lights out (again)

At dinner last night, I said something foolish. I asked Auntie (with whom we are staying), whether she thought the power cuts were lessening, since they seemed shorter and more infrequent than when I was here last year. Instantly, the lights went out.

When the lights go out, you can hear a collective sigh go around the neighbourhood. We went out on the balcony, and couldn’t see anyone who had light, even the president (his palace is on the horizon, a beacon of bizarrely awful taste, and usually lit up like Blackpool). After about half an hour, the lights came back on in a Mexican wave across Accra, and as far as Adabraka you could hear people clapping and cheering as if the BlackStars had just scored a goal. “The children,” Auntie explained. “They don’t like the dark.” I asked who did? We agreed that only thieves like the dark.

So we all settled down to our evening pursuits, and within twenty minutes, off the lights went again. This time, the collective ‘oh’ was louder. I took a shower, cleaned my teeth with what turned out to be someone else’s toothbrush, and came out to find Auntie sitting reading the bible by candlelight, humming a hymn. She is nearly 80, and almost nothing fazes her now.

Sleeping without a fan in Accra is one of the more unpleasant experiences you can have, on the scale of harmless annoyance. It’s well above 30 degrees at night here, and the humidity is high, so when the air stops moving it’s not pretty. I woke around 5 with all the liquid missing from my body, and drank all the clean water I could find for a while afterwards. But today the power is back on, there are clouds in the sky, and perhaps we will get rain.

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