20 October 2008

Ghana: Bizcom and Internet Café Scams in the Garden City, Kumasi


Kumasi — The late Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first President had cause to complain when in his fiery wind of change he tried to get other African leaders of newly independent African countries to rally behind him for the "New Africa." He envisioned this new Africa as both politically and economically independent.

Sad to say, Nkrumah saw a lot of feet-dragging from most of these new leaders who thought Nkrumah was not only drunk with power in his little West African country but also had wild dreams of becoming president of his envisioned Union Government of Africa or even a United Stated of Africa.

While Nkrumah bemoaned the stance of the likes of Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Tafawa Balewa of Nigeria and Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere of the United Republic of Tanzania, who all vehemently opposed the Osagyefo's wild dreams, Nkrumah said emphatically that while others in the West had entered the Nuclear Age; Africans were still crawling. He thought he himself was in that Age, he saw Nyerere and his brethren had become "tractor drivers." No doubt, today, Africa is still lagging behind both politically and economically. We have flag independence, yes; we lack economic freedom, true; daily running with cap in had to the Bretton Woods Institutions for "aids" Africa in dire straits. We lack good, dynamic, bold leadership, good governance and are beretf of self-confidence. Africa is bulldozed by disease, paralyzed by hunger, overcome by floods and weakened by poverty. There is no telling how Africa is unique, unique in her voluptuous emptiness, nothingness and hollowness.

While the Asian tigers are galloping away with their economics well steered, poor Africa is in saharalised economic doldrums. There is a hurricane of economic disaster. Africa is still, 50 years on after independence, the black baby sucking and learning how to walk, and guess what, always blaming the West for the rest of its woes.

Africa is still, after all, the laughing stock of the world, suffering jeer and leer, helplessly looking up to the European Union (EU) and a recession-hit United States of America for help God, indeed, help Africa.

Even our oil has become a curse and countries that are new oil-finds support their jaws with their plans, looking into a futile future while contemplating that to discover oil could be a course instead of a blessing. Look at Big Brother Nigeria.

Even the usually optimistic Ghana, upon discovering oil, started down the road, whining about the possible curses instead of taking a positive view of the inherent blessings therefrom; at this time that the world has gone financially lousy, crazy, bigoted, and swooning.

Let me just stop here for a moment and address another issue that has caught Africa pants down. ICT Information Communication Technology, which is the in-thing now and has allegedly made the world "a global village".

Whereas the world has become a global village, the new technology is ticking with dizziness of the newness of it.

Come with me to Kumasi, the Garden City of West Africa. The city has become inundated with Business and Communication centers and Internet Cafés.

Ghana has entered the global village and should be running along with the rest of the village: sadly, however, Ghana is flat-footed and cannot hop along with Uncle Sam or technologically supersonic India.

Yes, we do have a few computer wizards here and there but they have been swallowed up by the very people who give us "aids"

Why am I dreaming veering off the course I set myself upon?

In Kumasi, you can buy the Biz & Com centers two for a pesewa. Recent experiences in these businesses have left me breathless and confused.

There is an Internet Cafe at Mr. Newman's Palace, near the Amakom roundabout, in Kumasi.

Thinking it was worth its name and salt, I hopped in to do business; e-mail a story to Public Agenda in Accra.

For two damned good hours I sat in the half-air-conditioned place, yawning, dozing coming out of that and looking in bewilderment at Jane, the lady in charge of affairs then; in charge of e-mailing my story.

Anytime our eyes met in askance, she would re-assure me with, "Oh, I'm coming." She repeated this so many times that if this meant the pre-orgasmic feeling of a couple having sex, I was 100% sure she must be one of the rigid, frigid women in this country who cannot climb up that far in the game.!

I replied with the yawn of a hungry dog pleading with the master to take note that it was time for feeding.

Eventually, she called me over and said my story had gone through the mail, smiling. I bought her story and paid off the Gh¢2.00 and left the premises.

A call to my editor outside the Internet café told me a different story.

"Not true," came the booming voice of Mr. Hanson (Amos was then out in Germany somewhere asking and answering questions about elections in Ghana and Germany and getting totally startled by state-of- the- art- studios right in the heart of a Bavarian Parliament!) I was startled. To return or not to return, was the question. Hours later, my editor affirmed in the negative.

Quickly, I had my story faxed to Public Agenda in Accra. But that too reminded me about another unsuccessful fazing escapade at "K,O," a suburb of Kumasi.

That 'centre' faxed my story but it failed to arrive so next day I had to "emplane" by 'Ford' car to Accra so as to beat the 'going - to bed' visa problem of newspapers and their editors.

Another establishment in Kumasi nearly had me peeing in my pants when another fazing episode nearly went sour.

What are all these? Scams? Business and Communication Centers/Inernet cafés scams.

I wonder if anybody is watching these people ripping us off.

Christians are stealing in the name of the Lord; politicians are getting their kick-backs; headmasters and principals are becoming pregnant riding on the financial humps of poor parents through an animal called "PTA"; accountants and auditors are fleecing government coffers dry; over and under-invoicing have their role to play and even the church mice have learnt how to steal wine and communion from churches.

Quo vadis, Ghana? Poor Nkrumah! He is either getting tickled or is by now totally sickened by it all.

I daresay, I am not the only complainant but since the economic shoes I am wearing are either too tight, therefore pinching my feet, or are altogether too voluminous to lace any tighter to form, I dare not ask the defendants to be prosecuted. There, too, the lawyers will have a field day, I know.

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