Knight, Chairman and Chief Executive, both posts now being held by David Knight—”

“My son,” I said, “yes. That’s all public knowledge, but what I want you to take away from here is that any relationship you enter into with HanMax Consultants is not a relationship with Knight Global. Knight companies will provide funding and support services, but any advice we give you is for you alone. And be aware, that if we feel it necessary, we may advise you to sever links with Knight Global entities.”

“Is that likely?”

“Highly unlikely, I should say. The point I’m making is that we work for you, not for Knight Global. We work with them, but not for them.”

“Okay,” Gabriel said, ”let’s get this funding agreement dealt with.” He handed one copy to Evaristo and they both read through them.

“That looks straightforward enough,” he said finally, “what do you think?”

“I’d be happy to sign it,” Evaristo said. Gabriel nodded and signed both copies. Evaristo and I witnessed the signatures. Four of us trouped into Lindy’s office where he and Moses were talking.

“Good time?” I asked.

“Always for you, Boss,” he said.

“Okay, LJ, we have the funding agreements signed.” Gabriel handed the two copies to Lindy. He signed them both then called Max to witness his signatures.

“This calls for a celebratory drink,” I said, “tea all round?”

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 12.1

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.


Knight after Knight. Chapter twelve, part one.

Lindy sent a driver to meet Evaristo and his colleague, Gabriel Mhina, when they arrived at Dar-es-Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International airport and took them to Nocturne, where they were accommodated. Max and I were there meet them, Lindy having told us beforehand that they were due in.

Gabriel was a small man, almost a head shorter than Evaristo who towered above him as they walked in. His companion had described him as a determined man with a strong work ethic and an unstoppable will to succeed. He certainly looked the part. His carriage bore the presence and assurance of one who expected to succeed in everything he undertook, and usually did.

“Gabriel Mhina,” he said, holding his left hand out. It was only then that I noticed that no hand protruded from his right sleeve. I offered my right hand, twisted inwards through one hundred and eighty degrees to facilitate the handshake.

“Hannice Knight,” I replied, “pleased to meet you, Gabriel.” I turned to Evaristo and shook him by the hand.

“Won’t you come through?” Lindy said, inviting us all into the lounge. We all followed him and parked ourselves in the chairs and sofas arranged around a large coffee table.
Lindy had tea and biscuits brought in and we all relaxed and socialised. Gabriel volunteered that when he was about nine years old, a group of men broke into his parents’ house, beat his parents unconscious then held him down and cut off his right hand. Max and I were both becoming more and more angry as he told his story. This was just one example of a large number of incidents involving mutilation and maiming of people with albinism.

“I was lucky,” he said.

“Lucky?” I asked, “in what universe was that lucky?”

“Compared with many people, I was very lucky. For a start, they only took one hand. I know of lots of kids like me who’ve had both hands chopped off; some above the elbow. For another thing, my mum and dad came around fairly quickly and managed to get me to a healer who stopped the bleeding and bound the wound to keep me alive on the way to the hospital. And thirdly, I was lucky that I got to the hospital quickly enough and a brilliant surgeon was on duty and dealt with me. And I was lucky that it was a mission hospital and they didn’t charge my mum and dad the way some do.”

“Okay, I’ll grant you that. Still; there must be a way to stop this.”

“There is Mr Knight. We need more people like Dr Fonseca to come forward and condemn it. There’s no good telling the local shamen that the government are punishing people for doing it – the draw of their magic is much stronger than any fear they may have of government action. No, the condemnation has to come from one of their own, and one they respect and are likely to listen to. Otherwise, it would be like your government telling everyone that the use of condoms in the practice of safe sex is strongly recommended and a good thing. It only takes the religious leaders to condemn it as sinful for people to stop their use. We need someone with the equivalent authority of the Pope to issue a proclamation to all shamen declaring that any actions taken against people with albinism is wrong, and particularly that their body parts have no powers and that they are not inhabited by evil spirits and they don’t bring bad luck on their village. That would be a start.”

“I understand that things improved for a while after Dr Fonseca’s intervention.”

“They did. But memories are short – at least selectively. It seems that for a shaman to remember what was said by one man, no matter how important, authoritative or elevated his position, is a great deal harder than to remember what his father told him whilst he was growing up. What we’re up against is possibly centuries of superstition and belief.”

“Are you saying it’s hopeless?” I asked, “That it can’t be done?”

“Maybe in the very long term, it can be, with enough education and publicity. In the meantime, though, all we can do is to try to make life better for people with albinism.”

“And that’s what you’re aiming to do, am I right?”

“Yes. My plan is to buy a plot of land – a couple of hectares would be enough at first – and farm it. We want to start by growing food crops and cash crops with all the workers being albino.”

“Including disabled?”

“Especially disabled. We will build simple housing for them which will require people with building and construction skills then, as the farm grows, we’ll need to buy machinery to work the land more effectively. That will create a need for people with the ability to use that equipment as well as people with the mechanical skills to maintain it. And of course, as it grows, we’ll need support staff, office and practical. And here’s the thing, every position will be open only to persons with albinism, and if my plan works, every worker will have a stake in the business and will be paid the same rate.”

“That’s all very egalitarian and highly laudable, but I see two potential problems. Your government’s anti-discrimination laws may force you to accept people who don’t fit your limited criteria. Also, paying everyone the same rate may also cause issues. My experience tells me that the main driver for high productivity and the most common reason employees aim for promotion is financial.”

“If those are the only difficulties we encounter, Mr Knight, I shall deem the project a resounding success.”

The conversation continued in this vein for an hour or so, at which time Max and I excused ourselves and arranged to meet up at the office the following morning. Back in our house, I made us both a nightcap which we sipped as we talked through what we’d learned so far.

“It isn’t my decision any more,” Max said, “but I’d be a bit worried about funding this one. I agree with your comment that it sails too close to positive discrimination to be easily accepted by the government. I’m sure he knows about the permits and licences he’ll need to employ anyone at all.”

“We’ll ask him tomorrow, but my impression is that Evaristo is sufficiently clued-up to have considered that. But the equal-pay thing worries me. I just can’t see it working. It’s against human nature.”

“It is, but it has been done before, and with some success. It can work when all the employees are also stakeholders, all sharing in any profit the business makes and all feel involved in major decisions.”

“But why would a low-level employee accept instructions from a supervisor or manager who’s paid the same?”

“It works for two reasons. Firstly because every employee is involved in the decision-making process, either directly or through an elected representative and secondly because, in these situations, every employee knows that whatever their job, they are necessary for the company to make a profit. If they weren’t, their job wouldn’t exist.”

“So what you’re saying is that their motivation is corporate success, not individual reward.”

“Et voilà.”

“What?”

“To quite Professor Henry Higgins, ‘By George, he’s got it!’”