Friday, July 16, 2010

Where are all the Antelopes?

Dear readers,

In Bayelsa, it rains a lot, probably 3 or 4 times a day. The locals tell me, that when it is sunny in one part of the sky and raining in another, an antelope is born. I think that's a really nice idea, although I would expect there to be many more antelopes in the neighborhood if that was the case.

So, where are all the antelopes? Where did this idea come from?

Also, people are constantly telling me, 'when in Rome, do as the Romans do'. I'm not sure if that is exactly the saying, but I'm doing my best. My 'work' hours are closer to 11am to 10pm. I might give up on expecting things to happen on my schedule (or on time). I can't quite stop being mostly on time to things, but I'll bring things to do while I wait for people.

Other adjustments--doing business late at night, always covering shoulders, and trying to be endlessly flexible. Flexibility is the key to happiness, right?

What other habits or philosophies should I adopt to get work done? What is your advice for doing business in Nigeria?

Hope all of you are well.



  1. Alena, so far I think your doing very well...

  2. Nice blog. The antelope birth thing comes differently. In the parts where I'm from, I hear it's the baby elephant that is born. I guess that's the beauty in the diversity of cultures.

    I'd find time to go down to your old posts. But so far, I'm interested in reading your updates when they come.

    Just a suggestion, perhaps you should create a Twitter account where all you could do is tell your subscribers there's a new blog post, and then they can come check it out, make comments or offer needed helps (when/where there's need).

    About philosophies to get work done here: well, I guess you must have heard/had information on timing. You should always create safety anchors around your schedule. This means leaving minutes (or hours as the case may be), between the start time of your schedule. That way, you can manage most people's lack of punctuality here. Sometimes, it might not really be the individual's fault, it could be external forces, like traffic et al. But a lot of the percentage goes to "African time" and how people generally deal with punctuality here.

    Also, try to manage the sense of humor, which can be quite polarized, depending on the individual you are in touch with.

    When I think of more things, I'd add as time goes on.

    All the best.

  3. Thanks, Yosh.
    my twitter account is ajtansey and i do post my posts here.

    re: past posts: some of my first ones were the best ('hurry up and wait', 'searching for disaster'), also '1 point for nigeria'.

    i'm sad no one commented on my oyibos online post. ah well. :)

    where are you? any baby elephants?

  4. Great post. I'm enjoying the reminders of what it was like when I first came to Nigeria and asking myself these same questions. I learned to work on a morning (8am-noon)/afternoon (noon-4pm)/evening (4-9pm) schedule. So, If I schedule an appointment for 9am, I try and make myself available for anytime in the morning. Also, I schedule everything by the hour; a 945 appointment means nothing to most people. Finally, I have learned to get more details when someone says "I'm coming," like, "are you still in your house?" or "what time should I expect you" Of course, I never go to any appointment without a good book; just think about what business was like here 8-10 years ago without cell phones!
    By the way, when you are in Abuja again, my family would love to offer you a home-cooked, slightly American meal, if you would like. :)
    Mark & Sabrina