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Opinions of Monday, 28 February 2022

Columnist: Abdul Rahman Odoi

Things that used to be luxury

A car is no more a luxurious good A car is no more a luxurious good

In our part of the world, that which seemed to be a necessity is considered luxurious due to low effective demand, the passage of time, and many other factors, the story isn’t the same lately.

1. Air-conditioner (AC): If one were to purchase an (Ac) in say ten years ago, and happened to be residing in a family house, or a rented single room, neighbours would go berserk at his choice, which isn’t even theirs. One would be told that he is being a spendthrift and that he shouldn’t be like the prodigal son. They would even point at one Atta Mensa who may have perchance worked for thousands of years and still hasn’t been able to buy an air-conditioner.

The narrative isn’t the same anymore. Even people in Accra are complaining about the torrid heat of the weather. There are those who would walk in town and when they can’t bear the hotness of the sun anymore, they would resort to a nearby banking hall just to pretend as though they are in for a business transaction when what they actually need is just a cool wind from the bank’s central or standing (AC). In places like northern Ghana, residents now say the lorry fare from there to the sun is just GH₵2. This is to exaggerate the blistering nature of the sun in that beautiful part of Ghana.

2. Generator: Households that used to have generators were regarded as better-to-do families. It was so uncommon to see normal people owning a generator those days. To them, it’s sleeping cash; no returns on it. So why owning it?

Recently, it has become a necessity good for many reasons: power outages and business. In 2016 or so, people who traded in generators made a lot of money due to the unbridled power crisis. And today, because of high electricity bills, there are some businesses who consider generators (or plants) the more. Many sole proprietors and households, for not trusting the proactiveness of the power providers, they now have generators on standby.

3. Polytank: The only time one would see a water reservoir tank in those days would be when passing by a well-gated house, companies, or its vendors.

The undue prevalence in the cut of water supply in some areas of the country precipitated the need for one not to walk by ten households without seeing a poly tank in the present Ghana.

And for the reason of COVID-19, people would rather reserve water in order to practice good hygiene of regular hand washing and to get a 24/7 hour water supply for house chores. The idea of going about with gallons or buckets to fetch water is now antiquated and looks irritating.

4. Car: This is arguable a bit. But still, a car is no more a luxurious good. It would become luxurious when one chooses to buy a car he might not be able to afford it twice. For example, one would buy Benz when he actually needed Toyota Yaris or Vitz.

These aside, Accra is widely known for its traffic proneness; and it is so horrific. If one owns a car, one could evade the traffic in a smart way. But joining a public transport or “trotro”, least to say, a fifteen minutes journey would even take an hour. I won’t mention Spintex. To family people, owning a car is a necessity. The children would need to be driven to school. Now that kidnapping is rampant, driving one's ward to school isn’t for negotiation.

Car saves time. A car even saves money. Car saves stress. It’s just unfortunate that governments upon governments haven’t made it easy for the acquisition of cars. Car duty is skyrocketing. Fuel price is going at a moon-length high. Regardless, a car isn’t a necessity when living in Accra.

6. Toilet Facility: It looks surprising, right? The days that people used to queue to answer nature’s call are coming to an end. And thus households have realised that toilet facilities are no more luxurious, and not only the rich deserve to own one. Today, even in a single room, there’s a washroom made available.

7. An iPhone: Photographers see it as a substitute. For instance, the 'One Take' music video was shot with iPhone 11. Park Chan-wook shot the movie ‘Life is But a Dream’ with iPhone 13. So iPhones can do the job. Also, city boys, with only a spoon as a lifetime property, all want to be accorded as chairman. The ladies too, don’t want to be left out. For this and many reasons, only a few regard iPhones as luxury lately. And even these few, too, are being disillusioned.

8. Grilled Tilapia and Catfish: Many households used to consider grilled tilapia and catfish as meals for the rich. But it’s not the same now. City boys have now normalised the consumption of catfish and tilapia, no matter the size of their pockets. They don’t wait to eat it at the end of the year again. GHOne TV put up a whole news item about the booming catfish industry, which has become a topmost preference for all classes of people.

Now, with the above mentioned, in some countries like the United Kingdom, America, Italy, etc. they are all necessities, not comfortable or luxurious. They are the very things even the poor own. So, let’s rather fight poverty, since it has always been the determiner of our taste.