All Fours Blues

All Fours Blues

By N Oji Mzilikazi

August 8, 2012

I am a fan of All Fours, and I can’t play to save my life. I am also a member of Mafsoca (Montreal All Fours Social and Cultural Association) whose origins go back to the 70s.

Last August, Mafsoca launched the first annual Montreal All Fours Round Robin Tournament. In doing so, Montreal joined the Round Robin All Fours circuit of Toronto, Boston and New York.

Round Robin Tournaments attract Canadian and American All Fours teams in fiery and friendly competition.

Immediately after Mafsoca’s Round Robin debut, the club president, Mr. Henry Antoine resigned. It was followed by the club’s secretary, Ms. Lynette Edwards. Treasurer Arnold Paris simply quit. Members loyal to that clique parted ways with the club as well.

Mafsoca’s Round Robin debut was not without bacchanal, commess, administrative arrogance, the president arrogating unto himself the full powers of the executive and membership, financial improprieties, and shoddy accounting.

The departed president is one of those who suffer from prime ministeritis/presidentitis. It’s the syndrome of persons believing they are most capable leader, they must be in charge, and they know what is best for everyone.

The tact of the victims of the disease is to recruit malleable minds and ingratiate themselves to the most vulnerable. By surrounding themselves with people who cannot come up with an original thought, they have a clique of followers and toadies. Thus, when they can’t have their way in an organization, they’d take their cronies and form their own.

Once, back in the 80s, Montreal had two carnivals on the same day, and going in different directions. Our ex-president was at the helm of one. Just recently – Montreal Carnival was suspended in 2010 because two groups, one with our ex-president at its helm were contesting the rights to manage the carnival. The case went to court and our ex-president and “his people” lost.

Mafsoca’s former president has a long résumé of being president in other organizations, and can boast of business and municipal contacts. He contributed nothing to Mafsoca for the seven years he was an ordinary member – not even an idea. He regularly interrupted and undermined general meetings with jokes. The minute he was voted president, presidentitis manifested itself.

Without respect to the club’s Constitution, and without scheduling a special meeting for any amendments, he changed the fiscal year of Mafsoca. Also, he added a member-at-large position to the executive – and club members gladly went along with the changes.

The person accepted in the newly-created position was his “All Fours playing pardner.” In no time at all, that member-at-large became Mafsoca’s treasurer.

Mafsoca is a membership organisation managed by a Board of Directors. It is the president job to see to it that all decisions, orders, or resolutions coming from the floor are carried into effect.

In spite of repeated objections, the president went on to resurrect a name used by the club back in the 80s. He included it on our stationary and on the Round Robin trophies.

Membership decided against one of the trophies the president wanted for the Round Robin. On the day of the Round Robin, that trophy was most visible.

Like any organization mindful of transparency, disbursement of funds is only mandated by the Executive with the approval of the general membership. But when people bright, shenanigan is the order of the day.

Six weeks after the fact, the members of Mafsoca and some of its executives found out that the club’s bank account was raped to pay down on the venue for the Round Robin.  While the president’s John Hancock’s was not on the cheque, one of the persons who signed it was without authority.

After the Round Robin, the treasurer presented a mickey mouse financial, and promised a more detailed and an audited report. Ten months later I had to call him up to get the club books.

He didn’t have the common courtesy to return its books to us, and we have been meeting at the same place every Friday night for the past eight years. When I collected them, there was simply a cheque book, a receipt book, and Mafsoca’s stamp.

There was no detailed report or any report of the Round Robin, and no audited statement. There was not a single scrap of paper concerning the bar sales of the Round Robin. Some of the cheque stubs were devoid of information – and to know the treasurer has certification in the accounting business.

With the scarcity of financial documents pertaining to the Round Robin, how can one not conclude that financial improprieties took place – Mafsoca’s books were curried, stewed, boiled, jerked and barbequed.

The fear of impeachment led the president to resign immediately after the Round Robin. And he kept all the materials generated by Mafsoca for the Round Robin – namely, the huge banners and scoreboards. The fear of accountability led to the treasurer quitting.

The Secretary is the official custodian of the records, charter and seal. It is the secretary’s duty to ensure that all books, reports, certification, documents, and records required by law are properly kept and filed.

When the secretary resigned, she immediately gave us the Charter, but not a piece of correspondence including the contact information of all the All Fours teams in the United States and Canada that was in her possession, as well as of those who hold the Round Robin in Toronto, New York and Boston, or previously recorded minutes.

Then we discovered the Charter was in arrears. Its annual fee wasn’t paid in two years. How can we as a people make gains when those who know better – our stewards don’t care to do better?

True to form, the departed president emerged with a new All Fours club – The Montreal United Sports and Cultural Association with the expressed purpose of hijacking the Montreal Round Robin tournament from Mafsoca.

With an entrance fee of $600 per team, a winning purse of $5000, participants, team supporters and onlookers in the hundreds for the two day event, and a cash bar; the club hosting a Round Robin stands to make a couple pennies.

Since the president is empowered to manage the affairs of the organization – is the one in contact with those that count, and knowing full well that Mafsoca had no contact names and numbers for the various All Fours associations; he hijacked Mafsoca’s Round Robin and made it HIS property.

Consider: Mafsoca’s Round Robin was scheduled for 2012, and slated to be a joint venture between Renegades, a Toronto All Fours club and Mafsoca. The agreement hammered out by the executives of Renegades and Mafsoca, in a Toronto hotel room in 2010. Mafsoca held elections. In seeing the financial windfall from the Round Robin, the new president refused to honour the agreement.

He then opted to have the Round Robin in 2011 rather than 2012, though the club was still not financially prepared, and lacked the manpower to handle the task.

Since the club’s secretary and the ex-president remained executives in the new administration, the claim of ignorance cannot be made. Since the ex-president had no qualms shafting Renegades, why would he have a prick of conscience towards Mafsoca?

At Toronto’s 2011 Round Robin, I witnessed the president of Renegades being hostile to Mafsoca’s past president who was one of those that brokered the agreement, and another member. He felt cheated and betrayed. Though they told him what went down, Mafsoca’s name was the one sullied by the lack of integrity – not its then president.

The hijacking of the Round Robin by its ex-president placed Mafsoca in the same cheated and betrayed position of Renegades. To add insult to injury, Mafsoca wasn’t given an invite to the Montreal Round Robin tournament.

In the spirit of letting bygones be bygones – moving forward, I called our former president, and whispered to him that from a business perspective, it was stupid of him not to send us an invite, and he should. He said that he didn’t want to do that and be rejected by us. Who was the victim in all of this? Certainly not him.

Is only Black people “does” think that way. Is only Black people “does tote feelings” and let it come in the way of making a dollar. That sort of backwardness gets us nowhere, and then we want to complain about other ethnics who show solidarity with their own even when at odds with one another. Yes, Mafsoca can refuse to participate, but if the club decided to take part, $600 is in his pocket.

If our ex-president had an iota of integrity and any intelligence, he would not only have invited Mafsoca, but waived the entry fee as a way of making amends. Through his avarice, the club lost every penny in its bank account – monies that he repeatedly promised to repay, even if he had to take it out of his own pockets, and we having no clear knowledge and understanding of what really went down financially with the Round Robin.

In spite of my entreaties, the ex-president refused to send our club an invite unless it was officially requested.

Understanding the ego games of mental midgets as well as the concept of “stoop to conquer,” I invoked my position as the current club secretary, and asked for the invite. He made it clear to me that I must let the members of Mafsoca know I officially asked him for it.

When he emailed me the invite, his cover letter spelt out it was at my request. Childish like, he told everyone he knew, including members of Mafsoca that I asked for it. My supposed humbling was such a feather in his cap, he gloated about it to Mafsoca’s current president – and in front of my face.

Some members of Mafsoca felt I was wrong to ask for the invite – given the damage our ex-president did to the club.

My reason was simply: Our club is in the All Fours business. We have attended Round Robin in New York, Boston, and Toronto. It’s only fair that if a Round Robin is happening in our backyard, our members should be given the opportunity to participate if they want to or not. Being the bigger person and asking for the invite was no skin off my back.

Imagine, Mafsoca having to beg for an invite to something that was originally theirs. Since the time of my asking was too short to get a membership vote, and Mafsoca is in the rebuilding process, Mafsoca had no choice but to sit this Round Robin out.

Good luck to Mr. Henry Antoine and the 2012 Montreal Round Robin. Ah hope de food eh sour this year as it was last year

Update:

August 13, 2012

Both the president of Mafsoca and I were most visible at the Round Robin held this past weekend. Since the former president told our treasurer that “no one knows us,” our task was to make ourselves kown. We reconnected with old acquaintances, and gave out business cards with contact information for Mafsoca.

Interestingly, the huge banner above the table with the trophies sported Montreal All Fours Social and Cultural Association (Mafsoca) in big and bold letters. We have a supporting photograph. Our ex-president forgot to paint over it and put the name of his new club in its place.