I have this reputation for being a difficult person to understand and to work with/for. I used to worry about that when I was 20 and I was at the university studying for my first degree. Even then I chose not to be popular but truthful. I used to worry about that when I was 25 setting up a national newspaper branch office in Abuja, Nigeria and colleagues were missing simple deadlines. This meant I had to work overtime to meet deadlines I set for myself as the branch manager. I used to worry about that when I moved to Germany and in the first months I couldn’t speak German and I had to rely on others to show me around. The same was the case when I moved to Holland.
I used to worry about me being a difficult person to understand and to work with/for when I got my first production line job at a frozen cake-baking factory in Tilburg, Holland. Mostly I used to worry when colleagues were taking advantage of my lack of Dutch language skills to make racially offensive jokes at my expense. I used to worry when I became a youth worker in the then volatile city of Gouda and chose to confront the trouble-making youths instead of containing and indulging them like my colleagues did. My colleagues found me difficult because to them I was throwing stones in calm waters.
I used to worry about me being a difficult person to understand and to work with/for when at 35 I set up Africa Night and one of the first deejays arrived at 12 midnight twice for a show that started at 10 pm! I used to worry about me being a difficult person to understand and to work with/for when he demanded I paid him for 5 hours as agreed instead of the 3 hours he actually worked. (P.S. I paid the full 5 hours both times!) When after the second time I dispensed of his services, I was told I was being difficult and he could not understand why I no longer wanted to work with him!
I used to worry about me being a difficult person to understand and to work with/for when at 39, I studied for my second degree at a university in Rotterdam, Holland. Some co-students and lecturers said I was an aloof and peace-destructing person! The whole of the Feijenood local council and the ruling party of the time labelled my way of working “strange” because of my direct approach to problem solving. Even the residents and the troublesome youths stood often times with open mouths when they saw me at work!
I used to worry about me being a difficult person to understand and to work with/for when I set up Africa Web TV. Fellow Africans wanted me to play the “we are brothers” game with them when it came to their (financial) commitments to my organisation. I used to worry about me being a difficult person to understand and to work with/for when my first colleague left after 4 months.
I could go on and on but the fact of the matter is, it used to worry me that I am a difficult person to understand and to work with/for. But in all honestly from the 37, I stopped worrying! I am now 54 so I have had 17 worry-free years now as far as what people think about me is concerned. So when I write that I was worried at 39 or thereafter, that is just fake news! I stopped worrying about what others are worried about. It is their worry not mine. I can’t help it if people see bears when they see me.
You see, we all have our insecurities as human beings. Most of us are virtual autistic in the set ways we lead our lives. 1 plus 1 will always be 2. It is a an age-long fact. We as humans have made our peace with that. It is not surprising that when someone comes and says 1 plus 1 might not necessarily make 2, people go into panic mode. After all one is asking them to think about something they have always taken for granted. 1 person against the society. You know who the villain will always be.
Human beings like being lied to. We take lies as fact and we crucify whoever dares to question our set beliefs. It is why we call brown people black and pale people white. That obvious lie has become a truth of its own. Anyone who dares to query that is “difficult”. That is just an example.
When we become friends/colleagues/business partners, I have my expectations of the friendship/working relationship/ business partnership and you have yours. But the fact is, the human race suffer from collective autism and we are set in our ways. So if people like me suddenly act, to them, in ways they are not used to, then all hell will break loose. The question is; is it me or is it you? The answers are always it is me! Maybe you are right. But are you prepared for the possibility of being wrong? I have always being open about that. However in a world where people see an admission of error as a sign of weakness and vulnerability, it is easy to see why this same people would project their own fears and insecurities on the one who dares to question accepted ways and facts.
A couple of weeks ago, I put some not too flattering Bible verses on Facebook. The aim was to expose the hypocrisy of the masses who always attribute bad things to the Quran and Islam. It turns out that it was too confrontational for many. What I achieved was not the open and fair discussion I had hoped for. Instead what I achieved was the unmasking of some people who for years have pretended to be friends and even wannabe lovers. They broke the 1 rule those who like and love me never break. It is to never assume and to always be open. If you base your lives on assumptions, how can I be held responsible if I stand in front of you with a mirror? The person in the mirror is you not me. When I look at you, I look through the prism of my own prejudice. When I condemn you, I am seeing my own imperfections not yours. The same applies to you. You are my mirror.
So for 17 years I have stopped worrying about things that are beyond my own control. I challenge myself every day and I challenge the regular conventions. That is me; in search of knowledge and answers. I am never afraid to go against the tide. I am an African who has no religion, who believes in equality of sexes and races, who has no problems with people who are in the LGBTQI communities, who does not believe in voodoo, who thinks Trump should be given a chance, who would ban all the so-called aid agencies from doing business in Africa, who thinks your government is lying to you when they say they are giving aid to Africa (It is bribe money and if they give 1 Euro, it is because they will get 1000 Euro back!) who believes Belgium is a province of Congo! So in all intent and purposes I am not your average person.
If you associate with me and expect your average Joe, you are always going to end up being disappointed. I am allergic to the pretences and the games people play to be liked. I have not entered that competition so why sit in the jury to judge me?
I have a deejay who has been working with me for close to 8 years now, I have 2 colleagues at Africa Web TV who have been there for more than half of the time Africa Web TV has existed. I have people who have been my real friends for 35 years and know my insecurities and shenanigans. I know the youths in Gouda and Rotterdam with whom we fought each other to a standstill but who when they really got to know me, cried when I quit being their mentor. I have ex-lovers who have become the best of friends with me. I can’t be that difficult. Or is it that your protective fences are so high there is no ladder big enough for you to climb to be able to see the other side of daylight? Every coin has more than 2 sides. If you think I am wrong open your eyes and carefully check the coin in your purse. I am difficult only because you see a threat. The 3rd side of the coin represents hope. That is the side you will find me!
PS. If you really have taken time to read everything up till this point, you are my hero! Can we be friends? I promise I will not be difficult!