Why solidarity is a challenge among some in the African communities

building in progressThe idea to pop in to our nearest DIY shop only took on out of being asked to wait for another hour to get the car’s headlights aligned in order to have it pass its annual MOT.  Otherwise, given the fact that I felt like death warmed over and the weather outside further compounding the pitiful situation, my bed would have been the better alternative straight after the necessary car service.

Topps Tiles is not a DIY shop I’ve frequented before although I have heard of it and seen their TV adverts.  Normally we head down to Homebase if we need to work on anything around the home.  But this time round given the vicinity to this particular one to the place our car was being serviced, and the awful weather, we found ourselves dropping in. It was purely out of curiosity on my part – but also to get out of the rain and cold I must admit.

I have to say, this “window shopping” episode turned out to be quite an eye-opener. I am not saying I’m leaving Homebase – that would be silly given that they do have more of a range on offer in their stores.  But when it comes to specialisation in the tiles or wood flooring, I am won over by Topps Tiles.  We were very impressed by the range of services they had but more so, their sales staff who went out of their way to give us full attention, guidance and advise, even throwing in a free DIY DVD that trains you how to lay tiles etc!  It is a pity the costs of exporting most of what we want to use abroad in another building project outweighs our budget, but if this wasn’t the case, I would most definitely buy and export.  Still we were very impressed by all we learnt and saw.

The sales person giving me a set of business cards for people who could come and lay the tiles down for us after purchase brought me to recall a fellow Ugandan in the diaspora who is in this line of work.  I was about to start searching through my contacts when something my husband said stopped me. You see, being a very private individual, my husband is very cautious about who he allows in to our home – especially if they happen to be from Uganda. Experience has made him evolve to guard his private dealings.  Some of this caution I have come to appreciate stems from the lack of confidentiality or inability to isolate in a professional manner what is work, from social affairs of discourse.

Perhaps it is a cultural thing from having lived abroad for so long by both us in that it is disconcerting to head to a shop to purchase something and for the owner or sales person of the shop to lay claim to knowing you so well that he/she will happily share this knowledge (sometimes imagined or assumed) with whomever pops along or cares to listen. Or to expect you to know so and so in the Ugandan community, the current politics of this and that etc…basically the assumed social elements that appear to be so natural but which unfortunately come across as intrusive if not inquisitive.

My guess is that this is why most Africans shy away from utilizing their kinsmen. This, or the old adage: familiarity breeds contempt.  It is easier to pay someone to come do a job you’ve contracted them to and not worry about them using the opportunity to fill up on information for their social networks as to who is who and what they do or have to anyone willing to give audience.

Lack of professionalism in relation to undertaking work of any kind remains any to some persons and sadly this is not just in contractual work of this nature alone, but in other areas such as in nursing and beyond. It is partly why most persons in the African communities would not share the causes of their illness or any social issues.  This is costing Africans solidarity in being able to pool together resources, skills and finances that would bring about sustained positive empowerment and development.

I would dearly love to utilise the skills of my fellow kinsmen but how can I obtain guarantee that their only stake in working the job given is to ensure it is restricted to just that without coming across as being a snob or a pompous individual?

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How are you feeling- What’s on your mind?

The above questions are most often found in surveys or questionnaires that are seeking to gauge our frame of mind at any given moment in one’s life – mostly after one has met usually with a mental crisis and is about to be carted off to the guys in white uniforms. Either that, or your employers wanting to check to see if you can still do the job at minimal cost to them. The latter (what’s on your mind?), more so on the commonly used and globally accessed social network – Facebook. This is actually a form of self-help, do-it-yourself therapy give or take with some followers who will chip in to add their ingredients to solving your mind’s wanderings. Sometimes it helps; sometimes it just makes it worse depending on the level of extremity of action/words taken.

How are you feeling?

How are you feeling?

In all, such questions try to get you to open up, or express your internal goings on without actually giving you a “get-well-now” pill. Generally known as therapy, this word is becoming the living mantra in the lives we find ourselves in. It is widely recommended for all age groups and spreads out even to other non-human species. Sometimes humans exploit other species but this is often justified once again as therapy. You have dolphin and elephant etc..therapy for the terminally ill; then you have dog or cat therapy for domestic pets for humans who just don’t seem to get along with their own kind preferring other species instead.

Sometimes pet versus human therapy is because the humans prefer to own an animal that never grows up to answer back at them after months or years of punishing parenting following on from the incubation woes and sleepless nights. Think about it, a cat/dog will not give you teenage strung grief and then wait in the wings to knock you on the head so it inherits your belongings. It is just satisfied in the “moment” of where it’s next meal will be coming from and perhaps somewhat a bit of will your feelings mean I don’t get to eat or be taken out for a walk? Not being Dr Doolitle, I can’t be certain however. The “how are you feeling right now and what’s on your mind” is not a preliquiste to bonding with you.

Often I cringe when I switch on Facebook and that status question stares back at me. Usually when I’m too tired and just don’t even have enough battery power to type in all the garbage floating in my head. Anger like a dripping tap at times is how I feel just by looking at that status question. What’s the point of wanting to get me to type what my thoughts are? Ok. So I want to have access to £50k of funds to enable me to treat those who cannot afford health – how is putting this up on the status going to result in giving me that right and then? True it most often creates some positive response leads, but most often than most, it joins the pile of so many others alike before advising me which charities, which organisations which grants are out there like the billion stars one can see but not be able to actually reach out and grab a hold of. Yet some people make it so I shouldn’t knock it. But still. This status question makes it seem so easy…and I have been warned about stuff which claim to be easy!