Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Green, green envy

Every day I'm hit by a sting of jealousy. This usually happens after watching CNN for a while. First there's joy over hearing my new favourite advertisement: "Talking, talking, we've got people talking" they sing in the ad, which displays the wonders of Glo. I find the whole ad so beautiful. Apart from an extremely catchy tune (or am I the only one who likes it??), the ad manages to capture the beautiful West African life perfectly. The fisherman, out at sea at sunset whilst on his mobile phone? Classic!

Apart from that ad, other Nigerian ads featured include those for the banks, ETB, UBA and Zenith. I feel a bit of pride as I see that their ads are of no different standard to the western ones, but can't help but feel jealous. When will Ghana get there? Are we even close? As it is now, I have to force myself to watch Ghanaian channels a few times a week to catch up on local news, as the content and ads are dreadfully boring with poor acting/presenting, visual and audio quality. Why are we so far behind our giant green neighbour?

Virgo passed on some wisdom to me which may partly (or fully) explain the situation. Although Nigeria has had several coup d'etats, when these occur, businesses and business men have generally not been attacked, instead they've been allowed to continuously grow and develop. In Ghana however, each coup d'etats has led to businesses being persecuted and businessmen fleeing the country. As a result, we've never had the opportunity of developing a business culture in Ghana over the years.

There are not many businesses that are more than a decade or two old and as such the entrepreneurial mind is still unique. It further explains why, despite our similar colonnial background, Nigerians value businesses more whereas Ghanaians (at least my parents' generation) have always put higher value on the civil servant lifestyle. How many of us have not been told to "go and get a good education" (that means, doctor, lawyer or accountant) and find a good job and stay there. Not many are advised to set up their own business as it's too risky, and looking at our previous history, I guess they're right, it was too risky. Hopefully those days of coups are finally behind us.

I just hope 'our' generation takes the opportunity to learn the good things from the naijas so that we too can establish our businesses and be advertising on international television, as my jealousy is reaching boiling point!

(Interestingly as I was looking for links to the ad, I came across a blogpost from my fellow ghanablogger, David Ajao. It's good to know I'm only three years behind you on the topic, David!)

Now I can't leave without today's Weakest Link moment:
OK, I may be obsessed but sometimes I can't help but wonder whether it is simply nerves or stupidity that makes players give their answers. Here's some examples:

Which D is the correct medical term for indigestion?

Which vertebrae has a name that actually means hundred feet?

In the sentence "Joe washes his car", which word is the verb?

I don't know.

Oh, chale!


novisi said...

oh chale... say it again...!

as for our adds, the least said about them the "mercy cream, mercy cream, eyeh eduro paaaa!"


Oluniyi David Ajao said...

Kasapreko alomo bitters! Bitters ni kingkong! lol

Anyway, there are good tv ads in Ghana too. There are many classic ads from Kasapa and a few others. But where there is DSTV, I hardly ever watch local TV channels. When I need local news, I listen to Joy FM or visit myjoyonline.com and ghanaweb.com

Needless to say that entrepreneurship is gaining grounds albeit slowly, in Ghana.

Adaeze said...

lol, no need for jealousy Maya. I have an alternative perspective: It's just a show! It's ironic though, I thought Ghana had reached further than Nigeria? You hear about people travelling there for holidays etc. You never hear that about Nigeria. Any foreign department will advice people to not touch ground there.

First of all, GLO sucks. I got one of their sim cards when in Nigeria, it was hopeless. Had to change to MTN to get service. Local TV channels in Nigeria sucks as well. Picture and sound quality is terrible and it's mostly just news and government supported crap. And do you think Nollywood movies are good? I don't. :-\ Nevertheless, it's a growing industry and I guess that's good. Moving on - the headquarters of Zenith in Abuja is right next/on top of a garbage dump with homeless people. They're good at making the ads but the reality ? I'm not so sure. Additionaly, I can't say I've ever had a good bank experience in Nigeria. Not all that magnificent really, to say the least.

Some of the ads are really good - at least good quality, but I gotta laugh at that UBA or Zenith AD where a crying little girl goes into the bank with her mama and comes out jumping and smiling. Lol.
Sure - Nigeria is more business oriented but it has its downsides. Onitsha, supposedly the city of commerce in West Africa, with the HUGE market that supposedly has anything in the world, is a good candidate for the WORST city in the entire world. You'll literally see dead bodies lying around. Most of the city isn't paved and the whole city is literally a garbage dump. Everywhere, you see smoke coming out of piles of trash, along with oil and liquids, right next to f.ex the meat market.
I also always had the impression Ghana is way more peaceful these days than Naija...The chance of being involved in car accidents and robberies are extremely high. It's already happened to me several times, everytime I go, and I don't know a person it hasn't happened to. I'm not an expert and I don't know all the answers but sometimes I think the reason why Nigeria is everywhere is because of it's massive population. The marginalisation of the igbos have also made sure to spread them around the world doing business - kinda like the jews? At the same time, don't forget their oil reserves and how filthy rich the elite in the country is as a result. Most of the money ever generated from it has all been stolen. What is it, 500 billion dollars I think. I think it's tough to get huge and rich in Naija without doing something illegal. And I wouldn't be susprised if some of the money stolen has been put into businesses. Just a thought. And the 419s? And the prostitutes flooding Europe from Benin City? And I still wonder WHY after all the money that's been generated, they can't deliver electricity even in in the capital city? From what it seems, I think Nigeria actually has a lot to learn from Ghana. I haven't been to Ghana though, so I don't know how it really is. It's an interesting subject though! How are the big airports in Ghana? Do they have functioning toilets and electricity? Just curious lol. Not Naija! Sorry, this was really long, just had to put my two cents in! Don't get me wrong though, I love Nigeria :-D

Maya said...

Ey, Novisi, I think I may have missed the mercy cream ad as it doesn't ring a bell. Or have I successfully managed to block it out?

Then again there are lots of bad ones to choose from!

Maya said...

I think I'll follow your lead and get my local news from myjoyonline, etc the local channels are too frustrating.

I agree that there are some Ghanaian ads with potential, I just long for the day I see them on DSTV.

Maya said...

Adaeze, I feel terrible now! Fom your comment it seems I have described Ghana in a bad light. Didn't mean to at all. I agree with you, Ghana is (in my opinion) a much better country than Nigeria, especially in terms of crime, order and electricity. Of course, I am saying this without ever having visited Nigeria!

However, when it comes to business, Nigeria is light years ahead, that's what I was trying to highlight. Because of that, it feels like Nigeria will be on the global commercial market long before Ghana will ever reach there.

But I do think you'll have to visit Ghana soon. As you mentioned, I know lots of people who come to Ghana for the weekend as there's nowhere to peacefully 'holiday' in Naija. And after landing at Lagos airport for 45 min, I think you have to see Kotoka international airport, you'll be shocked at how advanced it and its surroundings are in comparison!

As for the girl who goes into the bank crying and comes out smiling: that has got to be one of the most stupid and illogical ad moments ever!

novisi said...

Maya, i think this mercy cream add used to air around the yr 2004 or so... used to make me feel like throwing up loads... hehehehehe! but surely it this was one add that really got my adrenalin out like the mover 'diabolo'!

Adaeze, i'm particularly humbled by your comment!

i had to hold my breath and pause to breath again and again while reading your comment! very powerful... wow!

i say so because i would normally go that 'kind of' road... but at this time i just looked at the 'fun' in Maya's post-- the adds!

we all have happenings that define us in one way or the other... i think the important thing is to acknowledge all these as human beings with all the faults even before birth and be ready to challenge ourselves!

cheers ya'all!

Maya said...

Thanks for the update Novisi, that explains it, since I arrived in 2005.

As for the graphic description of the Nigerian market, I feel very lucky to be in Ghana. Still what I like most of all is that despite all the criticising descriptions, Adaeze can still end the comment with the words "I love Nigeria"!

There is something magical about West Africa, isn't there?

Sijui said...

I do agree with the comments made about Nigeria's can do spirit....and in many regards I think we can emulate their spirit of risk taking and entrepreneurship. That being said, I think we are on par with Nigeria and in many instances ahead on the attributes that count. Let me explain, Ghana's entrepreneurial spirit was literally beaten out of her post independence but the embers were not completely extinguished and as we all see are very much alive and well :) However what this means is that the country has been trapped in a time warp for the past 35 years, a period when the industrialized world and the emerging markets experienced a technological and services revolution. Countries in Africa like Nigeria, Kenya, Botswana, Senegal that had mixed or market economies advanced as well and developed more robust and sophisticated economies whilst we remained static.

However that being said, Ghana has a leg up on most of them because as a consequence we have evolved in to a much more sophisticated and democratic body politic with real consensus emerging on what kind of political, economic and social investments we want to make collectively. So we're catching up and simultaneously cementing a strong foundation as a democracy that will safeguard the economic gains we're making. Anyone remember the just concluded Kenya elections? What about our Nigerian brothers? Is it any surprise that Ghana is scheduled to be the first West African country to reach middle income status in the 2012-2015 beating out our big brothers Naija, Senegal and Ivory Coast? No coincidence folks :)

Adaeze said...

@ Maya - Yes, there's definitely something magical about West Africa. I wish I could move there. Ghana sounds ideal, but I could do well with Nigeria aswell :-D. The problem is I just don't know Ghana well enough - yet. I def. agree I should come visit Ghana..I've always wanted to, esp. after discovering all these Ghana blogs! As you said, Ghana is better when it comes to crimes, order etc. and it seems like a great place to live.I have heard rumours of the good airport too. How nice it would be, to visit the loo after a long flight, and actually find a clean toilet with flushing water and an attatched seat!Lol.
So, Ghana is definitely on my travelling plan - just don't know when yet!

Back to the subject - yes it's true Nigeria is probably years ahead of Ghana when it comes to business and getting on the global market. Like I said before it has its downsides. Nigeria is also world famous for producing criminals, lol. BIG time criminals. That also has something to do with it. So it's not all good. Both countries could get useful tips from each other; Ghana on developing their businesses, Nigeria on sophisticating their politics and developing their country more. Ghana is definitely booming more than Nigeria, and will catch up much quicker I think. The corruption in Nigeria is a bit worse, which slows down development. Development should be measured in life quality/crime rates/education ETC. and in that area, Ghana is way ahead! I was always jealous seeing your ex president speak - at least he sounded like a human being, not like ex.prez Obasanjo of Nigeria. He sounded like a retard!It's emberrasing.Yar'adua is not better either, but he shuts up more..Sijui is definitely making good points in comparing Ghana to other African countries including Nigeria. I agree completely. So, Ghanaians can be nothing but proud. Lets just pray the rest of the continent can follow in a positive direction.

@Novisi - Thanks for your comments, I'm glad I could contribute with something useful. And couldn't agree more, there's nothing better than challenging ourselves, both personally and as a society.

Maya said...

You've made such a valid point, we've come so far despite our sometimes chequered history. And as you've stated, our developments in terms of freedom and democracy are of much hgher value than commercial developments, as these can now easily follow.

I hope the predictions so come true!

Maya said...

Thanks again Adaeze, for making me love my country even more. Next time you are heading this way you'll definitely have to pass Ghana, if only to use our very clean, flushing toilets with seats at the airport, lol!

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