I visited the Nigerian High Commission in Dar es Salaam today to get a letter of introduction for the Tanzanian authorities for work. Going by stories I had heard of how bad Nigerian Embassy/HC staff could be, I went there with no expectations.
At the front desk someone was chatting so loudly across with a guard in Swahili, so they were both obviously Tanzanian. When a Nigerian staff came to attend to me in the waiting area which was in the same room/hall, I could barely hear him as these people were yelling. I looked up in shock wondering whether I was in a market place or an office. I told him I could not hear him and looked towards the front desk as if to say, ask him to keep his voice down but he made light of the situation by saying he is like a Nigerian now. I know we could be loud but in an office, this was not acceptable. And for someone who was sent from Nigeria to represent his country in another country to accept this, it shocked me a bit. I wondered if that was what he was taught from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs!
Anyway, I got through that waiting area after making the purpose of my visit known and I was led to another building where the offices were. The Nigerian who attended to me in the waiting area was a front desk staff in the other building which felt more like a work environment. It was quiet.
|I rep Naija!|
I was ushered into another waiting room to wait for the officer who would handle my matter. After about 10 minutes, he showed up, asked me a few questions, then I gave him the letter from the Tanzanian authorities. He told me that I was to write to the High Commissioner stating what I needed. As I had all the required documents with me, he offered to make photocopies of all the documents and to save time, gave me a piece of paper to write the letter. Instead of going and returning.
I am to leave Dar es Salaam tomorrow and told him that. He understood that I needed the letter urgently. He got to work immediately and in less than an hour, he came back with the letter.
We chatted a bit when he returned and I told him how much I appreciated his efficiency and professionalism. I mentioned that I hoped that each time I went to a Nigerian Embassy/High Commission I would be attended to by people like him. My comment obviously caught him off guard.
As he escorted me to the door, I mentioned the 'market place situation' at the front desk. He seemed slightly annoyed and said he would handle it immediately. As I was leaving, he was calling the man I met at the front desk to have a word with him.
This is obviously someone who understands work ethics, how the work environment should be and the impression that people can leave with on witnessing that kind of scene.
As much as I told myself that I had no expectations, I walked out ashamed of myself for expecting the stereotype of all the experiences I had read about to play out.
There is so much horror happening in Nigeria at the moment so I choose to hold this man Mr. S.N. in the light today. He sure made me proud.