Dear Africell Tempo,

I remember when we first met. Ricky had just got his brand new Nokia 3310. It was white. I can remember it like it was yesterday. We were in 8th grade, 15 years ago – damn, time flies! It was a shiny white Nokia. We were used to Telecel’s (now Leo… canke Econet? Ecoleo? Whatever)… We were used to Telecel’s SAGEM phones. Almost everybody had one of those. Mobile phones were still a new thing. But Ricky had a Nokia. Which had games. It had Snake! Ndibuka how we would gather around it at the back to the classroom (because it wasn’t allowed to bring a phone to school) and to take turns to play. 🙂 Those were the days…

I knew I wanted to be with you the minute I met you. You were the new definition of cool. Bringing the world of SMS into our lives like you were some sort of saviour. Opening a whole universe of communication possibilities. And it was free! Damn girl, you were the future!
But mama wouldn’t let me be with you. I had to wait four years… four flippin’ years to get my own phone! And I think it would have never happened, hadn’t I pushed it by buying that phone with my savings on the money to get my braces fixed. Haha. My first phone… Urayibuka? A Sony Ericsson T100 with a blue keyboard 🙂 That phone was the ish back then; when the smaller the phone, the cooler it was. Les modes zirahinduka kweri…

Do you remember how, before I got my own phone I used to borrow aunt Mandy’s phone, how she would sometimes let me keep it for a few days? She didn’t have to worry about me wasting her airtime since all I was interested in was texting, and texting was free. That was before you started charging.

Do you remember how my friends and I used to exchange numbers of the pretty girls that we would anonymous-admirer-text? Haha! Bon to be honest, it wasn’t really exchanging, since I didn’t have any pretty (and popular) girl’s number to give. It was more like me getting numbers from the other guys.

Do you remember when a buddy arranged for me to meet one of those pretty girls at Entente Sportive? Do you remember how I freaked out when I saw her arriving that I spent half of the day swimming underwater so they wouldn’t see me? Hahaha! But she was out of my league man; there was no way anything good could have happened between us!
Do you remember that other girl I started texting only because her number was similar to mine, except for one digit? Do you remember her attitude? Haha! Mxim. I still see her today and I remember it. I bet she doesn’t know it was me texting her back then…
Do you remember the other girl who was actually keen but whom I didn’t like very much? Mbega, why didn’t I like her since we never met? Haha!

Wait, do you remember how Yvan yadukinye me and one of his other friends, by giving the guy my number telling him I was a girl, and how I ended up becoming friends with the guy? Haha, Mxim.

Do you remember how I fell in love? You were there sha…
When we had to wait after 10PM for the half-price texts and spend the whole night texting…
When I would send her messages to tell her that my mum had sent me to buy bread so she could be ready to come out when I passed by her house…
You were there during the arguments that for some reason always happened on Fridays, and we would only start talking again on Sunday…
You were there when we would tease and congratulate each other whenever we managed to go a couple of weeks without fighting…
You were there when we broke… when she called me and said I should never call or text her ever again… Sigh…
You were there when I wouldn’t answer her calls or messages… When I put it on silent, when I switched it off, when I blocked her number – the first number I ever blocked actually. Haha!
You were there when I somewhat got over it, and moved on with my life…

You stayed behind when I left for school, but you were still here when I returned. You had kept my number safe. How nice.
You were there when I tried to set up a business… when I failed… and there when I got that call I had given up on, telling me I had been retained for that job I wanted. And for that other job as well. You were there when I sent that timid text message to recline the other offer, because I was too ashamed to call.

You were there when I got my dream phone. A metallic Nokia E71. I had been dreaming about it for years!
It was with you I first discovered mobile Internet and Whatsapp! It was with you I first started tweeting!
It was with you I got my first touchscreen smartphone. Do you remember how I hated them before? They seemed so fragile and I thought my fingers were too big to type on a touchscreen accurately. Haha. But you weren’t up for the responsibility… Your network was too slow… I had to go look elsewhere….

You remained my first love though. You know I never really managed to leave you or make you share me with another. The others were just for the network. To the eyes of the World, you were my ONE.
But I tried to leave you. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. And I have been seriously thinking about it lately…

See, you never grew up. You remained that teenage girl I fell in love with a long time ago. You weren’t the future anymore. You wooed back in the day, but today you’re incapable of keeping up with my needs. I have needs boo! What happened to you? What happened to your cool?
When you rebranded some years ago, I thought you had finally woken up, that you were back in the game… but it was just shallow advertising, unfortunately….
Au faite, did I tell you how a few months ago, I bought airtime that refused to load? And when I came to ask what was wrong at your offices (Call centre? What call centre?) some woman at the front desk said the vouchers had been cancelled for I don’t know what reason, and that I should ask for a refund… wait for it… at the shop where I had bought them! Like WHAT? Mxiu. You played me boo! You played me!
But because I love you I let it slide. Because I loved you I kept hoping that you would get better, that you would rise from your ashes… but you didn’t.

It’s been five days now… I heard you’re struggling, and nobody can really tell me whether you’ll make it. I know leaving you now is heartless and selfish, but I have to move on… I have to let you go. It’s becoming ridiculous. My family and friends are even beginning to ask what’s up. I’m sorry but I can’t let you take me down with you. I tried being patient babe, I tried…

This is a goodbye. This is a thank you for the good times. This is a good luck for the future, if there is still one out there for you. To be honest, I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that I won’t see you again. It’s like I’m closing the curtain on some of the best years of my life. But thanks for the memories…
Although these other players have what you can’t give me, they will never have what we had. You will forever have a special place in my heart.

So long old friend!


P.S. To anyone who had my number, if you’re reading this, it too late…

Hehe, it’s the same number; just dial 76 instead of 78. I haven’t changed my Whatsapp though. Bon, until they (at Whatsapp) realise it doesn’t exist anymore.


3 thoughts on “Dear Africell Tempo,

  1. I can relate so much to your article. Africel was my first number too. But I still don’t have the courage to let it go. I will waiit until the last minute.

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