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Kwesi Yankah Writes: Thank God the Network is Down

Long before this, the network was blamed for every lapse. The heat wave across Ghana the past few days? It’s the Network. The air is stale, tree branches asleep; the network.

Suddenly, a strange creature appears on our planet that spins the universe on its fingers and claims credit for all we do. They call it the Network, to which mankind is now wedded in holy matrimony. In recent times, it has taken a short leave partly to check our fate should it decide to finally die.

Not long ago, we were all nature’s children running errands by literally running with a swift pair of feet. We were later relieved by the talebearing telephone, ‘ahomatrofo,’ readily available at the post office, which was pressed so hard to the ear there was often a residue of thick wax, left by the previous user.

It was your duty to clean this with the tip of your cloth. Soon the phone became a household thing with an adjoining cord, that made it clumsy to take a call in the middle of a plantain meal. The alternative was to buy a mobile cordless phone, (megyina abƆnten) that enabled storekeepers in Adum to lick soup off their elbows while talking on phone. That also allowed open air gossip across long distances; and phone users had to yell their messages, due to a local mistrust of phones without wires.

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In no time, the world was taken over by a global computer network that provides a variety of information and talk facilities, all rolled into a pocket-size wallet; this reduces the burden of human mobility, to a leisurely walk with your fingers. The world then became so sweet you could lie in bed at Ogyakrom and interview for a job position in New York. In our absent-mindedness, however, we made no room for a Plan B. The almighty Network now cracks, and our world grinds to a halt. The business world limps, banks choke with queues, students cannot do homework, Uber and Bolt taxis freeze; flights are grounded. The ‘momo’ agent locks up and goes to a weeklong funeral; location maps give false directions, and we return to the same old ‘blue kiosk’ to show the way. It is worse when this happens in no other place than Ogyakrom, where there is not much difference between network and footwork.

The Tree our Satellite Dish

Here, the network was blamed for every lapse. The heat wave across Ghana these days? It’s the Network. The air is stale with tree branches drooping; the Network. A worried bank cashier slaps her sleeping laptop to confirm your zero balance: it’s the Network. Your daughter calls every hour for her school fees. Is Daddy broke? No, it’s the Network. The Network has depleted Daddy’s bank balance.  To which a suspicious DC Kwame Kwakye would have wondered, ‘Network? From the where?’

All this happens at a time our kids and grandkids have taken over households giving tuition to grandparents. Already the young ones are bigger and taller than us, and no one tells you who is the Daddy in a family picture. Daddy is often the shortest; and the last born, the tallest. The world has conspired to shrink the size of parents so children can take over, having the bread of life on their fingertips.  They teach Grandpa and Grandma the Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, ensuring that our jittery fingers do not stray to the delete button. In the mighty name of Network, kids are also our landlords, rolling out extra classes and teaching us how to pay electricity bills without waking up local managers of ECG, or paying bills through the manager’s wife.

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In Search of the Missing Network

That also means should the Network collapse, Grandpa would most likely celebrate, and pray it lasts a little longer to help restore the balance of power at home.

See what happens at home when the young ones visit the loo in response to a constipation urge. Daddy peeps one day and realizes that Kwame the patient, has not been pushing at all to relieve his plight.  Kwame visits the loo mostly for Network browsing, and often exits without the sweaty face of a constipated boy. Daddy is then compelled to seize Kwame’s phone for 24 hours, and the constipation vanishes. Thanks to Daddy the senior medical officer.

In Search of the Missing Network

Beyond all this, I miss the physical Bible in the Methodist church, from which the first lesson, second lesson, third lesson are read. Here comes the Bible App on your phone, which gives you access to Leviticus with the touch of a button. But how does the Pastor know it is God’s word you are reading from your phone and nothing else? Just imagine how long a whole church service lasts. It would simply mean, apart from the ‘Kofi ne Ama’ Collection, the Network at the congregation’s fingertips allows them to visit other ‘churches’ and more exciting sites while Osofo preaches to deaf ears. In our response to the Pastor’s ‘Give the Lord a Shout,’ the earsplitting ‘Allelujah’ we yell could be more in praise of the mighty Network which has made our day. Whenever church members return and say ‘we had a good time in church today,’ don’t assume this is in praise of their Pastor. The Network Pastor waits to take the credit. Indeed, while the congregation pays their tithes here,  the bigger tithe may go to the thrilling website in the form of phone credits. It is here their God liveth.

Finally, then see how the Mighty Network has weakened human ties at home. Network is taken to the kitchen, along with you to the bathroom, and to bed. The frequent chat between Mum and Dad begins to fade out, and you may even suggest  a new name: ‘The Don’t-Mind-Your-Wife network.’

Considering all this, do you blame the young wife who looks in the face of her husband, and bluntly confesses one morning:

Thank God the Network is down, we can now have our firstborn.


This content is the intellectual property of Prof. Kwesi Yankah. The Accra Times reserves the right to publish it. Any unauthorized use of this content, reproduction, distribution, or modification without the express written consent of The Accra Times is strictly prohibited.

Writer’s email: [email protected]

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