“Toto, I have a feeling we‘re not in Kansas anymore”
If you have watched the wizard of Oz…then you are familiar with these words…This is all before the scary monkeys (At least I think that’s what they are called)…anyways, you get the message.
What does the Wizard of Oz…have anything to do with the topic at hand? Good question! Africans in the Diaspora are an interesting sort. ( calling them a community would be a lie). In the last couple of months, I have had the privilege of working with several organizations, and businesses, with different teams, and different industries. In the last couple of days, I have had to think twice whether Africans in the diaspora are learning anything, or if we are all going to end up repeating the mistakes of our elders, leaving no room to progress.
Please allow me to explain this further. You see, as Africans, we are proud of our heritage, and our culture, which is fantastic! But somethings need to be done away with. For example, Nepotism. This is huge in Africa, yet, it seems the trend has traveled abroad too. Running organizations and businesses on favors, and running it like a family entity…bad idea! Have you ever heard the phrase “Its just business”? well maybe this needs to be introduced and re-introduced in the African Diaspora- with an emphasis on professionalism. It is always amazing to see how unprofessional individuals running a reputable business or organization can be. I speak from experience off course. Not returning calls/emails, lack of communication, misconduct, lack of respect and a general feeling of rights even when they are in the wrong. – and all this is said in the public.
The only reason why this is a concern is because if Africans are to succeed in the West, they truly need to leave their wahala at home, and learn to conduct themselves professionally, and be smart about who they associate with. That means acknowledging that just because you did well in Africa, does not mean you will do well here also. And this is not a POPULARITY contest. Seriously…competition does exist, and unless you are a $billion business, then you need to worry about your competitors. They are there, and if you don’t get your act together and learn to conduct yourself well- then trust, they won’t mind taking your clients with them too.
This is definitely a lesson well learned. Repatriation is the topic nowadays. But what is the use of repatriating, if we are not going to adopted new practices and implement them at home in Africa? if we conduct ourselves, here abroad, as the people conduct themselves, then what is the use of going back? There are many lessons we can learn on conducting ourselves professionally. We can definitely benefit from learning from some of the models on businesses. These are the skills that we would take back home, and progress our communities, the best way possible. Trust me, if you are in the United States, and you have a business that you run on favors, and nepotism- you will be broke and bankrupt before you blink.