Menelik’s was named after its proprietor. Located in the northern outskirts of Addis Ababa, Menelik’s little bar had been a favorite stopover for travelers coming to and from the city for 29 years, since he first opened the place at the end of the Ethiopian Civil War. His business had been doing better than ever for the past sixteen months or so, since the Chinese construction titan Gezhouba Construction Group begun building a mine a few miles to the northwest. Despite the money they brought in, Menelik and many others in the community were wary of the Chinese and their colossal strip mine, which was noisy, ugly, and catastrophic to the local ecology, including the ecology of human communities.
Ma Bufang was one of these Chinese interlopers, but Menelik liked him because, unlike many of his compatriots, he spoke Amharic, not fluently, but well enough to hold a conversation. What Menelik did not know was that it was Ma Bufang’s job to be just nice enough to be liked, and then forgotten. Like most spies, he was trained and conditioned to be charming, but unassuming.