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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 11:16 GMT
Send your best power cut story
Young boy studying beside a renewable energy light (Image copyright: Sollatek Glowstar)
Has power failure ever changed your life?

This competition is now closed. The winners are Plato Owulezi from Nigeria and Comfort Sarkodee-Addo from Ghana.

The problem of power cuts throughout Africa causes citizens to cope in different ways.

A few turn to renewable energy sources, like solar or bio-power, others turn to generators, however the majority use kerosene lamps or candles. As people say, you have to expect the unexpected.

BBC's Africa Have Your Say is giving away a renewable energy lamp that promises up to eight hours bright light. It can be charged by electricity, when the power is on, or by the sun when it is not.

Has a power failure ever changed your life? Did you respond in an ingenious way? What is the most unusual thing that has happened to you as a result of a power cut?

Your stories:


This guy who was half shaved was one of my regular customers
Plato Owulezi, Nigeria
It was on the evening of 8th October 1995 in my home town Imo State, I was shaving one of my customers when the light went off and very unlucky to me I don't have a generator or any other means to supply light, so I had to finish the shaving. This guy who was half shaved was one of my regular customers, also there were two other customers seated and waiting to be shave before Nepa took the light. Little did I know that there was a quarrel between the guy I was shaving and one of those waiting. To my great surprise, the one I was shaving jumped up from the barbering chair and rushed at one of the seated guys, who was laughing at his half-shaved head, which was so ugly. I had to break up the fight, as I was concerned about my shop and the barbering items in it.

But I mistakenly stabbed my barber thinning shear into my left hand and was rushed to hospital for medical treatment. I still have the mark.
Plato Owulezi, Nigeria


A few "light offs" every now and then will strengthen Ghanaian culture
Comfort Sarkodee-Addo, Ghana
Back in my primary school days my siblings and I used to savour the idea of "light off" as we popularly call it here in Ghana, since it indirectly provided an avenue for us kids to play, play and play till the lights come back on! Other times we were fortunate enough to listen to some "Kweku Ananse" (folktales) stories! So, power cuts have actually created an avenue for culture transmission, for stories about our ancestors and their traditions.

One particular experience changed my life when I experienced "light off" a day before my school's speech and prize-giving day. I was to be acknowledged for my skills in play writing. I got home only to discover that there were no lights, hence I could not iron my school uniform for the following day. I have never prayed like I did that night - just to make the lights come back on! They did not.

I knew I had to come up with something. I grabbed my school uniform, folded it nicely and then sat on it for 10 minutes. I picked it up and realised that it was in a much better state! After that day, I decided to place my uniform under my pillow at night. To be honest, my uniform had never looked that neatly pressed - not even with an iron! So I improvised a strategic way to iron without light and now my family, friends and I don't have to worry about getting clothes to wear during a power failure! I prayed, yes, but I also had to be prepared to do something as well.
Comfort Sarkodee-Addo, Cape Coast, Ghana

A man on a solar powered telephone in Kenya
This man offers communication to families and businesses
This guy cycles from village to village hut to hut with a solar powered satellite telephone. He offers communication to families and businesses. That's how he feeds and educates his family. It's not a joke. In all Kenyan towns, people use GSM enabled phones that use batteries. Some women offer roadside phone services powered this way. In the evening the same solar provides light for the family. Even in neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania many people earn their living in this way.
Mercy, Nairobi, Kenya

The blind student suggested we go to bed and visualize our girl friend in our dreams
Beyene Kifle, Canada
I was in a boarding school dormitory. Twenty of us shared a room. One of our roommates was a brilliant blind student. Most of us studied in the school library and when we went to the dormitory we used to chat. One evening when we were discussing different issues the light went. Nobody had candles or kerosene lamps. The blind student suggested we go to bed and visualize our girl friend in our dreams. Within ten minutes some of the young and the restless started snoring. Next to my bed I heard a cracking paper sound and a whisper which said, Thank you God for such a quiet night. This student was busy reading and studding his Braille under his blanket.
Beyene Kifle, Calgary, Canada

It was a bright Saturday afternoon and the Chipolopolo were taking on Liberia in a joint World and Africa cup qualifier. The mood was so high in Lusaka and everybody was looking forward to the game. At half time it was nil-nil and everybody thought the Liberians would embarrass us on our home turf. With a minute to go, our hero Kalusha Bwalya was awarded a free kick just on the edge of the box. We were all silent counting on him just as he stepped on to take it...then...black! Power failure! When it was restored a few minutes later, we found the stadium in celebration. He had scored, but due to that failure, I missed the magic moment and I will never forgive our electricity supplier for that.
Gift Phiri, Lusaka, Zambia

We took our five- and 10-year-old to Nigeria for the first time and, as soon as we checked into the hotel, the light went off. My five-year-old told his older sister to turn on the light, thinking it was the "off and on" game that they play back in the States. I told them that they were being welcomed to Nigeria. We all laughed and soon the hotel generator kicked in. What a way to start a vacation!
Gani Oginni, Orlando, USA

I know what a luxury it is to watch a movie all at once
Thoko Tembo, UK/Malawi
As a young boy I got used to the idea of watching a movie the same way people watch a football game, in two halves. The first half before the power cut and the second half the following day when the power was back on. Now that I live in the UK I know what a luxury it is to watch a movie all at once. Looking back I did however like the suspense.
Thoko Tembo, Manchester, UK/Malawi

I live in the so called developed World. We've had two power cuts this year. It's right boring, I can tell you.
Ian Pratt, Derby, England

I must say I got really excited every time power cuts occurred before dinner time, because only then would the Nshima be cooked on a charcoal stove. That is the tastiest Nshima in the world and I cannot keep from wishing every once in a while that the power could go out.
Chiyandi, Las Vegas, USA

Reading this column is ironic, given that our city is suffering one of the worst ever blackouts. Maybe a piece on it should be put here instead.
Murtaza Jivanjee, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Going back to Ghana last year, I was comfortably seated by a window seat on the plane and enjoying the nice view of night skies from the air. I was explaining to a non-Ghanaian friend seated next to me what the capital Accra looked like at night from the air. Suddenly a large area of the city blackened out due to a power cut and almost simultaneously the Pilot announced "Welcome to Accra". That was a nice experience, power cut from the air
Kofi Odei, Ghana/UK

The patient was sedated and unaware of all the excitement
As a surgeon in central Nigeria, I was excited to be performing our hospital's very first case of endoscopic surgery on a man's prostate gland. Midway through the procedure, there was a power cut. Since all aspects of the technique depended upon electricity, I asked the staff to tell our maintenance man to "on" the hospital generator. Several minutes passed in darkness.

Finally I sent word for the maintenance man to come, and a few minutes later he arrived carrying in his hands a piston from our large diesel generator, which, he explained, was unfortunately being overhauled. All attempts to start the back-up generator in theatre were futile. Finally, one of our doctors ran home. Returning, he backed his vehicle up below the theatre window and opened the boot to reveal his small household generator. He cut a small hole in the screen covering the window, ran a cord through the hole, fired up the generator, and we plugged in our equipment and finished the operation.

About ten minutes after finishing, we received a hand-delivered notice from Nepa that there was to be a scheduled power-cut. Fortunately, the patient was sedated and unaware of all of the excitement, and was so happy with the outcome of the surgery that he gave the theatre staff a goat!

A few years ago my Dad bought my Mum a solar cooker for her birthday. Back then it cost around ZW$30 000,00 which now is about the same price as a coke now! It was a good investment. We have used it to bake bread, cook stew, make tea, and just about anything else you could do using electricity. You just have to watch the reflection getting in your eyes though. Using solar energy means that when there are power cuts you don't get caught unaware and have to eat half cooked rice, then have a cold shower.
Sarah, Zimbabwe/UK

A big stable and rich country like Cameroon has the same problem
Arnaud Emmanuel Ntirenganya, Rwanda/Cameroon
While in Rwanda, I couldn't expect power for the whole good day. Thinking it was a problem of any country from darkness of war, I arrived in Cameroon in 1999 for my studies where I am doing architecture. To my surprise a big stable and rich country like Cameroon has the same problem especially during dry season, when at times we have up to three days in the dark.
Arnaud Emmanuel Ntirenganya, Bamenda, Cameroon

Blackouts are incredible times for watching night time skies. The moon becomes fuller and the stars more bright. This is why Nepa is taking the light, to give you time to admire your surroundings. Skylines take on a new meaning in Lagos. And of course to ensure that everyone gets together on the estate and has a slap up meal. What else do you do with all that defrosted meat!
Colette, Geneva, Switzerland

When there is light we work, no light we go easy.
Mustapha Braima, Freetown, Sierra Leone

In 1997, when I was studying for my grade 10 exams, the local electricity company, Electricity of Mozambique announced it would observe power cuts from 18 to 22 hours, because pylons had been sabotaged somewhere. As I was often very busy during the day, I could only get on with my studies at night. So in order to have my goals achieved, I would light six candles all together to achieve a shining light for reading. You'll be happy to know that I passed after all.
Leonel Muchano, Maputo, Mozambique

Ever since that day I've lived to appreciate the value of electricity
Osahon Ododo, Nigeria
Believe it or not, there was a year we had no power supply for about nine months in my area. In fact I had already forgotten what a television looked like when it was put on and, since we didn't have a generator, the dazzling glow of a light bulb seemed like a fantasy dream. Then one particular day, guess what? The power came on! It was unbelievable after so many months without power. We were so happy even though the light bulbs were being supplied with extremely low voltage, even lower than candle light. Well, ever since that day I've lived to appreciate the value of electricity.
Osahon C Ododo, Okota, Lagos, Nigeria

I reside in a typical refugee environment, where power cuts take place like a random wrinkle of the eyebrows. This has brought about a shift in doing almost everything in the day when it is usually sunny and sweaty. The alternative for night time is the use of lantern and candlesticks.
Ekena Wesley, Ghana

In the year 1984, I was in a wire-fenced primary school in the capital city of Malawi. There were no boarding facilities. It was a long way round to the main gate of the school, so we resorted to jumping the one and a half metre fence daily until it came down to almost half a metre. One day during night studies, the lights went off at around 8.30pm hours local time. The teacher in charge told us to wait until 9pm - the official knocking off time. This was to avoid other students from taking advantage of the situation to go to their lovers instead of their parent's houses. At 9pm, there was still darkness. So we left, using the same short-cut.

By coincidence, I had seen during the day that the wire face had been removed by the school authorities. As I was in the lead, when I reached the place, I jumped, knowing that there was nothing on the ground! All my fellow students jumped too. Then I started laughing at them. Upon realising the truth, they got annoyed with me.

The sad part is that one student miscalculated the jump. On landing, he fell down and broke his arm. I felt guilty. The plaster of paris worked. Yet, up to now, whenever I see that the lights are off, this guilty experience comes into my mind in a flash.
Benson Y Chimbindu, Malawi, Central Africa

When I was in Japan, I tried to explain to several people what a black-out was, but the funny thing is I had to elaborate so much for them to understand. Most had never experienced a black out in their lives, except during major natural disasters.

The Grand Daddy of all power cuts must have been the one that caused one of Lufthansa Airlines oldest serving pilots to quit. The story goes thus - the pilot was coming in to land at night at Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. As the aircraft was less than 50 ft from the runway, it disappeared. (Power cut.) The pilot in all his 60 years of flying had never experienced this and it took the quick intervention of the younger co-pilot to arrest the situation. The Daddy pilot was so badly shaken by the incident he returned to Germany as a passenger, alive thank God, but one that was ready to hang up his wings!
Suleiman Enejo, London, UK

The issue of power cut is very traumatic in Africa
Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, Ghana
This is one of the topics which brings me back to Michaela Wrong's reaction as to why she hates 'Why I love Africa.' The issue of power cuts is very traumatic in Africa. To ask people to send their 'best power cut stories' and award prizes for such stories is to ridicule and dehumanize Africa. You cannot make a best story out of someone's misery. There are millions who cannot read and take part in this so-called competition, because they do not have power. I think the editor of this segment of BBC Africa should be circumspect in choosing topics, which are more appropriate and sensitive.
Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, Accra, Ghana

I was on a work trip to Nigeria and it was my first time in the country. I was enjoying the visit, and had arrived at Port Harcourt airport for a flight to Lagos. As a colleague and myself were sitting in PH airport, the power went out. We were called onto the flight, and when I asked an official if he knew whether the airport radar was still working, he told me that they had given the guy in the control tower some binoculars! I felt much safer.
Nick Hill, Paris, France

I live in Dandora, east of Nairobi city. The estate is well known to gun trotting thugs. You either play along or they sort you out! After working late one day, there was a heavy traffic jam and my heart was filled with fear about going to my own house. I could only pray as I boarded my matatu (mini-bus) bound home. On alighting, the whole estate had no power. Thugs were celebrating. In the darkness all was easy for them. With a pistol, genuine or not, pointed at my forehead, I was frisked of all my money, shoes, watch and my new jeans trouser. Naked, but in darkness, I went home scared to the bone.
Job Egalaha, Nairobi, Kenya

I used to live in South Africa and when we were children we used to love it when there was a blackout. My dad would get the camping stove out and dinner would be cooked. My mom would run a bath for me with lots of candles. When the blackouts used to happen, I was the only one who could navigate the house in the dark and could tell you exactly how many steps from room to room and even to the electricity box outside. It was fun for the family to play games together and just spend quality time together by candlelight. There should be more power cuts worldwide just to bring us all closer together
Aimee, London

The sky gets even brighter, the stars more beautiful
Khalid, UK
This may sound funny, but I actually miss the power cut black outs in Africa. I am Kenyan now living in London. I used to enjoy the black out for several reasons - 1/ everything goes quiet - deletions, radios, machinery go quiet and all seems calm and serene. 2/ The sky gets even brighter, the stars more beautiful. 3/ People gather in groups and start talking and sharing stories and jokes rather than sit in front of a television. How I miss the power cuts of home.
Khalid, London, UK

The Zimbabwe electricity supply authority is very much into public relations. So, every week, on Sunday, they would put a timetable of power cuts for neighbourhoods, so that we could all plan accordingly. They did not want us to be caught unawares and therefore get angry or abusive. The problem was the thieves also read this timetable and they would know which neighbourhoods to strike and when, because all the alarm systems, electric gates and electric fences without reinforced batteries would not work. It was therefore impossible to sleep on those nights, because it was expected that the next day, your television, video, DVD player and computer would be gone! If only they had surprised us all.
Tambu Kahari, Harare, Zimbabwe

We used to have vigils every Wednesday in church. One day's event was blighted by power cut. We immediately swung into action by abandoning the heap of issues to pray upon and talk to the 'man upstairs' to please miraculously provide electricity. We were then asked to continue our activities, that we should believe by faith and it will come to pass. About thirty minutes later, He replied by commanding 'Let there be light', 'and there was light'. The light didn't eventually last more than an hour...
Anthony Arojojoye, Lagos, Nigeria

As a Nigerian, I have been groomed and programmed to believe that the power supply is not meant to last for a whole day. This has become part of me. Throughout my school days, I did my homework using a lantern or candles shielded with cardboard to protect the light reflecting on my eyes. I have graduated from that, left my country to the Republic of Guinea Bissau, where most children do not know what is electricity. I have benefited allot from my experience in Nigeria. Here in Bissau, I do stay for months or a year without switching a bulb on or off. But, the candle has been a light unto my path. When next there is electricity power supply in my home, it will be too bright and dangerous for my sight.
Sylvester Simon, Guinea Bissau

This was in Nigeria sometime in 1984 and I was only about 8 years old. I was watching Sylvester Stallone's Rocky 2 movie with my family late in the evening at home. The movie had just gotten to one of the very emotional stages where Rocky was taking a serious bashing from Apollo while Rocky's wife watched the match in tears at home. Young as I was, I was so caught up with the emotional scene that it affected me very badly, when out of nowhere we experienced a sudden power cut. It was too much for me as I burst into tears, wailed and ran through the dark into my bedroom and slammed the door behind me! Everyone at home remembers that story to this day and they still poke fun at me with it at age 29!
Folabi Ogunleye, Boston, USA

Power failure is soon to change my life in a way I won't like
Aruho Rwambangye, Uganda
I am a teacher of English language and literature. My students sat for the national examination last week. I was helping them through questions when power disorganised us and went off. We could not do anything, we had to run to the shops which are not very near where I stayed to buy candles. We thought that power would come back soon, so we strained our eyes with the candle light. In the morning I woke up with a severe headache. I went to the doctor who told me that it was due to the candle light. It is now coming to a week and I have not got better. I don't like wearing glasses, but the doctor is telling me that am likely to go for them. Power failure is soon to change my life in a way I won't like.
Aruho P. Rwambangye, Mbale-Uganda

It was an annoying night. I was busy compiling a report for a sponsored programme on my PC at home. I was supposed to deliver it the following day. Just as I was at the peak of it, power went out. I cursed at no one in particular and sat back on a sofa hoping that it would be on within a few minutes. But I was wrong. I panicked and got annoyed. I went to bed, my eyes open, but there was no power until the following day at around 9am. I was forced to go to work early in the morning to finish up the report.

When I knocked off in the evening I raced to my land lord to find out why I had no power the whole night. I was told that I had not paid my bills for two months. You should have seen me. I was red faced with anger. I knew for sure that I had paid. So I told him to give me two days so that I withdraw money from the bank, but he refused and offered to loan me the money so that I can repay within two days. I got the money and went to a pub where I boozed it all.

The following day I went back to his office with the receipts of payment and raged at him almost commanding him to reconnect me. H e was surprised that I had not told him that I had the receipts of payment. When he asked me to give him his money after they reconnected the power I told him that I was not going to give him because he was paying for his mistakes since this was not the first time to happen.

Since then he is very cautious with me when it comes to electricity bills. He makes sure he checks his records properly before he comes to me personally to advise me on anything to do with power.
Mazuba Mwiinga, Monze, Zambia

He would only tell me stories when there was power cut
Ablo Austin Dziwornu, Ghana
I like writing poems, stories and plays so much. Therefore, I always liked to stay with my father since he liked to tell me stories. But the only thing was that he would only tell me stories when there was power cut. This is because, whenever there is light, then I have to sit beside my books and read. On the 31st of January 2003, my father came home with a newspaper "The Mirror". In it was the name of some students who won an essay competition organised by Prevention of Aids and Drug Abuse Foundation. My father was happy to see my name inside. I took the first position. But it all happened like dream, when we were invited to go for the prizes. It was my first time of visiting Accra, where I currently stay. The night before the departure, there was power outage. I thought yes, I would once again listen to stories, since it had been a long time. But before I could walk to my father, bare footed, a scorpion bite me. It was a terrible moment for me. You could just imagine the pain. The next day a student from my school was selected to represent me.
Ablo Austin Dziwornu, Accra, Ghana.

Once there was a power cut when I was in the middle of getting a haircut at a barbershop in the middle of town. We waited and waited, but the power would not come back. I eventually had to buy a cap since part of my head didn't have hair. I found it funny though and managed to get it sorted the next morning.
Dennis T Dzere, Harare, Zimbabwe

Sleep who needs it - give us power
Peter Wilson, Nigeria
Power cut stories are a penny for a bag full. When power is restored, I can get up, usually in the dead of night, and get the family to do the ironing, pump water into the overhead tanks and do other chores needing electricity. We have forgotten what a straight six or eight hour sleep at night feels like. Neighbours who are welders at times do not close shop any longer, they also wait for power to be restored. Sleep who needs it - give us power. Conditions are improving, though.
Peter Wilson, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

It happened on 7 July 1997. My wife had lost a three-month pregnancy, and was hovering between life and death. She needed urgent medical intervention. We went to hospital and, for an area that was notorious for power cuts on a daily basis, it was incredible that the power remained throughout the entire period. My wife was operated upon, that is from early evening until the next day. Do you think this is divine intervention or a freak occasion by Nepa?
Abdulai Musa, Lagos, Nigeria

In many homes across the world, the baby's first words are normally "mama" or "baba", but in Nigeria it's most likely to be "Nepa". This is the National Electric Power Authority. On a recent international flight from Nigeria just after take-off, and the lights were switched back on, a little kid shouted "Up Nepa"!
Kolade Kasim, Lagos, Nigeria

Power cuts happened so often in Kenya that we eventually bought a small generator. Before this, we just stocked up on candles and when you light enough candles to see properly it gets very hot. In a way I looked forward to the cuts, as it meant that we had to go back to basics, like cooking on a wood fire. I can say this now that I live in London.
J Kamow, London

I have been trying to write a book since arriving to Nigeria from Europe, but it has been pretty difficult with the light problem all over the country. Several times I lost a whole chapter because I forget to save each line I typed. It is really frustrating. The generator I was using just blew up my laptop over the weekend. I am so angry, because I have lost everything that came from inside my head. As a creative writer, I know some thoughts never re-surface.
George Onmonya Daniel, Abuja, Nigeria

Until today the sound of our small fridge switching on is still a trigger for me to get up and do some work
Jake Kidde-Hansen, Kenya
We had power rationing in the years 1999 and 2000 in Kenya. Although there was an official timetable it was rarely followed. I was at the time working from a home office, and had a small fridge in my bedroom. I learnt to recognise the sound of power coming on in the middle of the night: It was the fridge starting up! I would then jump out of bed regardless of the hour, and get on with whatever pending tasks I had until either dawn would arrive, or the power would go off again. Until today, the sound of our small fridge switching on is still a trigger for me to get up and do some work!
Jake Kidde-Hansen, Nairobi, Kenya

Best power cut story? Ha ha... this is like telling a Nigerian to duplicate a journal of his daily life.
Ann, US/Nigeria

When I was in High School - an all-girls boarding school - we had power cuts. Before going to sleep, everyone would first gather for an assembly, where any announcements would be made and then in an orderly manner we would be released to go sleep. One day the lights went out, so we gathered as usual for assembly. All of a sudden, from somewhere, someone started screaming. Maybe they were afraid of the dark or they saw something.

All sorts of stories came up later - a mad man on the loose or a ghost. Every single person scattered, belongings were thrown all over in mad confusion. A number of girls lost their shoes and bags and other personal belongings. I remember I ran so fast, such that if I ran like that, I would be one of the well-known Kenyan athletes by now. With other girls we barricaded the door to one of the classrooms and hid under the desks all shaken.

In the disorder, some girls were trampled. Thank God, no-one was critically injured. In as much as this became a laughing matter later, it would have been disastrous. The good thing is that there were only a few students in that school, thus serious trampling didn't occur.
Nyokabi Kahura, Nairobi, Kenya

Growing up, whenever Nepa (the Nigerian Electric Power Authority) took light we would all curse and scream. However, when electricity was brought back, we would run into the streets and scream "Up Nepa, Up Nepa!". How ironic is life, eh?
Anthony Daniyan, USA/Nigeria

I thought such an experience was reserved for Africa alone
Omonua, UK
I was finishing up a report in my house in East London. It was important because of the meeting I had planned for the next day. Then the lights went off! First, I thought it was my circuit breaker, but it was not, there was blackout in London, well, east London. I could not believe it. I thought such an experience was reserved for Africa alone.
Omonua, UK

It was a beautiful and happy Sunday afternoon, the day my country Nigeria would show Cameroon their experience and talent in football in the quarter finals of the Cup of Nations 2004. Some minutes in, the Indomitable Lions scored their first goal by Eto. I was very sad, but hoped that the Eagles would never disappoint us. Then, some minutes to the end of the first half, we were awarded a free kick to be played by our JJ (Okocha). As he took the ball, set it and was coming to kick it, something happened. "Oh Nepa!" was shouted everywhere. "They have taken the light." That was the kick that gave us an equalizer in the first half. Well, I had nothing to do than look for a friend who has a generator and watch the rest of the match there.
Sammic Chidi, Dakar, Senegal

I visited my parents at Onitsha in Anambra State, Nigeria, during the last world Youth Championships in Holland. As I was watching the game between Nigeria and Argentina, there was a power cut. I had to go to a hotel nearby and pay to watch the match.
Madueke Chika, Enugu, Nigeria

In Benin city, Nigeria, where I come from, power failure is part of everyday activity. When I was home one year, there was no light on 24, 25, and 26th of December. We were all in darkness. A lot of my friends stayed in the hotel, but I didn't want to spend that much money on hotel. One night, I went to fetch water across the street from my house and when I came back, I dropped the jerry can on top of a snake. By day break, I saw that the snake was dead, because it was a 20 gallon can. If there was light, I would have seen the snake.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

In my country, Liberia, we have been in darkness. So power cuts have been a part of my life. My only problem now will be what we call "power flush". When the power comes back on, it might make me blind, since I am addicted to the darkness.
Julius B. Kawa, Logan Town, Liberia

It was a very hectic day during my final year examination. I was initially filled with joy that, after six sleepless years studying, I would graduate. But, quite unfortunately, a day to my last paper, the Nigerian Electric Power Authority (Nepa) cut the power for 12 hours, so that I could not read and I eventually failed the paper. Nepa have given me a stigma that I have to live with for the rest of my life. So, a few years after this, I gained admission onto an electrical engineering course and my absolute goal was to see the possibilities of studying seriously, so that I could help the up-coming generation. I graduated with distinction, but then, after attending several interviews, the same Nepa refused to employ me! What have I done to Nepa I ask myself.
Martins Gani Joseph, Kaduna, Nigeria

We live in a block of flats and the meter readers find it hard to allocate the right consumption to the right consumer. In this case they kept on withdrawing power from me at no notice until one day I gathered courage and went straight to their offices for a show down. It was the third time they had cut me off and no apology was offered. I did not waste my time talking to ordinary clerks. I went directly to their chief of staff, who seemed not to care about my plight. That was when hell broke loose.

I must admit that I managed to make a spectacle of myself, but with no regrets at all. I threatened to upset computer tables and beat up anybody who crossed my path.

There are two different issues here. The national power cuts are one thing, but the individual ones with no specific explanations are even more maddening. I used all the foul language that is found in books just to get my message into the heads of those crackpots who make people's lives miserable. Their lack of respect for consumers, who keep them in their jobs, really boggles my mind.

Finally a policeman arrived and scared me off with some military jargon.

Now I can say that this branch of Zesco gives me some respect. I'm one of those few women who can react with such a fighting spirit, because I believe in justice and fair play. My last message to the meter readers, billing staff and the power cut manager was loud and clear. and I've had no disturbances at all since then, apart from these nationwide power cuts that cannot be fought by an individual. Personally my allegiance and patriotism are almost wearing off.
Shuttie FN Libuta, Kitwe, Zambia


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