Working online makes you an expatriate, a digital nomad. Just like nomadic pastoralists would move across deserts and plateaus looking for greener pastures, digital hustlers would roam all over the net bidding for jobs online. And you will thus encounter clients from different cultures as opposed to yours. In general, people are rather the same, there is no much difference I see when writing for foreign clients as opposed to when writing for a local client.
However, from time to time you will get different vibes from some foreigners. My friend has a Ugandan house help who would bow down when she is addressing her. My friend being the salt of the earth type person, she got amused and told her not to do it again. She prefers normal interactions with people. I told her not to mind her, Ugandans are like that. My village is not far from Uganda and I have interacted with several. Ugandans even sell alcohol in the market the way we sell cabbage and kales by the roadside. Those guys live.
Anyway back to work, we were talking about working for a foreign client, and one thing that is good with foreigners is that they don’t delay with pay. Most of them have no issue with sending pay once the work has been received and approved. I don’t want to talk about Kenyans when it comes to paying because that will be a long story in an article like this one which is meant to be short. When it comes to paying, Kenyans can give you a whirlwind of chaos. They can put you in a lot of trouble.
Let me tell you another group that is stubborn when it comes to payment; black Americans. It is okay that black lives matters but those guys are something else when it comes to making payments. They receive work then tell you, “I will get back to you in a few”. And you will never hear from them again.
They are the ones that will make you not to trust anybody online. They will give you a lot of trust issues with your future online partners. The only way to deal with first-time clients is usually to ask for a refundable deposit, of which they might also refuse to give because they can claim not to know you that well. Another option would be to finish the work, show the client half of it, and ask for payment before submitting the whole job. That’s how you might want to work with shady clients.
It is good to get paid and not played. We all want to get money. Money matters otherwise what are you looking for in foreign lands? When I see Tanzanians and Burundians here, they work so hard because they see a lot of opportunities that we supposedly don’t. They feel like it is so privileged to be in Kenya. They see Kenya like we see the UK. And they might be right to some extent because when you are too close to something you don’t see it. It is advisable to remove yourself from a situation at times if you want to see things clearly. It is just like the same way Asians would come here just like ordinary people and seize a lot of opportunities. They get wealthy after being around for a few years coming from a hustling background.
The good thing with online businesses is that you don’t have to travel hundreds of kilometers to work with an American or a South African. Work is done and PayPal is ready to deliver your payment. And you won’t have to deal with a lot of laws that give expatriates a living hell.
My cousin was in Qatar and there are a lot of things he couldn’t do. Just too many restrictions, he couldn’t drink his beer in peace, imagine watching your back drinking tusker, you won’t even enjoy getting drunk. He couldn’t just take a walk because it was so hot and in fact, you can be arrested for attempted suicide if you walk under the hot sun. There’s so much freedom in Kenya if you don’t know. This is a wonderland, my friend who works with these international organizations and moves around a lot tells me Nairobi is one of the best duty stations you can be posted to. The security is considered good, life is affordable and there is a lot of fun too. So Nairobi might not be that bad to some people.
I had a Chinese client who told me she enjoys the weather here, and WhatsApp and YouTube is open too…even Gmail is restricted in their country so it was paradise being in the sun for a few months. They always restrict information in china so don’t be surprised, they don’t want their citizens brainwashed by the Internet of Things.
Some foreign clients are overly polite just like the Ugandan my friend had employed. You tell them your name then they still ask how they should address you, they don’t want to offend you. You tell them you are Slade Jeff, they ask if they can call you Slade, or Sly…sigh. They made me feel like Kenyans have disrespected me for a long time unknowingly.
Above all, foreigners pay in dollars so whatever they want to call you, I couldn’t care less. Just don’t call us the black name even if we are dark. That’s our word; we use it only among each other. The N-word is a fight word. Black men get so emotive when you try to bring back their history in any way.
Are you an expatriate? I hope you are enjoying your stay here. Learn some Swahili and eat mbuta.
Great week ahead!