On the latest episode of Lilian’s Couch, the Nigerian actress and entrepreneur who just celebrated her 27th birthday, shared her thoughts on professionalism. A frustrated Lilian recounted an incident with a photographer who had promised to have her pictures by her birthday, and you guessed it, didn’t deliver.
“It’s just pictures” the photographer says in an angry voicemail to the actress.
As this is coming from someone in the business of supplying photography services, this way of thinking is one to pause and unpack. Do we as Africans tend to relax professionalism with each other? When you know your client personally, does it warrant you to downgrade the quality of service?
Watch the episode below:
In a enlightening conversation between the editorial team, it is shocking how many similar stories were raised. A caterer from your hometown who was late or delivered distasteful food; a storefront lady who gave significantly different service to the non-African customer before mumbling at you like you are disturbing her ‘me-time’; the disappearance of a seamstress once you have paid for the dress, the stories were endless.
While the conversation touches on many corridors of professionalism, it seems this phenomenon is rooted more in the history of ‘service’ in Africa. Many people can testify for bearing the calling of hospitality and serving others in a way that brings them joy, however because Africans have a long history of being ‘expected’ to serve, most of us do have an attitude towards serving others in a humble manner. It tends to feel like you are ‘belittling’ yourself for an equal, which does touch on the sense of feeling enslaved or obligated.
However as times have changed and industries standards are constantly being refined in terms of professionalism, when do we as Africans decide to embrace the act of service for one another to ensure that we can compete with the rest of the world? Especially now that the digital age has brought a new meaning to ‘global trade’, do we need to do better?
If we are to support each other build African businesses, does that mean we need to falter on quality of service because “that’s just how we are”?
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