mobile phone

I have three mobile phones, so what? Of course, I have all my papers. How could I live and work in The Hague otherwise?

These phones, ah, in Nigeria, they felt neither heavy nor out of place when I laid them on the table in a restaurant, side by side, as if to compare their sizes.

Things have changed since I left Nigeria, they tell me. But I can only tell you what I know. That when my conversation with a friend ended because of network wahala, he called back on another network, blaming the earlier bad connection on heavy rainfall. That when I lived in Nigeria, rain was one reason I had three phones.

So that if rain melted one provider’s “wireless” wires, I could turn to another who might not be that unlucky. So that if lightning set one provider’s telecom mast ablaze, I could turn to others who could get their fire extinguishers ready on time. So that if Sango, thundered against South Africa’s MTN, I could turn to Glo, owned by a son of the soil, who might have been spared.

Network problems are rare here. These three phones? It’s a Naija thing. I am yet to meet any Nigerian at home or abroad who has less than two phones.

My first phone is my “official” phone. Friends call me on this number, as well as my boss, the tax office, the gas company, the police, telemarketers, and King Willem-Alexander. This phone from network operators like Vodafone, KPN, and T-Mobile, suffers one major limitation, which my second phone overcomes.

Because I call family and friends in Nigeria and the African continent from my second phone, the SIM card must come from Lyca, Lebara, Vectone, or Delight, providers that offer discount call rates to Africa. Any smart phone that accommodates Viber, WhatsApp, and the almighty BBM, will do because every Nigerian chats on BBM. Moreover, in Nigeria, exchanging BlackBerry PINs follows introductions and handshakes. Your blue eyes are widening; don’t you know what hyperbole is?

My third phone is the cheapest brand in the market. It’s only purpose is to rescue me. Imagine, if you can, that one day, you are in the Open Market, buying oxtail, shaki, cow leg, and real beef, from of all people, that Dutchman who eats vlees  that you cannot eat, but has a stall where Africans troop.

This inability to acculturate, to do something as simple as buying and eating meat from Albert Heijn after twelve years in The Netherlands is your undoing for you bump into your distant cousin in this little corner of Africa.

He calls you by your Nigerian name, daring you to ignore him. You both register your surprise and long-time-no-sees. You dribble the chit-chat past where you live to you will call him. His protest drowns out the sound of the Moroccan fruit vendor calling, “Bananen, vijf voor maar een euro!” How can he expect you to call him when you are his senior—did you not come to Europe before him? His oyibo neva reach dat level, abegi! He will call you.

You give him your third phone number. The number your mother gives to your secondary school friends because she does not require your permission to do so. The phone that you switch on when you need to make obligatory calls to relatives who think you pick gold off European streets for a living.

My dear, the phones on the table are mine and mine alone. I am not a 419, na so life be. If you still don’t understand, I will explain in the morning. Switch off the light and snuggle close to me, I like to hold you when we sleep.

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

Wahala: (Nigerian Pidgin; perhaps of Hausa origin) Trouble or problem.

Sango: Yoruba god of thunder and lightning.

Vlees: (Dutch) Meat. Many African immigrants shun the “flat” meat in supermarkets, preferring the meat sold in Halal shops or the Open Market (oxtail, shaki, cow leg, etc.).

Albert Heijn: Dutch supermarket chain

His oyibo neva reach dat level, abegi: (Nigerian Pidgin) translates roughly to, living abroad has not made him forget his Nigerian roots or culture.

Open Market: Officially De Haagse Markt. It lies between Transvaal and Schilderswijk, districts populated mainly by Moroccan, Turkish, Antillean, Surinamese, and African immigrants. The market reflects the neighbourhood’s diversity.

Na so life be: (Nigerian Pidgin) translates roughly to, that’s just the way it is.

Photo credit: The Reboot / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Original image URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/70292973@N07/7197724426/

Title: Mobile Phone Hanging from a Tree

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

49 thoughts on “Cellphomania

  1. Your choices of 3 phones make perfect sense to me. I would probably only cart around one on weekends. Definitely not the more business than family phone. I bet you get some looks from strangers and acquaintances, Timi. You are a very intelligent and rational woman and I wish when my one and only phone got stolen at the library, I had had a “back up” cell 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hahahahahahaha
    Was about time!

    For me, I do one phone, two sims. I forget my phone so often, I could never imagine owning two. At least, not yet!

    Great piece…. missed stopping by.


  3. naija people….dey make me laugh….Timi, good writing. I’m a correct naija guy o but I keep only one phone and one sim card. I went for an interview some months ago some where in Kano and I was heavily blasted for having just one phone and sim.I got an extra sim card but I feel somehow carrying too phones. I guess I’m the most un-Nigerian Nigerian.Anyway, I’m guilty of the voice-mail thing. I really dunno how to use it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What is a voicemail?
      Is it a voice that mails or a mail that voice?

      By the way, the default thing being a Nigerian living in Nigeria is to have a smart phone for the internet and her cohorts and to have a smaller one preferably Nokia that can go days without charging for calls.
      PS; We don’t want the world to know we still have power challenges.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol@ phone that can go days without charging… Nigerians have solutions for problems created by the real problem… while we are yet to tackle the real problem!

        Looking back at how our phone culture has evolved is interesting. If you write about the current situation, I’d love to read it.


  4. Hilarious…I love your writing style. And yes, no Nigerian service provider is flawless, though I daresay Etisalat is trying. You forgot to mention those people who make use of “Chinko” dual-sim phones. My younger sister swears she saw someone with a 5-sim phone. =))


    1. @5-SIM card phone, ha ha, then we’ll only need one phone . . . but let’s save that for another post, which I hope you’ll write. Hmmm, I’ve heard stories about “BBs” from China that got hotter & hotter & started melting 🙂

      Dunni, @writing style, thank you. I like having you here. Hugs!


  5. Oh dear! this is so hilarious, you should really give stand up comedy a rethink. Indeed lively as your blog name implies! its always interesting when I meet talented naija girls.cheers.


  6. You had me at the Hyperbole… I’m one of the few Nigerians who struggle to go out with my two phones at ones, and the one I manage to go out with, I treat like your third phone. I saw someone talk about voice messages, abeg Nigerians don’t have time for all that radarada, although I think it’s more of a fault of the service providers than the customers but eh, all na naija jare.

    Who said anything about needing a comedy side job, just write the comedy and you have an assured buyer – I’ll even get over my aversion for amazon to get it.


    1. I returned to Naija; two phones, how clumsy I thought. Then one day I was stuck in heavy-rain-orchestrated traffic and no network. After that, I started carrying three phones- MTN, Glo & Zain, I nick-named them. But, I’m a woman, I have a “big” bag . . . I feel you Ifemmanuel.

      “The voice mail culture in Nigeria is severely lacking, the average man, hindered by network and credit, would rather flash the person he’s trying to reach a thousand times,” reporting live from ANN (Abuja News Network. 🙂

      Thank you so much for your encouragement!


  7. Hehehe…make I laugh. This tori sweet my belle well well as for the way e take hammer on top paper, wetin dey happen for contri…

    Before I become unintelligible (lol) this was some nice dose of sarcasm. Another reason why we own two or more phones: internet connectivity from one provider can be terrible on one end of town and be ‘blisteringly’ fast on another end.



  8. The world is lucky I have one phone and not no phone (actually, the world is indifferent, but I can’t cope with the knowledge that no one really cares about my trials and tribulations). All I know how to do with it is make calls and calculate tips. I’m sure it does other stuff.

    Maybe if you collect enough phones, you can create a postmodern sculpture with them!.


    1. Lol@ I’m sure it does other stuff- okay, I know you’re joking, I know you were born in this century, I know you have the WordPress App on your phone! I have some old Nokia phones lying around somewhere, I could build the postmodern sculpture sooner than you think! 🙂


      1. Post a pic when you’re done!

        I actually have the free phone that comes with the contract. It has about 4 ring-tone options and a 1 megapixel camera. I think they found it digging for dinosaur bones in Utah.


  9. I’m dulling seriously. Only two phones. And I’m as Nigerian as they come. Time to go dig out my Lyca sim card, even though I’ll have to sellotape my phone together to use it :). DId I tell you I love your writing?


  10. Lol I don’t get you. Sometimes you sound so western I dare not offer you egusi and pounded yam. Other times you’re so Nigerian that I wonder if I’m the one who has lost the way home. Chai, Timi, your momsy was right; you would do well as a comedian. Your experiences having lived in two continents has provided you with rich content which you have no problem weaving into words! 😀

    {Aside} Why do Nigerians like calling without leaving voice messages. To make it more friendly, I recorded my voice, explaining why they need to leave a message and that I would call back as soon as I can. But nope, I get outta class to find 15 missed calls from one number and listen to “Why are you avoiding my calls?!” when I finally call back.

    I just can’t deal. I can’t. You should probably do one on weaves too, lol! #Weavesmania 😀


    1. Maggie, I can eat egusi & poundo with fork & knife, abeg offer me starch & banga, let me dig in with my hands! 🙂 Don’t mind momsy. Sometimes when I write, I’m funny. In real life, I can be very dry!

      @voice messages- guilty as charged! My credit is too precious! And I don’t listen to my voice mail either! Is that a Naija thing too? I should do a new recording:
      This is Timi
      Please don’t bother to leave a message; I won’t listen to it
      Call back & keep calling until you get me or
      Ping me- if you don’t have my PIN, we’re probably not close, too bad, but hey,
      Send an sms! 🙂

      @weaves. . . hmmm, with the growing naturalista movement, that will generate traffic on end! If I can find an angle or life happens, I’ll do one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. You are fast becoming a marchant of comic! [Make me your bookkeeper, when business booms!]
    I enjoyed the ease with which you droped the catch line and related experiences at home and abroad.
    I hope to get the middle line when the need arises, make I no enter voicemail 🙂


    1. Ha ha Charles. Momsy read one of my blog posts and told me, “Timi, if you can’t make enough money please do comedy on the side!” 🙂

      Please don’t enter voicemail; flash me!


  12. Love this! You simply nailed it.
    Now we can carry our 3 or 4 phones with pride. We officially have an explanation! I am yet to visit the open market but with all the things your post tells me are sold there, it’s next on my agenda!


    1. Lol@ 4 phones, Naija sha! With BBM now on ios & android, some people have knocked off one phone- their BlackBerry 🙂

      @Open market, yes, you should go . . . hold your purse tight!


  13. Don’t think there are many writers that could have told the Nigerian thing for multiple cellphones with such affectionate humour. Again, as always, an enjoyable read.


  14. Timi Yesibo, you did it again. Thank God I’d already known you before IfeOluwa Nihinlola made a shout-out about you. I’d have gone to thank him, first. I just love this. And don’t worry, you don’t have to explain to me in the morning.


The conversation never stops, please join . . .

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s