Fanta Diallo

I like to listen to motivational CDs on my way home from work. Joel Osteen is a personal favorite. I have spent many hours in my car listening to Pastor Joel and loving every minute.

Last week, I happened to be listening to the radio when a song from my past was being played. Alpha Blondy’s song, Sweet Sweet Fanta Diallo, brought back poignant memories of my childhood. The lyrics of the song had always puzzled me because it seemed that the end of the story was left hanging and I was always left wondering what became of the characters.

Listening to the song again, I had that same feeling of puzzlement. Only this time, the questions were different.

For those who are yet to hear the song, it’s a haunting melody about the sad demise of a romantic relationship and the price to be paid for love gone sour. As melancholy as it may sound, it is a beautiful song. 

In the song, the author describes Fanta in glowing terms and we get a picture of a vibrant young woman who exudes confidence and youthful exuberance, and just like the author, we like what we see. Regrettably this phase is short lived. As the song progresses, Fanta meets dire straits and disappears out of sight.

Hearing the song again made me think of the “Fanta’s” I have met in the course of my career.

Can you think of any Fanta figure in your work place? He would be the employee that hit the ground running but got stuck somewhere along the way. She could be the member of staff who was once vibrant but now is disillusioned and as a result performs way below her maximum potential.

What drives great employees up the wall? It could be a zillion and one things but usually it’s unfulfilled expectations and broken promises which were made implicitly or otherwise.

As the song progresses, the author discovers Fanta wasted and worn out at the “psychiatric hospital.”  He admits his culpability and belts out a repetitive soliloquy, “Now I know I did you wrong.” After the belated admission of guilt, I cannot help but wonder if the author tried to make amends. Did he attempt to work through the recovery process with her, or did he just engage his audience in a repetitive monologue to assuage his guilty conscience?

The questions that plague me from the song are very relevant in today’s work environment:

  • What could the author have done to drive Fanta crazy? What do organizations do, or fail to do, that could cause their high performing employees to disengage?
  • Was author willing to be part of the healing process or did Fanta’s condition mean the end of their relationship? Can a disillusioned employee be persuaded to trust the system again?
  • Could Fanta be redeemed? Can a stunted career be revamped and can lost credibility be restored?

I am interested in hearing your thoughts.

There will always be friction and casualties in the employment relationship. How we deal with them determines the whether the outcome is positive or negative. Are your HR policies and practices counterproductive? Do they push otherwise top performers to the wall and send them on a downward spiral to career asylum? I hope not.

This one’s for my Dad who passed on three years ago. 

About the author: Tamkara Adun works for Schlumberger Nigeria.

Photo credit Wikipedia

About the Author

Tamkara Adun

Tamkara Adun currently works as a Recruitment Consultant at Together Abroad in The Hague and she offers HR advice at www.togetherabroad.nl You can connect with her on twitter @tamkara or find out what she’s up to on her personal blog at www.naijaexpatinholland.com.

9 Comments

Mathilde

Alpha has been a great friend of the family for many years. The reason I am commenting here is because all the online stories behind this song are incorrect. Fanta was also a friend of the family and she died quite young after their relationship had ended. This is, quite simply, a love song to her.

Reply
Mongale Bruce

Mmm incredible,what a nice song flowing with the blood.Oh Sweet Fanta Diallo sounds to be a lovely woman.Im blessed

Reply
Mamiyou

It’s a great analogy, which I never thought of and I totally aggree with Tamkara.
To answer Kamoshirenai, Fanta Diallo was not a nurse, maybe an angel, that God recalled back with Him.
She was just a beautiful, strong, caring, single mother in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan who happened to be Alpha’s childhood friend and first love. She past away on May 4th 2004. You uys should check out Blondy’s rendition called “sweet Fanta Diallo remix” another beautiful song.
My mother was an incredible woman and it’s unbelievable how so many people know of her because of this song, but only a few actually know the true story behing this song.

Reply
Kamoshirenai

The story is told that Alpha Blondy (born Seydou Kone in 1953, Cote d’Ivoire) composed the song “sweet Fanta Diallo” to thank the mysterious nurse who had attended faithfully to his mental health needs as a psychiatric patient in an Ivorian hospital.

Well after he was well again, he returned to the hospital to thank Fanta Diallo. No one knew of her or even remembered a nurse named Fanta Diallo as ever having worked there. He left and believing she might have been an angel set about composing the song to thank her anyway.

Reply
Tamkara

Delia, I am glad you know the song!!
Great thoughts from your end. Reminds me of the saying “a stitch in time saves nine”

Reply
Tamkara

Izuma, very true Fanta’s can seem very replaceable. Its cheaper and more convienient to hire a new employee than to try to re motivate an already dissilusioned one. However in the context of the work relationship, i wonder if its Fanta twho needs a second chance ??

Reply
Delia

I know that song! I must say it is an interesting analogy drawn by Tamkara, and quite apt too. Once an employee’s spirit is broken by an employer, either due to lack of motivation or failed promises, her work suffers, and her loyalty to her employer is no longer guaranteed. Often, the man hours put in by that employee dwindles. It thus eventually costs the employer more money than it would have to simply make adequate provision for the staff.
Good one!

Reply
Izuma

Here’s a “Fanta”stic dimension that music can bring to HR. . .Good job! Indeed its an experience many go through at the workplace.

If the vibrance and confidence of “Fanta’s” can be matched with measurable contributions to organisational goals then Fanta definitely deserves another chance. . .Sadly however, rising unemployment rates make employers feel they can replace any “Fanta’s” without investing more.

Reply

Leave a Reply to Tamkara Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.