South Africans are a proud nation. Proud to a fault. Only, it’s no ones fault. Apartheid planners built huge electricity power stations deep within the black townships (close to the labour supply). But separate development meant that they kept all the power (virtually all the power) for themselves.
At the dawn of democracy, suddenly the power generators had to work double time to roll out services to the people. And there were lots of people. Election promises were made. Service delivery was the common refrain. But nobody bothered to keep the infrastructure up to speed.
Now we have rolling black outs. Only, we not allowed to call it that. Well, not that we’re not allowed to call it that. The folks over at awkward park insist that there is nothing rolling about the blackouts, that inevitably black outs is a racialised term, and that we should stick to the official line: loadshedding.
I work at awkward park. Off the record, I call it rolling black outs. It has equalised our society somewhat. Folks out in the northern suburbs, with their hadedas and porches, have to rush to charge their devices ahead of schedule. They gripe about how the power utility doesn’t even bother to stick to its own schedule. Go figure.
Perhaps it hasn’t equalised society as much as it’s forced the have’s into the broken shoes of the have nots. For those begging at the traffic lights, loadshedding is a good thing. They have a captive audience. Otherwise, living in a tin house means living off grid. This one beggar asked me how I was the other day. I complained about how I had to rush home to charge my phone because of this stupid loadshedding. His eyes glassed over (I swear he rolled them at me) “Small change, missus?!”