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Thursday, Nov. 30
The Indiana Daily Student


Modern tech in traditional lands

As I sat at the outdooring (baby naming) ceremony, I couldn’t help but notice the intense interactions between tradition and modernity in Ghanaian society.

As the pastor performed the traditional sacred rites of naming the 8-day-old baby, cell phones began to ring. During the ceremony, I counted 20 cell phones going off (including that of the parents and the pastor performing the ceremony), 12 people texting, six people leaving the room to use the phone and one getting up during the ceremony and talking loudly on their phone.

Ghanaians are all about the cell phones. Everywhere you look you see ads for Tigo, MTN or Zain on billboards, T-shirts and even painted on the walls of houses in slum areas.

Phones here are pay as you go, so you buy a phone for about 40 cedis (about $28) and buy a chip and some minutes. There are no contracts; you just buy a sim card for 1 cedi (70 cents) that provides you with a number and you are ready to have your friends call you.

And call you they will. Nearly anytime I walk anywhere I meet new “friends” who want my phone number. I learned very quickly to say “no, I don’t have a phone” or even just “I don’t want to give you my number.”

From the moment you give someone your number, he or she will flash you, call you so you have their number on record, and continue to call and text you at all hours of the day and night until you answer.

Phones are an important mode of communication in Ghana. In a country without many landlines, access to speedy Internet or reliable transportation, it is difficult to get in touch with people.

That is where phone companies like Tigo and MTN come in. These companies play a vital role in uniting the more than 40 different ethnic groups of Ghana and bringing a sense of modernity to traditional settings.

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