Power cuts are just as much a part of Zimbabwe life as Sadza (a traditional Zimbabwean food). My first experience of a power cut was on the first night after. We, the national and UK volunteers, moved into our new home in Regina. Although we had known each other for almost a week now, we still had not fully bonded but this changed as we were suddenly plunged into darkness. We put candles and lamps on and sat in the living room, after talking we realised we had a common interest in music. We all went round singing our favourite songs and when it reached the nationals they sang a beautiful Zimbabwean song “Huyai nepano Baba”. The music, the candles and the company made it a perfect first night.
Hunger drives resourcefulness
One evening I was on cooking duty with Ngoni (the national team leader). We were out of gas so had to use the electric cooker, then the power cut happened. Everyone was hungry so we had to improvise. We collected firewood, built a fire outside, and cooked there. It was a great experience and the food tasted wonderful, who needs electricity!
Power cuts are not all great though, the worst thing about them is that they are unpredictable, they can happen at any time, when you are reading, cooking, charging your phone or bathing (UK team leader Sebastian had to brave a cold bucket shower in the dark!). They can affect the project as well; a power cut stopped us from printing off questionnaires we planned to hand out at a presentation we organised, but we worked round it by doing it by hand instead. Just as in the cooking case, we had to adapt and that is one of the most important lessons I have learnt so far. You could complain about the power cuts but it is better to be flexible and make the most of what you have.
Written by ICS volunteer Gurnick Buray. Photo by ICS team leader Sebastian Scott.