Honour Among Thieves? Tell Me Another!

1 – Koo, i heard a story the other day…. K2- When did you ever NOT hear a story?
– Oh shut up and listen! Have I ever disappointed you by telling you a story that made you go to
sleep because it was so dull?
– Self-praise is never a recom- mendation, haven’t you heard?
– You really make me sick! I hope that after you’ve heard the story, you will have the honesty to
admit that it was worth telling!

– That much I can guarantee.
Okay go ahead.
– You have heard it said, haven’t you, that “there is honour among thieves”?
– Well, is there not? I’ve never been a thief, so I wouldn’t know!
But maybe you have first-hand experience to support the supposition?
– You mean I was once a thief?
– Hahaha! There you go! Have you forgotten the well-known retort which goes like this: “If I say
that I do wish I had a good drink of water to drink, to send down ‘my thing’, does it necessarily
amount to a confession that I’d gorged myself with the meat of a stolen goat, and do wish I could
obtain some cool water to accompany it down?
– Hahahahaha!!
— Hahahaha!!
– All right. Enough with the mmoguo!
(Preface to a story) Let the real stuff roll!
– Yeah, it’s generally accepted, because the saying seems to have been coined a while ago, that “there is honour among thieves.”

But what once happened to a friend in London suggests that there isn’t an iota of truth in the
saying. You see, there was this girl he had his eyes on. When he described her, he wanted to cry! So
much did she satisfy all that he fancied in a woman.
The lady was a student journalist and to impress her, my friend would often ignore his work deadline and help her finish an assignment. But there was
something she wanted which he couldn’t provide – she had lived in Ghana before, and had developed
a taste for grasscutter soup.

She knew he could cook such a soup, as he was a ‘bushman’ from the forest region of Ghana. So she
kept pestering him to go to Kumasi Market at Brixton, or another Ghanaian shop in Tooting,
to buy some grasscutter meat and cook a special Ghanaian grasscutter soup for her.
Wait, let me guess, but your friend was shacked up in London with another woman?
– Yes! How did you know?

That’s what makes the the story so interesting.
– Ho! Whenever there is drama in a story between a man and a woman, there is usually a second woman in the wings!
– You’re right. My friend was lodging with a woman he’d met in London, and who had been there
for so long that she’d been given a ‘Council flat’. My friend didn’t want her to get angry and throw him out, and yet he had nowhere else to take the young lady he fancied.

And then luck seemed to come his way, the lady he was staying with planned to go to an ‘Easter Convention’ with her church
members, and made preparations to go away for four good days. So my friend went and ordered one
of the very nice grasscutters that he knew Kumasi Market would specially import for Easter. And he
invited the young lady he fancied, to come to lunch on Easter Sunday.

– Ei, the soup he cooked must have been something else?
– It WAS! Apart from the grasscutter meat, he also bought some tasty fish called odo.

Then he made fufuo with pow- dered cocoyam. He gave the young lady directions to his flat and asked her to come there with a cab, and that he would pay her transportation cost for her. At the exact time he had asked her to come, the front-door bell rang.
Excited, he went to open it.

But, to his surprise, he found that the young lady was NOT alone! She had a man with her!
“It’s the cab driver,” he thought.

But the young lady introduced him respectfully thus, “This is Mr. Kwame Nsiah! Mr. Nsiah, this is
Mr (So-and-so.) “Oh welcome! Welcome! …

Welcome!” my friend beamed at them. “How much are you charging her, Mr. Nsiah?”

“Oh, Mr. Nsiah is not a cab driver!” the young lady was quick to explain. “He is a neighbour who very kindly offered me a lift here in his car!”
My friend was perplexed. A neighbour who had offered her a lift? He’d said she should come by
cab and that he would pay for it?

But in order not to seem churlish, he warmly offered them drinks.

They made themselves comfortable and drank and drank. He went to the kitchen once or twice to see whether everything was going well. The soup was tasting great.

The fufuo too had settled beautifully and was neither soft nor hard.

It only remained for Mr. Nsiah to leave for him to enjoy a lovely meal with his new conquest. But
Mr. Nsiah did not show the slightest sign of leaving.

He ignored every indication that my friend politely made, hinting that he should leave. Obviously, he
expected to stay and take part in eating the meal! What was this?

But again, in order not to seem ‘impolite’ or mean-minded, my friend gave up and decided to serve the food. Mr. Nsiah accepted his portion like someone who had actually been invited, and not an unwelcome interloper! As his two guests enjoyed the food, they showed no consciousness of
strange behaviour but poured praises on his culinary skills. In the midst of the fawning, the tele-
phone suddenly rang.

It was my friend’s landlady on the line. In agitated tones and speaking very quietly, she said she
would be arriving at Kings Cross station in an hour’s time and could he please bring a cab to pick her up? She was in no state to take public transport, she said. She would explain why she had come back so early, she stated.

Shocked beyond belief, my friend had to think fast.

He told his two guests that it was the newsroom of the Magazine he wrote for that had just rung.

They’d got a tip that an African politician who had run away from his country during a coup, and whom every media organisation was looking for, had been sighted at a London Hotel and that he should go there imme- diately and try to secure an interview with him at all costs.

On hearing that, the young lady excused herself and went to the toilet. Left alone with Mr. Nsiah, my friend decided to come clean and make absolutely sure that he would take the young lady away.

“Charlie,” he whispered, “it’s my landlady who rang. If she comes to find you two here, she will throw me out, as she’s never met either of you. Charlie, you
know how difficult it is to find accommodation in London at short notice. So please take her away as soon as possible.

Mr. Nsiah agreed. In support of my friend, he even invented a story about a journalist he had once known who had once been so anxious not to arrive late at an important assignment that he had put on a different shoe on each foot! They all laughed at the idea, and Mr. Nsiah left with the young lady.

They left and thinking he was safe, my friend went and picked up his landlady at Kings Cross station.

She told him, amidst tears, that she had had to ‘run away’ from the Easter Convention because the Apostle (leader of the church) had been ‘acting strangely’ towards her.

When they got home, the land- lady, preoccupied as she was with her own problems, accepted my
friend’s explanation of how ‘busy’ her kitchen seemed to have been in her absence. He said he had brought some journalists home from the pub, where they had celebrated Easter. Contrary to expectations, the pub had not served food this Easter. As he lived nearest to the office, he’d offered to feed his colleagues, because they had all felt really hungry, which was dangerous for because they had drunk rather a lot in the pub!!

My friend’s landlady accepted everything without question. He heard her mutter once or twice, ‘As for men!’

The next day, the young lady phoned my friend. In a very angry tone, she accused him of lying to her.

“You lied to me! You lied to me!” she kept saying, “It was your woman who rang you but you lied to me that it was your office!

Damn your fictitious assignment!” And she hung up.

She wouldn’t hear a word from him regarding how she had brought a stranger, an uninvited, unexpected man, to his house, as a guest!

My friend was absolutely shocked when he realised that Mr. Nsiah had betrayed him to the young lady, what he had told him in confidence about his landlady coming back unexpectedly. In leveling with him, he had expected Mr. Nsiah to protect him from the young lady’s anger.

After all, there was supposed to be ‘solidarity’ between men, when it came to dealing with women, wasn’t there? Instead, Mr. Nsiah had used my friend’s decision to trust him to – no doubt – paint him black, to ingratiate him- self with the young lady!

Honour between men, my friend concluded, you can only expect, in a situation where two men are after the same woman, the same ‘honour’ as exists
between thieves!


By Cameron Duodu