Monday, 29 September 2008

The Threat of Power-cuts ...

It is all doom and gloom at the moment, the UK news. Banks going bankrupt, the threat of power-cuts, food price hikes, fuel prices - it goes on and on.

I thought back to last March when I stayed with my friends in Kisii, SW Kenya, and how happy I was.

There was no electricity at the little two-bedroomed house, occupied by three adults and four young children. There was no running water - it was delivered daily in 25 litre drums and had to be boiled for consumption. The loo was at the end of the plot and was a glorified hole in the ground. There was a wet room and a room for preparing food. I cannot call it a kitchen.

We had a battery-powered radio, a kerosene lamp for the evenings - and each other's company.

And, that last is all I needed. I was happy.

It was a little strange at first, standing in a bowl of tepid water to wash, but I soon got used to it.

I did not have to cook, which is just as well. I don't know how well I would have coped over a single kerosene ring and a charcoal brazier.

I did not miss TV, or a home computer.

In town, there were frequent power cuts and it was a bit annoying if I was in the cyber café, checking emails etc., but I soon became resigned to the fact that this was Kenya.

The two things I really missed were my car - and oxygen. I am mildly disabled and walking any distance is uncomfortable. Kisii is a town on a hill, a town at 5,500ft, so oxygen is a bit scarce. And everywhere is either up or down, there is nowhere flat.

From the house to the town was about 2km, uphill, and I couldn't do it. I had to wait for a taxi or matatu. So I really did miss the ability to jump in my car and go wherever I needed (or wanted) to.

But apart from that, I was happy.

Mind you, the average daytime temperature is 25°C and at night it rarely drops below 16°C. So heating is not an issue.

In Britain, if the power goes, everything goes, no lighting, no heating, no cooking (and no blogging).

Frankly, if the prospect here is to have electricity rationing, I think I'll go back to Kenya.