Saturday, September 09, 2006

Compound gossip

Alhaji's cook downstairs has been fired. Christophe, a friend's Beninoise cook/cleaner, came to give us the data. He was gisting Bibi and sister in Yoruba, so I may have got the details wrong in a few places (still havent found a Yoruba language teacher). The cook has two wives and twenty children, but even so found time to develop liaisons with women at the market during shopping trips. One of these women started to extract compensation for his attentions, at which point, a subtle programme of 'resource diversion' began. A few cupfuls of rice turned into a sizeable portion of a bag, and soon enough, Alhaji's wife noticed the increasingly unsubtle extractions.

Meanwhile, we've sacked our cleaner and our driver. The cleaner was getting on everybody's nerves except mine - but I'm filthy English so my opinion hardly counts. The driver meanwhile had taken to inexplicably long absences while driving unaccompanied from A to B. Things just came to a head.

So now we face that awful prospect - of having to do our own dishes and I am assigned driverly duties. I'm not sure I'll be able to cope, fragile lazy sod that I've become.


Aaron Rowe 12:44 am  

Cooking, Cleaning and Laundry I am happy to do myself but Driving, in Lagos, on a weekday?

Aarrgh! Never!

( Reminds me: Must take Helicopter Lessons)

I hope Abuja is easier to drive in, or I really pity you. I have still NEVER been to Abuja in 5 ½ years in Nigeria.

Shango,  4:45 pm  

What an elitist prick you are! In your home country, which I'm sure is overflowing with black cleaners and drivers, do you have the same problems?

I love how white people come to Africa and expect "service" then complain if they have to wash their own dishes.

Anonymous,  7:25 pm  

aba Shango, what has the guy done to you? The way you go on, it sounds like you know Jeremy personally.

why can't one expect service? whats so wrong in that, especially if you are paying way above what most rich Nigerians pay for their domestic staff.

why can't you read Jeremy's email in the tongue and cheek that it was meant to be.

Jeremy 8:18 pm  

Shango - projecting race, or elitism for that matter onto the domestic labour market in Nigeria is a false step and conveniently allows you to impose some kind of facile neo-colonial argument on a much more complex picture. As usual, you're picking up a lazy argument and making it even lazier..

Almost everyone above a certain level of income in Nigeria employs domestic help, and almost everyone then complains about that help. The reality is, NOT hiring domestic workers is the meaner thing to do in a country where there aren't enough jobs to go round.

Rather than race, class and rural/urban issues in the context of the extended family seem to me to be the real issues. It is the 'poor relative' or equivalent from the 'village' who is often brought in to be a servant. The question is, would they really be better off not doing the work?

Until there are more jobs to go round, many people will have no other option. What is unquestionably wrong however is the hiring of school-age children as domestic helps..

The UK at present is overflowing with East European cleaners and drivers by the way..

But I'm not sure why I bother arguing with someone with the intellectual capacity of a 12 year old.

Shango,  8:57 pm  

Of course, the picture is much more "complex" than I, a mere "12 year old," (Ad Hominem, anyone?) can grasp. I've found that people attempting to talk their way out of guilt usually employ painting such "complex" pictures. I believe, Doctor Weat, PhD, that's known as a Red Herring, yes?

For a philosopher, your use of hard logic is alarmingly indolent: Red Herring #2 is attempting to justify employing cheap (very, very cheap) native labor by pointing out how good and righteous you are in doing so. You're such a goddamned hero, solving society's problems at the same time as having someone clean up after you--why don't you pay them what you'd have paid for such labor in the United Kingdom?

But(!) that's not the point I'm making, doctor: it's that you're complaining about having to wash dishes because your "helpers" are absent in the same breath as chronically complaining about inequalities, man's inhumanity to man, exploitation and all the other leftist, socialist/communist ideology you blather on about, yet you don't practice what you preach. You complain about what the colonialists did to such places as Nigeria, yet act in the very same way, complaining when the Monkeys don't act and think like you think they should (Don't Be A Homophobe, Don't Eat Meat, Don't Be A Moron Christian).

What bothers me most about you is how much better than everyone you think you are; so much in fact, that you violate your own "principles" with hardly a thought on that basis alone, a la Orwell's 1984: you're simply more equal than others. Were we to follow your simplistic knee-jerk approach to life, we'd all be back in the 1940s. But we wouldn't want to do that now, would we, because we'd be back in colonial times where white people ruled Nigeria, and had servants attend to their every need, right, Sherlock?

ayoke 9:36 pm  

Hehehehe! Whenever I read the tête-à-tête between Shango and Jeremy, I end up laughing even if both are fuming.

Jeremy, in addition to what you point out as wrong (hiring of school-age children as domestic helps), I think another thing wrong is the very low wages most domestic helps are paid (which Shango kind of pointed out). As per Shango having the intellect of a 12 year old, why do you let the "man" get to you so often?

Shango, like anon wrote, Jeremy's post was really the tongue and cheek. The man was just giving us compound gossip, that's all.

Shango,  9:55 pm  

The phrase is "tongue -in-cheek", people, not tongue and cheek.

ayoke 10:14 pm  

Yes sir! Our error.

Funke,  10:59 pm  

yes i agree, hiring domestic help is the norm in Nigeria. However what they are paid can be classed as cruel and unusual punishment. Growing up in Lagos, I referred to the help as house boys and girls, they lived in the boys quarters, but then i also referred to myself as mulatto and half-caste! Obviously I didn't realize what I was saying as a child.
It does however, provide employment, either that or beg or starve!
I know a woman in Benin who deliberately hires 4 and 5 year olds, to save them from almost certain slavery. She educates them and makes sure they graduate from school, she has been doing this for years. Perhaps more Nigerians should take a leaf out of her book. That way we are protecting children, providing a path to a better life, whilst gaining the benefits of domestic help!

kemi,  11:33 pm  

Jeremy I'm quite shocked that you even dignified this shango person with a response. He clearly has something personal against you and even worse is Repetitive and BORING.

Some white person must have shoved a rusty metal pole up his ass and he wants to take it out on you.

He was asking me to get in touch with him because he (or she for that matter)stupidly assuming that because I was having a forceful argument with you, I must be your enemy or something.

What a jack ass.

I don't know why he keeps coming back here if your writing irks him so much.

Don't think because featherbrained simpletons like Ayoke & co think it's all harmless and amusing that the rest of us don't notice.

He's a fuckwit, just ignore him, eventually he will go away.

Anonymous,  11:41 pm  

I've been told that Shango is someone you know, shows it pays to keep your friends close, your enemies closer....

Shango,  11:44 pm  

You've broken my heart, Kemi {sniff, sniff}

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