Monday Macaulay is an indigene of Akwa Ibom State but resides in Lagos.
He is an artisan in so many crafts such as soap making, basket weaving, cane chair/cane basket, brooms, stove thread, fish sea trap, catapult, coal pot and several others that this correspondent, NKASIOBI OLUIKPE, could not put a name to. He was once an owner of a chain of shops where he displays and supplies both his crafts and food stuffs such as gari, palm oil, crayfish, yam, vegetable and several others, which he transports from Akwa Ibom. Today, due to an ailment he suffered for four years that almost took his life, he is almost starting from the scratch and hoping to find his bearing soon. Excerpt:
Means of livelihood
I am into so many things. I can’t start mentioning them to you one by one. I buy and sell, I weave mats, brooms, cane chairs/cane baskets, even this artificial wig/scarf holder that hairdressers use, I weave it too, I do catapult, wield this coal pots that people use to cook, and a lot of other things.
Period of apprenticeship
I spent three years in learning how to weave and tie the broom. You might be looking at it that what is there to learn for three years. But the tying of the broom is in different shapes and pattern. There is a particular one that if you tie, even if the broom is lasting a 100 years, it will not loosen.
For the mat, I was apprenticed for six months to learn how to weave it. The cane works also took me about three years; for the soap making, I learnt it for just two weeks. There are some that I didn’t have to go learning but apply common sense to do them like this iron that people use to roast fish, maize, suya and others.
Place of apprenticeship
I learnt them from my home town in Akwa Ibom. Not all of them though, just the basket and broom weaving. It was in Lagos that I learnt how to weave the mat I also learnt the craft of tying the broom in Lagos.
Experience after freedom
I worked for the man that taught me how to do all these things in Lagos and he was paying me. When I left the man, I opened a shop at Agbado in Ogun State. I spent two years there and came over to this place in Ishaga. I have been here for over seven years. This place is just my workshop, where I do all the work, but I have various places I display the things I do. One is at Ile Zik bus stop in Ikeja; there I also supply the palm oil, gari, and yam I buy from Akwa Ibom. There is no type of mat that I don’t do, Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa mats are all here. Just tell me what you want, I will do it for you.
Achievements during your hay days
I achieved so many things. I bought a lot of landed properties. I bought agric palm trees which were being harvested regularly. Before I would travel, my parents would have processed the palm fruits for me to carry back to Lagos.
Assessment of your business performance
Well, it was actually moving on very fine and I was doing financially okay until when problem struck. I fell ill, the kind of illness I could not explain. Before now, everybody around this area knows me. I had shops in different places. People from different places come here to buy brooms in wholesale prices, include whip (pankere) which I also sell in bundles. I don’t know what I stepped on, I just discovered that one of my legs started swelling up. It got so swollen that it could not enter any of my trousers. Thereafter, it started decaying. I was being carried to so many places for healing. But there appeared to be no solution. Honestly, I didn’t believe I would be alive today. I was just being carried from one place to the other between August 2011 and 2014. It was just last year that I started recovering. Even up till date, I have not fully recovered. It’s just that I find it difficult to be idle. You can still see my leg is bandaged. All the money I made was sunk into the leg. But now, I thank God. It is just the money to go back to how I was previously that is messing me up.
In the event of a possibility of getting a loan, would you go for it?
Yes, if I can get between N250, 000 and N300, 000, I will appreciate it. I used to buy a truck load of goods from Akwa Ibom and I have people working for me. So, if I can get that kind of money, I will appreciate it so much.
I don’t believe in selling what I have acquired. To be honest with you, while I was being moved around for healing, it was those things I acquired then that helped me.
Any accounts records
Sure. I cannot do without keeping records. How then do I know whether I am profiting or losing? I write everything down. If you don’t keep records, you will not go far because you won’t even know when you are running at a lost and when to stop a particular business. That will also help in determining how you spend the money that comes in.
Moves towards acquiring a loan
I actually collected N60, 000 from LAPO, I have the final batch of payment to make. But the money is small for what I really need now.
Assurance of paying back the loan, if given
Auntie, if I collect the money, the person is free to monitor what I do with the business. All my goodness will come back. You too will see what I am talking about. I work from Monday to Sunday. I don’t have any day I sit down at home. Even if people come knocking in the middle of the night to buy things, I will stand up to sell. I don’t joke with my business. Right now, I don’t have a phone. Not that buying a N3, 000 phone is a problem, but I don’t want to deep my hands into my capital. Even if it is N10 you are removing from your capital, it can never remain the same again. If you are not careful, you might start going down. That was the secret of how I grew my business before this foot disease that set me back. When you collect money for business, it is the gain that you spend from, without which you find yourself going down. I don’t sit idle. If there are no customers coming to buy things from me, I hop into my bicycle to go out to sell. By the end of the day, I will be sure of making very good sales. I don’t need to sit in this shop all day. But sometimes, the sales in the shop is high that I don’t need to hop into my bicycle looking for buyers. It’s just that I hate to sit down idle.
Source : Independent