I remember those days when we did not have access to the internet and it was the preserve of the rich, I decided to take a journey to the neighborhood cybercafe to do some browsing. Welcome to 2007.
It was a hot, sunny Saturday if my memory serves me right– ECG had taken the lights in some parts of Accra as usual. The birds were singing loudly than ever, the open gutters smelt of hot stagnant water and piss, and you could hear the bus conductor’s voice from afar shouting “Osu! Osu! Osu!”
I got to the cybercafe, bought a ticket from the cafe attendant and logged in. The cybercafe was full to its capacity. There were all sorts of people there – some youngsters who came to check BECE and exam results online, then there were a few perverts and naughty kids who were staring at pictures of hot chicks on pornographic websites, there were those who used the internet to pester their relatives overseas to send them money, then there were also those who typed emails by pressing one key at a time with one finger until they exhausted their credit without finishing the email. And how can I forget the fraud boys (scammers): the ones who created fake profiles on dating sites to lure unsuspecting victims and then, siphon large amounts of money from them.
I opened my email and realized that, there was no new message for me. My spam box however did not disappoint. I had received more than 200 spam mails from various unknown sources. There were ones for penis enlargement; another email announced that I had just won a lottery for $5million dollars. Wait! How could I win a lottery, I never even participated in? Won’t I need to have played it first before I could win?
The last email was from some dude named Alex Smith William asking me to send 50,000 dollars so that he could use it to facilitate a process to enable him withdraw his late father’s balance from a Swiss account. He promised to share the money with me. As if I would ever trust anyone with an English name like Alex Smith William.
Normally, I replied those scam emails with “SCAM! STOP SCAMMING!” but that day, I decided to let it slide. Maybe because the “S” button on the keyboard was broken. And then, a commotion broke out. It was between a dude and a girl, just a row across from where I was seated. They were trading insults. Remember that these were the days before YouTube became very popular so I decided to chill and observe. Hmmmph, where was popcorn when you needed it?
Apparently the guy had been browsing when his phone rang. He left his folder on the table and stepped outside to take the call. A lady in her late 20s, had just purchased a ticket, and saw the spot empty. She then shoved the guy’s folder aside, and restarted the PC, logged in, and starting surfing the web.
When the dude came back, he tapped the lady on the shoulder and tried to explain that he had been there before. The girl would hear none of it, despite the fact that some people seated around there were testifying to his story. The guy explained that he would have forfeited the space for the lady but he had an urgent email he had to send to his brother who was a business partner. He was also pissed that the lady had pushed aside his personal belongings aside and re-booted the PC.
Before long, a heated exchange ensued between them, and the lady started getting really abusive:
Girl: “The computer is not your personal property so why should I stand up. Abeg abeg please.”
Guy: “I never claimed that it was my property. Now please stand up, I don’t have time for this.”
Girl: “If I refuse to stand up, what will you do? In fact, I am not getting up from here. Do your worst!”
Guy: “You can’t be serious. You want to tempt me today? Can you handle me if I start my madness”
Girl: “What can you do? If you have balls, touch me and see what would happen.”
Every other person in the cybercafe also quit browsing momentarily and started watching. They seemed to be waiting for the parties involved to exchange blows or maybe slaps before they would try to separate them. What is it with Ghanaians and violence?
The guy held his ground, and held the arm of the chair, while wedging himself against the table, to prevent the girl from claiming the space. The girl also held on to the headrest part of the chair, as she continued her verbal abuses: “If you are a man, try me. I will finish you today. This is Accra. Be here, your mates are erecting mansions in East Legon and Airport Residential Area and you are here paying 50 pesewas to browse for 30 minutes and fighting over a chair. Idiot!”
The guy wiped his face with his handkerchief and promptly replied: “You are stupid for that statement. You don’t know how foolish you look wearing this skimpy skirt with a tight belly chain. You look like a clown! Ashawo!! Town Helper!”
With that the girl started free-styling insults. She attacked his manhood, she abused his clothes, she insulted the man’s handset, saying that he just carried a phone without a Sim card in it. All this while waving her hands in his face and standing over him.
The man decided he had seen enough of her stupidity, so he grabbed his folder, and shoved her aside out of his way. She immediately fell to the ground, then, she started screaming and screwing her face in pain. “Foolish man! You have to kill me today. See my face. Why did you hit me? How dare you put your filthy hands on me? You are finished today. My uncle is a police man. My brother-in-law’s wife is a solider. You will sleep in a cell today. It will never be better for you!! Foolish man!”
The guy started sweating. He looked both amused and confused at the same time. Everybody’s eyes shifted from the girl on the floor to the guy like, it is your move now. Some people were arguing that he should have relinquished the chair to the girl. One woman was visibly pissed and gave the guy a piece of her mind for “hitting” the girl. Public opinion seemed to be against the guy for putting his fingers on the girl.
There are 3 instances when a woman can render a man defenseless in the court of public opinion. One is if she accuses you of beating or physically assaulting her. The second is if she accuses you of rape, whether or not you really had consensual sex. The third is if she abuses you about your lack of sexual prowess or stamina. I mean what come back is there when an ex calls you a “1 minute” guy. (1 minute p3, na wa pi)
There are those who believe that verbal sparring with a woman is allowed as far as you do not put your hands on her in any way. Meanwhile, with all the commotion, I decided that it was time for me to beat it, before the Police would swoop on the cafe and arrest everybody present, and then announce on GTV’s 7’O clock news that they had busted a Fraud Boy Syndicate. I slipped away and made a run for it like Usain Bolt.
Accra is still an interesting place to live.