Kwame Addo is a self-employed, freelance copywriter, photographer and music producer. He works from his late mother’s container, which is also his home. Mr. Quaye is a station master at the Madina transport yard who can barely make ends meet for himself and his two kids. Yaa is a street seller, who plies pure water sachets on congested streets near and around Abelemkpe. Nana Osei is the proprietor of a small school that shares walls with Mr. Quaye’s home. Adjo owns a little provisions shop and bar, serving the needs of the people in her working-class community.
What is common amongst all these people? Well except for the fact that they’re all human and obviously Ghanaian, not much. Oh that’s wrong, there is a connection. Like Pavlov’s dogs, these people’s lives have over the years come to be controlled, here by the theme, Electricity Comes and Goes (ECG).
Only now of course, the electricity hardly comes at all. On the heels of Chimamanda Adichie’s recent op-ed in the New York Times, Ghana’s ECG can absolutely be said to be following in the steps of big brother, NEPA (Never Expect Power At All) in Nigeria, whose name has been changed to PHCN, continuing the former power company’s legacy.
This is Ghana where our dishonorable “honorables” can’t be bothered to even fart their incompetence in our direction.
This means that Kwame Addo, despite being middle class, can’t always fuel his generator. He loses work and money with each passing day. This means also that Kwame’s clients will feel the pinch of increased charges and most likely, will be unable to pay him his due.To think that the Energy Minister of Ghana recently made a totally ridiculous and insulting claim that Ghana is gradually becoming Africa’s energy hub – someone shoot me now.
It also means Kwame will have less money to spend on bills and utilities and this, most likely, will lead to a strained relationship between him and Mr. Quaye, who badly needs money from his one and only tenant. Mr. Quaye, a laboring man with no interest in education, will then find an excuse to renege on the promise to his wife to keep their kids in school.
It means also that Nana Osei will become the bone of contention in his community, constantly taking issue with his neighbors over all the noise from their generators. He’s got kids to tutor after all. Of course, the site of his school is not optimum but that’s a topic for another time.
As for poor Yaa, given the new rationing quota of 24 to 36-hour “light off” and 12 hours or less of “light on”, she won’t be able to make anything close to the income she previously made. Yaa will continue praying night and day for traffic jams to enable her to navigate the throng of vehicles and reach frustrated, thirsty customers. She risks her life in the process, expending more energy under a burning Ghana sun and, ultimately, losing more money than she can make.
Adjo would have gotten by just fine only if her goods didn’t rely on being frozen for preservation. How will she maintain bar service for customers if the drinks can’t be consumed?
On the plus side, the arts industry can get a new lease of life as people discover humor in this murky, desolate and dystopian atmosphere we’re all in together.
But haven’t we numbed ourselves enough with humor? How can we find effective solutions to these historical problems? Right now, we don’t need plenty talk talk and lunch allowances. Our despair is echoed in rapper Spyt Syck’s May 2014 anthem, “E.C.G. Turn on Da Lights”.
As karma would have it, the joke’s on us.
By: Kadi Tay