Monday, May 5, 2008

Malfunction junction

Ask most any field worker and they will tell you - "function" is the most terrifying word in the African-English language. As in, "We are having a function to celebrate Sierra Leonean Independence day and kindly request your esteemed presence at 7 pm in the Jesus's Loving Hands Pentecostal Redemption Hall."

Let's break that down a bit.

1. Function = four hours of sitting around on plastic lawn chairs which have been arranged in rigid rows, usually on a stage, listening to endless speeches about everything under the sun which ramble on for hours then, just when you are so dazed with the sheer agony of it you couldn't put a coherent limerick together, they call on you to stand up and make comments or give a vote of thanks or something else you are totally unprepared for but expected to do, what with being white and all. After this agony, you will be handed a plate full of oily food you have to eat because everyone is watching then made to do some embarrassing, rear out shuffle dance with a high ranking government official to scratchy, blaring West African music.

2. Kindly request your most esteemed presence = you better be there or next time you come to try and get permission for something we will act like we've never heard of your NGO before and refuse to allow you to build anything. Oh, and we expect you to give us money towards it as well since you'll be there and all.

3. 7pm = sometime around 9 pm, unless you actually do show up at 9 pm, in which case it will definitely have been 7 sharp. Either way, you are either so early you sit there for hours having to make embarrassed conversation with the under-secretary's assistant for weevil reduction who was sent to entertain you or everyone tsk tsks and shakes their heads while you are led by a serious faced person to the stage to take your seat, thereby interrupting the speech of, inevitably, the most powerful person in the room.

Can you tell I just had to go to a function? I hate them so.

No comments: