Last week Eskom released their load shedding schedule. There was an outcry from people who envisaged the fiasco of 2008 happening all over again. Businesses began preparing for downtime and hospitals were warned to prioritise their back-up systems. There is no need for the ordinary citizen to panic, however. We need to see this as Eskom’s humble effort to teach us a few things. Our nation’s power supplier wants to inspire some thinking and use of the imagination. They want to bring us together and have us embrace our culture. Perhaps their method may be forceful but it is clever to enlighten us by putting us in the darkness. Let us look at the ways in which life will change and we can benefit from this.
It is an ideal time for one of the favourite past times of many South Africans – braais. Men can gracefully play around with tongs whilst the women prepare freshly picked salads. Wives will find relief in no longer having to cook but will have to acquire the skill of planting and harvesting crops such as lettuce, tomato and rocket. Since the fridges will be experiencing downtime, all salads will have to be fresh from the yard. Obviously Eskom is a supporter of organic fresh produce.
Others can share their cultural bond around potjie pots and camp fires. The kids can sit around the flames telling ghost stories, or even the more chilling tales of armed robberies, break ins and murders whilst all the alarms and electric fences are off. On the subject of children, there should be a peak in little ones. Stargazed lovers will unwaveringly surrender themselves to the romantic atmosphere and do what many adults do when the lights go off. This is good news for the baby products industry. In gratitude, all Eskom executives will receive a baby pram as part of their annual bonuses in the future.
The lazier bunch of us will opt for fast foods. Pizza places should look particularly enticing around this time of year – candlelit tables surrounding the blazing pizza oven. This is definitely a good opportunity for fast-food chains and restaurants owning reliable generators. We also need not fear an obesity epidemic. Without distractions which promote lethargy such as the internet and television, we will be active and burn the calories we consume. We may even become healthier.
Shopping may take a little longer than it used to. The cash register will be replaced with old receipt books but we should give thanks for this too. All cashiers will finally learn what they missed out in school and leave these testing times with a new, very valuable skill – the ability to count. This stimulation of left-brained activity may lead to higher ambitions for the ordinary cashier. After learning to count (or use a calculator), they may choose to pursue careers in science and mathematics. An increase in educated citizens will go a long way.
The obvious earners will be alternative energy suppliers who will see a rise in demand. We will learn a thing or two about electricity generation and remember how easy it was when it was just given to us for a fee. We will learn to think and be more creative about life. Moreover, those living in gated communities and spotless suburban areas will receive a reality check and be reminded that they are in Africa after all.
With the provision of so many lessons and benefits to us, Eskom should become a division of the education department. In the meantime, we can put somebody else in charge of our power supply. We don’t want to overload Eskom with too much responsibility now that we have discovered the company's true strengths and value to us.