an English man in Africa

I put the above title, because I met two in the past two days, one white, one black, both with similar personalities.

So last night, in the end, I went to meet lawyer guy. Curiosity got the better of me, and he had already made it clear that he was only looking for a friend (even if he had seen my profile, so thought why not, he’s only here for two weeks so if it turns out that he’s not worth my time, it’s better I find out now.

Now before I start, I had spoken to him on the phone a few days. To be honest, he sounded like a white guy, probably called Graham with spectacles who wears an anorak or that Harry Enfield character (for those of you my age) Tim nice but dim. If I didn’t know he was a black man, that’s how I’d picture him. So we met, he’s very middle english, supports the conservative government (I am a true red), has political aspirations if the NPP comes back into power and was riding the bus to Kumasi so that he could relate with the locals. He complained about the noise, he had a headache (he had forgotten his anti-malaria and was started to get paranoid I think). We went to Vienna city for a drink, he drank water, I asked the waitress for every soda on the menu for which she said “sorry, we don’t have”, so I settled on a shot of baileys.

He complained about the environment, his headache some more, the price of everything, but yet still he said he could settle here. Well, I hope he puts his money where his mouth is and comes over, we need more people who are expats Ghanaians who will not siphon the money back to their home countries who are willing to help in this crusade to change the world.

I dropped him at the VIP bus station and went home, got home about 11.30 full of some energy which refused to let me sleep. No sooner had I dozed off and the alarm was bellowing to remind me that it was another round of workshops.

It was a struggle but made it into work at 6.15, my body wanted to go find somewhere and sleep until it was time to go back to the hotel, but my head was begging me to finish my presentation so that I wouldn’t have to do it in the evening. The head prevailed. At 8.15 I sent the presentation to my boss and by 8.24 I was on my way to the African Regent. Managed to make it in 6 minutes and with heels too. Well wedges, I’ve managed the art of walking a fair distance in them, yet to do it in 6 inch heels, especially on the Accra pavement. Around the airport area you do get ‘nicely’ paved roads but they haven’t been maintained since the last administration so if you don’t watxh well you may find yourself foot stuck in a hole. Which is why I found it strange that people were staring at me while I was power walking to the hotel. I know, they were thinking why is this girl walking when she probably owns a car, but if they were to fall over, I wasn’t going to be the one to help them up. Luckily no casualties from either party.

I got there in time for the first presentation from the head of the zone. Well actually I was a few minutes late and I could feel the supply chain manager throwing daggers with his eyes, but it is not like I was in bed, I was working. It takes him a matter of seconds to get to the hotel from his free accommodation, the others were lodging in the hotel so didn’t have far to come so he should cut me some slack.

After the break, one English guy called Roger presented on behalf of South Africa. He came across as your usual pompous middle english manager. He mentioned that his factory stopped for the christmas and this was affecting his stock. But he had put measures in place to eradicate this. The business should not stop because of the holidays. They had to find a way to make it run FULL STOP! As if he had come to show these poor black folk how to run their operations. I really wished they would send him to this region and try that. Speak to a Nigerian man in that manner and you might literally find yourself being held to ransom.

This spurred me to talk. Me too I have a British accent, not acquired but by birth just as this guy, and fired about 10 questions one after the other. It was more than an interrogation than questions as my colleagues told me later laughingly, but it was a bit like how dare you. If we are going to talk performance Indicators, the whole Africa, the West coast came up tops and whatever I say about man child boss, he has a good team who know the balance between demand and supply and it showed.

After his quite intense presentation (my supply chain manager had kind of got mad at him over some explanation he said “why you say that when it is no showing in your results”, “let me I explain you how it is”, Turkish guy who when he knows his stuff makes sure he explains it you.) We went for lunch. The menu was slightly different from yesterday but the monkfish was still there. I settled on potatoes and steak with a bit of vegetables. At least if the beef was rare I wouldn’t turn green. Not bad, but I had gone overboard with the starter which would have been sufficient enough, but how many times do I eat out on the company’s bill.

We started our presentations after lunch, I was up first. Can you believe it, I was so fixated on the buttons to press on the pointer that everything I was going to say flew out of my head. It started of really well as well, made a point that the category was the second biggest pillar for profit, got a laugh, the next thing I knew I’m like a village girl who has been asked to sit behind a computer for the first time. Managed to get my points across but it could have gone so much better. What made it worse was that school prefect did hers perfectly, yeah I’m bitter.

But it’s over now. I got through the day, and managed to even finish on time. Made a special point to say goodbye to Roger and make it known that I too was an expat here, but unlike him had achieved my KPI’s, including my own house and car which was not a temporary thing until the next assignment in the short time I had arrived, ok so could do with his salary but I’ll get there. He kind of mellowed when he realised I was “british”, before that he had pretty much kept himself to himself, and the big bosses of course. I am not exactly sure why they have an expat running this department especially when all the other heads were local people, but SA is a special case.

Did a bit of profiling, maybe one day I too will be presenting to my fellow Africans from top management. The British accent was a bit of an ice-breaker, I suppose I love the fact that I can turn it on and get myself noticed without having to do much. It really was a worthwhile workshop even though I complained, and man child boss said my presentation was ok but others were better. That’s ok I said, in his presentation he mentioned that he was expecting the categories to stay for at least 3 years. So I reminded him that I had only 6 months more to go, kwasiasem.

So I got back to the office, the intention was to polish off my presentation. However, I did not hear from my boss (the other one), instead I got a message from the other category boss. Now if I give a quick overview. I manage dairy, it is split into 2 parts, and the french bird manages the other part. Normally we have separate workshops but this time its together.

My brain started working. First of all, I had expressed interest in moving to marketing and got the interview with this other guy (who still hasn’t made a decision by the way but that’s for another entry). My boss, would usually give me feedback straight away in any presentation but he keeps quiet. The french bird has been asked to manage the two categories in the event I moved to marketing. It’s all cloak and dagger stuff, but I think soon there is going to be one business manager and the other will be moving on. An attempt by the head to streamline the department but make it look like it is not just at the bottom that he will be trimming the edges. I’m all for it, one expat is like getting rid of 5 locals (at least). Only problem is, I think they are letting go of the wrong boss. Mine was a coward, he messed up in Senegal but he didn’t micro manage and where there is a problem he would make sure we pasted over the cracks with good cement.

This other one, he just seems a bit crazy to me. Always looking for blame instead of finding a solution. It looks like the holiday is over and we are back to the days when one crazy boss would spit fire and brimstones when he didn’t get his way. But oh well, 3 years and he will be gone. But what a long 3 years it would be. I am sure we will hear something by the end of this week, but until then I say nothing and make sure that I have my presentation correct and on point, don’t want another embarrassing pointer incident.

Well that’s all the drama for today. The corporate life, what fun. I’m home now and going to try and have an early night. Just two more days of the early starts and late finishes. I have already informed my boss’ that on Friday I will be in the office but not before 9am as 12-15 hour days are just not good for these old bones.

So good night y’all. What a day.

About efiasworld

A British Born Ghanaian navigating her way through life.
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