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Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The world is a peculiar place

A Guinean friend who lives in the US sent me a joke last week entitled "Why people prefer Sierra Leone". Here is the joke, and remember that Sierra Leone ranks last (177th) on the UN's 2007 Human Development Index:
*******

A man dies and goes to hell. There he finds that there is a different hell for each country.

He decides he'll pick the least painful place to spend his eternity. He goes to Germany Hell and asks, 'What do they do here?" He's told "First they put you in an electric chair for an hour. Then they lay you on a bed of nails for another hour. Then the German devil comes in and whips you for the rest of the day."

The man does not like the sound of that at all so he moves on. He checks out the USA Hell as well as the Russia Hell and many more. He discovers that they are all similar to the Germany hell.

Then he comes to the Sierra Leone Hell and finds that there is a long line of people waiting to get in. Amazed, he asks, "What do they do here?" He is told "First they put you in an electric chair for an hour. Then they lay you on a bed of nails for another hour. The Sierra Leonean devil comes in and whips you for
the rest of the day."

"But that is exactly the same as in all the other hells. Why are there so many people waiting to get in?" He asks.

"Because there is never any electricity, so the electric chair does not work. The nails were paid for but never supplied, so the bed is comfortable to sleep on.
And, on top of it, the Sierra Leonean devil used to be a civil servant, so he comes in, signs his time sheet and goes back home for private business."
Aha, the man realises, so this is heaven, after all!
*******
Joking apart, this led me to reflect on some things about living in different countries that are neither hell nor heaven but show how there may be commonalities and how people have to adapt. Here is a list based on my experiences, of international practices that strike me as peculiar when compared to pratices elsewhere. It is in no particular order, and with no implication that there is a limit to what could be included:

1. A country that cannot produce electricity for the bulk of its population has created a new business of people selling electricity produced by personal generators, and one group of prominent buyers is those who need cell phones charged [Sierra Leone]
2. Needing to get off a broken down train and being asked by the crew to push [Jamaica]
3. Students sitting at petrol stations or some monuments at night in order to find light by which to study [Guinea]
4. Able-bodied men spending the day drinking [tea, beer, rum...] while women [look after children, cook, go to market, tend fields] [Libya; Barbados; England]
5. Paying Customs/Immigration officials in order to pass borders unhindered [Turkey; Russia]
6. Not needing to clear Customs to enter a country [England]
7. Needing an entry visa ONLY IF you are from a developed country such as the UK or US [Kenya]
8. Discriminating against your own country men based on their language [Belgium; Latvia]
9. Accepting that removing something as a crime will reduce criminal activity, could boost government revenue, and could have social benefits [Holland-prostitution; Canada-marijuana for medical purposes]
10. Treating politicians who have been caught having sex with people outside their marriage as if they have committed no wrong [the Caribbean]
11. Expecting politicians who have been caught having sex with people outside their marriage to resign because this is socially unacceptable [most of the rest of the world]

3 comments:

gian said...

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Wendy said...

Thank you for this interesting post. I have you tell you what a great job you are doing of finding interesting things to post about - every day! That is an achievment. I appreciate your perspective - I always find it well thought out and your posts well written - always things for me to think about.

Esteban Agosto Reid said...

Interesting post!