Captive market: consultant, his girlfriend and kidnapper.
This is a story about a man who is trying to plan the unthinkable: what would he do if his girlfriend was kidnapped?
When Yaw arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, as a business consultant for an international company, he noticed that many of the people he met had been kidnapped. Either they were kidnapped or they knew someone.
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy, and the growth has spawned a shadow industry that kidnaps ransom. Nigeria ranks fifth in the world in kidnapping cases. However, this is a personal story, insistence and yaw. In one case, a celebrity plastic bag was melted down because his family did not pay enough ransoms.
These stories made Yaw afraid of his American girlfriend, Emily. What if she gets kidnapped? Yaw, originally from Ghana in west Africa, was the son of a civil servant. “They want money,” he said. “I don’t have much money.”
Emily wasn’t worried. She is taking standard safety precautions. But, as Emily has told you, Yaw can take an analytical approach to almost everything. Even if she just wanted to vent a bad day, he was still analyzing what went wrong. “Sometimes he says, ‘do you want me to be your boyfriend or do you want me to be an advisor now? ‘she said with a smile. “Most of the time the answer is I want you to be my boyfriend!”
Yaw put on his advisor’s hat to deal with his fear of being kidnapped by Emily. What if he analyzed the abductions, such as his analysis of the African industry in his daily work? By understanding their economic strength and vulnerability, can he protect Emily from kidnapping?
Yaw began interviewing kidnappers in prison. And then the victim. The victim’s family. Private security services. A lawyer. A politician. The police. He thought that if he were a kidnapper, he would run his own business.
He was surprised at the cost of taking hostages. They have to pay for the guards and the cooks. They have to pay back the police. And because the kidnappers tend to leave behind a victim in every hiding place, he says, there is an opportunity cost. When you hide a hostage in a hiding place, you can’t hold another hostage.
So imagine that you are the family member of the other side of the ransom negotiation. “If you can wait a while, for your family members… ‘listen, we’re still trying to find the money, and we’ll need a few more days,’ the ransom will be significantly reduced.
Yaw never put his theory into practice. Mark courtney is now semi-retired in South Africa, but he has been a hostage and ransom negotiator for more than a decade. He never lost a hostage.
Then the ransom will rise.
On the other hand, courtney says it’s important not to bargain. The kidnappers may study your financial situation when they target you. They may know you’re cheating on them.
More importantly, courtney says it is very dangerous for any family member to try to negotiate with the kidnappers, no matter how much they study the game.
When a business consultant like Yaw analyzes an industry, his key advantage is distance. He parachuted into the company, without prejudice, because of previous relationships or fear of the future. He offers advice and leaves. The terrible thing about kidnapping is that no matter what your analysis is, all reasonable distances are lost as long as you make a phone call.
Note: to protect their safety, we agree to use names only for Yaw and Emily.