One Week, One Proverb #26

sliced pieces of yam (pic source:
sliced pieces of yam (pic source:

Case 26:

A man, who holds the yam and the knife, determines who eats any part of the tuber.

Insight/Background Story:

After my friend obtained her master’s degree from Heriot-Watt, one would expect that it would be easier for her to find a nice job here in the country than for some other graduate with a similar degree from any of our indigenous universities.

Well, she did find a job. But it was well under par.

Truth is, there are currently few decent jobs available for our teeming millions. The sorry state of the nation’s economy doesn’t help either—there are not enough schemes to encourage the creation of more private businesses or companies; on the other hand, the insidious code of “who do you know” found in a good number of state-owned firms or organisations across the country makes it difficult for persons with good qualifications alone to be employed. Because of all this, some employers can afford to hire/employ sharp brains, paying them meager sums in return for their services. This was my friend’s case.

A few weeks ago, during a discussion with her, she voiced her frustration at being handed more duties for the same pay. She further stated that she had formally written her employer, asking for a review of her wages. Sadly, her  request was turned down. No clear reason was given. When she told me that she would threaten to quit her job, citing how she had been undervalued, I rather advised her that if she had no new job she could switch to any time soon, it was best she wrote again, asking for an increment in her wages. In the meantime, she could also start scouting for a new job — which she assured me that she already had.


Our needs are embedded in our consciousness. We plan, work, and if possible, go on business trips in order to meet whatever may be our needs.  There are times, however, when our best efforts to accomplish or acquire the necessary yield zero result. In the light of that, what will you do if you are in dire need of something, but have no other option than to ask for it from an unlikable  source? Do you set aside your pride and say “please,” or do you simply hold on to it and decide otherwise?

Remember, if you are at a distinct disadvantage, you are in no position to choose or dictate.

28 responses to “One Week, One Proverb #26”

  1. Interesting!! Been there more times than I can count! I’ve done both; so far, not sure either helped my cause. Might as well laugh and shake my head! All is well anyway. Love your blog, Uzoma! Diane

    • Aw, I sure understand what you mean, Diane. I can say that am a graduate of Chemistry. But that, by no means, has brought me the things I desire considering the economic situation in my country. I depend on a couple of other jobs for survival. It’s pretty rough, but I’m trying my best to keep my head above water.

      Thanks for the kind support, Diane. I love your blog, too.

  2. Ah, sadly this is a familiar tale here, too, Uzoma. I think you gave your friend wise counsel, as much as swallowing one’s pride may stick in one’s craw. Admittedly, I tend not to be so good about that, although better as I have gotten older. I do believe that there are times when one must take a stand, but agree with you on this one. Best wishes to you and your friend-hang in there!

    • Oh yes, there are also times when one must take a stand, especially if there is a common will to oust a wicked overlord.

      Some years back, I doubt I would’ve given my friend this advice as I, too, would have puffed myself up with pride, advising her to do the same. Now, it’s a lot more different.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one, Sirena.

  3. If your skill is quite unique it might be a reasonable opportunity to ask for a raise. But if many people would love to move into your job, you have to be careful about making threats you might regret. We definitely have more options in more comfortable economic times.

  4. Uzoma, my friend, your post today has hit home. I have been looking for a job for a while now (one of the reasons my blogging activity has been erratic) and I totally understand your friend’s frustration. Your advice is the best thing she could have got – I agree with you wholeheartedly. Indeed, in a storm, the humble grass bends and weathers it… the tall ‘stubborn’ oak is felled by the storm winds, on the other hand.

    Take care! And god bless you for being a true friend to your friend!

    • Aw, you’ve been sorely missed, MJ.

      As a result of the economic situation in my country I no longer work as a chemist. And after years of searching, I’ve resorted to multitask jobs in order to keep my boat afloat.

      You will find your dream job soonest, Insha Allah.

      Love the metaphorical dimension you bring to this discussion. It’s filled with wisdom, too.

      • Thank you for your kind wishes. At my age I know there are no dream jobs. And indeed, if our dreams would turn into our jobs, we’d probably lose interest in them. But I do think a job that keeps you in a learning mode on and off is a GOOD job.

        Multi-tasking is a great way to live a life. Time will tell what gains you make from this, in terms of experience, skills, and a rich perspective of life.

        God bless you!

        • Again, you’ve spoken wisely. A part of me clings to the belief that I’ll someday work in a big company. Truly, reality doesn’t follow that sequence. So, I’ve learnt to be content wherever I find myself. Like you rightly put it, being “learning mode” is vital for progress for nothing learnt will eventually be a waste.

          Please don’t mind my usage of “dream job.”

          • Not at all. I just choose to delve into a deeper layer of the term. And then again, what’s the harm in thinking of a ‘dream job’… a worthwhile dream, as any other. 🙂

            Take care!

  5. Good one Uzoma. We may not be where we want to be, but we can get there… Right now your friend has nothing to offer at the negotiating table. Her boss’ firm hands hold the knife and the tuber. She should bid her time. This will not always be the case if she plays her cards right.

    • Very true, Timi. Acting sensibly is always rewarding and I am happy she didn’t let her emotions at the time affect her decision.

      Your optimism is highly appreciated. I second it wholeheartedly.

  6. Nothing worse in the work-place than feeling cheated, but maybe for this time this situation is the necessary step from which to climb higher.

  7. It’s got to be really tough to accept something that one perceives to be lower than their training, abilities, expertise, etc. Unfortunately, economic situations somewhat force individuals to accept something they have never aspired for. I know that in Canada, there are many people, or immigrants that moved there and are very successful and prosperous in the field they are working in. Many times that field is an area that others just don’t find worthy enough to pass their lives doing. And I think that’s why, those who think more along the lines of survival, make a very good living.

    • You made a very good point. I remember one of my early jobs after graduation. It didn’t offer much, but I couldn’t complain either because of the circumstances that surrounded me and my family. Somehow, we’ve managed to survive. I don’t blame Africans who, because of this, bleed all in the name to find green pastures in the US and most European countries.

      Thanks for the visit, Staci. I’m grateful for the comment.

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