There I was walking Fenix this morning when someone I rarely remember approached me reluctantly, asking whether I remember him. I feigned doing so, and he went on, sayingv that he heard I was a Fante, and he's from Elmina. Point is he was looking for a job. Ok, so he asked rather deferentially, as if he was afraid my ever-so-good-natured pet dog would bite him.
I wasn't amused, shaking my head at him that what has being a Fante got to do with anything? Did he honestly think that because I was allegedly a Fante, I would get him a job?
Let's be clear: I am not fully Fante, but that's another story; the real story is that I am not a coastal native in full, and even if that were the case, that would not be the basis for getting him a job. Finally, I don't do jobs!
So, I'm okay with assisting the average colleague-intern with their cover letter (as I did last week) for an application [it took some two days working on it!], but I suffer being approached because I look like I could be a "director" or "manager".
Like physiognomy or looks have got anything to do with procuring a job, you know?!
Getting back to my response to the guy on the Estates, I explained that I am a mere worker--no manager or anything, and that the staff is small, so I couldn't help him.
This might be--and is--in sharp contrast to my approach last week--and rightly so. Last week's encounter was soft and accommodating; this guy was walking with a colleague, speaking in twi, who kept on praising loudly how nice my dog was!
I really was far from amused!
Bottom line: I love to assist people with tips and ideas to enhance job prospects, but out-of-the-blue questions about whether I can get someone a job on the basis of my ethnicity are definitely a no-no.
All that said...
So You Wanna Work for the United Nations?
A British Journalist-blogger, whom I made acquaintance with two years ago--and who visited Ghana in 2003-- has already written me believing that I am working for the UN! Adam, if you're reading this, not quite! I will get back to you. My twitter feeds are deliberately cryptic!
Seriously speaking, I have met very few people who want to work for the UN, so it's difficult to hear of experiences of people trying to get in. What I can tell you is that 43things.com tells me that some people have been trying for as long as Seven years!!
That's rather scary!
If you are really interested, you will have to do a lot of trawling online. Two good places to start are: UN Jobs.org, and the the official UN job portal.
Looking for a job is far from ever being easy, but a combination of humility and dedication, coupled with belief in your skills can get you there.
With alarming reports about unemployment in West Africa, and how that will have adverse consequences for the development of West Africa, I think it behooves all of us to facilitate the transition from the state of being unemployed to employment--for our own security!!
Few people are ever capable of saving the world, and you don't need to get to the UN before you make a difference, but for other West african nationals checking online, there are peace missions all over the sub-region, which might require your services to make this sub-region one of the more peaceful on the continent!
If you're ever tempted to think the argument above is tenuous, you might remember this poem, which I referred to earlier in the year on this blog:
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
If you might ever doubt it, your (job) security is also mine!