#13. Of Whiners and Whinees
Ghana’s Deputy Trade Minister Robert Ahomka Lindsay cannot understand why expat Ghanaians bitch and moan so much when they return to Ghana. He can’t stand the “Oh my gosh, it’s so hot” “Oh my gosh, the roads are terrible” “Oh my word, why don’t we have electricity?” “There’s no water running from the taps” and most annoyingly….don’t hit him with the ” Oh my GOD, nothing works in this bloody country. It took me 7 days to get something small done that could have taken me 20 minutes in London/New York/Cape Town/Abidjan.”
It’s not that he doesn’t understand where the expats are coming from since he’s one himself, but he’s been in the system long enough so he knows that whining about the crap doesn’t solve any problems.
And, being the diplomatic genius he is, he decided to tell a gathering of several hundred participants at a gathering of Ghanaian expats during the recently held Diaspora homecoming summit.
Pity he used the word ‘whining’; he could have made a real hit if he hadn’t come across as such an insufferable ass.
Yes, what I said is offensive but it’s no where near as offensive as being told that the issues and challenges I face as an expat in my country is me ‘whining’ like a little bitch who has nothing bettet to do with her time.
Seriously, if you live in Europe or America or (closer to home) South Africa for any stretch of time, it takes an enormous amount of love to pack up and move back home because…..nothing works the way you expect it to. Ever.
One of my cousins who is a trained nurse living in the UK wants to move back so badly she’s chewing her finger nails off. But she can’t because when she submits her CV to the Ministry of Health they give her the run around. And they’ve been giving her the go-come, go-come treatment for months now.
And it’s not like we’re bursting from the seams with trained nurses….but it seems no one wants to help her out without a little something lining their pockets first.
Moving to Accra after years abroad is not a huge a culture shock because of the influx of cafes and coffee shops and shopping malls. But there are still some things that take a whole to get used to.
Like unreliable Internet. Imagine running a business that depends almost entirely on the Internet and you can’t access your site because your ISP doesn’t have service where you live. And not that you live in Kasoa or something; you live in Dansoman.
Or how about moving back in June and realising that when it rains everything moves 20 times slower than it did before (which means for some places, nothing is happening. Rainy day = holiday)
Don’t get me started on Ghana Man Time which is legendary; now we tell people the event happens an hour before it actually does so we can guarantee that they’ll be there at least 20 minuts or 30 minutes into the event.
Traffic in Accra can be horrendous; in no small part due to the narrow roads and the pothole -riddled roads. Shoddy road construction is an art form in this part of the world.
And don’t get me started on the peeing; in Accra men think every other gutter is their toilet and happily relieve themselves when the urge strikes. In fairness, many women do too; but they tend to be more discreet. The guys on the other hand? Find the nearest tree or gutter, zip down, look around briefly then handle their business. When they’re done, they shake Big Willy and lock him away til further notice. If you lived in a city with available public toilets, all this free-range peeing will get on your last nerve.
Don’t get me wrong; to be an expat is a grand adventure for the most part but most of us agree that Ghana(our beloved country) could do so much better.
And that’s why we fly back, leave behind the trappings of another person’s development and come to figure out which role we can play in making sure Ghana gets to where we all need her to be – strong institutions, vibrant economy, African powerhouse.
And if we tell our leaders our complaints about a system that is basically a clusterfuck of poor planning and ad hoc decision-making, and they tell us “stop whining. ….nobody likes a whiner” we’ll decide whether to stay or travel back to where systems work, my ‘whining’ is addressed and the skill set that took us many years to acquire and earns 10 or 15 times more money than we would make in Ghana
And if you think the diasporans are simply complaining……imagine if it was a summit for Western European investors and they enumerated the samended concerns the diasporans did. Would they be informed that “nobody likes whiners. Stop whining” ?
He would have known how to frame his words like someone who was raised by parents and not by wolves.