AUTHORITY: “Ya got to be mean.” Agree or disagree?

Posted on December 13, 2009


It all started the morning of my first foray to town after my illness. I had just left Opoku Trading with groceries to go to my usual spot to catch a trotro home. I saw one, but tired out from all the activity after more than two weeks laid up, I decided to let it go and wait to catch the next one.

Well, it was my lucky day! A truck stopped, the door opened and I’m called in with the driver calling out his business’ name. So we start chatting and out of the clear blue he starts telling me about all the woes he has been experiencing running his medium sized hotel.

Now this place had opened a few years ago, but I didn’t know it was his! Always willing to help a friend in need I proposed we meet another time…At this point he mentioned our Four Villages Inn Meats sausages and how he wanted to serve them at his hotel.

The next thing I hear he has gone to our shop, purchased a couple of packs and taken them to his hotel kitchen. Next they are cooked for guests. Nobody has liked them, he has returned what’s left to the shop. Charity, my wife, is informed and she makes arrangements to go and cook them there-the cook didn’t follow the directions on the package-and I decide to accompany her to see the guy’s establishment.

An aside to set the record straight: we have been serving breakfast sausages to Four Villages guests for 10 years now! Actually,January 1st marks our tenth anniversary. And for seven years we have been retailing the sausages from the shop. And let me be CLEAR,nobody has returned a pack nor, heaven forbid, got sick at the breakfast table…

So we go to the hotel….and we wait a little cause maybe he’s a little embarrassed, kinda making a scene at the shop and all. Then Charity decides why wait for the guy, she’ll go to the kitchen. There she discovers that the cook who screwed up has the same name Charity! The ice is broken and the demonstration is a success.

The owner shows up and takes us around. At the pool area he invites me to come anytime and to have coffee as well. But what does he see there, a manager he has just hired sitting. He talks calmly to the guy and shows him the conference hall which he had just shown us. To be kind it was a mess and should anyone have dropped in to see the facility, they would have turned around and left.

Now for the crunch of the story, he accompanies us to our vehicle and then he passionately says how he needs help and that he’s had enough trying to run a hotel-18 rooms incidentally. He looks me in the eye and says how his workers have little respect for him and how if he was a white man like me they do everything he would ask. Humph….

Not wanting to go there, we bid a hasty farewell giving assurances we are but a phone call away and we’d be dropping by.

Gee, what da ya say. Where does that come from. You’re the boss. You have the power to hire and fire. What does colour got to do with it? This guy is a big businessman….I sure didn’t expect this from him…

My son, when we were coming to Ghana in 1999-he’d already been here for a year and a half-gave Charity and I a piece of advice, “You gotta to be mean.” Often kindness and respect is misinterpreted as weakness. Maybe that’s what our friend the hotel owner suffers from-a lack of toughness…and he doesn’t even know it.If he did, he wouldn’t equate it with colour.