A painful experience with ‘aka red naka black’
Published On February 14, 2014 » 3361 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Features
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It happened to meEver heard of a popular gambling game of the 1990s, ‘Aka Red, Naka Black,’ which captured the imagination of many unsuspecting people, especially along the line of rail, who won, but mostly lost their hard earned cash?  TIMOTHY KAMBILIMA was such a victim at the hands of the smooth operators of the ‘lucrative’ pastime and vowed never to get anywhere near such scams in future.  Here’s his story.

SOME years ago, there was an influx of men in Chililabombwe  from Kitwe. These men brought with them all sorts of gambling games and, if you were there then, you surely cannot have forgotten the popular one that was called ‘Aka red, naka black’.
In fact, this tricky game caught the imagination of people living along the entire line of rail as everywhere you went, ‘Aka red, naka black’ became a signature-tune among the town dwellers. I didn’t know I would be one of its many temporary winners and permanent losers until one fateful day.
This group of men used to do their gambling at a place called Kalukungu Market in Chililabombwe’s second class trading area. At first, I had no interest to take part in the ‘lucrative’ game, but enjoyed spending a few minutes watching people win their ‘lotto’ while others lost.
The men brought two boxes to their cunning diversion; one red and the other one black. One was required to put money on the red mat, and, after juggling, if the red box came out, then, automatically you won double the amount. One day, I couldn’t resist the temptation and decided to participate in the game by diverting money meant for bread!
My first attempt, with the encouragement I got from my friend Joseph Mubanga, was  successful. No sooner had I won the lotto than I thought of leaving, but the same money multipliers cleverly persuaded me to play again, enticingly saying, “mwaiche try again, you will win.” I was overpowered.
And, looking at how others were winning the jackpot, I told myself, why, the heck, not give it a shot, convinced that you never know when your luck comes along until you try? And, hey, presto! I was betting again!
They say lighting does not strike in the same place twice. My second attempt was a disaster, a shameful, painful blow as, oh! my God,  I lost all the money I had wagered!
But,  instead of sympathising with me, the tricksters annoyed me even more by sarcastically telling me: “Mwaiche, ngashapwa impiya just leave, give chance to others!” (If you’ve run out of cash, just leave and give others a chance).
I then realised my double tragedy as I had to go back home without a loaf of bread and, much less, penniless. I then started to cry demanding my money back, but it was a forlorn hope because, what I received instead was a chorus of  boos from people who were busy winning and losing.
I asked if my friend had any money on him, but he could only confirm the adage that when you’re in trouble, it never rains, but it pours. He had none! “How am I going to face mum at home?” I asked myself. “How will my siblings take the sad morning news?” I continued to imagine as I headed home.
Immediately I arrived home, crestfallen, my immediate younger sister Beatrice, who is now a teacher and mother of three boys, said, “Timo, Bread takuli?” I didn’t say anything as my mum also chipped in by asking why I took long and rubbing it in about the missing loaf of bread.
I wanted to tell a lie that I lost the money on the way to the market, but I quickly recalled the voice of our Sunday school teacher at Kakoso’s CMML (Christian Mission in Main Lands) who taught us that God always sees when we are telling lies. I hesitantly, revealed the truth to mum about what had transpired. She was shocked and livid with anger, shouting at the top of her voice, “Since when did you start playing such useless games?”
I slowly and remorsefully replied that it was the first and possibly the last time for me to do such a thing and, without wasting time, I asked for her forgiveness which she accepted with a good slap which I will never forget.
My siblings derived much joy from my embarrassing moment and they even refused to sympathise with me, except for Josephine, my little cousin, who had come visiting from Chingola’s Kasompe Township.
I later heard my mum calling my elder sister Celestina who works at Kakoso Hospital now, to go and buy bread and giving firm instructions to her that when breakfast was made, all, but me, should have a share of the bread!
But being a mother, after the tea with milk from Zambia Dairy Produce Board was ready, she changed her mind and graciously granted me the privilege to taste the delicious bread from the defunct Supaloaf.
Back to the conmen, I later learnt that they formed a group and would deliberately lose and win in order to hoodwink unsuspecting clients and, in the end, share the money.
My mother also told me that one woman lost money meant for a chicken and you can imagine how a chicken was treasured and respected in the UNIP days since people only consumed it on special occasions such as pay day, Christmas, wedding and new year.
Since that fateful day, I vowed never to go near informal gambling.
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