Last Thursday was a very exciting day at our apartment. We were studying Tshiluba at home at around 11am. Bob got up to get something, and I heard him shout “Kristi! Come look!” I was sure he had seen a huge spider or a mouse. “Lights!”, he said, pointing to one of the ceiling lights, which we had never before seen lit, but which was now definitely ‘on’. We shouted with joy, looked around, and noticed that some other lights were on. We looked out the windows, and realized that there was a man from the electricity company in the back-yard, just waiting for confirmation that the electricity was now working. We went down and expressed our excitement to him and to everyone else present that today we finally got electricity, for the first time since we moved in to our apartment 2 months ago!
That evening, as it got dark at around 7pm, the electricity came on again. We looked around in amazement…it felt strange to be in such bright light. The apartment felt different, and we felt like we were seeing some of our rooms for the first time, in this new ‘light’. A few of the rooms (e.g. the shower-room and the toilet-room) do not have outside windows, so they never get much light. Now we realized where we needed to do some cleaning! It felt so strange to be able to walk into a room without carrying a flashlight or a lantern…and to be able to see clearly! Cooking with the whole room lit felt like a true luxury…and to be able to read without holding a flashlight! Of course one of the big perks is being able to charge our computers and phone at home, instead of only at the once-per-week visit to the internet cafe.
It now appears, after a few days of our new-found luxury, that we will receive electricity every other day, for about 3 hours in the evening. This does not sound like much, but it feels like a true gift to us right now, after 2 months of absolutely no electricity. In the midst of all the other adjustments we are making to culture and life in Kananga, a few hours of electricity periodically definitely helps to ease some of the logisitical challenges. In fact, we are grateful that we do not have electricity every day. Sitting out on our balcony tonight, watching the stars come out to the tune of a chorus of frogs while people walked home from work, we are grateful for these ‘nights of darkness.’ They help us to stay connected with our environment and not be tempted to sequester ourselves with a computer. We still get our candle-light dinners, but we also fully appreciate the convenience and accessibility that electricity gives!