Formerly, "This is Africa/fyeahAfrica".
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A LITTLE ABOUT ME:
Based in Cape Town, South Africa
From Lagos, Nigeria
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(As an unemployed media student, all donations go into ensuring my survival in this cruel world and future projects I hope to embark on).
(since Oct. 21th 2012)
In an article entitled “Ten Things to Know About African Consumers,” the Boston Consulting Group wrote “Africa is not easily pigeonholed, and making generalizations about its consumers is a risky proposition.” I agree with them but excuse me while I go ahead and do it anyway. A recent digital conversation about customer service in Zimbabwe got me thinking about the consumer experience. After talking to others who live/have lived or visited various African countries, I found that we shared laughs over similar experiences that are sometimes irritating, sometimes infuriating and always an inconvenience. Here is a list of five things that African consumers are tired of hearing or having happen to them.
As you go about your day to day business there is one dreaded sight you hope to avoid. The one where all the shopkeepers/attendants are standing in their doorways or sitting outside with THAT look on their face– the tell-tale sign that nothing productive is being done, they are just waiting. What are they waiting for? The electricity to return so that they can get back to work. We’ve become experts at being able to tell if there is electricity or not before even walking into an establishment. The electricity issues and frequent blackouts are well documented. According to the World Bank, Africa’s largest infrastructure deficit is in the power sector and we hear all about how that affects production and industries. Well, it is just as annoying for us, the customers! Sure, some of the bigger businesses can afford generators but many businesses cannot or do not get them.
Technology is supposed to be making our lives easier but there are many times when systems just do not work properly. Frequent service outages and connectivity issues are frustrating. Whether it is the broadband connection that only works at odd hours of the night or the POS, at the supermarket, that is constantly out-of-order or the banking system that cannot make your transfer – it may be less disappointing to operate as though these systems do not exist by always expecting to do things offline. A Dalberg report on theImpact of the Internet in Africa discusses the positive growth effects that widespread broadband access has but acknowledged that it remains widely untapped across Africa. While service providers build capacity to make connections faster and more reliable, we will cherish those once in a while, pleasant surprise moments when systems are up and running perfectly.
Change can prove to be elusive in day-to-day transactions, especially those early in the morning. Informal traders do not have the luxury of getting the perfectly bound various denominations of cash from a bank so they have to figure out ways to make change. It is not uncommon to have a trader ask strangers around him for change during your transaction; if you are a regular he may let you buy on “credit” and pay later in the day or you may feel comfortable enough to buy and collect your change later. In some extreme cases like in Zimbabwe, the U.S. dollar is the currency but there are no coins. A trip to a supermarket can result in receiving change in the form of: a pen, a box of matches or store credit. Often times it results in consumers picking up additional things just to make sure they have a round figure and avoid the change dilemma. Consumers find a way to make it work, but the situation is not ideal, to say the least
With many business owners importing their wares it is relatively common to have to wait, sometimes long periods of time, for items you want. You will be told that the shipment is coming next week or next month, it’s stuck at the border, it just left China, or someone just went to London to buy it. The waiting game is never any fun, more so when the part needed to get your car back on the road is not available locally and has to be shipped from overseas. All you can do is hope that “next week” really does mean the next week because there are many opportunities for something to go wrong along the distribution chain.
I have found myself asking, why read a menu and get my hopes up about my options only to hear, “We don’t have that today” after everything I try to order. I’ve learned to save time and just ask them what it is that they do have. Only Chicken and Beef? Okay, I will ignore the Lamb, Fish, and Pork that are also listed on the menu. Sometimes you begin to wonder if certain items are on the menu for decoration because they have never been available when you asked.
Please feel free to add to the list, what are you, as an African consumer, tired of hearing?
Blacksmith…fold me into your fire
Wax forbidden thoughts into prayers
Holy as Catholic confessions of natural deeds grazing orgasms
while crossing legs and crucifix
Redefine scriptures of a virgin to include whorish
addicts like me…
Take Islamic repressed needs and shape them
into unmarred strawberry fields
Gargle my tempestuous fluid
Into a crimson Tibetan chant then
pistol whip my sex greed with your onyx…
Blacksmith, set my eyes ablaze
to a time of nocturnal clitoral erections and taboo dreams
even Jung could make no sense of…
Position this ample behind in line with
constellations of the Dogon in Mali and
swallow the stars nestled in between
Mold these limbs to your mother tongue
and lend your tongue to my limbs
Sear this flesh to reveal thick scars of rituals only
my great great grandfather could explain, African
Black in America we met on broken wings
Imprisoned in shackles of doubt and
whirlwinds of confusion you ask me for a key
Blacksmith…I drift in this
hoping you can mold one from your heat
Horseshoes for my aching feet that have galloped centuries
bucking against saddles and whips of unworthy riders
Staying long enough for tastes of stolen water
before the feet begin to itch
Relieved only in the sand dunes of Berber dances…
It is you that I have looked for
In the brothels doorways of Thailand
In the courtesan halls of India
where I lived each Kamasutra
preparing for you…
In the thumping favelas of Bahia
where I played every drum, mangled every woman
hoping to feel you beneath
I have climbed Morocco’s mint trees
Suckled every Oracle on my knees
thirsty for what you once dripped into me
Every man I’ve been
Every woman I am has been for this
Bruise me Copper
and extract Blue Diamonds from flying embers
Axe young bones to a golden memory
twist and unscrew me to your will
Fuse our reminiscence outside of time
I have found you again
The only one to tame this wild horse
The only one whose sparks match
the orange of my throat
Feet itching no more
I will wear these horseshoes with a glow.
Submitted by: bludiamondblog.tumblr.com
African journalists are invited to participate in a six-week online course: “Covering Development in Africa.” The course will be held from May 20, 2013, to June 28, 2013. The deadline to apply isMay 6, 2013.
Offered by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the course will be led by two media consultants with extensive experience working in Africa. Sputnik Kilambi, a former journalist with Radio France International, has worked in Rwanda, Kenya and Ghana as a Knight Fellow and in Sierra Leone for the United Nations. She currently is based in Nairobi, Kenya.Christopher Conte has worked in the United States, Africa and Asia. He is a former Wall Street Journalreporter and editor who later spent three years as a Knight International Journalism Fellow based in Uganda. He currently is based in Washington, D.C.
To apply for the course, click here
For more information, please contact Christopher Conte at firstname.lastname@example.org.