Two People can Argue over a Fan in a Hotel Room

Compromise happens when enough is enough, and hopefully before the last straw breaks the camels back. I need two fans; it is not easy to share one floor fan with two people. I want to sit at the table and type on the computer with the fan blowing at me, while Bah wants to lie in bed and watch television.

I can turn on the fan so it swivels, however the noise level increase, which is annoying.

Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa --- Sunday, February 20, 2011


Conversations with the Brute Culture
90 percent of the time living in Africa is sharing the world with loving children playing all day in the sun, there is a harmony. However, tell one of the children to stop playing, and there can be temper tantrums and unreasonable talk and arguments. I know that common sense is uncommon to find, it is not something that can be shared between two people. A person who knows they are fighting for the cause of common sense will never give up the battle, there is seldom compromise by the person fighting on the side of common sense.

The Conversation

A. Bah gets the sniffles when a fan blows directly on her when she sleeps.

B. Because of the heat presently in Ivory Coast, I can only sleep when a fan is blowing directly at me.

She turned the fan off, and said,
"Do you want me to get the sniffles?"
(Where does this constant wanting to find blame come from?)

The complicated thing here is she knows I cannot sleep without a fan, but the African culture is brute force, whoever exerts the most brute force wins the discussion. Common sense is only for the mere person, the small people who have no power.

The problem here is I am 100 percent sure; I will win all arguments involving brute force. I do not like brute force arguments; they give me the right to win and take anything I want. I have accepted, too often for comfort my ability to use brute force, I must be a benevolent dictator here in Africa. Generally, the problem is processing time; the time it takes to process what is fair could takes days here. If you think common sense is rare, then treating people with justice and fairly has never existed in some cultures, it just is not a needed social behavior.

Brute force is intoxicating, it is the force of a bully, and when kind people do not stand up to a bully and use brute force, they become slaves. However, a bully is drunk with power, they keep testing the limits, I do not enjoy getting near addictive behavior, because soon what is intoxicating becomes a habit, and difficult to break.

Mental Process in Real Time versus Delayed
Common sense is a mental process that happens quickly for a few, however for the people who does not understand a common sense maxim; it may take their brain days or weeks to accept. With patience, people come around and accept common sense, it may take their brain a long time, the brain which in reality is a small and unused computer weeks to process, however, one day the brain will complete its work and say,
"Yes, that is ok, it only makes common sense."

The person believe they understood quickly, because it took as long as it took, which was normal for that person.

However, for the sturdy and durable person, he or she must stay the course and be a kind, benevolent dictator, soft and mild, but intolerant and unmoved by tantrums while waiting for the computer to process.
"The Father."
"The Boss."
"The Chief."

I need to use brute force in discussions with Bah, I told her yesterday,
"We are going to look at the Apartment now."

Now, in the USA common sense would say,
"I have no right to tell a woman what to do."
The truth is, here in Africa, if I do not tell Bah what to do occasionally, she starts to feel insecure, as if I do not know what I am doing. Two very separate cultures, an astute person must accept there are extreme differences, and negotiate out compromises.

We always have the right to tell a person what to do, providing the person also has the right to refuse.

I am going to buy a second fan.

Video on why to have a porter and help find the bus station?

Two People can Argue over a Fan in a Hotel Room


Good One! Your description of such interplay is one of the many universal issues among people all over the world regardless of cultures. I sum it up by saying "control the person or situation or the person / situation will control you" Same with business oriented phone conversations same with employee / employer relationships, same with most any two companions, one concedes to being passive and the other accepts the dominant role both knowing that this dynamic may change depending on the issue at hand. And you're RIGHT, neither who accepts the controlling or "bully" role should allow it to get the best of them and lose sight of basic RIGHT behavior caring for others as you would hope they care for you. Of course in many cultural environments like you say if one is NOT strong and SELFISH and DOMINEERING one may be walked on and stripped of one's possessions and freedom of choice.


Norwegians talk this way, they say what they want very strict, then two people disagree, than start to agree ,strange...

The people in underdeveloped countries talk very strict in active voice, never passive.

I must make a leap of cultures, and demand that she obey, and normally she will compromise. If she demands a no compromise situation, than I must accept she is evil and throw here out with the animals.

Humans compromise, animals push to eat what they want, they are stopped by brute force. However, an animal can learn to be human.


Steve, I can not solve this with common sense. She wants the fan to blow on her, unless she does not, then she say I am giving her sniffles. I will buy her a fan to empower her and give her control and then tell her to be quiet.

Emplyees, wive, husbands need validated, proving I care in Africa means money.


Cultue and habit triumps over common sense unless the government educate, and in Africa cleaning the school yard with a hoe is education.


Hi Andy! I start to be a permanent poster, hehe… But I like your stories about B. really much, last but not least because I learn much about my experiences in West-Africa through yours. By reading your stories, I start to realize and understand what happened to me my times there. What I can observe from outside is, that she starts to gain step by step control over you and suck out the money from your pocket, even it doesn´t harm you financially. I am far from wanting to create distrust or something else, just my 2 cents. Think about this: I guess, you already paid all in Ghana (travel into Ghana, taxis, room, food, drinks, her travel back to IC maybe?). Now you´re in IC: you´ll rent the apartment. Pay probably again the food, drinks, taxis etc. You start to have an argument with her about the fan. You just want to avoid bad vibrations and maintain an equilibrum in the relationship, you pay the fan. Note: you pay the apartment or the room. You´re the boss, you make the rules, she has to obey and if not has to leave. Don´t forget your own strict rules, or she´ll take the control. I don´t want to teach you or to be clever. I´m not clever and made a lot of mistakes in handling such situations. The macho-thing with women isn’t mine. I observed western ex-pats, how they handle situations with locals:
They mostly all were very strict, not to say dictatorial: I pay, I am the boss, you obey like a soldier. If you obey, you will have a nice time with me. I always felt sorry about that and couldn´t accept, because I was still deeply influenced by the concept: you the poor, formerly enslaved black girl, me the rich guilty white person. Historical guilt. Western people living for a long time there just extenguished these thoughts out of their brain. Because they need to survive there. This has nothing to do with colonist-manners. Its just anticipating local behavior and fighting through a brutal, African world.
Years ago, I met on old French ex-pat in Madagascar, looked like 80, but wasn´t only maybe 65 or 70.
We met in the airport, had I nice talk. He just came from an outpost for a business to arrange in the capital.
He told me and I will never forget: “after all these years, if you still have a little European back in the last corner of your brain, you will not survive. You will fail here. Believe me.”
Wise, old white man!
In retrospective of my time in West-Africa another story about a young African girlfriend of mine:
I just realize now through your experiences: Of course I always paid the meals these times. Nothing special. But after the 4th or 5th time I observed, that she´s barely touching her plate. She ate only 1/3 maximum ½. The rest went directly into the garbage. I made a remark about this and said, next time we share my plate to save money. That’s normal from a western point of view. Just be reasonable. That´s money thrown out of the window. My words went directly through her head without any effect. “I want my own plate!” she said. No respect for me or my money. Just to maintain the peace and didn´t argue about this furthermore. I said to myself “this are only f**ing 2.000 FCFA, what are we talking about?” But how much are 20 x 2.000,-? This careful consideration was out of my analytical horizon. I was already under her control, but barely realized it. Friends of her were invited eating on my bill. Now I realize, that I wasn´t strict enough. I was western socialized gentleman. This for example would never happen to me in my own hemisphere. I know the girls here, I know the tactics. I invite a girl for a drink and understand quickly, if she is worth or not. If she isn’t worth, I´ll quickly turn my back or be brute if needed by saying “F**ck you, I´m not your fool!” Not so uproad. My social coordinate system wasn´t adjusted, it was disarranged . No exact idea or tactic, how to handle the various situations. And the social tactics I learned all my life weren´t shure to fit nor have the outputs I expected. Give them your finger, they´ll eat you arm (it´s a generalization, but nonetheless most of them). I already said, this a very subtle tactics. And you already mentioned, that parts of Africa are childish. I guess, that´s exactly the point: you don´t show a child its limits, it will start to be excessive. This isn´t racist, its just the true point. There´s following joke about it: You negotiate in the morning to hire a pirogue for the afternoon. The guy tells you, it costs XXXX FCFA, a beer and a whiskey. You agree the price an tell him: you get the beer now OR the whiskey in the afternoon. Not both. He demands for the beer immediately. Right. Everything is agreed. So you meet in the afternoon to take the pirogue. You give him the money. The first thing he is asking: “Where is my whiskey!” The best jokes come directly out of reality.
I too am a person with respect for my counterpart, whoever it is. A compromise is normal, it makes relationship easier. But I think there is no compromise-culture in West-Africa, it’s a darwinistic society by nature: the winner and stronger one takes it all. At the end, its maybe what makes West-Africa so fascinating.
Ok, I´ll stop here, looks like the blog becomes a psychotherapeutical forum for older men disappointed by African women…

Phil J

Kind of like getting laid while your love interest is texting or chatting on her cell phone to a friend. No big deal in some cultures. Andy I got a huge chuckle out of the fan problem. It is so true and so funny in one sense. I will be west of the dateline soon. I am so looking forward to it.

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