BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Friday, 14 July 2006, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
No life in Africa without...
A Nigerian model swimming in a pool

In the new BBC competition for Africa, listeners and readers describe what they could not live without out on the continent.

Here entrants cannot imagine life without pocketing the odd bribe, writing without laptops and reading old-fashioned newspapers.

Tamnjong Eric Mbamu, ex-policeman, Cameroon

It used to be that I could not live without collecting tips from taxi drivers and other public transporters.

This extra income helped me feed my numerous kids and wife; fuel my car, eat "bush meat" and have a drink
Tamnjong Eric Mbamu

I would not call it bribery because they always had a fault with their documents or the vehicle itself.

Hence they just had to slip a 500 franc note (about $1) into their car papers and hand it over to me, and I never bothered to check them.

At the end of each day my colleagues and I always came up with a reasonable amount which we would share among ourselves at the checkpoint and also keep a big part for our chief.

Failure to do so and we would all find ourselves guarding the police station for one full month - I can assure you this is no fun compared to being at the police check point on the highway!

This extra income helped me to solve my daily problems, like feeding my numerous kids and wife; fuelling my car, eating "bush meat" and having a drink.

Bitter lesson

So I was a happily part of the forces of lawlessness and disorder until three months ago when I lost my job.

A paper bag changing hands
Tamnjong Eric Mbamu says he will not pay any "tips"

The government came down heavily on us and not even our chief escaped this wrath.

You would not believe it but I am today a bus driver. I am now on the other side of the coin.

But, and I repeat but, I am a different person today.

I have learned a bitter lesson.

I can assure you my car papers are all in order and I make sure my car is in good shape.

Even though my former colleagues never stop me at the control point, I nevertheless await the day one of them will try to do so - or worst of all, ask me for a "tip".

That day, hell will break loose.

Mirirai Moyo, Zimbabwe

From the moment I clapped eyes on "Geri", my heart was lost. Instantly, my cell phone was replaced in my affections, toppled by this cute silver-grey Gericom laptop.

I was left with no option but to turn to the unreliable typing services offered in town
Mirirai Moyo

I often wonder how I survived before Geri came into my life. It was not easy being a writer without a computer.

You see, few (if any) editors read handwritten manuscripts these days. Submissions, they say, must be "typed out, with double spacing".

To meet these requirements meant invading my father's office on his not so busy Saturdays in order to - as he put it - abuse his computer.

There was always the inevitable pressing deadline that could not wait until Saturday.

Then I was left with no option but to turn to the unreliable typing services offered in town.

Glaring omissions, spelling mistakes and even lost work were the order of the day.


Geri's arrival changed all that.

Now I type out my ideas whenever and - one of the greatest benefits of this technological miracle - wherever I want.

Picture from
Mirirai says her life has been transformed by her laptop

However, it is not all work and no play for Geri and me.

Every once in a while, we take a break - and, with soothing music on the media player, I absorb myself in a game of solitaire.

I am very protective of Geri. After all, it is only human nature to fear for all that we cherish.

I worry that Geri might inexplicably crash or one of those dreaded viruses marauding across the internet might sneak its way into his system. I will have lost everything then.

Every story I have written and my closest companion. Geri is my life.

How else can I describe the one thing with which I share my feelings, deepest thoughts - my work - everything that matters?

Johnson Solomon, Nigeria

The most important thing I cannot live without each day is reading the daily newspaper.

Nigerians reading newspapers
My dad was a newspaper addict too
Johnson Solomon

This act of reading it is as vital as the stream of blood flowing through all the veins within me.

I enjoy reading the newspaper even more than food.

I am studying geology at Delta State University and on several occasions I have attended lectures without breakfast, due to spending my money on a newspaper!

My habit of reading the newspaper has become part of my living to the point that I now include it when I plan my budget.

Some people may be amazed to hear this - but what some people like, may be what others hate.

My habit of reading the newspaper has been growing since my youth when I was living with my dad. He was a newspaper addict too.

Now I am 24 years old and growing to be a businessman - I like the stock market results which are usually published towards the back of the paper.

So just as I need my daily bread, I cannot live without reading a daily newspaper.

Your Life Without

The BBC is running a new competition for Africa - No Life Without. Let us know what brings most meaning to your life in Africa that you could not imagine living without - perhaps a mobile phone, a car or your husband?

If you have photos to accompany your contribution send them to, otherwise use the form at the bottom of the page. Entries should be no more than 300 words.

The best will be published on the BBC News website and broadcast on the BBC World Service's Network Africa programme. Some will receive small prizes. Use the form below to send your entry.

Your E-mail address
Town & Country

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.











Girl hanging out cloth to dry in Mali, West Africa [Photo: Barry Perks] Your take
Send us your photographs from across the continent



Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific