Feature Article of Monday, 23 January 2012
Columnist: Mensah, Solomon
By Solomon Mensah
I can hardly believe that the man running to “catch reception” is not Usain Bolt. His son has promised calling at this particular time and he needs to be at that strategic location in order not to miss the call. With his Nokia 1100 (watchman touch) held tightly like a relay baton, he races towards the House of God. Truly, we have untapped potentials in the country.
The Roman Catholic Church sits on the right shoulder of the bumpy and dusty road which runs through Dodosuo. Interestingly, this edifice does not only serve as a place of worship but as a communication centre for the village folks as well. As to why the only faint reception survives in front of the House of God, is another miracle. Perhaps, it might be the divine gift that comes with the presence of the Holy Spirit!
A cement block at the forecourt of the church and a bridge at its north-west have their share of the reception (network). Missing these three centers, one misses the word ‘hello!’ Ironically, one has to turn repeatedly when at these “com centers.” It is as if searching for GTV at Nkoranza-Nkwabeng. A first timer to the Doduoso “communication centre” is bound to watch with a lot of amusement.
Nana kyei Baffour, the Mmerantehene of Dodosuo was much pleased for my presence. His excitement was taken to a different level when I introduced myself a student journalist. “Oh saa?” he exclaimed before I could tell him my name.
Having explained my mission, he shook my hand vigorously for the second time. Before he would speak, he handed me his mobile phone to see the “No service” to corroborate how difficult it is to make calls there. As if we were in a phone showbiz, I showed him mine and tried other communication network chips to be sure if the others did not work there.
Of all the problems bedeviling Dodosuo, it seems getting a communication network service is paramount to them. Nana Kyei told me that he had made frantic efforts to get a solution. He had gone to the offices of the various communication networks. But all to no avail.
“Is it because we are a bit detached from Drobo?” he wondered, as if the distance between the two towns is farther than that of Tumu to Accra. Dodosuo is a suburb of Drobo in the Brong Ahafo Region. Boarding one of the rickety taxi cabs from Drobo lorry station will take you through Gonoasua-Kuromonom to Sebereni, and then to the Doduoso.
“Why do you think Dodosuo needs a communication network?” I asked. He cleared his throat, stole a glance at the shadow of a mango tree cast by the scorching sun, and kept an awkward silence that seemed to outlast eternity. I became confused as to whether I had not asked the right question. I could not afford to mess up in my first assignment as a student journalist, I said to myself.
But just before I tried clarifying the question, he shot a finger resembling the posture of Dr. Nkrumah’s statue. It was directed at a heap of foodstuffs packed by the road side.
“The lack of network is hampering our business activities in many ways,” he said.
The people of Dodosuo are mainly farmers and they harvest bountifully each year. Drobo is their main market, but buyers from Fetentaa, Jinijini, Berekum and even Kumasi also transact business with them. Some chop bar operators at Nsoatre and Sunyani rely on the farmers for their produce.
The crop producers of Dodosuo need to communicate with their customers and know when and how much foodstuffs to dispatch, especially to the chop bar operators. The absence of a communication network, therefore, not only hampers business and cripples the farmers’ source of income, but it has also been a threat to the potential tillers of the land. The young men are leaving for towns and cities where they can enjoy such basic necessities as mobile network.
For the Police at Dodosuo, there is no such word as secret when they want to communicate official information to their superiors outside the town. At this same ‘com center’, where the town folks gather to make calls, the police shout louder than the vuvuzla when making or receiving calls. These calls include security briefings from outside the town.
Detective Lance Corporal Adu Stephen said aside secrecy there is lack of communication between them and the police at Drobo. “Recently, we found it difficult reporting to Drobo of a woman found hanged,” he said.
“Tell them we badly need a communication service at Dodosuo. It is a boarder town and tip-off from informants is very crucial,” he stressed as if the solution to their problem lay solely in what I would write.
Until I visited Doduoso, I took mobile communication network for granted. The visit also showed me that mobile phones have long ceased to be luxuries. They are now necessities that do not only enhance the communication between business executives and bankers in the big cities. The farmer far away from the city needs it too.
Unfortunately, however, this basic necessity of life still remains a luxury to the people of Doduoso.
The writer is a student-journalist at the Ghana Institute of Journalism. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org