Monday, February 21, 2011


On the subject of ringtones: 
I would say about 98% of Africans these days have a cell phone, if not two, or at least 2 or 3 sim cards in order to call people on multiple networks (or to keep certain numbers private (wife number one, wife number two) or what have you).  However, I would say that about 90% of the ring tones used are irritating to the point of comparing them to the grating, out of tune noises heard by department store mechanical elves at Christmas time.  And to make matters worse, people will let their phone ring at least for 5min before picking up – as if to let other people know, ‘hey look, I’m important, I’m getting a phone call.’  Furthermore, some people here even have Xmas music as there ring tone, even though their Muslim and have no clue the connotation of the music.  For instance, one day I’m walking past huts in the village, women are out pounding millet and a guy in a Bubu is leading a goat down the dirt road.  Im enjoying my walk when I hear the unmistakable tone of ‘Deck the Halls’ ringing from the guy’s pocket – a villager in oblivious Christmas spirit - he pulls out his cell phone and continues to walk with his goat. Scenes like this strike me as a bit incongruous, no? You can picture chuckling thinking this is the positive change of development and globalization.  Well, I still haven’t heard a Barry Manilow or a Rod Stewart ringtone so I guess there’s still hope.  A director to one of my partner NGOs has ‘Dance of the Sugarplum Ferries’ as his tone though, this is pretty funny to me (a joke that doesn’t get old either, I laugh every time I hear it).  ‘In the Hall of the Mountain Kings’ is also very popular tone for people here, which rings out at 19x the prescribed maximum volume for hand-held devices (I might just break someone’s phone one day, really...... ‘Hmmm, no I haven’t seen your phone lately. Oh? It’s out the window? How did that happen? (Dream scenario)). But, I don’t mind the ringtones with African music; in fact sometimes you might even catch me dancing to one –locals get a kick out of this.  My all-time favorite ring tone however, was one I heard on the phone of a government minister.  I was in a meeting with this government big-shot, a big serious guy, with a James Earl Jones voice, when his phone went off to the tune of:  ‘Lets get it on.”  Not sure if he was trying to send any innuendos or what.  I think I might have to ask him to transfer that one to my phone. 

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