For a taste of what it means to not have power 24/7–far from it, actually–and to not know when it will go on and when it will go off, here are some lists. Note: NEPA refers to the national power company (which people disdainfully say is an acronym for “Never Expect Power Anytime”). Its name has technically changed to PHCN, which people joke stands for “Problem Has Changed Names.”
Things People Do When The Power Comes On
- Shout “An kawo wuta!” (“Someone has brought the light!” in Hausa.) or “Yeah, NEPA!” (Is it any wonder that one of the first words of our friends’ son was, “NEPA”?!)
- Jump up to turn on the lights and blow out the candles (in that order preferably).
- Turn on the washing machine and/or dryer.
- Check to make sure that all phones, computers and rechargeable lights are plugged in to charge.
- Put a pile of food into the fridge that had been waiting to go in because we don’t like opening the fridge when there is no power.
Things People Do When The Power Goes Out
- Groan loudly and collectively with everyone in the near vicinity. “Boo, NEPA!” We can actually hear the shouts down the street.
- Try to remember if the bedroom light was on—so that if the power comes back in the middle of the night, we don’t get a rude awakening.
- Power down laptops if we want to save the battery life for later.
- Go to bed…even if it’s only 8 p.m. Not having light completely zaps our motivation and energy.
The good news is that I placed an order yesterday for a backup power system featuring solar panels. For those of you who want to know the details, we’re getting four panels of 85 watts each, charging two 200 amp-hour gel deep cycle batteries through a hybrid system that is joint with the main power grid. It’ll be enough to power our fridge, lights in every room of the house, two laptops, two fans, and several other outlets.