WhatsApp And New Year Blues, By Frank Ofili


Which kind thing be dis? Eh! Today alone I have received seven (7) Whatsapp broadcast messages, including one from my own wife, telling me essentially the same thing – that effective Thursday (date not stated) that watsapp would cease to be free unless I rebroadcast the same message to at least 18 different users. The message went further to state that if I resend the same message to 18 people, my watsapp icon color would turn to blue, thus qualifying me to receive and send watsapp messages free of charge. They also state that if I am in doubt! I should "see me tomorrow at 6pm (again no date given), as they are ending watsapp and you would have to pay to open it, this is by law". The interesting thing about these messages is that all but one asked me to resend the same message to them.
Well, the legal angle that has been introduced into this rather curious message is what interests me most, and because of that I have refused to rebroadcast the message. I want to wait till 6pm tomorrow to see if I would no longer be able to access watsapp. I hope I don't get to wait for eternity because the date of the "tomorrow" was never given. 
Another curious angle is why my wife of all people would chose to resend the message to me instead of telling me verbally herself. Is it to make up the number or because I am easily within reach, or both? Na wa oh! The last time I checked we were not keeping malice oh! So why not tell me instead of sending the message to me? Am sure if she had told me, it would have provided a veritable avenue for our usually robust debate and argument. May be because she is aware that when it comes to things like this, I am usually cynical. But then that is where I enjoy the arguments. Something tells me she knows I would floor her on this one if she tells me. 
Anyway whoever told these people that watsapp was ever free. Watsapp cost airtime (money) from day one. That is why you have to have credit on your phone or be on a bundle plan, or be on wifi before you can send and receive watsapp messages. All these cost money. Also that is why it is sim-and-phone-based. I can understand the rush to broadcast the message because people normally want "Ojo free awoof", especially on our side of the globe.
In Nigeria nobody wants to pay for anything. We expect to enjoy everything free of charge. We live with the illusion that some things are free, not knowing that nothing is actually free, even in Freetown. There is no free lunch anywhere in the world. You have to sow to reap. What you sow may be in cash or kind or in time and energy or all of the above. 
And these GSM network providers seem to have captured our greed for awoof. Each time they run advert or commercial, they tell you free this and free that, as if they would give you access to those things without credit on your phone. I think it is high time regulators enforce ethical code on these telecom operators. 
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