My over the top luxurious and privileged life working in Africa.
In the past few months, the reaction has always been the same to my response about my plans for the summer, “I’m going to to work in Africa”. Their eyes widen like a wild animal that I would encounter in that distant continent. I immediately get validated for what a self-less service I will commit to, like some soldier being thanked for their service.
Blame the movie Blood Diamond, shown to Canadian students in civics classes along with the volun-tourism trips providing upper class youth, a brief experience of the stereotypical African life. That is hardly the way I am living life here.
Being here in Ghana just over three weeks, I can say with confidence the life I live here is more luxurious and privileged than back in Canada.
First and most importantly I always have internet access anywhere by practically having unlimited data as it is only $1.6/GB whereas back home I’d survive on a $25/month plan with measly amounts of data. No more saving stories to post on social media later near wifi-zones.
My commute to works costs a mind blowing $1.00 both ways in a shoddy sort of mashup between a van and a public bus. If I’m feeling boujee, I can splurge on a Uber that would cost ~$6.00 for the full commute. No surges, just cheap and reliable transportation everywhere.
My work environment is nothing stereotypically African in any way either. There are an abundance of air conditioners that make me chilly by midday making me plan to bring a sweater to work…. in West Africa. The office has lunch catering for $2.00/meal so its impossible to go hungry.
Speaking of housing, my rent is $324/month giving me access to a large bedroom, balcony with the views, clean water, Wi-Fi, laundry, resourceful housemates and a damn good maid. The maid comes every day except Sunday and holidays to clean the house. She made my bed and I didn't even ask her too. Since coming here, I have not washed a single plate or utensil as my expat housemates say, I would just take away work from the maid. My housemate even chimed in to describe his time living in Kenya where his maid had her own maid as well.
The most distinct metric of my privileged life here is described by being perceived as “white” in this country by locals. As an immigrant who earned Canadian citizenship and transitioned from a life below the poverty line to the middle class, this designation of white and rich is a way I have never been treated before. Attending parties at expat compounds that look like something out of the Great Gatsby is unfamiliar ground to be on. I distinctly remember as a child in India meeting foreigners and being fascinated by their American on European backgrounds as a pedestal higher than the one I stood on. Now, getting those same looks from locals when I declare my Canadian background feels like coming full circle.
I think I’ll miss being seen as an upper-class citizen when I have to inevitably return home. I can see why so many people leave the developed world to work and own businesses here. It is in many cases a life better than home. Having seasonal weather throughout the year certainly helps but at its core, being in this position of power is that appeal one would hardly pass up.