No power, no problem

Marisa Comeau-Kerage

March 11, 2013

What happens if the power goes out in America?  Life kind of comes to a stand still.  Some school districts might cancel school, back up generators would kick in, those without back ups would start freaking out about the food in the fridge or freezer, and the general American population would go into withdrawals or just be bored out of their mind due to being cut off from their precious technology.

The power goes out here….a lot.  Whether it is because of the heat, a blown fuse, or whatever, it’s a common occurrence. The phrase, “Le courant est coupé,” (The current is cut or the power is out) is used very often.  Somewhere, in the city of Mboro, there is a power outage minimally once a week. But surprisingly enough, my guess anyway, about half of them will go unnoticed.  Life here is not dependent on technology or electricity, such a contrast from American life.  School continues, all classrooms have many windows to let enough light in for classes, most don’t have computers but those that do just won’t have that specific class that day.  Food storage relies very little on refrigerators or freezers as many don’t have them.  Food preparation relies on gas tanks and matches or just a log fire.  Most businesses rely on paper book keeping and do most things by hand.  The local tailors’ sewing machines will be out of commission so they will pick up their work and continue doing anything they can by hand.

Power outages are most noticeable in the early evening.  The family will be gathered around the TV or sitting outside talking.  If the power goes out in times like these, they just pull out candles for in the house or their cell phones, as all are equipped with flashlights, and continue what they were doing.  Conversation is the highest form of entertainment here which never relies on electricity.

So as cool as technology is and as convenient as it can be at times, the American population has, as it seems, become almost completely dependent upon it.  Life in Senegal is not and has never been, and although life is a little more difficult at times they get by.  They are not tied to Facebook updates or Twitter feeds, they don’t feel blind without a lightbulb lighting the way, they don’t need to worry about their food in any case due to the self sufficient manner of food preparation here.  They live off the land and are completely independent of technology.  And, quite honestly, that kind of freedom seems so much more advanced than any first world country could ever hope for.

Marisa Comeau-Kerage