Welcome Surfline – Hasta La Vista, Losers!

Okay it has been a while since I got down to writing. My excuse has been a very solid one everything is broken here (I mean Ghana, generally) including the wings of my muses.

So in the last few months…I kicked out that useless internet provider Vodafone. The bloody cheats claimed I used 15GB in one month for checking emails!.

Vodafone had for months tried to muscle me into paying for their ‘unlimited’ bundle (which is actually not unlimited), and I resisted.

I had many words for them when 6 months ago, I got to my office, only to realize that I was out of data. I called Vodafone, and eight attempts later explained to a lady (who sounded like she was sitting on the the loo) for the umpteenth time, that my 15GB data was finished in a week.

“Maybe sir you are downloading plenty things” she proffered

“I only check my mail” I said, very exasperated (I don’t even know why I bother)

“Let me check” she said (I got the sinking feeling she was just counting one to ten and doing nothing).

She told me 10 seconds later that I was out of data.

“Please come in today and pay for more data” she said (did I just hear the WC flush?)

Anyway I digress…. From Vodafone I moved to Zipnet and then hobbled to Teledata.

Yes, communication means very much to me in my line of work…hustling.

Moving to Zipnet should have felt terrible because boy, was the “internet slow”. But I couldn’t be more grateful, the Zipnet guys actually communicate with you when you have a problem, which is very often in the rainy season, mind you.

Did I feel like I got value for my money? The honest answer is, no.

tuning-opel-vectra-17-d-02But imagine leaving behind a fast car that is a guzzler but leaves you on the highway very often  because you run out of fuel and  the fuel  gauge  to that guzzler doesn’t work,  and moving to another car say an Opel Vectra that sputters and jerks and reminds you of Aesop’s fable, the Hare and Tortoise everyday…..damn what am I saying? Well you get my drift. The Opel Vectra eventually gets you to your destination, just like the Tortoise in the story beats the Hare.

That is the best comparison I can come up with comparing Vodafone and Zipnet.

Well I decided not to wait to be ditched first, so from Zipnet  I jumped right to Teledata….now that is like moving from your Opel 1208222288282072163Vectra  to say a showroom Nissan Sunny. The Nissan Sunny is OK, nothing great. You dare not try and overtake a whole bunch of people…what is the hurry? The AC is crap during very hot days, but guess what? At night when you really do not need your AC it  actually works just fine. That is Teledata! Works best at night when I want to sleep and don’t really need it.

glass_half_full_emptyI’m the son of a skeptical dad (not always wearing rose-tinted glasses) and a cynical mum (very toxic) so I grew up a little confused and quite dark I must say, always seeing the half empty water glass  with poison. I wasn’t excited in the least when I heard of Surfline Ghana (one of the licensed 4G LTE telecom service companies).

Friends in the bank told me of test runs and how they experienced orgasmic 24.5 Mbps etc. What did I care? I was in my Nissan Sunny getting to my destination and waiting for night time to use my AC.

I read the Daily Graphic (Monday, August 18, 2014) and they indicated that Surfline Ghana had officially launched its commercial service the very next day, on the 19th day of August 2014. I told you I’m a cynical skeptic. I immediately drove to their offices at Osu( not far from Firefly and opposite Pinnochio). I was cursing as I parked and cursed the parking (there was nothing wrong with the parking, but I still cursed). The security man looked at me as I parked my….Nissan Sunny. He didn’t ask me to move forward or get closer to the next car,as many of those obnoxious diminutive security men do, right after I turned off my engine. That already was a good sign.

I strode into the office which was much more spacious inside than it looked from the outside. A polite young man in a shiny light blue suit (I hear it is called Cyan or something) attended to me and I instantly coughed up GH¢205.00, purchased Surfline’s  Mi-Fi, which allows up to 10 devices to connect to the network to browse. A sweet young girl in a deep blue suit took down my details and five minutes later a smart buxom lady walked me through the setup. Any ordinary mortal would have been impressed by now (buxom lady and all)…service was top notch, now to check out the device.

Back in my office I suddenly realised I hadn’t heard a word the buxom lady had said about my security key,  I do recall she asked me to look at the device….I did then.  I called a friend who had hooked up his girlfriend (or more like himself as he monopolized the device) over the weekend, and I humbly asked him where on earth the security key was. It was at the back of the device (inside the back cover). Tsk, tsk..silly design!

I was at a loss for words when I hooked myself up … I didn’t know the speed and I didn’t care. I have seen many a BWW 7-series overtake my Nissan Sunny and leave me in their wake.

bmw_7series_teaser_com_bg

I now know the feeling of superiority …. I need to lose my Nissan Sunny!

IMG-20140826-WA0000Surfline better not disappoint…this is day one and I am enjoying my Mi-Fi to the max. Surfline had “IT IS TIME” emblazoned on their office walls, how right they were.

My only criticism with Surfline is … Y’all know I have to come up with one….the ladies at SurflineIMG-20140826-WA0001 should wear the light blue suits and let the men wear the deep blue suits. The men in the light blue suits look like clowns, and there is no clowning in this business or we the savvy users will vote with our feet…ask Vodafone.

 

YOUNG AND AMORAL

a.k.a BOO-GIRL

The year was 1996, the theme to my life was “Last Night” by Az Yet……………..(damn, whatever to those poor black guys?).

Anywho, I had my headphones on my neck, my walkman tucked underneath my shirt.

The epitome of swag, I was clothed, designer, from H to T: I  was wearing my favourite Fila sneakers, white and squeaky clean; my favorite Karl Kani shirt and fake designer jeans that read “Nike” which I had recently purchased from Kantamanto and dyed black at some corner in Osu. I was ‘stepping’ or ‘maintaining’ (depends on what secondary school you went to) in those days.

I was at the crowded bus stop at Legon, en route to Adenta, when I spotted her. She was a fine specimen, not too tall not too short, all the right accessories, a bright red skirt that showed enough legs and white blouse that raised he breasts, and an ass so big you could see it from the front. She was waiting for a taxi and standing next to an old man and a middle aged woman. The man stared at her lustfully whilst the woman, eyed her disapprovingly.  She was my kind of girl, though…hawt, hawt, hawt! I was about to enter a ‘jet’ (trotro) that stopped close to my home, on seeing her I quickly cancelled my trotro plans and inched closer to her.

She was, I quickly realized waiting to enter a taxi that was also Adenta bound. An Opel Vectra taxi, came to a screeching halt at the bus stop and many people scrambled for it. I maneuvered quickly, elbowed a few people out of my way including the middle aged woman and the lascivious septuagenarian. In a few seconds, I had deftly entered the taxi and found myself next to the beautiful girl who had swerved many of the crazy people and ended up right next to me in the back seat . In fact she ended up sandwiched between me and another guy, making the magic three at the back seat.

The old man was a fighter and had virtually yanked a school boy out of the cab, pushed the middle aged woman as well, and sidled his way into the front seat. I was so close to this girl who had dropped from heaven, I was afraid she could hear me breathe. The boy on her right, was also donned head to toe in designer accessories, wearing a Pepe shirt, Armani jeans and black Timberlands, his eyes didn’t leave the girl for a second. As the taxi pulled out of the bus stop, I realized that both the taxi driver and the lecherous Methuselah were using the rear view mirror and a strange round mirror next to the rear view mirror, to catch a glimpse at this fine creature who was firmly ensconced between me and the other guy I would simply refer to from now on as…..the “loser” (come on Pepe shirt paaaaa?)

This was no competition! I was the natural winner in my mind.

The driver gave a long sigh and concentrated on the bad road after entering two or three knee deep high craters. The old man finally decided the white bloused chick was not worth the heart attack. That left me and the loser! The loser could have been my double save his choice of “designer” clothes. I had on my foreheads Ray Bans, street orbs mind you. He had on Versace dark glasses and huge head phones on. The Loser nodded his head to some loud music as he held his walkman in his left hand, which meant he had light contact with the right breast of the beautiful damsel.  I eyed the loser. “cheap move” I thought, “how convenient!”. The Loser finally adjusted his Versace shades and placed them on his forehead like mine, “Copy cat” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. “Lose the sportin’ waves already!”, Loser!

I had to say something before this loser could beat me to it. There was something on the radio and the driver was giving his opinion about everything, I laughed weakly and the girl flashed her set of pearly whites. Man, I had plans for us! The girl moved slightly to the left and her hands rested lightly on my thighs, in that move the loser’s left hand lost contact with her left breast, and in that same magic move her left breast touched my right arm…it helped my self confidence that I had doused myself with Calvin Klein CK1 that morning. I smiled. A minor victory. For now. Now, for the major move.

Then something unexpected and quite traumatizing happened…the beautiful girl in the red skirt and white blouse suddenly inserted her index finger up her nasal passage, twisted it around and pulled it out. I was in shock! she actually looked at her find, flashed a wide smile when she realized she had struck gold, she then rolled her catch between her thumb and her index finger, left the catch on her thumb, then used the index finger to flick the booger to kingdom come…landing it on the driving mirror. I inched away from her and closer to the door, shaking all the while. I looked closely at the beautiful girl and realized she had metamorphosed, somehow. She suddenly had huge ears, really huge ears and horrible gnarled toes….how had I missed those? The loser took off his head phone and introduced himself,  she extended her booger hand to him. I looked at the rear view mirror where the offending booger stayed put.

The driver was having a heated debate with the septuagenarian on President Rawlings, whilest the loser and the booger girl chatted happily – a match made in heaven, no doubt!. I shook my head and put on my headphones…Losers!

Of Tolls and Trolls

Legon Toll booths

I begun my studies at the University of Ghana-Legon, in the year 1999. Boy, it was a dreary institution. I have never seen a more disorganized lot than the people who run affairs in Legon. Everything was so bureaucratic, highly unorganized and always involved queues.
The noise about University of Ghana and tolls really got my attention for three reasons:

  • First of all I am an alumnus and as much as I hate to admit it, I try to gauge from the news what is going on in my alma mater.
  • Secondly, I use the route through Legon coming from Adenta.
  • And thirdly because I was in the University for Ghana, I know for a fact that something as simple as organizing a toll collection may be a feat for those running the University.

Last week, the parliamentary select committee on roads and transport summoned the Minister of roads and highways, Alhaji Amin Amidu Sulemani to appear before it and explain the circumstances under which the University of Ghana, was granted permission to charge tolls for the use of its roads. The purpose of the meeting was to ascertain the deal made between the Ministry and University of Ghana. Some students had apparently petitioned Parliament concerning the tolls.  This development shows that not much has changed in the University of Ghana. If the students did petition, it shows that there was probably not much discussion or information that went out there concerning the toll and the users of the said roads.

In my days there was little discussion between the authority of the University and the students. The University had the propensity for coming out with the most ludicrous, impractical and arcane measures seemingly on a whim.
Back then there were less than 30 private cars on campus. These days almost every student seems to have one, or at least a sizeable number have cars.

Toll booths under construction
Toll booths under construction

What were the authorities thinking? That the average University of Ghana  student, the typical Legon student, would pay one Ghana Cedi just like that?…fat chance.

It was reported in the Daily Graphic (Saturday, February 8, 2014) that the Parliamentary select committee on roads and transport, had come to the conclusion that the University of Ghana acted within the law in its imposition of tolls for the use of its road. The vice-chairman of the committee, Mr Theophilus Tetteh-Chaie said the University of Ghana Act, 2010(Act 806) empowered the institution to impose tolls. The paper also reported that a loan of GH¢1.3 million had been secured to rehabilitate the roads and the tolls were thus necessary to pay back the loan.
Whether or not the University of Ghana is empowered to pay tolls is the least of my concern for this article. The University of Ghana has for a long time now restricted cars that ply it road. The University  of Ghana issued stickers years ago, these stickers were renewed yearly. Cars without the stickers were turned away. Many cars paid security men at the entrances or exits, these cars had no stickers. So many security guards could be seen stopping a car, pocketing a red one cedi and waving the car hurriedly on its way.

I was amazed but not shocked, to see that the collection of these tolls imposed was not electronically done. I saw men and women in toll booths that totally lacked design and were simply not practical… something that has plagued my alma mater for a while. The attendant in the first booth I tried to pay at, had to stretch out and downward to give me the ticket and I had to reach high to give her the money, it was a ludicrous sight. The next day I realized the lady attendant was out of the booth and standing comfortably by the booth giving out tickets when drivers paid….are the toll booths already white elephants? And I wonder why the security men who in our time were referred to as Addai Koti could not man these elaborate booths; after all, many are well versed in collection of tolls. I still have my 2012 University of Ghana sticker (UG sticker), which I bought for GH¢150.00 and used for 2 years whilest the road and booth constructions were being carried out. It has of course now been rendered useless with the tolls which came into force on February 1 , 2014. I cannot begrudge the University of Ghana for trying to recoup the money, after all the roads have indeed been rehabilitated. If indeed the authorities of my alma mater want to collect tolls and collect them efficently, then I suggest they do three things:

  • Firstly they should make the stickers easily accessible so that they can be purchased; this is an easier system with respect to monitoring and collection of money. I learnt that students would be issued with UG stickers. Nothing stops the authorities from collecting money as was the case years ago before the toll booths
  • Secondly, persons without stickers should pay the toll to the security men, it is indeed unnecessary to deploy new personnel to collect tolls.
  • Thirdly, there should be close monitoring; a look at the ticket given to me on paying the toll show the system is a recipe for disaster. The ticket was undated and given a simple code…..this looks like a meal ticket for a primary school canteen. If there is no monitoring, money generated will certainly find its way into the pockets of individuals and there will certainly be no money to repay the GH¢1.3 million Ghana Cedis loan.

My alma mater is a small picture of Ghana, brilliant ideas on paper, nice debates about legality or otherwise and a big fat zero on the ground when it comes to implementation. The University of Ghana should raise money, it is in the right direction but they should be wary of trolls who may just pocket the tolls and leave the University high and dry.

VODAFONE- The war between us

When you talk of bad service, I swear Vodafone is at the zenith of that. That company is a bullying mass of rubbish. Breathe, count one to ten, breathe, count one to ten again… yes that is how mad I am.

My sad story begins about a year ago. I didn’t have a proper office but I relied on the internet..heavily. How did I get by? I started out at Busy Internet and got a small office there, with five of us sharing that space. We were hustling big time, paying an arm and a leg for that little 4 by 4. The internet there worked…mostly. I also hang out in cafés and
bars that had free wireless service…To cut a long story short it wasn’t an ideal working situation.

Free Wifi
Free Wifi

I brought in my Bonaqua mineral water  when I knew a particular joint with said wireless service was selling that brand and switched to Voltic when they did, all so I won’t be busted for using their internet for several hours without buying anything.  After finally finding my own office space, I called Vodafone. All I needed was their broadband service. The customer service rep on the other end of the line asked if I had a phone, I answered in the affirmative. Two weeks to ten working days, I was told was the period I had to wait. Three weeks later, I had a call from a guy from Vodafone and practically  leapt for joy. After struggling for more than an hour to give directions to this guy, (whom I suspect wasn’t the brightest bulb on the tree) he eventually showed up. I almost hugged the rather surly and burly Vodafone technician when I saw him.

“Where do you me to fix it?” he asked. I showed him where my land line was and made him aware that my secretary and partner would also need to use the broadband service.

“It is wireless” he mumbled as he bumbled round my office almost as if in a drunken stupor.

Fifteen minutes later he entered my office and made the grand announcement: “You have internet!”

I almost cried for joy, it was the year 2012 and what had I done to deserve such favour…Finally I had my own internet.

He looked at me expectantly; I knew the drill and slipped him a twenty. He didn’t smile or say thank you, he just
looked at it and slipped it into his pocket.  He had barely left, when I noticed something.

“I am not getting any connection from my office” I said weakly

“Ahhh the signal is not strong, it’s like that…. you need a cable or a router, but if you look here
you can see that the green light is on, so the internet is working”

After waiting for so long, it finally hit me that I would have to carry my laptop to the secretary’s
office due to the weak signal. I wasn’t too peeved…yet, after where I’d started from, this was still progress.

landlineMy secretary tapped me on my shoulder and drew my attention to the fact that our phone line was no longer working.

I told the Vodafone technician and he looked at me as if I was the slow one and said:

“Yes, your phone will not work, the old phone lines are voice only so now that you have the internet, the
voice will not work, but if you call Vodafone it will be fixed”.

True story!  After six months of playing phone tag with Vodafone, my land line was finally fixed.

Did I learn my lesson? Yes, Vodafone sucks but they have a monopoly on this type of service.In the meantime I worked my way through a slew of other internet service providers with less than stellar services..

Fast-forward to present day and I was back to the the devil I knew when I needed a new phone. I contacted Vodafone and had it in record time…3 weeks. The catch, however was that I had to pay for 3 months internet to get the new land line.  I tried to explain to the Bozos there that, I had broadband from them already which wasn’t working that great anyways, so no thank you. I was told by the “Vodafone people” that the phone came with the internet, so basically I had no choice but to suck it up and pay for the 3 months. I needed that phone line, so suck it up I did.

A month after getting my new land line (with my own router this time, because remember, weak signals), my internet stopped working. I called the “Vodafone people”, only to be told that I had gone through 45 gigabytes of data in a month and that I had no data left on my account. I had no idea checking emails used up so much bandwith! Unbelievable! I also had a glo account for my ipad which had 8gigs of data and I could somehow use it for 3 months, to surf, send emails and even watch youtube videos and not run out! Glo is no saint in the services department either, but I digress.

A week earlier, a girl from Vodafone, had called and told me in a chirpy voice how the 15 gigs a month I pay for at GH¢70.00 was inadequate. She strongly advised me to switch to GH¢180.00 amonth (the unlimited bundle). I explained to Shelly (I think that was her name), that there was no way I could use 15gigs a month. Shelly said they were advising all their clients to “switch to the GH¢180.000 package as the GH¢70.00 was causing problems”.

Where do these Vodafone people come from? Earth or Uranus? What keeps them awake at night? Do they sleep? Are they happy with the crappy service they provide day in and day out?

I am back at my free wireless internet pub hangout writing, and very furious, the owner looks like he’s made me out, I can see him looking at me, now he’s talking to a waiter and pointing in my direction ( after all I am drinking Bon Aqua and they have switched to Voltic – dang! I have to keep up). As for the war between yours truly and Vodafone it has only just begun.

Victoria’s Secret

Yes I have listened to the tape…the infamous leaked recording of Victoria Lakshimi Hammah.Mine played for just over 33 minutes and it was, indeed cringe worthy. The entire saga now popularly known as Vikileaks has been thoroughly discussed in the media and it is what is definitely trending on twitter with respect to local politics. Not to sound like an annoying headmaster but what lessons have been learnt from Vikileaks?IMG-20131108-WA0008

With all the brouhaha (I just had to use that word somewhere) going on about Miss Hammah, one wonders what really went wrong. Until last year’s outside student politics, very little was known about Miss Hammah.

She had a stint on the program “Real Talk”, and was described by some viewers as ‘hot’. So how did this bulging bosomed and cantilevered buttocks politician rise so fast and fall so hard?

Many pundits in politics would say the writings were on the wall. To be honest the path to success was a tad too easy for Miss Hammah; Student politics, crappy talk show, failed MP bid and then a reward for donning the NDC colours as Deputy Minister of Communications. Miss Hammah

 

I watched her vetting and she got my attention, not because of her wit or looks but because of her religion. I recall that she said she was a

member of the Hare Krishna movement. I told myself I am going to watch that one. The media had a field day a few months ago, urging President Mahama

to sack Miss Hammah with respect to an outburst she made concerning her speech. She showed how immature she was when she blamed her

surbodinates for not giving her the right edited speech. She then proceeded to talk extempore, I think mainly to appear smart to the

public. Whatever shenanigans she was up to, it backfired because

the media begun to hound her ass. A news item, which appeared on Ghanaweb.com dated Saturday, August 10, 2013 and titled “Mahama must sack Victoria Hammah – MP,” one Dr. Kwabena Twum Nuamah, the New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament for Berekum East in the Brong Ahafo Region, referred to the saga as “immaturity and incompetence.”

That was President Mahama’s cue to send his deputy Minister to Sorbibor and bring her back when the heat was down, totally repackaged. Sadly, the opportunity was lost.

Back to Wikileaks, which is essentially the rantings of Miss Hammah, throwing one Rachel Apoh under the bus. Mind you, it is a private conversation, and Miss. Hammah says the most uncharitable things

about Rachel with abandon. She says “people are ambitious and do not read…”, she talks of Rachel about how she should lower her ego, she says the lady has no pedigree (whatever that means), then she talks about how it is not on to fight your Minister(boss) and makes reference to it being like throwing pebbles to the giant. The two most talked about portions are the parts where she says

I million dollars“..If I haven’t made a million dollars, I wouldn’t go and attack people. If you have money then you can control people”. Many people have construed that to mean she intended to make $1million in office, the answer to that, is as a budding politician she probably did.

How many people do not rush into politics to make money, or are there actually still people who rush into politics because they care about the motherland and it tears their hearts apart that nothing good is being done by Government. This is not a new gem of information unknown by the public.

Miss Hammah goes on and on, talking about what Rachel should do or not do. She even goes on that the public perception about her, Rachel and another politician is that they are not too smart.

On another portion of the tape, Miss Hammah refers to Nana Oye Lithur, the Minister of Gender Childeren and Social Protection as working hard for the NDC party and being with the judges before the

judgment. If one listens to Miss Hammah carefully, one realizes the trend of whining and exaggeration throughout the recording. She is no doubt a puerile, self conceited, egoistical creature. She goes on at

length in her “Letter to Rachel” as if reading from her time tested playbook. The recording only brings to light a newbie’s struggle in a political system which can be a cold, cruel and an unusual terrain.

IMG-20131110-WA0002For a 32 year old who had tried to contest a hot seat and lost, Miss Hammah may have had a bright chance 100 blunders down the road. President Mahama should have given her the opportunity to resign and let her have a

better chance in this tough game of politics. Many have done much worse and Miss Hammah refers to Dr. Anane under President Kuffour (JAK) . The difference here is that JAK was not taking a lot of heat as JM is.

What this means for JM is that  he should not just reward anyone who dons the NDC colour and loses an election, there are a plethora of talents to choose from. The case of Miss. Hammah who is about the same age as

Jerry John Rawlings was when he first tasted power, shows that one has to be circumspect and even choose their audience widely…trust no one in politics; the Judas Iscariot here was apparently a driver (a cousin).

General Acheapong is noted for making coded, long conversations; his reference to the behinds of womean as collateral and his refusal to write many things on paper that could incriminate him, are lessons to learn if one aspires to go to great heights in politics. Victoria Hammah was a disaster waiting to happen but she did not deserve to be sacked, she should have been repackaged and released onto the unsuspecting public in the future.

Rachel Apoh must be having her last laugh at Miss Hammah herself having failed to follow lines from her own playbook. As they say it is hard to feel sorry for a rich girl drinking champagne on a yacht, especially one aspiring for $1 million. All the best to Miss Hammah we will miss her sorry ass.

IMG-20131108-WA0007