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West Africa

West Africa, consisting of 14 countries and 250 million people, is located from Senegal north to Nigeria next to Central Africa. West Africa is unique in many important respects—Nigeria is the most populous black country on earth; Ghana was the first African country to gain its independence from Europeans in 1957; Liberia is the continent's oldest republic. It is also from this region that millions of slaves were captured and transported to the Americas. Unlike any other region of Africa, this is where the two major colonial powers transformed the region, creating today's Francophone and Anglophone countries. Without exception, the West African countries are ethnically heterogeneous, creating a rich amalgam of traditional cultures. In no other region do indigenous cultures find themselves challenged and mixed with two other foreign cultures, the French and the British.

Conducting business in West Africa requires a profound understanding of the complex relationships history has established between traditional cultures and western ways of life. Cultural Detective West Africa is a first step in understanding the multidimensional aspects of these cultures.

Cultural Detective West Africa contains the following stories and critical incidents:

  • Not Our Problem:

    A Franco-German company encounters difficulties when a local village chief will not honor the Senegalese government's contract with the company.

  • Uncle's Auto Accident, An:

    A French expatriate urges an employee in the Ivory Coast to attend an important meeting even though his uncle is in the hospital.

  • Chief Okonkwo:

    Delegates from a Dutch oil and gas company meet a Nigerian village chief in preparation for laying pipeline through his village.

  • Using the Company's Property:

    An English expatriate in the Ivory Coast forbids his administrative assistant to use the office copy machine to print church bulletins.

  • The White Carpet:

    Students visiting Senegal are confused whether to take their shoes off or leave them on when guests at a high-ranking government official's home.

  • Condoms:

    The international staff of a Nigerian cocoa company seems to make little progress with HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

  • Difficult Choices:

    US, French, and Senegalese executives disagree over whom to hire as new director of marketing.

  • Jobless Relatives:

    A Belgian expatriate is surprised to learn that his new Ghanaian partner never paid a salary to the family members he employed.

  • Land Tenure System, The:

    The Japanese government nearly halts funding of a major road-building project in Ghana after witnessing what its represenatives believe is a dispute over land ownership.

Extra! Cultural Detective West Africa includes supplementary material on the context of slavery and postcolonialism, including instructions for facilitating a transformative discussion of these topics.

Cultural Detective West Africa was authored by Emmanuel Ngomsi, Seidu Sofo and Dianne Hofner Saphiere.