How to manage expectations in Africa

Posted on March 1, 2016 12:02 am

While in Africa, it is common to hear ‘there’s no hurry in Africa’ because it is a continent where people are “so easy going” to an extent precision doesn’t exist and where it does, underrated is the perfect description. In more than eight years, one of the favorite items in my Africa adventures list is that it’s always useful to manage my expectations in just about everything I do.This includes exploring the continent something that I always encourage my friends and business associates to do. The biggest challenge is in getting information about the destination prior to the trip, especially when I am taking a trip to places where the local language is a barrier. What i have learned is that asking friends who have taken the same trip is always the best option to find the most effective search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to browse beforehand.Still, in any case, I have a habit of doubling my expectations. When the website mentions how waves maybe an issue for a trip to Zanzibar island, for example, it is much safer to just believe that it is an issue and that i should take a sufficient supply of anti-nausea pills with me. When you plan to rent a car to drive up to Mount Kilimanjaro from Dar Es Salaam although the website claims that drivers are experienced even at night, I have learned to take the daylight drive. Believe me, from personal experience I know.When cave trip in Handeni, a region north of Dar Es Salaam is claimed to be a great adventure, it actually means exploring caves on bare foot or with flip-flops, a shaky helmet and a loose life jacket before climbing back up on a 70 degree wall with a rope and four guides continually shouting to find out if everyone is alright.

Do not get me wrong but that Handeni trip remains the greatest adventure ever in my trips around Africa.The views are breathtaking and the experiences spectacular. Well, except for the cave in South coast areas of Lindi and Mtwara, my eyes still twitch whenever anyone asks me about the trip.Hopefully, I will make those trips again before my bones gets out of climbing capabilities levels.When planning to renew work permits or residence permits in Africa, unless you have the required liquidity, I would recommend convincing yourself to take a three day leave from “adventure” activities, or at least double the processing time that may have been suggested. If the entire process turns out to be faster, which is rare in Africa, it is an unexpected treat or perhaps the oracles are in your periphery.The same goes for traffic, although this is probably a sentiment specific to all major cities i have managed to travel in Africa. If you have to attend meetings that require punctuality, or if you have to fly out of the major towns and cities, another extra two hours should be added to the already estimated time scheduled for the trip in order to brave some of Africa’s notorious traffic.Apart from South Africa, commuter train is another good example of extraordinary capacity.In South Africa, one can choose or are forced to choose to travel inside the train or take the thrilling seats on the roof.A friend from Cape Town even told me that at night, passengers taking the commuter train did not only have to know their destination, sometimes they had to count how many stations the train had passed to ensure they stop at the right one because no announcements are made or signs provided in the darkness, making it too difficult to identify the right station.

But it’s not all doom and gloom with transport infrastructure in Africa. In Uganda, few years ago, a motorbike rider refused to escort me and my friend to where our car was some four miles away because he had just received a call on his cell phone from a regular customer asking for a pick up. The speedy information also helps in getting the message out really fast, just like recently, when people flock to join the so-called political rallies whenever politicians in the continent are seeking fresh mandate. At one place in Zambia, people were more than willing to queue for hours waiting for an exclusive sale of tickets for a local event only to be disappointed by the fact they got finished within 20 minutes after sale was announced. In terms of politics, managing your expectations has never been more significant anywhere in the world than in Africa. I take the campaign ad by some of the politicians hopefuls: “In one day free health are for all, free schooling for all, three months security in the country is attained, within one year traffic and poverty issues are resolved”. Recovering from the shock after reading the ad, I decided to just think positively and manage my expectations on this matter too. But Africans are the most patience people I know in the world because despite all the promises made every electoral period, the same folks who make empty promises get voted in again and again.Thats Africa for you….

Contador Harrison