Our paths crossed several times when I travelled to distant lands. From the days of Anti-Apartheid resistance I had been conditioned to be wary in the presence of folks who fitted a particular sort of profile. At this point in time, I was travelling in a part of Africa that has been seen for many years as a hotspot for undercover activity. If I had met this guy in London in particular watering holes I would have been wary but this was in Africa and a couple of decades after those heady days.
I must have come across as naive, due to my openness about my craft and my dreams. Almost everyone who moved in the circles I was in was probably operating with an assumed identity. What you see with me is what you get.
I bought this guy’s story about working for an NGO that was helping Africans in rural areas to improve their information technology skills. It seemed like an honourable and idealistic thing to do and he was young. Nothing unusual happened while we stayed in the same digs.
Several months after my return to the UK, the same chap got in touch, asking if I could give him some contacts in a Nigerian city. Again it seemed like a nice thing to do, giving young Nigerians a chance to develop much needed skills that might have been out of their reach. Needless to say, I complied and introduced him to a good friend of mine.
The next time I saw my friend, the truth emerged. The idealistic chap who I thought was working for an NGO was probably working undercover with much more sinister intentions. My friend had taken him at his word and sent him some young Nigerians who were keen to develop their IT skills. He had nothing to share with them. Is there a moral to this story?