Many movies and cultures have villains and for the Yoruba culture, the ultimate villain or bad guy is what is locally referred to as “keni mani”. I do not know of a word to translate it but it generally means someone who has something and does not want you to have too. To the Yorubas, that is the zenith of wickedness. If you have something, how on earth does it bother you that someone else does have that thing too?
If you have this tendency, you will do the world and yourself a lot of good curbing it. If you have a friend or know someone who does, advise them or flee. This behavior can be likened to being an “enemy of progress”.
Econet wireless stormed Nigeria in 2001 with the Econet Buddie sim packs and later they introduced other tariffs and packages like Econet Libertie and so on. With a huge sense of pride, arrogance and show-off, I am happy to tell you that I am one of the first people in Nigeria “to be related to someone who got the GSM line as soon as it came out”. My sister got one. Am I not just a big boy?
Later MTN came along and Glo likewise. Glo came after Econet and MTN had successfully looted what I term “the GSM novelty bounty” or “JJC subscribers levy”. SIM packs sold for up to N45,000. Phones on the other hand “were not the main problems” since you could buy a Nokia 3310 for about N40,000 or thereabout. If you are more interested in showing off, the Samsun R220 popularly called “blue face” (from the colour of its backlight) sold for about N5,000 above the 3310.
As expensive as GSM communication was, ladies and gentlemen, I finally got a breakthrough.
Don’t be over-excited for me, “no be me buy phone”. My mum got her MTN line and a sweet Nokia 3310 whose ringtone, more than twelve years on still rings in my head. It was not the regular Nokia tone, it was the “That’s it” tone. Youtube should have it if you need a fix of nostalgia except of course you currently use a phone that “sings” like that. Humiliating.
Trust me, I quickly devised a timetable that featured how much time I could spend with the phone and since I am tech-inclined, I was mummy’s go-to guy for some then-seemingly-complex tasks. “Ife, this ringtone is not loud enough ooo”, “Ifeoluwani, something is removing my credit oooo”, Ife ooooo, come and reduce the vibration oooo”….okay, I made up the vibration part. I even got to take my phone out. Sorry, my mum’s phone.
Evenings, I would call my friends. Relax, they weren’t richer than me, I meant I would call their mum or dad’s phone and go like; “I want to speak with yinka” and the parent would reply “good evening, who is this?”…..ooooops, GSM communication corrupts good manners? “Sorry sir, my name is Ife, Yinka’s friend…..please can I speak with him? Sir?”.
Around 2003, Econet came out with a promo. A SIM card was just N6000 only. Finally, I bought one. Supo, an in-law gave me N6000 to get him a SIM pack during one of my numerous trips to computer village. You really did not think I would buy a SIM for N6,000, did you?
So he doesn’t feel embarrassed, I will not mention how long that SIM stayed in his wardrobe without use. Some folks thought he just did not have time for phone, others believed it was because phone manufacturers did not have a promo of theirs. I will reserve my opinion and comments about that.
Some Econet/V-Mobile/Vodacom/Celtel/Zain/Airtel subscribers are not so happy about the rate at which the franchise alters its brand. I couldn’t care less. I in fact have welcomed the V-mobile takeover. My parents do not have shares in the company, neither do we deal in their products. Why am I happy then? I will tell you later.
The “keni mani” concept I started with unfortunately is creeping into our modern lives. You will often her people say, “I have been using a phone before it became cheap”. Congratulations I tell them. Where the problem starts is when they go on “..not now that every Tom, Dick and Harry is now using phone”…then I get really angry and ask “what’s the point?”. You bought it expensive so people should never have it cheap or have it at all?
In whatever flavours, you will always find people repeat this pattern of “I got X first, I bought X expensive……unfortunately, people now have it”. Again, good luck to you. People’s lives will get better, they will get better jobs and they will afford good things. Nagging about people’s success is just a free invite for migraine, envy and hatred. You have to fix it before it fixes you as that “guy or gal” who is rich but never happy.
After all these rants, I am pleased to inform you that despite my scorn at buying expensive SIM packs, I bought mine expensive too. It was not even for N6,000, not even N10,000, not even N20,000, not even N35,000. Sure you know how much I bought it already, smart person you are.
Yes!!! You got it right! I bought it for three hundred naira only (N300). That, my friends, is the nice thing V-mobile did for me.