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Voices from Ghana: Mobile Internet, “Obruni” in Ghana, and Clash of Cultures

We open Ghana voices this week with a complaints-ridden compilation, which begins with a post about wireless mobile Internet. Proudly African blogger David Ajao has some serious questions for Areeba, the country’s leading mobile phone provider, on its provision of wireless mobile Internet using GPRS: “why is Areeba charging an activation fee for GPRS when they’d eventually make profit from the customer using the service anyway?”

He laments that he made this discovery as a result of having to relinquish his TIGO sim card, whose signal had been “lousy”. TIGO is one of the four mobile phone providers in Ghana.

The process for TIGO for GPRS is a simple one, outweighing by far that of Areeba’s, in the manner in which it includes simply going to their website, and sending a request by text message. David wonders why Areeba is not activating the service “over the air”.

From a complaint about a mobile provider to a service provider, Emmanuel.k.Bensah, of Trials and Tribulations of a Freshly-Arrived Denizen, decries the performance of Ghana's electricity provider:

Ever since the load-shedding started, the country’s electricity provider ECG, has decided to ride on the back of the “load management programme” by continuing to deliver increasingly execrable service.

Wondering, “who was truly bleeding us dry: the mosquitoes – or Electricity Company of Ghana?!,”he claims that Accra is in the dark ages:

Yesterday, on an evening that was not supposed to experience load-shedding at 6pm, the lights went out, eliciting a collective sigh of resignation and frustration all-rolled-in-one.

On a final note about bad communication, Canadian journalist Karen Palmer, of Palmer in Africa, recounts how bad communication between her and her landlady served to underscore what she has titled her entry as “culture clash”:

I'm not really sure what happened. I think it's a combination of culture clash and unrealistic expectations and the landlady's inability to separate me from the previous tenant from the previous tenant's subletters and the fact that if I'd waited until Nov. 1 to move in, I probably wouldn't have been so difficult to deal with.

Brian, writing at I’m Ghana go to Accra, writes a thoughtful and humorous piece about meeting Ghanaians in Accra. He touches on the serendipitous nature of the capital city, where you are likely to meet all sorts of characters—from a creepy Rastafarian “asking if he can have one of the women he sees me walking around with” to those from the Northern region of Ghana, like one Hasam:

who walked with me for 30 minutes to my hotel and on Sunday he unexpectedly came back to lead me back to the bus station. He invited me back to Winneba the next weekend as his guest at a ceremony at the college he attends there. This is not an unusual scenario and I suspect everyone who visits has at least one experience with this sort of hospitality. I’ve met numerous Hasam’s throughout Ghana.

Regrettably, not everyone seems as friendly to the “obruni” [white man] that Brian is. He relates an account of a potential stalker, who thankfully turned out to be more harmless than with malice:

He introduced himself as Frances and put his arm around me and I instinctively shoved it off but he kept following me asking me innocent questions about where I was from and why I was here. He followed me for another ten minutes until I deliberately began going down streets that I thought was out of his way. I underestimated his passion for wandering and tolerance for uncomfortable silence. Frances followed me around in circles for nearly an hour until I eventually told him I had to go home and he could not follow me there. He promptly pulled out a notepad and gave me the number to his and his mother’s cellphone as well as his postal and email address. He then gave me a map so I wouldn’t be so lost in the future. Frances represents a motivation prevalent in Accra and unique to any other city I’ve been: although I believe he lives on the street he has never asked me for money he seems to only want to be associated with me because of my white skin.

Being a white person in Ghana, one encouters many conflicting experiences:

Walking down the street I lower my head to a 60 degree angle and focus my attention to the grooves on the sidewalk. On the train I feel embarrassed for the woman who is talking loudly on her cell phone and frustration consumes me as I read the same line over and over again in my book, the tantalizing voyeurism of a mundane conversation invariably distracts me. I’ll enthusiastically greet friends at bars and ignore the guy I sat next to in biology everyday because I have nothing meaningful to say to him.

Summing up his experience, he notes:

They are what makes Ghana both intolerable and exceptionally pleasing, exhausting and perpetually rewarding.

2 comments

  • Ludwig!

    Someone From Ghana is making a massive mobile abuse and molestations by ringing people from Switzerland. He Calls even in the morning at 2.00A.M. Any from the beautiful Ghana please try and put an end to this molested person with his mobile phone. His Mobile Number is:
    00 233 249 389 496

    Many thanks to the people of Ghana.

  • you Guys talkin about mobile phone charges…..i don’t get it,when i was last in Ghana i could rind the uk for about 6p per min ,a call from the uk was 75 p per min…ihad a dongle bought in Accra cheap ,and with 2 gig on it,it lasted me four weeks on my netbook,and ilet other people use it,and it did at least 12 hours a day…and some of the phone companys mentioned i knew after two weeks who was the best1

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