Sometime not too long ago, I saw an advert for freelance writers. And being the ever industrious young man that I am, I submitted an application and hoped to be contacted. After all, there is nothing wrong with having multiple sources of income; right? But as weeks passed, no feedback got to me until this afternoon when I received a phone call from a woman who sounded quite bossy right from the start. She told me what the job entailed, and repeatedly asked if I could do it even as she talked about what good of a writer she was mad how her busy schedules prevent her from doing the writing herself. She also mentioned how everyone else she ever tried to hire for the job had messed up and disappointed her. Meanwhile, as she spoke all I kept thinking to myself was “what a narcissist!” I knew right away the kind of person she is because I’ve had to [unfortunately] deal with people like her in my past. But in order not to be presumptuous and merely misudge her, I went through with the conversation which (by the way) was completely dominated by her. Fortunately or unfortunately, the network acted up towards the end of the phone call. And of course I was relieved when she hung up.
Now fast-forward to some two hours later, I got another phone call from the same woman. And this time around, she was already blasting me.
“Why didn’t you text me on Whatsapp?” she bellowed over the phone. “I told you to text me over two hours ago and you didn’t; why?”
This took me by surprise because truth be told, I didn’t hear her telling me to text her. Maybe she did say that during the same time the network was messing up right during my earlier phone call with her. But that notwithstanding, why was she screaming at me? This is a woman who had barely just interviewed me. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t even sure whether or not I was going to accept the offer she made to me. And there she was screaming at me just because she felt like she owned me. She no doubt reminded me of an unhealthy work experience I’d just had with yet another abusive employer who could control your life and make you feel worthless with the words of her mouth; all because she’s the boss who gets to pay salaries by the end of the month…
Anyway, I hung up on the bossy bitch after I nicely told her that she could keep her useless freelance job. But throughout the afternoon, I just kept thinking about what transpired between me and her. Most specifically, I thought about all the abusive bosses in Nigeria who feel like they are entitled to maltreat their staff, underpay them and overwork them just because they can.
I also thought about the Nigerian society in general and it tends to encourage abuse of power. Right there in our various homes, there are parents who are so repressive towards their househelps and even their children. And then across our schools (right from the primary to the tertiary levels) the same can be observed. There are teachers and seniors who can make life unbearable for you, just as there are lecturers who are nothing but evil. In our various offices, employers/bosses/superiors/line managers parents notorious for their excessive expression of Power and superiority. And then in the larger society, the same thing happens when our so called leaders and lawmakers make policies that completely oppress everyone.
Some have argued that Nigeria’s serious case of Power abuse at various spheres of life has an underlying rootcause- our prolonged military history. And while this is partly true, I like to posit that the whole problem is also deeply ingrained in our culture as a people. And we need to unlearn this tradition because it is doing more harm than good.