Kerosene lamp.

Image via Wikipedia

I am having a difficult time reading my handwriting.  Well, writing is a skill which I learned a long time ago.
Oops, I notice that I calligraph vowels three different ways.  I need to be consistent.
I have to learn to use my handwriting more often.  You see, I have to improve my handwriting because I live in an electrical anorexic country.
They feed you with electricity for a couple of days then you are required to vomit whatever they give you until you are depleted.  Lately, I deplete one to three times a week and sometimes for the all day.

I did not have any power the all day yesterday.  Then, today, I am working on my desktop and it switches itself off.   I go down to the kitchen and brew a cup of coffee, on the gas stove, then power is back.  No, it was only a ten minutes tease of brightness.

It reminds me of times in a small town in Southern Uganda.  Power outage would go on for weeks at a time and especially during the rainy season.  I was really used to live in darkness.

I go home light up the kerosene lamp, the candles and listen to music on a battery operated radio.  Sometimes, I would connect my tiny TV to the car battery for some visual entertainment.

One day I went to see a friend of mine and notice he has power.
“Power is back!” I said elated.
“Yep, about three days ago.”
I was so used to darkness that I had lost the habit of using light switches.

Electrical anorexic countries enhances new senses in the dark: I learned how to move by the brightness of the moon, recognize people by their silhouette, smell the difference between kerosene and diesel fuel, mince garlic cloves without cutting my fingers, take a bath in cold water and still find the soap, have conversation with friends and call their name by the sound of their voices, I learned how to pour a glass of whisky by putting a finger in the glass and I never spilled a drop.

Many years ago, in Rwanda, while brewing a cup of coffee in the kitchen – I seem to do that a lot when power is off – surprise! Power is back.
I feel a presence behind me, I turn around and it is my roommate, naked, with a gun pointed at me.
“I thought you were an intruder.”

I have a UPS for my computer.  It does not work; it was blown by an electrical surge.  That’s the third one, so I don’t buy them anymore.  I still keep this one for decorative purpose only.

Also, I have a laptop but the internal charger does not work.  It died from constant use of generators in the bushes of Southern Sudan. In Juba, I was there when they put the first power meter; it took them three days to hang it on the wall of the office.  They did not have the correct size wooden plate to screw the meter on.   Power would come only three hours or less in those days. The air blown by the ceiling fan was the signal that power was on.

“Do you know what a brown out is?”
“I know.”
The power is so low that when you turn on the switch everything looks evenly brown.  During brown out I can only watch TV.

I am not keen on fireworks; I always think that it is a surge blowing all the light bulbs or a transformer catching fire.

It is easy to recognize an African capital from the air.  It is always at the spot where the lights blink.   That’s why, when coming to Africa, it is advisable to take day flights because, at night, the runway lights may stop blinking for you upon landing.

I have to rush to post this on my blog.  I have been at it for three days. I feel so strange using a keyboard.




  1. I was hoping you would eventually have something to write about the recent on’s and offs of power.

    Always nice to read from you.

  2. It sounds comical but I can imagine how trying and difficult conditions get without power. IF they cannot handle the electrical company, they should privatize it for awhile then switch back. This is what I have seen done in some developing countries. I do not know if the government runs the electric company where you are, but if they are not doing a good job, there is room for improvement.
    I do not understand why some countries believe that power shortage is normal . It is not. It simply means that they do not know what they are doing.
    Frankly, I need electricity, indoor plumbing and access to a phone. None of those things are negotiable in my book.We are in the 21 st century.

    I do not know what to say, but just hold on.They may get it right soon and one day the lights will stay on for good.

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