How To Wait, How To Beg, How And When To Curse
Doing business in Antigua!
When at 29 I travelled to establish Nigeria’s first black and Nigerian owned Travel & Tour company, Pan- African Travel,& Tours Ltd. located at the Mainland Hotel in Lagos, I was so confident and assured, I knew it was a piece of cake, I could do it! Before I knew it I crashed headlong into a cultural wall where even my black skin failed to cover my language, my style of dress, my urgency, and most of all my lack of knowledge on what opens doors.
I had to learn the Nigerian way and put away practically everything I had learned about doing business in Antigua and the Caribbean.
Traveling about the length of Antigua for appointments in the heart of Lagos took four or more hours in the line of traffic ‘go slow’ as we inched along the road, thereby allowing two appointments per day if the traffic allowed, I had to learn to wait.
I not-so-jokingly refer to that stage as my undergraduate certification in learning to wait.
Getting to see important people in Government and the European business owners required knowing how to beg.
This ability is a prerequisite for working anywhere on the continent of Africa, and is not learned easily by persons born outside the culture, and my ancestry as mixed as it is, was not even recognized, as an authoritative approach makes begging difficult.
I had to learn the right tone of voice, the correct dropping to the knee, or both knees, as I implored ‘Oga’ to hear my request.
Having conquered the two most gratifying business aides to success in Africa, I completed my business education with the philosophy of the curse, and sometimes just to cuss. This course was learned from Lagos Taxi drivers, such an international body of road warriors, that Honda made the’Civic’ specifically for them.
Learning to curse included the actions which went with the curse, and a mad enough taxi driver would not just push his claw shaped hands out the car windows and maybe even a foot, cursing the mother of the offender, the worst of curses; or even worse to call him mad or crazed.
So whereas my friends and associates of my youth were educated in the culture of UWI/Caribbean, USA, Canada and Europe, I received my business education in Nigeria where education is practical and on the job.
What is learned in the West must be converted in order to be practical and usable in the developing world, and the consciousness of my African experience is at the core of my business experience. Make it happen, by any means necessary!
The time has come for the Caribbean to send more students to Africa where they can learn the culture of business by utilizing ‘get-it-done by any means necessary.’
The Author of this opinion has chosen to remain anonymous.