In my previous life, I used to see my director every morning on the train. He would get on at Southwark station and we would both alight at Waterloo and take the walk down the road to the office. There would be no driver to pick him up, he would walk like the rest of us. Yes, he made more money than me, but his house was paid for out of his salary, his travel ticket was paid out of his salary. The most that would happen is that he would travel on a first class ticket if he were to go on the train or on a plane for work related activities. But hey, if I travelled with a lawyer, so would I.
Africa used to be the place that management would dread to come to. Threats of kidnapping and political unrest, they even worried if it was worth the extra cash. Now it is the place to be, and they still get their risk allowance. Top management get free accommodation, a Pajero, driver, house help, all the perks that help them feel as if they are not even living in Africa. They get the corporate credit card, membership to the top hotels and resorts (by virtue of their position). They are living the life, having to go back when their time is up is depressing because here they are king.
The country manager of Nigeria says he wants his product by June, everybody rushes around like headless chickens to make this happen. The market head says he needs a new car, the following day, it is there. The business executive’s wife says she is bored, she wants to do a degree. Done. They are living the life.
I went to the former supply chain manager’s house when he hosted a party shortly before he left, the house could be used as a palace for a movie. It had 5 rooms, a swimming pool, summer hut, space to park at least 6 cars, it was beautiful.
The present supply chain manager, he can be found at any of the hotel’s in Ghana. He left his wife back in his home country and has a different babe on his arm every night.
I heard a story of an expat manager in Nigeria. When he was picking out his car it had to have all the mod cons, because he didn’t want to disgrace himself amongst all the big shots in Nigeria. Another manager, not long after he was sent back to his home country after his assignment in Ghana, resigned and took on another job which brought him back. My director is now a chief in a village in Ghana, I’m sure many of the others are too. Palm wine and everything served on a plate free of charge any time he goes to this village.
In my company there is one African in top management, his is the most successful business of them all. He knows the people, he knows the market. The obroni’s come in, try to cut and paste what they have learnt in Europe, yet still when their time is up they are replaced with another obroni because, well I’m let to figure that one out.
That’s why we need more people like you and me, those that have had the exposure and can do the job better than what we have now. I don’t know why everyone is striving to go outside of Africa when we have so many reaches here for which other nationals are taking advantage of. We go outside and study and get stuck there, meanwhile our colleagues who have no ties here come here and are living the life that only celebrities can match.
Why would you want to live in a tiny flat with only one bathroom and hustle to get on the district line or number 12 bus when you can be chilling under the sun, with a cold drink of your choice, served by your house girl. I wouldn’t even worry about the traffic if I had a driver taking me to and from work in an air conditioned car.
We have the knowledge, we have the skills, what’s stopping us from utilising our rich resources that everyone else seems to be enjoying except us.