Monday, July 23, 2007
Little Lagos et al
"Has anyone heard this Nigerian joke?", he said, in a heavily accented tone. The others lent him their ears. Africans love tales. And the Ethiopian with the mischief that had cast a mist over his eyes, looked like he had something useful to say.
"A Nigerian Minister", he said "once visited Singapore for a conference and he went to the home of a Minister in Singapore. It was a very beautiful house, with swimming pool and all kinds of modern fittings. The Nigerian loved the house. So he asked his Singaporean colleague: How did you manage to build this great house? The Singapore Minister told him he made the money from government contracts that he had awarded. On every contract he got a 20 per cent kickback. The Nigerian Minister just nodded. He didn't say anything. A year later, there was another conference in Nigeria and the Minister from Singapore was there. His old friend the Nigerian Minister received him warmly and then later took him to his own house. When the Singapore Minister saw the house, he marveled at the opulence. His own house looked very modest in comparison. Then he turned to his Nigerian colleague and asked him: how did you build this house? To which the Nigerian replied: Contracts, my friend. And the Singaporean asked: how many per cent? And the Nigerian replied: 100 per cent, my brother"
Not a particularly new joke, but it drew throaty laughter from everyone around the table.
"Nigerians are every clever people", the Gambian said. "They are very well known in Gambia . You know a Nigerian will suddenly show up in Banjul , He has no education, nothing. But after some time you'd start seeing him with a used computer. He will be playing with it, dismantling it and putting it together. By the time you see him again he would have opened a small shop with a sign board: Computer Specialist, London-trained, and before you know it, people will start patronizing him"
"They also have this people they call yahoo boys, "the Malawian added.
"And 419. Nigerians have people they call 419 too. Those ones are hardened crooks. They can turn anything into money"; the Ghanaian said
"You know in Gambia , one Nigerian saw two Gambians discussing and they were lamenting about how they had been working so hard and making very little money. The Nigerian told them that that is precisely their problem. You don't work hard to make money. You negotiate money. You make money through negotiation, When Nigerians talk like that, we, Gambians are always confused. Please, how does a man negotiate to make money?"
I had no answer to this.
The taste of the pudding is here