Sunday, May 28, 2006

Flashing as an epidemic on the West coast



(Off the cuff published in Nigerian Tribune, Thursday 3 February 2005)

Colleagues from other West African countries here at the ongoing WSIS preparatory summit in Accra Ghana have confessed to me that flashing is a sin their people are also guilty of.


From Ghana to Mali, mobile phone users demonstrate the active penchant for helping others squander their credit while conserving their own.


"There are Ghanaians who though are earning foreign currency in London, would still flash you sometimes, hoping for you to call them back,'' said Naa, a journalist with a general interest magazine published for Ghana from the UK.


The 'epidemic' has spread very widely in Cote d'Ivoire, according to an Abidjan-based ICT journalist, Theodore Kouadio.


Of course, in Cote d'Ivoire, they don't call it flashing. They call it 'bip', pronounced 'beepeh'.
In The Gambia, flashing is a way of life, especially among the youths.


"Yes, you do that (Flash) to let people know you are trying to reach them, said Bakare Muritala, a journalist for the Observer of The Gambia. In his argument it is not really because people are not willing to spend their own credit, but just because they are out of credit at the particular moment they need to make the call.


Ghanaians seem to have mastered the art of flashing more than everybody else though.
During one of the tea breaks at the pre-event workshop, a Ghanaian participant particularly turned out to be some kind of irritant to other participants. His phone was forever ringing once or twice every few seconds. He was determined not to call the caller back, but the caller was equally determined he would not let up until he was called back.


Well, yours sincerely taught him a trick he could use to take care of the situation.
Instead of putting his phone back in his holster after each flashing episode, I asked him to hold it in his hand and press the answer button as soon as the call enters. After picking the flashing a couple of times the phone remained silent for the rest of the day.


As for texting, this is not something that our compatriots seem to enjoy. Theodore tells me his people are textually inactive. He personally had never sent a text before. People would rather talk to you directly either by putting a call through or, forcing the other party to call you via flashing.


Also suffering from low text drive is Benin Republic, just a stone throw from Nigeria. Textual intercourse is prevalent among Ghanaians, but I would say they still have one or two things to learn from Nigeria where a number of incentives by operators have served as a textual aphrodisiac.


Many people who had never sent an SMS in their entire life recently began to bombard their family and friends with texts courtesy of 12 free texts per month policy of Vmobile and the two texts per recharge of Glo Mobile.


Nigeria is still their baba!

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