Please Oga, don’t take it personal…it’s not about you, it’s about me!

I’ve offended Sammy B. Had a bit too much of the gin and juice and may have said something which had cause to upset him. I apologised to him after, I don’t know what exactly it is I said because I was on a high rambling at 100mph, but I don’t think it was accepted.

For those of you who don’t know. Sammy B is one of Ghana’s celebrities. I couldn’t tell you exactly what for. I never watch Big Brother Africa because like the whole BB franchise I just don’t have time for wannabes and has-beens but I understand he was on BBA twice. I have probably offended him with my last comment about wannabes and has-beens, but please don’t be offended. That’s just my opinion on BB not you in particular.
Why am I bringing up this subject when I can’t even remember what was said. Well, I found out about my alleged indiscretion (I say alleged because I don’t insult random people without basis), because he ‘went to report me’ to a third party. Due to the respect I have for this third person, and because I prefer to get drank without any animosity, I apologised. He said ‘it’s ok’, when clearly his tone was saying ‘how dare you, do you know who I am’. However, is it me, or are Ghanaians super sensitive, and why do they prefer the alleged guilty party to hear that they have done them wrong through Chinese Whispers, rather than going to the person direct. This incident with Sammy B has not been uncommon with other Ghanaians throughout my 5 years here. The only difference is, usually I am stone cold sober when I ‘offend’ people.

Now I know that I am a bitch, I say what is on my mind, and usually I should apply tact when I speak. However, I am not malicious, I say what needs to be said, or if I am pushed to say it. Maybe once or twice, I may go too far, I am only human, just let me know. If I use some examples to illustrate my point, then I leave it to you to decide whether it is the case of a gobby cow who should think before she speaks, or a hypersensitive Ghanaian who really could do with looking at the bigger picture.

Case 1:
It was my first day in my new job in Ghana. My then boss had asked me to start work three days earlier as they were holding an induction for new employees. He omitted to tell HR however, and the HR coordinator did not know how to set the system three days back. Instead of finding this information out however, she asked me if I wouldn’t mind NOT being paid for those three days. So I ask her, very politely, and in a low, soft voice ‘if it were you in this situation, would you’. The following Monday, I was taken aside by the one person at the time, who didn’t think I was a spy, to tell me that HR girl said I spoke to her harshly. When I explained the situation, I was told, ‘you know, in the Ghanaian culture, what you said may cause offence, of course I know how things work in UK but you know….’

Now I thought, I was being calm, I could have looked her dead in the eye and told her that I am not here to do charity work and that she should get up off her fat arse and find out how they were going to pay me else give me her ATM card so I could take the money I’m owed from her account (which is what I really wanted to say). However, I thought I would put it to her in the hopes that maybe she would have some empathy for my situation. I spent the whole year, however being branded ‘harsh British lady’.

Case 2:
I had moved to the Central and West African Office. I had to write an email to the Ghana office requesting information. Now I wasn’t writing a love letter neither was I writing a letter to my best friend in West London. It was a professional email requesting information that should have been sent weeks earlier. A phone call from the Ghana office to my colleague, and again I was pulled aside. Apparently my email was too abrupt. I did not use Dear… or Hi… when addressing the email, just the person’s name. So immediately I sounded annoyed. I did not ask if the person slept well or ask how the family or cats and dogs were doing, just went straight in and asked for the information. I did not ‘Kindly request’, I simply said ‘In reference to the above, please forward the necessary documents’. I am not sure if I was supposed to use please or mi pa wo kyo at the beginning of each sentence, but it sounded like I was annoyed. I didn’t beg the person to do the job that they are paid to do and I used ‘Regards’ and not ‘Best/Kind Regards’, so I sounded annoyed. That’s how it is done in Ghana.
It’s not like I said ‘Oi, pleb, you were supposed to send me this information weeks back but you are an incompetent fool, try and do the job that you are paid to do so that I can do mine’ (which is what I wanted to say). However once again, I was branded harsh.

Case 3:
I had a meeting with my direct report, I had designed a nice template for her to send out her reports because basically, the one she was sending out was a load of rubbish. All she had to do was fill in the blanks. She said that it was too much work for her. So I took out a pad and pen, asked her to walk me through her day (it was basically entering orders into a computer as an when the sales team requested). I was then pulled aside by HR, you guessed it, I had come across as too harshly. Now it’s not like I told her that she was the laziest person in the world and if I had my way she would be sacked (which is what I wanted to say). But apparently there is a formula for talking to the Ghanaian person which the memo has eluded me for 5 years now so I just keep offending people.

Back to this Sammy B case. I can’t for the life of me remember what I was said, and I don’t know if it is because of what I said, or because he is a ‘celebrity’ (your status is a big thing in Ghana). What I do know though is, is that 1. It can’t have been important as I would have remembered, 2. Although we are jovial I cannot call him a friend that I would have been having a one on one conversation with him so 3. It must have been a flyaway comment which he took to heart. From what I can understand it was something to do with me saying something about quality women. So it was probably more me elevating myself than putting him down. Why, because I am vain like that, it’s taken me 30+ years, but I am in a position where I believe in myself so much that I don’t believe there are many that can match me…lol. However, Efia has gone and done it again, offended someone because I just don’t know how to speak to Ghanaian people and/or he being hypersensitive.

So, henceforth, I am going to keep my big mouth shut, speak when I am spoken to, well I will certainly try in any event.

I am still going to enjoy the old gin and juice on occasion because based on the above I have offended more people when sober than when drunk. I will just make sure that when I do, if he is around, I am sitting on the other side of the table, surrounded by the few Ghanaians who know me enough to know that when I talk, it is not out of malice, I am not intending to insult anyone. I am just saying things how I see it through my eyes.
So in conclusion, I just want to say. If anyone has been on the receiving end, or has been in my position, I just want to get the job done, or get my point across. Don’t take it personal.

Well, I’m off to still on the jobseeker trail (will update you another time on that subject) so I will use my remaining internet credit to browse jobsinghana.
Until the next time

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About efiasworld

The black Bridget Jones and an English woman in Ghana
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2 Responses to Please Oga, don’t take it personal…it’s not about you, it’s about me!

  1. YK says:

    I know you wrote this months back but I am just refamiliarising myself with your older entries. Nobody and I mean NOBODY in this land of Ghana offends more people than me. If its the way I walk, the way I talk, what I say, the way I chew my gum, the way I laugh or the occasional F-Bomb (they have been coming more and more frequently since I moved here) I offend somebody. Infact I am so used to it that if I don’t piss off at least 10 people in a week I think I’m slipping! All jokes aside, its hard here when you were born and raised in London- best advice like you said is just to keep quiet- but its not sustainable….

    • efiasworld says:

      you have given me the biggest jokes today. It definitely must be a London thing…lol

      I am trying to keep my mouth shut, but it seems just like my diet, I end up cheating then vowing I will do it tomorrow…haha

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