TIA – This is Africa

imageBy Elin Windbladh

| All around town you hear this expression. Someone might be saying I waited five hours to see a doctor, and he just send me home, to which the reply will be “TIA”. This is Africa. Or the rain washed away the road so I couldn’t get to work. Deep sigh, TIA. Or I knew corruption would ruin the Kenyan election. T-I-A! The expression is used by locals and tourists alike. Though when it comes to the tourists, its more along the lines of the service is so slow, where’s my dinner? That’s so TIA, man. You even see it on t-shirts.

Kind of fun at first, but what does it mean? Tourists are commenting about things not working “as they do back home”, but without trying to understand the reason. It’s easier to give it a shrug and go TIA, man. The locals might use it as an excuse in front of tourists; a sense of “there’s nothing you can do about it, so why worry?” Hakuna matata. The other day I got a flat tire on my scooter after driving on the dirt road. A nice old man walked up to help me and apologetically said “TIA, so sorry”. As if we don’t get flat tires in Europe! So I asked him “ITA?” Is this Africa, or is it just what happens sometimes?

To me, TIA has become a degrading comment and a bad excuse. Why put the whole African continent in a helpless “there’s nothing to do” position? Then I watched the reggae documentary Africa Unite, saying: Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the Romans were there to build it. Lets change! Or maybe abbreviated: RWBIADBTRWTTBILC? That’s more like it, lets put that on a t-shirt!

As a protest to TIA, a friend of mine started using TIAS. There Is Always a Solution. That goes in my communication picture library. Me, I started saying This mango is freaking awesome, TIA!

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