For those of you that have been following my little personal crusade on NGOs and the development world, it will come as no surprise to you that I have some reasonable experience working in international organizations.
You know what they say about the grass being greener on the other side? I couldn’t agree more when it comes to working at the international scene. People think that working at this level is all fun and rosy. Ngati kuti timangokhalira kucheza pa tea break ndi kumayankhula chizungu ndi aluya. Mwezi ukatha, kukatapa ma ‘dollars’ pa ATM. I mean yes, the pay was good. Much better than most National Organizations and obviously better than just sitting around at home drafting application letters. But one thing that I won’t miss is working with some serious shit-head asshole colleagues.
At my first post, I reported to some Malawian lady from the north. A hard-core Tumbuka. You know, the ones that can’t seem to accept that tribe and culture does not play a role in our work space. This lady did not really like me. Rumour had it that she had failed to recruit the person that she wanted for my post. Yep. Another Tumbuka also (Just in case you are wondering). Anyway, apparently I made it too difficult for her to justify employing the other guy seeing as I was nothing short of exceptional during the interviews. So she was stuck with me. I quickly became her little bitch. Kumandituma zinthu zoti sizili pa job description yanga. Being so young then didn’t help my case. I once had to go drop pocket money at her daughter’s school on my way back from the field.
In this modern day of computers and vast technological advancements, the ‘old timers’ are finding it really hard to keep up with everything. So even though my boss did not like me personally, she did enjoy having a smart kid around who could insert moving pictures into a PowerPoint presentation and set automatic calendar reminders in her phone and emails. I have never felt so used in my life.
There are some bosses that utilize your skills and never shy away from acknowledging your contributions to the work. Not this devil. Everything that I did for her had no mention of me whatsoever. And I got to say; during my time she really had it going for herself. Her boss and even colleagues from other country offices began to acknowledge her good work. Meanwhile I was somewhere on a corner desk making her look good. Bola Moyo.
Having a shitty boss who doesn’t appreciate your skills and potential sucks. But what sucks more is having to deal with other colleagues that want to make you look bad. I was already dealing with this bitch of a boss that I had, then I had to deal with colleagues on office politics. It does not matter if you are working for a community, national or international organization. One thing that you are sure to find ndi miseche yapa office. Grown ass men and women busy kumajedana pa office. Like seriously?
Being my age and a mid-class level bachelor, it was only fitting that I had become a subject of discussion. Vuto ku’Malawi is that people do not know how to separate personal from professional life. Kwa iwowo, it’s all the same. So what if I was seen at Chez around 2 am on a Saturday night talking to a prostitute? So what if different girls come and sleep at my house during weekdays? That is none of your god damn business. As long as I make it to work on time and deliver accordingly, these things should not matter. Unfortunately, my colleagues had other opinions. Paja amasanduka makolo ako.
“Young man, tamva kuti different girls are coming over to sleep at your house. You need to settle down. You are earning enough money to afford a wedding.” Zakumatako. Who told them that I wasn’t married because I could not afford a wedding? Such 80s thinking.
Good job, Shitty boss and shitty colleagues. How did I deal with it you say?
By now you should know that Snr Chief Kwivu has no time to live in the shadows of social limitations and expectation. I continued to remain true to myself. It turns out that my bosses’ boss was not as dumb as I thought he was. It was no co-incidence that my boss started to shine once I had joined her team. In 1 year I was signing a new contract promoting me to my then bosses’ level. What took her more than 5 years to accomplish, took me 1. Life can be cruel sometimes, don’t you agree (insert smirk face here).
As for my shitty work colleagues. They decided to start working more closely with me in hope that some of that promotion formula could rub off on them. Ena anayamba kumafunsa: “long weekend iyi tilowera kuti abwana?” Who knew that they also had lives?