The Continent in International Business II
I’m typing this now while it’s still fresh in my mind and while I’m still seething, so forgive me. I just got out of my Comparative Management class. As in, just now. As in class ended fifteen minutes ago.
This is without a doubt the single most frustrating, infuriating, irritating, annoying, despairing, unbelievable, and completely incredulous experience of my entire academic life.
I took everyone’s advice from the last post and decided to take it up with the professor. I did that today after a fashion. We were discussing trade blocs (e.g. NAFTA), and I raised my hand and asked the professor why there were no African trade blocs on the screen such as ECOWAS (now I know ECOWAS isn’t purely a trade bloc, but it partly involves the ostensible free movement of goods, money, and individuals among its member states). The professor said that was a good question and then asked the class whether anyone had considered investing in Africa and why they would or would not invest in Africa.
And that was when all hell broke loose… in my head at least.
Please be aware that this is a 300 level class. In other words, this class is populated almost entirely by Juniors and Seniors (i.e. Third and Final year students). Based on this, the answers they started giving threatened to give me a mental break down.
Let me repeat that.
“But isn’t Africa’s only industry agriculture?”
“But the United States produces all the things that Africa produces so what would we want to buy from them?” [Yeah, and that’s the reason why people are dying every day in Congo so you can have your mobile phones and diamond engagement rings right?]
“But there are no banks in Africa.” [I kid you not. AND, this is the SECOND time I am hearing this particular one, in TWO completely different classes.]
“Isn’t there lots of crime going on there?” [Wow because the United States is sooooooo safe]
“But there are Somalian pirates all over the place.” [Yes, because Somalia stretches across the entire continent]
“But aren’t most Africans like illiterate? Like how will they be able to do business?” [Yes, but never mind the ‘African’ girl sitting IN FRONT OF YOU that answers all the professor’s questions correctly while most of you are still negotiating your nerve synapses]
“Who cares? It’s Africa”
“Last I heard, Africa’s government had collapsed.” [Yeah, because there is one government in Africa]
“But there’s genocide there.” [Yeah, genocide is just floating about in the air bumping off unsuspecting foreign investors in any corner of the continent]
“But Africa is an agrarian country” [he said it twice. Even after I said ‘but it’s a continent’]
“Mugabe won’t let us” [as if Mugabe is the president of Africa]
“Africa is really dangerous. There are diseases there.” [as if there are no diseases in any other part of the world]
“What’s the point? There’s no technology there.”[which of course is the reason I flew to school on the back of an ostrich. Or was it a flying giraffe?]
“But how will we understand the African dialect?” [But of course, Africa is a country and all Africans speak ONE AFRICAN DIALECT. Note, not language, but DIALECT. ]
These are all direct quotes from my classmates. They are still ringing in my ears. It’s that fresh. I couldn’t even find the energy to argue. It’s like one moment I was so angry, and the next I was in disbelief and shock and the next I suddenly felt so sad that I just put my head on the desk and covered my ears. It felt like if I heard anymore, I would cry.
I am completely appalled at the arrogance of these people. Yes, it is arrogance, egotism, and unparalleled self-centredness. How dare they sit there and feel comfortable not knowing even the first thing about Africa not to speak of Nigeria, yet they expect me to know everything about them and their countries and their economies?
I feel so disgusted right now. You have no idea. In my International Marketing class yesterday the professor asked the class to list all the African countries on a piece of paper. He didn’t give us enough time because we were trying to rush but that’s beside the point. The point is, when he said ‘stop’ I was on number 36. The next person after me had five countries. Five. FIVE!!!! That’s all you fucking know?? FIVE???
I listed 36 African countries and given enough time I would have finished writing the whole list. I can list at least 80% of the countries in ANY continent on this planet, and they all sit there feeling okay and satisfied, and FUCKING PROUD about being able to list a measly five African countries. Who the fuck do these people think they are? And why the fuck do I have to be the one to do double work to know all about them and myself while they don’t even do me the common courtesy of REMEMBERING that Africa is not even a country.
Things got even worse when he asked us to guess the populations of a number of countries he listed. Because I’m from Nigeria, the professor listed Nigeria as one of the countries along with Belgium (the country of those other boys I mentioned in the last post).
Majority of the class guessed the population of Nigeria to be under 10 million. Someone actually said the population of Nigeria is 2 million.
It’s not funny anymore. It is NOT FUNNY ANYMORE!!!!
I’m serious. I leave every class feeling defeated. Not just because of the level of ignorance and stupidity surrounding me, but because anyone that tries to correct their impressions of Africa is met with anger, indifference, and outright disregard. The professor had to literally beg them to listen to his explanation about economies in Africa. The looks on everyone’s faces suggested that most of them would rather be doing something, anything else, and that they thought the man was wasting their time. And this is not a class that anyone hates. Everyone in that class LOVES this class and this professor. We have so much fun in class, it’s unbelievable that it’s a high level class. Yet once the topic moves to Africa people pull out their phones and start texting, drawing in their notebooks, gisting with their friends, etc. Most people don’t even take notes because they feel they won’t need it.
And on top of everything, they now regard me as a bad person for daring to take the focus of the class away from their beloved Europe and shine the spotlight on Africa. I don’t really care what they think but being the class enemy is tiresome and something I’d rather avoid, only I can’t. I cannot in good conscience go through my business classes learning nothing about the continent. It would be cheating myself. But I don’t know how to deal with this, I really don’t. Every class that otherwise would be amazing is leaving me feeling like shit. It’s like I just realised for real this time that in the eyes of most non-Africans, we don’t mean shit. In their eyes, we’re not even worth the gum stuck under their shoe.
It just hit me so hard. We Africans have to work SO HARD for these idiotic people to accept us. We have to learn about them, we have to speak their language, we have to adopt elements of their culture, we play their instruments, we play their sports, hell, we even straighten our hair and bleach our skin and give our children stupid sounding names in their languages just to accommodate them, only to have them throw it in our faces like it’s nothing. Where is the reciprocity? All this talk about globalization is crap. It’s not globalization, it’s Westernization parading as globalization. Globalization implies equal exchange of ideas, trade, information, culture, etc across all borders not the general conglomeration of everyone culture wise and everything else wise towards the West. What makes me so angry is not even the fact that I know all this stuff about Europe and America but that none of them think we’re worth learning about. They can’t be bothered. To them we’re insignificant, yet every day we figuratively throw ourselves at their feet. The question we should be asking ourselves is: What are THEY doing to accommodate us?
Answer: Nothing. BIG FAT NOTHING.
Yet we changed our entire lifestyles because of them. We change everything for them. We do everything THEIR way.
They think it’s actually okay to not know anything about Africa and live their lives. These same people would be shocked if I said I didn’t know something about Europe or America. Yet not knowing how many countries there are in Africa is not a big deal.
You know what? Between my business classes, the guy on DeviantArt that said that most African women have shoulders that are much wider than their hips (he then went on to say that Caucasian women have fully developed breasts and hips), and the Japanese idiot that proclaimed that for a business to be successful it must have access to three markets or it will fail – Japan, North America (excluding Mexico) and Europe, I fucking give up.
Oh yeah, Japanse Dude-dono, why don’t you shut the fuck up and tell your crackpot theory to Adenuga? Last time I checked Globacom had access to only one market: THE NIGERIAN ONE and they seem to be doing just fucking fine.*
It’s disgusting. That’s all it is. I feel sick.
How about this? I give the fuck up.
*Yes, I know Globacom has expansion plans and may have already even expanded into other continental countries, but even when it was restricted simply to Nigeria, it was doing stupendously well.