A Perfect Cultural Misunderstanding

A story said:

A young western Africa immigrant in France was struggling to find a job. Regardless of the help he got from friends and compassionate strangers, he just couldn’t make ends meet.

It has been months he never stopped going to places looking for any kind of job he could get. But unsuccessfully.

He was running out of options when he met an indigenous french in a social gathering. He pleaded his case to this guy who seemed to have good local connections.

After some discussions, the indigenous french gave our young immigrant an address to go the next morning to check if the guys there are still looking for employees.

In the memory of french roosters, they have never seen a man up so early.
Our young immigrant presented himself as hard working young man from Togo, recommended by Mr. Influential met the other day.

He was hired.

He wept of joy. Thanks all gods in the sky, but above all gods, Mr. Influential. He wondered long nights how he would thanks Mr. Influential.

The day he got his first salary, following a well known togolese gratitude tradition, he went to a nearby shopping center, bought a large basket and spent almost half of his wage filling the basket with bath soap, canned sardine, toothpaste, biscuits, canned corn beef, and a few well known british spirits.

Two days later, on a sunny sunday afternoon, he went to knock at the door of Mr. Influential and presented him with his basket of good as a sign of gratitude for his recommendation for the job.

Mr. Influential was in shock. “I can buy toothpaste, sardine and biscuits myself, I don’t eat canned food, and I drink only wine. Sorry, I don’t need this. Keep it for yourself. I have friends over here, I have to go. Thanks anyway”, said Mr. Influential before politely closing the door.

Our young immigrant was in shock. He was speechless. He just can’t understand the “rude” and “arrogant” behavior of his beloved benefactor. A basked of goods is the highest way of thanking people in Togo. Why won’t he accept that?

The indigenous french was in shock too. No one offers canned sardines, toothpaste and soap as gift. Weird Africans he might think. He was not living in an orphanage or refugee camp! For God sake, when would those Africans got civilized!

The young immigrant told his story to his Africans friends. They were all appalled.
The indigenous french told the story to his friends. They couldn’t stop laughing at Mr. Influential who now receives humanitarian aid from Africans to survive.

We have here the case of a perfect cultural misunderstanding. Sometimes, it’s just impossible for all of us to see beyond borders.

What kind of cultural misunderstandings had happened to you?

Add yours below in the comments.


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About Mawuna KOUTONIN

Mawuna Koutonin is a world peace activist who relentlessly works to empower people to express their full potential and pursue their dreams, regardless of their background. He is the Editior of SiliconAfrica.com, Founder of Goodbuzz.net, and Social activist for Africa Renaissance. Koutonin’s ultimate dream is to open a world-class human potential development school in Africa in 2017. If you are interested in learning more about this venture or Koutonin’s other projects, you can reach him directly by emailing at mk@linkcrafter.com.

One Response to “A Perfect Cultural Misunderstanding”

  1. Jenya Parsley

    Even if somebody doesn't know the other peoples traditions, it IS polite to take whatever gift from an obviously good-natured grateful person. Russian people would take it and say – thank you very much!


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