Cleto, the gardener, provides a fascinating experience.

Cleto grew up in a low-income family. He failed Form 2 and had to start looking for work to support his family. People thought he was too young to work, so he had difficulty finding work. He came to town to look for work when he was 16 years old. He landed a job as a gardener for the Moyo family after months of struggle. Mr and Mrs Moyo were professionals who worked for reputable companies. Life’s ups and downs had shaped Cleto into a hardworking young man who was at ease working with his hands. Within a month of Cleto’s arrival at the Moyos’ home, the yard had transformed dramatically: the lawns were flourishing and consistently neatly cut. The flowers bloomed, enhancing the appearance of the driveway. When Mr and Mrs Moyo drove by, the flowers bowed.

The Moyos were very proud of Cleto, and they spoke highly of him to their friends whenever they entertained on the well-kept lawns in the area. They gladly gave Cleto $60 per month – it was a steal for them, given the excellent work Cleto was doing.

Time flew by.

Cleto was now 26 years old, and it had been ten years since he first walked into the Moyo home. He had shocking news for the Moyos. Cleto was scheduled to leave the Moyos at the end of the month. Cleto was returning to his village. The Moyos couldn’t understand why Cleto would leave them, given that they treated him like their own son. Things were difficult – how would Cleto survive in the village without a steady source of income? They persuaded Cleto that he was making a grave mistake that he would live to regret for the rest of his life.

Cleto, as polite and respectful as ever, insisted on returning to his village. The Moyos lost the battle.

The day of departure arrived. Something had been torn away from the Moyos, and parting with Cleto was excruciatingly painful. Mrs. Moyo’s eyes were welling up with tears. Mr Moyo put on a brave face while masking the pain knifing its way through his heart.

Cleto was driven all the way to his village by them. Around 4 p.m., they arrived at Cleto’s village. Cleto led them into the yard.

The Moyo asked him if stopping to see some neighbours would cause them to be late for their return trip. Cleto informed them that they had arrived.

Mr and Mrs. Moyo were taken aback.

They kept their mouths open for what seemed like an eternity.

There was a properly fenced-in yard. There was an orchard nearby, which was a lovely sight to behold. They were no longer eager to return home. They were required to see everything. Cleto escorted them to the kraal. Mr Moyo was tasked with counting the cattle in the kraal. He tallied 82. He then counted the goats. They numbered 400.

There was a neatly built solar-powered cottage with a very tasteful and cheeky design. Mrs. Moyo requested the restroom. Cleto greeted her and led her into the cottage. Her eyes were treated to a visual feast of a well-designed interior that made her own house look shabby. Mrs Moyo couldn’t believe there was running water in the house and that she could freshen up in a stylishly designed bathroom. She opened a tape indiscriminately and nearly burned her hand with hot water.

The Moyos had serious questions for Cleto, such as why he had lied to them about coming from a poor family. Cleto assured them that he had not lied to them, and that he would take them to his childhood home, which was about 5 kilometres away. He owned the land where they were at the time.

Mr Moyo questioned him on how he could have purchased a property and amassed so much wealth on a monthly salary of $60. Cleto explained that it all began with him purchasing a goat for $30 every month, starting with the first month he received his pay from them.

He shared his simple financial policy with the Moyos: “I resolved that I must reach a point where the number of cattle or cows I must have is greater than my number of years from birth.”

He also explained to the Moyos that his orchard served as his children’s educational policy. “Cleto, you are not married, and you have children,” Mrs Moyo was perplexed. “Yes, mum, you’re correct,” Cleto replied politely. When I have children, I will provide educational funding for them.”

Mr and Mrs Moyo were taken aback.

The Moyos decided to spend the night. They couldn’t sleep because they were ashamed of themselves, and Cleto was wiser and smarter than them in financial matters. “Baba Moyo, do you realise Cleto has just retired at 26 years of age, and he is set up for life?” Mrs Moyo said to Mr Moyo before her eyes surrendered.

Brett Chulu wrote the story.

I hope you enjoyed reading it as I did!


1) Can you identify the empowerment principles in this story?

2) What thoughts have been sparked in your mind as a result of Cleto’s story? What is your plan of action?

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