Recently I have been seeing a lot of people complain back home when they have experienced a power cut of sorts, when their normality is shattered by vital necessities rendered unusable. So I thought I’d write a post acknowledging their “struggle”.
In the UK, without electricity life becomes very inconvenient. Stress levels rise, boredom becomes apparent, and most of us become lost. Without power, daily luxuries become almost impossible i.e. cooking food, keeping warm, watching TV.. No one seems to be prepared for a more simple way of life. It’s interesting how much electricity plays a vital part in our lives for modern living and without power we can find ourselves temporarily paralysed by its absence.
Now imagine life without power 24/7, disturbing right? I applaud the people of Africa, the villagers who don’t have central heating, light fixtures, or a boiler tank – the ones who live a more natural way of life. Power here in Mafinga goes off for a few hours every day, sometimes it can stay off for days on end. Aside from the ridiculous low voltage in our homes, Tanzania’s electricity enabled by Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) is notoriously unreliable, and highly frustrating. In the past few months alone, Tanesco have burned through three transformers or often forgot to switch the power back on due to complete incompetence. The downfall of the power voltage seems to be the low voltage or power spikes – these surges ruin anything that is plugged in at the time.
When I first started experiencing power cuts and brown outs in Africa, I became very irritated and slightly depressed. Without electricity there was no way to write home, keep cool when the air conditioning stopped, or even take a half decent shower. Spending a lot of time in Africa has now taught me how to accept a more sustainable way of living. At first you become overwhelmed with the notion that you will need to spend the rest of the night in utter darkness, but then you slowly embrace your surroundings and keep your mind preoccupied elsewhere.
In a sense we are very lucky to have a gas cooker, kerosene lamps, and an oil fuelled generator with three sockets – but even so it doesn’t make much difference. Some of my best nights have been without electricity – great company, lots of laughs, and usually a visit from our friends down the street. Power cuts have taught me how to be patient and keep busy, now it’s just a normal part of my day when it turns off. Whenever the power goes off, an adventure arises – perfect excuse to get outside and enjoy the natural environment. Now I quite enjoy the gaps of electricity in my day, I can challenge myself to stay active.
I’d urge everyone to try a day or two without any electricity. Challenge yourself.. It won’t be as easy as you think.
Oh, the irony. As I have been writing this the power keeps switching off. It’s taken two days to attempt to stay on track. So this is just a short post I’m afraid.
Peace, A. xo