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Cell-Phone Culture and Conjugal Crisis in Ghana

Sat, 11 Sep 2010 Source: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

An Accra-based research center recently conducted a citywide survey on the impact of the use of cell-phones on male-female relationships in Ghana. The findings of the Adam Research Center were then projected nationally to reflect a purported trend in the country (See “Suspicious Phone Calls, [sic] Breaking Love Relationships in Ghana” (Ghanaweb.com 8/10/10).

It goes without saying that such projection is unscientific, because to-date the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians lives in rural communities across the country. What is more, the cultural habits of urban dwellers are not exactly a mirror image of existential trends in rural communities. It is, however, safe to conclude, even as the Adam Research Center does, that the cell-phone revolution of the past decade-and-half, or so, has had both a qualitative and a deleterious impact on “conjugal” relationships across the globe, not only specific to Ghana.

Not very long ago, for example, America’s professional golf phenomenon, Mr. Tiger Woods, had a dramatic falling out with his wife over numerous calls and text messages allegedly made on his cell-phone.

What we learn, however, is not simply that these suspicious phone calls and text messages precipitated the dramatic severance in the Woodses relationship and, by logical extension, all such similar relationships but, rather, the fact that his epic and legendary stardom had, somehow, erroneously convinced Mr. Woods that he could cavalierly break the conjugal norms of American society and get away with it.

In other words, the cell-phone cultural revolution in of itself had absolutely nothing, whatsoever, to do with Mr. Woods’ evident coital incontinence. And had there not existed the cell-phone, sooner or later Mr. Woods, as had so many notorious lechers of his ilk in the past, would have been caught in his allegedly massive cheating habit by his wife. She just may well have solicited the assistance of a private detective.

The Adam Research Center’s findings, which were initially reported by the Ghana News Agency (GNA), also claimed that a little over one-percent of the 800-plus respondents interviewed blamed the cell-phone revolution for “promoting oral sex among partners[hips], sharply against the religious and social morals of society,” without explaining precisely how such oral-sex promotion was being done.

And so, needless to say, one is left wondering whether such behavioral characterization may not be alluding to the phenomenon that has widely come to be known in urban American culture as “phone sex.” For one is more apt to believe the promotion of oral sex to be carried by X-rated documentary videotapes and DVDs, or “porn flicks,” as well as pornographic magazines (or “pornzines”).

Then there is also this trend in which some two-thirds of survey respondents “confirmed that [although] the mobile phone had enhanced their relationships, [nonetheless], most of them [also firmly believed] that [cell-phones] had also given people the opportunity to tell lies.”

The fact of the matter is that congenital liars are liars by nature, which means that the mere availability of cell-phones cannot actively induce an abruptly disturbing culture of conjugal mendacity. The abject risibility of such pretext is akin to claiming the sharp rise in road accidents to have been solely precipitated by the invention of fast-driving automobiles. Whatever happened to such commonsensical rules of the road as driving within the mandated speed limit and wisely paying attention to road signs?

In other words, he verges besides the proverbial point when Dr. Karim Adam, the proprietor and chief executive officer of the Adam Research Center exhorts “Christian and Islamic marriage counselors in the country to step up their education on the use of phones and relationships,” as the latter combination appears to be grievously undermining the sacred bonds of matrimony.

In reality, Ghanaians have for quite awhile now been enduring an abject culture of decadence sharply pronounced by the advent of the Rawlings revolution of the late 1970s and 1980s, a veritable and virtual state of unspeakable violence and anomie that will take a studious and comprehensive national revivalist cultural policy agenda to arrest. And here, of course, we are talking in terms of decades of academic and vocational reforms.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Insttitute (DI) and the author of 21 books, including “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net.

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Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame