Money Talks

We have all heard of pillowcase bankers that literally hoard paper notes instead of depositing or spending. Complete eagerness to keep money and make money has caused people to reach this point. Prices hike almost on a weekly basis, salaries barely increase and price fluctuation is inexistent as it flows solely towards one direction – increase.

Due to the increase in the price of petrol the hikes are legitimized, but there is a darker side to the moon that we seldom talk about. And that is our relationship with money. We are now in the hustle and bustle of everyday life with ever increasing population, with the neo-riche and the up and coming fresh graduates all struggling to make some cash.

Competition is now stiffer than ever and we hear desperate utterances that it is survival of the fittest here in the city. If only the strong survive in this cruel world and our concrete jungle does not have enough space for everyone, than the struggle becomes reality.

It is easy to identify that, friends, relatives and acquaintances seem to work together and call upon each another for various services and products. In a way this permits cash flow in or around the same circle of people who will eventually spend their money in the same places or on the same products; which in turn allows circulation of money in the city. Though most of the times because these decisions are not made based on merit, the quality of the deliverables is always affected and as a result the money spent is as good as thrown out of the window.

But this does not reflect on our relationship with money. A natural instinct is to go for cheaper options which in time become expensive decisions.

How much value do we attribute to the notes in our pockets or bank accounts?

Now, once mentally given the answer or muttered it to the person sitting next to us, it can take a minute to evaluate the value we attribute to any given work and the monetary value we are willing to allocate for that given task. If you have taken a minute to ponder on this question than you will effortlessly come to conclude that we either value money more than the completed work or we undervalue the work after completion we do not want to appropriately remunerate if not the worker itself.

Whichever way we function it is obvious to me that we do not function at all. Anyone with the capacity to pay for a task required for the smooth operation of a business should feel responsible enough to ensure that the right payments are indeed effected on time. Speaking with random people and those I know up close, the statement about Ethiopians not wanting to remunerate at all if they could let alone pay on time is common.

How low do we actually think of the people that we have contracted to not appreciate the work they have done and rightfully pay them? Or rather, we do not consider ourselves in their shoes and facilitate payment which is lawfully owed to them. It is as if there is a contagion that has spread among employers and contractors that is not allowing them to understand that it is not only their responsibility but also their obligation to ensure that payment is effected in due time. This will help everything run smoothly.

These type of problems may cause high turnovers for a company. Because let us face it, any employer would like to have their employee stay with them as long as possible and facilitate the process.

I am sure living in a developing country many have faced similar situations where payment is promised soon, but it is delayed and does not show up for months.

This might feel like false hope in the first place. But in a country like Ethiopia, it is not realistic to expect everything to be done at a fast pace. Many are used to waiting for things that they want.

There is a famous line in the ‘Bronx Tale’ starring Robert De Niro where he tells his son that it is better to be loved than feared. Obviously employees that love, admire and respect their employers are more loyal than those that fear their bosses.


By Christine Yohannes
Christine Yohannes writes about social change, performs at public events and conducts poetry workshops in schools. She has established a monthly event entitled "Poetic Saturdays" - a platform created to allow everyone the freedom of self-expression through art. She can be reached at

Published on Apr 14,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 884]



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