This morning we received a rather irate message from a Gauteng resident – Michael B.: “Where the hell are the lights? And now we have no water!”
In fact in the past week we’ve received plenty of similar messages…Andrea in Durban was furious when she left work early “especially to get home in time to cook for my family…only to find, for the third night running, that the freaking load shedding was on. Yet again we’ll eat late tonight.”
And in typical South African fashion, we’ve also received many brilliant load shedding jokes…although at this stage many are saying that the biggest joke is the load shedding schedule which isn’t always as accurate as one would desire!
Before going any further, it’s really important to note that the (lack of) power situation in South Africa is actually no laughing matter.
It has political, financial and social ramifications. It’s affecting small and big businesses. It’s affecting families. Parents with small babies are struggling at feed times. Wives whose husbands are away on business are feeling less safe at night, in the dark, behind electric fences that aren’t working properly.
And it’s resurrected the age-old blame game – blaming the ANC, blaming the Apartheid Government. Plus it’s dangerous. On Friday a Capetonian on business in Johannesburg “had to travel to Pretoria during a power outage with no traffic lights…and witness a huge car crash due to no signals working. It was a scary experience to say the least.”
Worst of all, it has been affecting the spirit of the South African people. Fraying nerves. (Ask the Durbanites queuing in the heat outside Home Affairs’ branches when the offices suddenly have to close for a couple of hours because of load shedding.) And it’s been building discontent. People used to say “will the last person to leave the country please switch off the lights”. Nobody predicted that Eskom may have switched them off first!
As one KwaZulu-Natal resident said “this load shedding is absolutely unacceptable, it’s like we are being punished for something we didn’t do.”
Entertainers’ Agent Lisa Loeb wrote on her Facebook status on Friday: “Can you flipping believe it!!!!!! Not listed in stage 1, 2 or 3’s schedule for today…and we have been loadshat again!!!!!!!”
A business woman friend of hers replied “Lisa, I am finished! Struggling to cope. Just keep going and somehow we have to get through it. We are survivors – but bloody tough. I think we need a small to medium business women’s support group to deal with the emotional stress of these blackouts during business hours.”
Within hours others had responded and “team work is dream work” became their motto.
And that’s why South Africans will survive this crisis. Because they look for the solutions. For what they can do to cope with the current challenges.
And because they do have humour.
As one of the most “glass half-full” nations on the planet, South Africans are finding ways to be productive during these somewhat ‘dark’ hours. For some load shedding has made their lives worse…but for many, load shedding is starting to improve aspects of their lives…helping them stop to smell the roses (because they can’t brew the coffee!).
Some of the Good Things that have come from Load Shedding:
1. Restaurants are stepping up
Take a bow Croft & Co in Parkview, Johannesburg, and Die Damhuis in Melkbossstrand, Western Cape (as well as many, many others).
This morning Gauteng resident Georg Knoke called Croft & Co the “BEST coffee shop in Joburg! Congratulations to Grant and Marissa for managing the power crisis this morning, for ALWAYS being there, for knowing who your customers are and for running the extra mile to make us all happy. This is how a small business should be run and the results are obvious! You rock!”
And just take a look at the “Eskom Menu” that Die Damhuis put on this week…
2. Romance is heating up
With the moon out in full last week, it was a “marvellous night for a moondance”. Normally we wouldn’t have noticed! As Suzanne Fontaine Theron said “thank goodness Eskom can’t pull the plug on the moon:)”.
And even without the moon…many are saying South Africa’s become the most romantic nation in the world “because we dine by candlelight every evening”.
3. We now have the perfect excuse to braai more often
As Judy Magner says “keep the Braai fires burning!!!” And the occasional potjiekos isn’t too bad either.
4. South Africans are being more Innovative and Ingenious!
South Africans have always been entrepreneurs at heart. As Niki M Wright says “that is what I soo looove about South Africans…they make the best out of situations that other nationalities would find very stressful!!”
5. There’s a lot more Loving going on…
What’s a person to do when there’s no internet, no television…and you’ve just had a romantic candelit dinner? “I suspect SA is going to experience a huge population explosion within the next year or so!!” says Helen Van Rooyen Meyer.
6. Out diet has just got a whole lot better
Well apart from all the overcooked braais we may be enjoying…we are eating a lot more salad, as Charmaine Hawthorne points out…”so we are all getting more healthy!”
7. It’s quite entertaining…
Comedians like Zapiro are having a field day…and keeping us entertained.
8.We’re spending more ‘real’ time together!
No television. No internet. Just conversation.
9. We’re becoming greener
We’re developing brilliant new habits like turning appliances off more often (even when it’s not forced upon us)…and this awareness may just have a healthy impact on global warming…or confuse it altogether. Lauran Griessel sent this screenshot in yesterday – “Lol. According to Accuweather it is going to snow in Magaliesburg today. Some confusion due to Eskom load shedding…perhaps. We are in a heat wave currently!”
10. It can bring out the best in us…
Here’s a message to everyone from Marie’ Vivier who sent in the picture below – “To all our fellow citizens in South Africa. Have a wonderful week!”
Thank you to everyone who sent in jokes, messages and contributed to this article – Lyn Sproule, Alan Rudnicki, Nicole Odette Whindus Botha, Mark Townsend, Lee Wilson, Yvonne Bowdidge, Farhana Sadek, Jon Plowman and many more…