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Paul Miller Ant 2000-02 Spring 2012 Commentary #1 Cell Phones, Sharing, and Societal Status in an African Society

by Daniel Jordan Smith This article analyzes the recent increase in cell phone usage within Nigeria. In the text Smith explains how technological globalization makes the world a smaller in the place in that it makes communication faster and more accessible, yet creates a “digital divide.” While first world regions thrive with its accessibility of the latest technology, the “have-not’s” in lesser developed countries are clearly distinguished with their inequalities in communication devices. Such contrasting economic situations have raised questions among anthropologists as areas such as Nigeria gain minimal access to technology, as they are interested in the effect these new inventions have on such traditional cultures. In 2004, a BBC Africa correspondent in Nigeria unveiled a preposterous story claiming that certain phone numbers received on their citizens’ phones caused madness, injuries, and sometimes death. This caused pandemonium among the community, as personal phones were relatively new to the country. However, as rumors spread, so did the amount of cell phone usage. There were also reports that carrying a phone in your pocket caused infertility in men. While the story eventually lost credibility, the market for cell phones in Africa flourished in the coming years. It is a three step process to obtaining a personal device: purchasing a phone, accessing service through one of its operators, and then purchasing “recharge cards” which contained a certain amount of minutes available for phone usage. While not everyone could afford phones, some owners saw their new piece of technology as a source of entrepreneurship, creating often one man business operations in which they rented out their phone to customers. Much like the luxury items found in our own country, cell phone ownership quickly became a economic status symbol. The cost of buying and maintaining minutes on phones frustrated society. In fact, the term “cell phone” in Igbo(a vernacular of Southeastern Nigeria) translates to “the fire that consumes money.” Obtaining minutes is often bartered with cash or goods, making phones an informal currency at times. Can White Men Jump? By David Schenk During the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the impoverished country of Jamaica won six gold medals in the sport of Track and Field. Usain Bolt shocked the world by earning two of his own in the 100 and 200 Meter dash, breaking world records in both events. Scientists quickly began speculating the genetics of Jamaican culture, and what caused such a small country to produce such quick athletes. They falsely accredited the athletic ability to a protein found in the genes of 98% of Jamaicans. This protein, called Alpha-Actinin 3, is found to provide fast reacting muscle contractions, an attribute necessary for quick bursts of movement. However, the scientists failed to do their background work. It was later

they overcome mental barriers more easily to be able to reach new heights in their prospective sport. That being said. and that this is a rare opportunity to shed light on their country in a positive way. and so forth. Although small and impoverished. For example. education. take Kenya. Lack of transportation makes walking or running the only means of getting around. It is gene. What I found most interesting in this article is the mental fortitude aspect described in both Kenyan and Jamaican runners. They must win races to earn prize money and support their families and communities. Upon further research. this country dominates middle and long distance running. proving that something else was the catalyst for the Jamaican peoples’ success in sprinting. although where the athlete is born has an impact. The brutal desert heat creates a unique training environment. but a systematic group of variables. yet rather made. making running so routine that faster times are feasible with the amount of informal training done their whole lives. you could say athletes are not born.climate. These elements provide for a compounding result in athletic ability. they realize that they are on the world’s stage.” While most of the athletes are compensated well for success. More than anything. demographics.discovered that this protein was found in 80% of Americans and 82% of Europeans. media. By setting their sights on pushing their limits. . more grueling than that of the United States. they understand that without success comes to poverty. nutrition. it is to be concluded that genetics plays but a role in a certain region’s ability in a specific sport. economics politics. The author states “the mind is the most important part of the athletes’ body. keeping their runners light and fit. Lack of processed foods allow for a more natural diet. This is due to a variety of factors.

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