Monday, June 18, 2007

ZESA...Where are you?

Right now I am sitting in the ASAP field office out in a rural area. It’s midnight and I’m working on my computer because it’s the only time we have electricity nowadays. This week, coming to work during the day has become more like a habit than a productive use of time. We all do whatever work we can without computers or printers, but after awhile, we’re all just sitting there waiting for the lights to flash on.

We occupy ourselves in different ways. Marty and I have been practicing our Shona and bike skills in the yard. Diana has been walking laps around the office, neatening up as she goes. One friend listed out his monthly expenses and discovered that he now spends more on candles than electricity.

The power cuts change how we live at home as well. Cooking must be done over a fire and entertainment options are limited. Usually we end up reading or playing cards by candlelight. I’ve been very grateful that I remembered to pack a flashlight and headlamp!

The power outages have become such a part of everyday life here that Zimbabweans have even given electricity a nickname- ZESA. ZESA stands for the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, or, as I’ve heard some say, Zimbabwe Electricity Sometimes Available. They speak about ZESA as though she were a person:
“When do you think ZESA will come?”
“Do you have ZESA at your house?”

Everyone here seems to be just taking the outages in stride. Certainly there are moments of frustration, but mostly people just joke about the hardship and continue hoping that it will improve soon.


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