3 #DumsorMustStop Vigil Lessons

Here are my three take-aways from today’s #DumsorMustStop vigil.

1. A few people, in this case celebrities, can make a difference. Thanks to their leadership, we were given a venue to speak up. The feeling of walking down the street with 1000 (2000?) others who also think we deserve better was like…a cold shower after a night under a non-moving fan.

2. We can do better. More people can show up next time, but more importantly, those who come should know how powerful we are if we optimise the protest in terms of:

  • spacing (one arms length to the person in front of you one to the person next to you),
  • speed (slowly, like a tortoise winning against the hare!) and
  • place ( you want to walk ON THE ROAD to create maximum impact of the protest, not on the curb, etc).

3. Clearly, Ghanaians are tired of sitting in the dark. Seeing thousands of Ghanaians dressed in black floating down the street holding candles and kerosene lamps – and one fridge! –  must be the government’s nightmare.

Tomorrow Sunday 17 May, 2015, at 3.30pm BloggingGhana will discuss the vigil and how social media can play a role in #DumsorMustStop. If you want to attend, let us know here.

How to Sleep When It Is Lights Out: 7 Tips

Generators humming in the background, I am typing this with a backlit keyboard. Lights out or dumsor is here. Already the evening is in and I am not looking forward to yet another sleep-less and toss-and-turn-torturous night…When I recently tossed the question out on Twitter: How do you cope at night?

I gathered the following tips:

1. Sleep naked.

2. Sleep naked only covered with a wet cloth that will cool you as it dries.

3. Stay up and work instead. Sleep under a fan when the light comes back.

4. Sleep outside (dangerous as mosquitos carrying malaria are common here) – one guy had even bought a tent!

5. Get a chargeable fan (I have done that now, but last night was hot hot HOT even with the fan buzzing).

6. Sleep on the floor, preferably close to a window.

7. Take a midnight shower (difficult when the lights out also affects your water pump…)

How do you cope? Tell me quick before my battery dies!

 

Lights Out in Accra: Dumsor Gets Worse

Since many months we have had a schedule for planned electricity cuts, or dumsor as we onomatopoetically call it here (due to the sound when a whole neighbourhood goes off DUUUM and comes back ‘SOR!)  (dum is Twi for “turn off” and sor for “turn on” I have been informed by a reader, thanks!) I didn’t want to believe the rumours of a new schedule with 24hours of no light and 12 hours with light? But alas it is true.

Just a few days ago my favourite author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote a piece for the New York Times called Lights out in Lagos. Much in her story resonates with the Ghanaian situation. Ngozi Adichie laments: “I spend more on diesel than on food!” What is even more painful for both Ghanaians and Nigerians is:

“how many medical catastrophes have occurred in public hospitals because of “no light,” how much agricultural produce has gone to waste, how many students forced to study in stuffy, hot air have failed exams, how many small businesses have foundered. What greatness have we lost, what brilliance stillborn?

 

Comments on the worsening situation in Ghana is also worrying. Some comments on social media (it seems all of them are about power these days):

I never thought I would say this, but this new 24 hour load shedding schedule makes me seriously want to flee Ghana for other shores.

24 hr load shedding is the limit! It goes from being a fond talking/joking point between Ghanaians to becoming a health and safety issue.

 

One of my friends, talented health blogger Kobby Blay wrote a list begging Ghana’s now two ministries dealing with power (all with the same staff?) to consider his plight. He wrote:

 Please give me electricity at home so:

  1. I will always be happy going home
  2. My wife don’t have to call me from the house [saying] we do not have light
  3. Our baby can sleep without waking up oftenbecause of the unbearable heat
  4. We can avoid the mosquito and malaria that come with it
  5. Our foodstuffs wont have to go badbecausse our fridge depends on power
  6. My online business can continue to earn me some extra income to fend for my familt
  7. My phone can be reached in case of calls from work

The problem is of course costly to solve and promising steps have been taken. Meanwhile however, many Ghanaians will not get a good night’s sleep.