China National Research Institute Into Things Ghanaians Want (CNRIITGW) – By Kwame Gyan

I imagine the Chinese have an establishment called China National Research Institute Into Things Ghanaians Want (CNRITGW) or something like that. Otherwise how do they manage to ‘create’ so many things that our people seem so crazy about and somewhat always find the need for? These things are also very timely on the market too, plus they are as cheap as…is there anything cheap in Ghana to compare it with? Well, they are cheap. Forget the fact your flashy, shiny Chinese product will not last.

How long did it take you to see the shoe shine boy who regularly gives your shoes a glitter flip out a Chinese-imitated iPhone whiles dousing your canoe-shaped Chinese shoes with Chinese-made Kiwi polish? Or were you not surprised when the kayaye you contracted to carry your shopping from the Makola Market to the Rawlings Park was wearing the Dolce & Gabana you might have spent £65 to buy in London the previous week?

Or what about your pal who recently furnished his entire home with the exact appliances and furniture as you, though you both know he possibly could not have spent as much money on them as you did. A closer look at the appliances though tells you why. Sony is spelt with a different font from the trademark we know; Samsung is spelt as Samsong, etc.

Apparently our people’s taste in Chinese stuff has increased umpteenth fold. It started with Chinese Food. Back then, you could hear a young lady giggling on the phone with some mugu. Then you hear, “can you please get me Chinese on your way here? My roommates too say they will eat some”. Now we have China Phonnes (that is how they spell it sometimes).

These phones are unique. Among others they are characterized by deafening ringtones, bright disco lights, they have more features than the original (MP3, MP4, MP5 players, cameras with 24x zoom, video recorders with extra bass, mixers, et al) glossy appearance which peels off after a week, painful start-up and shut down tones and so on. But perhaps the most unique feature is the specially designed expiry note a user gets; a user can actually get a voicemail saying “your phone is about to expire; please buy a new one ASAP”. Can you imagine?

Now I bet the average Ghanaian home has its fair share of Made in China labeled products. If it’s not the sofas in the living room, then it is the glass centre table; if it’s not the table cloth on the dining table then it’s the toothpick on it; if it’s not the towel in the bathroom then it’s the bathroom slippers; if it’s not your shirt, then it’s your supporter; if it’s not the disco watch on your father’s wrist, then it’s the bright gold chain on your mother’s neck; if it’s not the saucepan in the kitchen, then it’s the Pyrex bowl (it is not Paris bowl oh!) on your dining table; if it’s not your Binatonne kettle then it’s your big tea cup; if it’s not your mother’s cover cloth, then it’s your father’s sleeping cloth; the road you drive on was either constructed with a Chinese grant and made by a Chinese firm, or they are waiting in the wings to rehabilitate it with their Yuan.

The government man comes telling you to use Made in Ghana produce. As he speaks, he is wearing Chinese socks; the material for his black trousers was not made by ATL (it came from China) and the tailor used Chinese thread to sew it; his supporter and NEAT singlet were made in Chongwenmen, near Beijing; his shoes were made by the child labourer in Xizhimen, not too far from Beijing too. He has in his pocket an imitated BiC pen not made at the North Industrial Area. He had just finished a plate of Chinese food with all the seasonings and toppings it comes with from one of the tens of Chinese restaurants in Osu. He shamelessly picked his teeth with bamboo from China too, and probably wiped his behind with Chinese made toilet paper soon after.

You’ve got to love the Chinese.

Is it their fault that your markets are so wildly open? Or do you want to blame them for your governments not doing enough for local industries? Or is it their fault that you cannot afford the high quality and expensive things that are on the market (including some from China too)?

China National Research Institute Into Things Ghanaians Want (CNRITGW), mo ye gamm! Xi le haa!

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