A constantly functional electrical grid is something most of you reading this may take for granted. As global electrification continues to increase, periodic outages and brownouts continue to be an issue that an increasing majority of people have to deal with. (Kenya is unfortunately at about 30% electrification, which is higher than the 14.2% electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa,but still leaves with more than enough room for improvement)
I have been back back in Nairobi for about a little over 2 weeks after about half a year Stateside. I have been asked several times if I am glad to be back. The answer is a combination of what I am doing, what I can do, and what I have to do. While spending the afternoon with my 2 month old Nephew, it is great to be back. At times like this, sitting here calculating if it is worth turning on the iMac to continue an illustration, since the power has just gone and returned for the 3rd time in about an hour… I can think of several places I would rather be.
Power outages are a somewhat common issue in the cities in developing nations. Their frequency differs from nation to nation, from city to city and borough to borough within said cities. I am talking about purely infrastructure based outages, not those created during extreme weather or other unforeseeable disasters. A mild rain storm can put you on edge for outages, and a lack of rain can mean more listings in the newspaper of day long outages, ostensibly due to lack of water in the dams. My understanding of the problem does nothing to alleviate its occurrence.
It is not unusual to hear “this is Kenya” when this or other issues come up in conversation with native Nairobians. This could be due to it being normalized as they grew up with the outages, or those that have recently relocated from areas that may have little if any electrical coverage. In both cases the current outages could be seen as an improvement. This is the first time multiple short outages have been an issue since my return and admittedly the outages are less frequent than they were, not just in the early 90s when I first lived here, but since 2010 when I last moved to Nai.
Mediocrity should not be accepted. No matter how much people told me I would get used to it. I have not, nor ever will. Running the chance of not just loosing hours of work but having your electronics suffer crippling issues is not something I nor anyone should get accustomed to. I have become better at constantly saving work I may be doing, though one can occasionally get caught up in creativity and lose hours of work, and Adobe products have begun to include auto-save or recovery options (which work in most cases unless the file becomes entirely corrupted to which i also have the habit of creating multiple save states). In addition to these habits, I will invest in a UPS battery backup system shortly.
So yeah, This is Nairobi.
The “This is…” category of posts will contain my observations on different places I may be. With a combination of age and the last 6 months of somewhat extensive travel, I have a clearer idea of the differences and qualities that make places here not there. Having said that, I maintain that one of the main difference between places, is how much alike they are.
I will be writing these down to serve as reference material for when people ask me how x place is. This purpose could be enriched by your participation. You may find similarities with where you may be in these posts, which I encourage you to share in the comments. As some may be more opinion than fact, you may disagree with my assertions, to which you can go away n die, my blog my experience! I kid of course, all comments welcome.
Question : Do you consider the content of this post to be news? I am trying to think of what to include in the So What’s the Good News Project and positive observations of places may fit right in.
I have also been using the tag format #thisisnairobi #thisisdc #thisissanfran on instagram and encourage you to follow me and/0r use the format for more visual representations of locations