Hi, my name is Africa and I’m addicted to my cell phone

One of the new smart phonesOne of the most used technologies when it comes to communication in Africa is the cell phone (mobile phone). It is so widely used that most African banks now use it to deliver banking solutions to suit those people who live in remote areas or those who prefer not to deal with that clingy bank teller who rattles on and on about how she can’t find true love despite all her good efforts.

However, the cell phone, with all its advantages, has irreversibly changed the way we interact with each other. Gone are the days when someone spent a year without talking to you because they genuinely couldn’t get in touch with you. These days we have Facebook, BBM, Mxit, Whatsapp and a whole host of tools available on our phones that make it harder to use the “I didn’t have your number” line on anyone.

Although I am a fan of technology, I feel that as cell phones have become smarter they have also become so pervasive that there are few things in our lives that are not in some way connected to them. For example, I struggle to have a conversation with my friends or my girlfriend without someone or something on my phone petitioning for an audience with me.

We talk about being free and living in a civilised society yet our biggest slave master is right there with us all the time in our pockets, handbags and even inside our bras (yes TIA some people do that here). Upon leaving our houses every morning, we pad ourselves down every now and again as a ritual to check that we haven’t forgotten our phones.

It has become so ridiculous that we spend the day chatting to friends and loved ones telling them how we can’t wait to see them only to visit them, whip out our phones, start chatting with other people who are not there feeding them the same sentimental BS about how we must do lunch sometime. I am no expert but it is safe to suggest that we are very much addicted to our cell phones like alcoholics are to alcohol.

Think about it, we are on our cell phones almost all the time except when we are sleeping (with our phones right by the side of the pillow just in case). We spend money (that we don’t have sometimes) to feed this habit by buying the latest smart phone that we simply ‘need’ to have. We get irritated when someone even suggests that we are addicted to our cell phones and even retort with the “I can stop any time I want to” line.

I end this with a challenge; in fact forget that I dare you. I dare you to leave your Blackberry, iPhone, Tab or whatever your poison is… I dare you to leave that at home today and not look at it for the whole day. Prove to yourself that you are not a slave to your phone and that you can survive without it like you probably have for a large chunk of your life. Okay hold on brb my friend just pinged me.

*TIA = This is Africa

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One leap for South African HIV research

The Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa consortium, led by Professor Salim Abdool Karim, has discovered a weakness in the virus that enables the body to produce a “broadly neutralising antibody response”.

This is good news given that African and other less developed countries have felt the brunt of this virus more heavily than countries in the developed world.

There is even talk of a vaccination being introduced in a few years. Of course this is no reason for us to live recklessly. We must continue to use condoms as opposed to eating beetroot, exercising and showering after the exchange of bodily fluids as was infamously suggested by two South African politicians.

I never thought I’d see the day when HIV/AIDS was talked about like the flu, a headache or a simple throat infection. Although there is still stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, it seems we are getting closer to a time when you can actually call your boss and say “I’m sorry boss, I won’t be in today I have a bad case of the AIDS.” I hope that time comes soon.

For now though we all have to be cautious, that means getting tested as often as possible, staying faithful to your partner and checking underneath the bed for monsters.

Exam season is here!

It’s that time of the year again when African teenagers everywhere sit and sweat for 2 – 3 hours at a time in a bid to gain entrance into universities, colleges or MacDonald’s depending on how the end of year high school exams go.

If you’ve been studying diligently throughout high school you have little to worry about. If you are one of those who stumbled across this site while looking for exam advice (and your exam is tomorrow) then as they say in France “you are knee deep in it”.

As Professor Jonathan Jansen once said in his book we need to talk, “the brain, unlike other muscles, is a sophisticated organ – not one that can be subjected to sudden press ups just before a race”

In light of the above I would like to tell you that all hope is not lost. Many, like myself, have in the past sat for the same exams and I turned out okay. Of course I studied, however there were a few additional hidden gems of advice that helped me get through this period with a smile on my face. I am about to share them with you.

Firstly, wear tight shoes to all your exams. When someone wears tight shoes all they can think about is the pain they feel in their toes and a few other things. This will make you more focused because all you will have on your mind are your toes and the exam for that day.

Secondly, all great men (and women) have become great because they persevered: Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, Henry Mushayabhachi? You don’t know who Henry is? No? That’s because he gave up.

Thirdly, there is little you can do now to change your results at this late stage. Now is the time for rest, revision and consolidation. Cramming only works for drivers’ licence exams and spinach only works for Popeye so get what you have now, master it and make sure don’t mess up the little that you know.

Lastly, these exams have no reflection whatsoever on whether you are intelligent or not…(silence) sike! Seriously, they don’t and if you don’t do well it’s not the end of the world. If you do congratulations but remember this is only the beginning.