NOV 16, 2022
After breakfast, the group headed out to shop in Treichville. It was a radiant morning, and the energy of the city was at pitch fever as the weekend dawned. The Renault puttered its way through Plateau and got to the market. It was difficult being casual as everyone's mind was focused on the job.
They found a small bicycle shop operated by a youthful energetic Ivorian who haggled for an hour with Mzee Tembo on the various frames for the new models he wanted. He enjoyed this part of the business as he could see new bicycles he could introduce to the island and finally outsmart his competition. By the time he was done, he had selected fifty assorted units and assured the Ivorian that if they were a hit on the island, he would come back and buy more. As Mzee Tembo and Gwafa made arrangements to transport the bikes to the airport, Banou dragged Mapacha to a fabric shop. He watched as she picked out different types of material and split the orders into two.
"Mapacha, you buy this set I have picked here."
He was puzzled by her.
"Why? I don't wear these traditional things."
She shook her head. "Not for you. For Abril. She would like something like this."
He had been extremely invested in the trip he had forgotten about Abril and Neve. Banou had excellent taste and had chosen colours that would complement her skin tone. He agreed with Banou. She might have been his on-again-off-again girlfriend, but, she had taken time to watch his place and take care of Neve and deserved a favourable turn. He paid for all of them and had them wrapped.
"Thanks, Banou." He smiled at her. She shrugged it off and continued to shop.
They returned to the bicycle shop to help Gwafa and the Ivorian load the bicycles onto the pickup.
"You guys have been shopping eh?" He asked with a smile.
Banou handed Mzee Tembo a package of fabric.
"You got the right ones, right?" Mzee Tembo asked sheepishly."Yeah, Una will like them."
Thanked twice in under ten minutes. Banou suddenly felt appreciated. The loaded pickup followed them to the airport where Gwafa sought the customs officer to clear the exports. With the bicycles off the pickup, Mzee Tembo paid the owner and thanked him. The bureaucratic process cost them another hour and finally just after 2 PM, they loaded them all onto the plane as Gwafa got it fueled. When they were done, they left the airport and had a quick lunch at a roadside restaurant.
By 3 PM, Banou and Mzee Tembo had located the Minister while Gwafa and Mapacha watched this home. The only movement that day was his wife as she returned from her errands in her Citroën.
Banou and Mzee Tembo followed the Minister's Mercedes out of Plateau and watched it make its way towards Treichville and it eventually ended up at the port. Like a well-rehearsed act, the guards saluted as the Mercedes entered the complex. He was in the warehouse for around forty-five minutes after which he headed to the Hotel Ivoire. Armed with his black briefcase, he made his way into the hotel and headed to Le Pili-Pili Cafe. Banou and Mzee Tembo followed him, picked a corner spot and watched him meet a couple. It hadn't seemed formal and lasted about an hour before he left and headed back home.
They picked Gwafa and Mapacha up and headed back to the hotel. The fatigue began to show as they ate at the hotel's internal restaurant. That evening, Gwafa, Mapacha and Mzee Tembo tested the tools they would need as well as the guns while Banou was perched on a couch engrossed in one of the chic magazines she had picked up. Today for her was special, and as she paged through the magazines, she felt her dreams become real.
The eruptive mood in Abidjan as the weekend arrived affected everyone. Delegates were being preselected, for the election in the single-party state. Informal meetings were held to help determine who would get nominated. This would prove to be the most exciting yet as there were approximately six hundred and fifty delegates who jostled for a mere hundred seats upped from eighty-five. For those not politically inclined, Abidjan would offer alternatives to escape the political noise. The last thing anyone expected was a heist.
Banou and Mzee Tembo watched the residence in the morning from the car while Gwafa and Mapacha rested in the hotel. It was quiet as they had been told. Round midday, the Minister and his wife left in the Citroën driven by an aide who chauffeured them to The Aquarium. He was unbothered by the elections as his name had already been put forward. They enjoyed the afternoon among the revellers before they headed to the Hotel du Parc where they enjoyed a simple dinner. As night approached, they headed back home. His aide, preoccupied with the evening did not notice the Renault that trailed them back to the residence.