The western culture is actually really funny, I know the African culture have their hiccups here and there but I’m more inclined to be all and for it in spite of the trouble it causes us sometimes.
I was at an event a couple of weeks ago and half way into it, I walk out the main hall to use the toilet, as I was walking past a sitting area between the hall and the bathrooms, I here a muffled sound and some serious sobbing.
I was actually really pressed but I think my ‘amebo’ was more at this particular time so I make my way into the small open room to see what’s going on. I was hit with a young woman, about my age or younger, curled up in a chair at the edge with her phone in front of her and a terribly stained face as her make-up had been completely messed up by the tears and her wiping away with her hands.
All my antennas shot up and it was less about amebo and more “what is wrong with you??”
As every other crying person will say, she said “nothing”, trying to wipe away the recently rained down tears and hide her face. So I sat beside her and waited till she thought she had covered it all up and asked again. She Hesitated at first but finally realised the lost battle and said she had just received a call from her brother that their dad had just died. Just like that, in a middle of a conference, this young lady had got a call that her Dad was dead.
At this point she was back in tears again and I was too shocked to speak too, so it was just rubbing her back and barely muttering “I’m so sorry”, I couldn’t even add her name after cause I didn’t know it.
One of the organisers walk past and walks back again slowly, obviously trying to see what’s going on, (his own version of amebo)
And because I didn’t know if she wanted him to come any closer, I walked up to him and explained why she couldn’t come back in as per the news she had just received. He was also obviously devastated and asked if there’s anything he could do, of which I couldn’t answer.
Long story short, we get a cab and send her home, so I’m left with this man and he asks me if she’s my sister (because she was also a black girl … typical). I told him no and he’s proper probing about how I know her and I’m like “I really don’t, I met her on my way to the loo and she didn’t look too good”.
He starts praising and commenting about how what I did was so brave and selfless and is even asking me to write my name down, that he was also to write a letter to the organisation I had come with.
I left him still questioning myself, if this man is praising me and even wanting to write me a recommendation because I saw someone crying and went to ask her if she was okay. I was thinking how even if you were the meanest person in Africa, seeing someone in tears will always move you to find out if they’re okay, but in the western culture, it might be the best time to mind your business, which might differ with scenario.
I know Nigerians call it amebo mostly but frankly, there’s actually the caring and concerned part that genuinely wants to know that you’re okay if you’re met in a disoriented situation.
Then it hit me, I actually wasn’t the only one leaving the hall between when that girl came out and when I came out. Several other people (predominately white) had been out but hadn’t approached her despite how audible the sobs had been when you walk back the little wall.
Either way, I’m glad she didn’t have to be there by herself, I’m happy I am African and had the first instinct to go console her rather than ‘mind my business’. I’m hopeful that across all cultures one day, our first response to anything and anyone will be the highest form of love, however nosy it might seem.