Over the last week, I thought for sure the "end of
days" had come, with electricity having been
available for six days without disconnection. I was
confident that life as we know it is something that
was surely coming to an end.
There could be nothing else for the lights to be on
so long, right?
This was a joke that I continually kept repeating to
anyone that I spoke to, or to anyone that would
listen to me, for that matter. I found it amusing
that we would wake up in our beds and find it
shocking that this was yet another day to experience
without any blackouts and doing whatever it is that
we do, like all the other citizens of urban
centres all across the world.
For many, it was something that they were extremely
grateful for. It was something to tilt their heads
to the sky and give thanks for. It took on a very
spiritual meaning. Imagine that!
Really, take a moment to absorb fully what that
means. We are living in the 21st century and claim
to be the capital of Africa; a pioneer in growth and
good governance in the region; and the cradle of
civilization, yet we cannot even keep our milk from
souring or our children from being forced to study
in the dark with the aid of flashlights and candles.
was indeed a big joke.
When light comes to the darkness of a country that
has already signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU)
to export electricity, where its own 74 plus
million are sitting and inhaling the smell of
kerosene, and spending already scarce cash on
candles; what is there to think but that it is the
end of days and the coming of whatever powers that
be the people worship.
All jokes aside, though this is an issue that has
been hammered to death, even by me, it is still
something that needs as much attention as can be
given to it. There is no progress without
electricity, especially when we are living in an age
The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo)
told us, through the public media, that it would be
testing the dams at Gibe II and Tekeze. Gibe would
be receiving water from Gibe I and would be going
through an actual testing of its generation
capabilities. Tekeze, on the other hand, was having
all its equipment tested.
These two dams, along with Gibe III are supposed to
be the saving grace for all the electricity problems
that our fair nation is experiencing. They are
supposed to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Sadly for all of us, the tunnel is so long and so
dark, that it has been hard to see the end of it,
especially these days when the lights are out and we
are groping our way through the dark.
But through all this, we have seen the grace of the
Ethiopian people and the dignity through which they
have handled their trials and tribulations.
Businesses are losing, homes are empty, work is at a
standstill, and people are at a loss as to what to
do to make things better. But Ethiopians are still
holding their heads up high and giving praise and
thanks to their God before they lay their heads down
to sleep at night.
Yes, this could very well be a sign of passiveness and a
beaten public that has all but given up hope and
refuses to fight for something that it knows it is
not going to get. But it could also be that spirit
of perseverance that refuses to give up but will not
waste its energy on anything less futile than
Whichever the reason, we as a nation and as a people
put up with living in the dark because there is
nothing that we can do about it. Those that do yell
and bring the issue to the forefront may be talking
about the issues, pointing out the overall problems
and that they need to be solved with the utmost
immediacy, but they also do not bring light to the
darkness that has become Ethiopian life.
These past five and six days have been some of
illumination. They have also been a time to realize
what we really are missing and what it means that we
are missing it; the fact that we, as people, as
citizens and as individuals can do nothing to make
our lives better. This is something that is
beyond our reach.
The terribly bad part of all this was those people
who are able and capable of changing the situation
do not seem to be feeling the urgency and
desperation of everyone else in the nation. It seems
as though these are simply large scale construction
projects that are off-schedule and will be completed
when they are. It cannot be like that, for we cannot
continue to live in the dark.
Pretty soon we will be the cavemen of the 21st
century, not knowing how to act when we are around
electricity all the time. Not really the regression
we want for the "Cradle of Civilization".