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I miss kerosene lamps at grandma's house

I miss kerosene lamps at grandma's house


The good old lady's house had no electricity and we had to make do with kerosene lamps for light as soon as dark hit.

When you are young there are certain things that do not seem to be a bother. Sitting in semi-darkness and listening to the old lady's narrations was a priceless experience that cannot be exchanged for anything worldly.

At a certain age even sleep would also not be held at ransom by the night's heat. Because we would play all day and when the sun set in we would be called to take a night's bath before supper and then it would be time for the evening's story.

Before you knew it, exhaustion from all the day's juvenile activities and they would be many, would take its toll. We would all fall sound asleep until the early hours of the next day. Every other new day, we explored new ways of having fun, which meant new adventures.

Life was good and things like power rationing would never really have mattered. We never had electricity to begin with at grandma's house. Thus we never had any use for electrical gadgets and appliances. We totally depended on whatever came naturally to maximize our pleasures. Electricity, rather the lack of, could therefore never have been a source of boredom. All that we ever needed was a bright, sunny day and sound health to have all the fun in the world.

Grandma's house has since been improved. The grass-thatched two room cabin has been replaced with a bigger house with iron sheets which is connected with electricity. People residing in it now, I bet, have all the necessary electrical appliances many households cannot do without these days.

But the improvements at grandma's house have its disadvantages. The human psyche has a nasty way of getting too attached to things it grows fond of. To offset boredom, we stay glued to our television sets for hours, surf the internet, play video games and things of that kind.

We have literally become too dependent on things that use electricity to amuse ourselves. In a country where electricity supply is extremely unreliable, our amusements are guaranteed to be kept in check by regular power interruptions.

As though the fact that services provided by Tanzania Electricity Supply Company (Tanesco) are nowhere near good was not enough, they had to drop another bombshell. Beginning this Sunday, we have been told, electricity charges will go up by over 40 per cent.

The power supply utility firm wanted to hike charges by up to 155 per cent. They tried to reason with the Energy and Water Utility Regulatory Authority (Ewura) to no avail. In fact, many of the reasons they cited for wanting to increase charges proved to be untrue.

That alone leaves a lot to be desired. Why would Tanesco lie to justify the increase of power tariffs by such an unimaginable scope? It creates a lot of doubt on whether the power company will honour one of the requisite conditions to hike tariffs which is to improve services and reach more people.

Tanesco has to right many wrongs on its part before taking any pleasure in the increment of electricity charges. The public already feels like it is being shortchanged. We do not get what we pay for and some who are forced to use generators when the only power supply in the country fails to deliver spend even more.

As customers we also never get the feeling of being treated right. Tanesco has the legal obligation of telling us why, when and where there would be power cuts before they happen but that's not always the case. Worse yet, holding them accountable after any problems due to power fluctuations is an Herculean task that may cost more than replacing a damaged appliance with a new one.  

We might understand the need for increasing electricity charges, but we also still feel that Tanesco has an obligation of making us feel that it is worth digging deep in our pockets to sustain them. The increment is just too much for many to bear.  

Those who have gotten so used to using electricity at grandma's house may now need to revisit their favourite pastimes at home. Not only are your leisure times going to be kept in check by unguaranteed power supply, the latter is also going to be more costly than it used to be.

And since we can't all just simply commit suicide, life has to go on. Soon we will start feeling like we have drifted backwards in time to the years before electricity was discovered. The next thing you know there is going to be a rush for candles, lanterns and kerosene lamps.

Anyone who is still living at grandma's house with sleeping habits that are heavily dependent on assistance from electrical appliances such as air conditioning units or fans, should start thinking of sleeping outside. And then the neighbourhood petty thieves get their field day.

Not a total loss after all, it is the way of the world; someone has to benefit in some way no matter how much others are suffering. And then there is just that likelihood of a hike in kerosene pump prices in the not so far future. Oh! Almighty have mercy on us!


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