So, your boss has told you “you’re working in Africa”. You’ve googled “Kenya” enough times to be certain that you are going to be working in the middle of the bush, with a pride of lions running around your hut at night and elephants flapping their ears at you while you do your morning pleasantries. The only inhabitants your extensive research has come up with are villagers called the “Masai” and red outfits seem to be the only thing in fashion (or available). You’ve packed enough insect repellent to be registered as an exterminator and been eating more malaria pills than meals. You’ve had 35 injections that the doctors insist you have in order to survive the 6 months you are there. Your family are teary eyed as they feel they may never see you again. You question your sanity and how your boss could throw you to the lions – literally.
What you find when you arrive is not the theme song from the lion king, you are not greeted by a monkey with a stick but a city, electric with energy and commerce. The streets are lined with businesses and people going about their daily routine. What you find are not savannahs and open grass plains, there are no huts, or tribesmen sitting around fires cooking the flesh of the latest kill. But rather high rise buildings and business men, market places and public transport. All anxiety is replaced with amazement and a sense that all your fears were based on naive perceptions.
The problem with googling Africa is that the search engine is more intent on educating the world about the animals that inhabit this area than informing people on what to expect when they are working on such a beautiful continent. Kenya, and most African countries have been cast as a place where tracking footprints of animals is the equivalent of tracking the stock markets, where every one walks around in traditional clothing and contracting malaria is a part of life. The truth is there to be told and with the correct channels you shouldn’t have to be concerned about your well-being. Africa is a continent with a lot of potential and growth. As the rice paddy of China turned into the global empire it is today, so to will the African savannah of today, be the global player of tomorrow.
There are correct avenues that offer you better information than a countries tourism board. Companies like Expat Africa Payroll will offer you information and assist you on things such as payroll systems, medical insurance, expatriation services, etc.
We’ll teach you about biltong and castle beer, the rules to rugby and how to avoid being ripped off by scammers. We’ll show you how to be African and how to live in an African country. The truth is that Africa is not like the rest of the world. We may have an economy that is growing faster than a new born child but this is Africa. And as an expatriate coming to Africa it is important to have the right approach on what to expect and how to handle situations. You will find not everything is clear cut and formal as many developed nations. There are no set structures and expectations are there to be tested. There is always a means and a way to find a solution and anything in Africa is possible through the right people. You are now a part of a legacy, taking Africa and using it to the best of its potential. Welcome to Africa.