Saying Hello and Smiling First in Africa

Saying Hello and Smiling First in Africa

A Scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances.
- Robert Baden-Powell 1857 - 1941
- British soldier and founder of the Boy Scout movement.

My new friend Tony migrated from Ghana to the Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa because of better jobs and pay, he now works in the Bon Prix Supermarket.
He asked me a question,
"Why do you come in the Super Market everyday?"
There was a queue of smart replies in my head, but I chose this one.
"To try to make the girl at the checkout smile."



This is Kellie, the small girl who lives in my Hotel the "Las Palmas"

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Grand Bassam, Quartier Françoise
Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa --- Saturday, October 9, 2010


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I Smile First
The poor girls at the Super Market checkout here in Grand Bassam have a tough job, I feel it is my job to make them smile and laugh. There is no line, the situation is like a busy bar in the USA, you must crowd you way to front of the line, push to the front, people refuse to take turns, there is no queue. (Cultural Fatigue)

Therefore, the checkout girl is constantly dealing with "Nepotism." problem, Tony taught me this word.
Nepotism: favoritism shown to relatives: favoritism shown by somebody in power to relatives and friends, especially in appointing them to good positions

When I walk into the Supermarket, Tony meets me and wants to take me to the front of the line, I refuse and he is confused. I say, this is not "justice." and because I am a big guy, I can always be at the front of the line.



My Job in Life
I tell Tony,
"My job in life is to be a good example, therefore I try my best to make the girl at the checkout smile and not take life too serious."
He ask,
"Why is this your job?"

I am the only White Man, people are watching me --- what I do, become the stereotype of the "American White Man."
I make a joke about the French in Ivory Coast.
"Look at all the old French people here, with long noses and long face, they look beat up, like they forgot to go home after the Colonization ended, and no replacement have been sent."
"This is a French person to you."

"Tony, I am an Ambassador in Life, there are a few people who never lose their cool, who can remember to stay the course. There are leaders, and there are followers, there is the person everyone is watching. People tend to watch me all the time, I am not sure exactly why, but I do know this, I am going to be a good example, that is my job."

Tony is confused, too much English in one swoop for a Ghana man who really speaks Nzima as his first language.

"Tony, if you are a big person, (powerful) you say hello first, and smile first."

Tony says,
"We have a long history of Nepotism; the small people (weak) must smile first."



This is confusing to people in the USA, it is confusing to people here in Africa. However, I will stay the course; I know that my job is to be good person first. I was taught this by "Buster Spade" a farmer in the state of Indiana. I worked for Buster on the farm in my youth for 12 seasons. Buster realized that everyone talked, but he remembered his job was to do the right thing even though there was jealousy everywhere.
If Buster worked, I worked, if Buster walked, I walked, if Buster was quiet, I was quiet. I was a follower of Buster I was his hired hand.

A leader is going to smile first, shake hands first, and say hello first, that is why they call them leaders, they lead.



Why do I go into large Super Markets Daily when Overseas?
Because, I must buy something and get change for a 5000 CFA note, because the small shops never have change, the only hope for change is in the largest stores.

Note: If you lead with good photos on the Internet, it is a question mark whether there is a need to write words.

Saying Hello and Smiling First in Africa

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