March 29, 2023

Building site foreman, Joseph Moemba looks out in awe at the gleaming new city skyline.

‘I have to admit I am surprised. When Chantelle, 17, arrived with no building experience or any work experience of any kind, with long painted nails, I assumed she would simply spend her time getting in the way swanning around in a hard hat for a couple of days on-site in between safari trips. In addition, I thought she would sleep in all the time after getting drunk each night, complain about the food and heat and possibly have a fling with a taxi driver to try something new. But how wrong I have been.

I am a qualified structural engineer and have been in construction for 20 years and I have many very experienced unemployed skilled builder friends who would eagerly work for a fraction of what it cost to fly Chantelle here to Africa and put her up in a fancy hotel. So I was initially a bit sceptical about what meaningful contribution she could bring in her short time here, compared to local skilled builders. Now I realise my scepticism has been utterly misplaced.

We were only supposed to be building a school, but to say Chantelle was like a duck in water would be an understatement. She mastered structural engineering, joinery, bricklaying, roofing, plumbing, electrical engineering, in fact, all the trades from scratch and after she finished building the school, she was on a roll so we just let her get on with it and build an entire city in 11 and a half days’

I ask Chantelle, ‘Why only 11 and a half days? You have done a great job, you will be in all the local papers at home you know, looking cute, wearing a hard hat. Are you not able to stay any longer and build some more?’

Chantelle, ‘My best mate Chloe, who lives with her aunty, well her aunty is in hospital with a bladder infection, so Chloe, she is mental she is, announced on Facebook she was havin an open party, invited everyone, mad innit? And you know who confirmed? Fit Steve, the one with the hair like Beiber, he is so so yummy fit. The party is this Saturday and it’s going to be epic.

I like building cities in Africa, it’s cool, but epic beats cool don’t it? So sorry Africa, you’re on your own again’.

Joseph Moemba, ‘We tried to talk her out of it, to see if she could stay another week or two to build a second city and maybe a power station, but apparently fit Steve is really fit. He is captain of the school football team and looks great in shorts. So fair enough.

I guess all schools and probably towns and cities in Europe are all built by your amazing teenagers and that is why you also send them out here to build stuff for us? Even without any relevant qualifications, skills or experience, their amazing natural aptitude for the building trade and exemplary work ethic fully justifies the extortionate cost of sending them here. Chantelle has really shown us all up and I’ve learnt so much’.

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