Ghanaian definition of 'smartness'

Mobile Phone Call 750x375 A file photo of someone on the phone making a call

Fri, 29 Jan 2021 Source: Osei Tutu

In the late 1990s and early 2000s mobile telephony was not in vogue. Many a people relied on communication centres for their telephone needs.

To save the situation the then Ghana Telecom Company Ltd brought in telephone booths and install them at vantage points throughout the country. So with a card one could reach friends and relatives elsewhere.

Unfortunately these phone booths did not last. To make phone calls with little or no charge in a bid to outwit the system, people inserted all manner of things in these booths. Among the things people inserted were blade, pebbles, pins, papers and what have you.

In no time all the phone booths were destroyed and Ghana Telecom never recovered its investment. It was part of the reasons why the company became insolvent and had to be sold to Vodafone UK.

Then again in the mid 2000s the government introduced Metro Mass Transit into the transport system of the country. To make its use less financially burdensome to the poor, the ticketing system was such that with one ticket, one could board any of the buses any number of times throughout the day

without having to pay additional money.

As usual we as a people forced the government to abolish this ticketing system. What many of us did was that we bought one ticket, used it to board a bus to our destination and give it to another person to also use it.

It came to a time when a bus could be full and yet everyone on board would be using a transferred ticket hence no payment. At a point the company was running at a loss and that was the end of that pro-poor policy.

In most advanced countries such people who tried to outwit the system thereby grounding it down are seen as saboteurs and criminals and are always identified and flashed out swiftly.

In Ghana however, such people, with some gloomy pride, see themselves as smart. Interestingly the Ghanaian society also see them as such.

So instead of being ashamed of such behaviour, they feel encouraged to continue with such diabolic endeavours. In the end they rundown every system introduced to enhance the quality of life of the people.

Such people never use their smartness to improve anything but rather use it to abuse the system for their selfish gain. Name it and they abuse it; be it mobile money, road toll, bank loan, scholarship scheme, school feeding programme, NHIS, Covid-19 Stimulus Package, Disability Fund, School Selection and Placement System and what have you.

Until such a time that we begin to recognize such people as saboteurs and criminals as they are, the society shall continue to suffer from their menace.

Columnist: Osei Tutu