Last week someone told me the story of a Nigerian journalist who received a hot slap because she dared to ask why a pay cheque of 10,000 Naira bounced. Whilst I was trying to understand the reason for the slap, and what precipitated the need for the slapping, my friend kept saying, “But why 10k cheque go bounce?“
Here’s why I was more interested in the slap: I believe it takes having a very high level of disregard or disrespect for someone, for you to raise your hand to strike them. Think about it; a slap is something you issue someone you consider really down there on the scale of relevance.
However, before we go into the story of the slapping – which we really need to address… seriously – let us talk about the bounced 10k cheque.
Look, working in Nigeria is tough. Working with a one-man business is usually tougher. Then somewhere really high up there on the scale of hard knock life, is working in Nigerian media. As if the pay grade is not embarrassing enough,
maybe this is why a lot of Nigerian journalists look so scruffy, you have to deal with the problem of unpaid wages.
So you get the picture of what that chic was dealing with. Anyway, according to the gist, on the day of the Slapsgiving, she had gone to complain that the cheque didn’t go through. That cheque business should have been her cue that something shady was about to go down.
Cheques and I do not get along at all! My parents used to give me pocket money in form of cheques in year 1 at UniLag and the process was very excruciatingly tedious. They’ll give you a cheque on Monday morning, you will now enter bus to Apapa Wharf (their bank branch) back then, you could only withdraw from the originating branch of the cheque. So, after sitting in the rickety bus for more than one hour, in that heat, you will then get to the bank and join the queue of everybody who was waiting for Monday just to get there. Then, after collecting the meagre 3,200 Naira, you will go and look for Ojuelegba bus and pray that somehow you will find a ‘Campus bus’ loading in time to get you to school. See, even memory of my days of receiving cheques make me tremble. So picture our journalist girl having gone through that stress only to be told, sorry no money.
To add insult upon injury, she now got slapped – for daring to complain about a bounced cheque. Okay, Nigerian employers, can we talk about this for a minute? No seriously… why are you beating your employees? This thing of slapping and knocking your staff around is an indication that you have no capacity for leadership. In fact, my friend aptly put it ‘those employers belong in the zoo – well caged.’
The more stories I hear of people joining the entrepreneurial train, the more I worry about employment issues and how their staff are treated. Is it just really about the tag ‘Founder CEO’ or is there a place where these entrepreneurs can learn to be leaders of people, in a sane and humane way?
Sadly, a lot of employers act like they are in boarding school – my seniors bullied me so I must bully my juniors too. This is all part of paying your dues? How? By being slapped and knocked in the face?
For some it is more a case of “I pay your salary and so I own you – lock stock and barrel.” This salary is often delayed, shaved or denied! Yet, people stay – because strike actions mean nothing in our society and we embrace the mantra “At all at all, na hin bad pass. Any job is better than no job”
So, let us try to understand why an employer would slap or knock an employee around. Perhaps the employee is slow and not quick on the uptake…not the sharpest tool in the shed? Maybe you have been showing this employee how to arrange Power Point slides for the past 8 months and he is still not getting it right. Could it be that you had a really bad night at home (You found out your wife has overshot the credit limit on your card) & you got to work and your staff left the generator on not knowing NEPA had ‘brought light’ for the past 3 hours. (Yes, that thing can pain. Do you know how much diesel costs?)
How bad can it really get that you would slap your staff? Because none of these things warrant getting beat up by my boss – unless the boss has anger management issues; in which case there needs to be a psych evaluation carried out. That boss has no business employing people.
Then there are those who beat their domestic staff. Yup, this beating business is not just restricted to the office. Employers abound, and so do the slappers, knockers and kickers. Beating your nannies, biting your houseboys, slapping your drivers, pouring hot soup on your cooks… guys, simply unacceptable.
So what’s the recourse we have against violence in the work place? Is there a body available to report a violent employer to? What is the role of the Nigerian Labour Congress and what is their position on workplace aggression and violence? Because whilst we’re struggling to fight for fuel, fight against corruption, fight to have a strong Naira, fighting child abuse, we really have no business dealing with unpaid wages and violence against staff. That is just low.
And if you moved back to Nigeria from a country where there is recourse against such behaviour, and you joined this Slapping Gang, just go and stand and face the wall.
Ponder upon these things as I bid you Adieu and Odigba (Because ELKAFT, guys) Don’t forget to hook up with me on Google+ if you want to be a part of the Google Hangout we’re planning for writers, lovers of writing and READERS! I’ll let you know the date as soon as Moremi obliges us and helps us with the set up (Yes, honey, I’m putting you on blast! )
Have a beautiful week ahead guys! Let’s go forth and kick ass in all we do!
Peace, love & carrot batons!
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Scott Griessel