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Smartphone mania on the bus


IN THE last two months I have been using public transport and walking, which I enjoy quite a lot, I have made some interesting observations on the behaviour among my fellow Lusaka residents.
I don’t know if it is a reflection of the behaviour of other Zambians elsewhere because I am yet to conduct some research.
But what I am seeing is not what one would describe as noble conduct. It amounts to a display of backwardness, although someone may argue his voice hoarse that it is a reflection of Zambia’s advancement in technology and access to the internet.
Or is it a true indicator of increasing penetration of the information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the, hitherto, unreached layers of our population?
I am still scratching my head for answers. Maybe you have one?
It all has something to do with the coming of the, admittedly, trendy smart phones, in form of both the cheap imitations and the expensive genuine handsets.
Each time I board any of those blue and white contraptions passing for passenger buses, in which passengers are packed like sacks of Irish potato, I will see not less than two women or girls busy scrolling, poking or thumbing their phones throughout the journey.
Some will simply be caressing the phone with embarrassing affection, almost kissing it.
They want everyone around them to know that they have not been left behind in the technology craze.
In fact I have noticed this behaviour among even those with the tuma ordinary gong’as from some Asian country, including the small handsets sold by mobile phone service providers, which are contemptuously called tujilijili in Lusaka.
Now, wait a minute. I am not referring to the infamous and now outlawed distilled liquor – spirits – that were packed in the small sachets with enough potency to knock unconscious a full-grown bull elephant with one sip.
Really, I don’t know why the small phones are likened to tujilijili. I have never seen anyone using any of the gadgets get drunk, though I know that their life span is shorter than spittle, which explains their ‘affordability’.
What I have observed is that even those using tujilijili are not an exception when it comes to showing off because the electronic gadgets have access to the internet.
If you have been unfortunate enough to travel on one of those cursed Toyota Hiace buses you surely must have seen how our daughters, sisters and mothers have been showing off their phones.
You will see a sister holding her flat, slender handset in one of her hands while talking and fiddling with the cords of the head phones plugged into the thing.
It is a common sight.
A few days ago I knocked off a bit late, around 18:30 hours. By the time I was squeezing myself into the small bus it was already 19:00 hours, and the madam at home was liberal with her phone, dialing my number without restraint.
As we sat waiting for the bus to be full there was this young lady in front of me who was so engaged with her smart phone that she was not even aware of the people around her.
Her eyes were glued to the small screen of her phone, which she kept scrolling and poking while smiling and shaking her head every now and then.
Whenever the bus stopped to drop off a passenger and she was required to give way, she would still be scrolling and looking into the phone’s face without looking up as she got out.
When the time came for her to get back on the bus and retake her seat she climbed without looking down, because she was still staring into the screen of her phone, almost bumping into the other passengers.
As soon as she was seated the smiling and head shaking resumed. Whatever it was she was watching or reading, whoever she was communicating with must have been ‘special’.
Because she was so pre-occupied with her ‘precious’ phone, she was unaware of the grunts, sneers and sniggers from the other, disappointed passengers.
It was past 19:00 hours and it was dark in the bus. So the light from the phone’s screen was shining straight into the eyes of the other passengers seated next to her on both sides. As if she cared!
A woman seated behind the phone lover dug her elbow into the side of her friend seated next to her. When she managed to draw her attention she pointed at the phone scrolling lady with her pouted mouth, and they both laughed.
Two or three others joined in the laughter.
Even when she reached her destination and the bus stopped for her she was still scrolling and smiling at the phone.
As she walked home she was still glued to the gadget, at one time even missing the path.
The next day was even ‘worse’. There were two of them showing off their symbols of wealth and status. This behaviour, as I have said earlier, is more common among women and girls.
So far in the last two months I have seen only two men exhibiting that behaviour. Just look around you, and you will agree with me.
Reader’s comment:
I agree with Charles Chisala’s article titled ‘More wise names from the East (Sunday Mail May 17, 2015)’.
Actually, the names he mentioned which my tribal cousins from the East have been giving their offspring are not ‘wise’ at all!
How can someone name their innocent child Airtel Phiri? Just what has gone wrong with my tribal cousins?
I intend to file a restraining order in the High Court of Zambia to stop them from giving such funny names to their innocent children.
Long live Charles for exposing them!