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Let’s enjoy freedom from electricity

By Kyle Allan

In light (apologies for the ironic use of the word in this context) of the current Eskom shortage, and due to the great impact this is having on our national trauma levels, I have humbly submitted the following succinct guide to surviving, making it through, and even thriving under the current load shedding.

Talk to friends. No, not chat, talk to friends. Hopefully the power stays off long enough that all batteries go flat and we are actually forced to talk to each other. Start by looking in a person’s eyes. They will look back. Talk. Try and engage in authentic communication. It’s cathartic. It will solve most of our political deadlocks. It’s cheaper than a doctor.


Read. Not phone texts — read books. Go to the library. You don’t need electricity to open the pages of a book. To fill the long stretches, when Eskom decides to punctuate the ruthless bustle of everyday life with a 12-hour blackout, challenge yourself by making it your mission to read all the major long Russian novels by Christmas. Good bye hustling blues, hello Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and co.

Ask yourself, do we really need all that power? For all Eskom’s failings, let’s face it, many of us are absolute wasters. After years of having watched the schmaltz that is dished up on TV, I ask, why even leave a TV on? In what way is my life being improved by it? TV must be the greatest mind-numbing device available to society. If Karl Marx knew of it he would have repented and rephrased his famous saying to television is the opium of the masses.

Don’t watch sports — play sports. Watching sports on TV results in the unnecessary consumption of electricity and increases obesity. It also increases stress levels. Statistically, every time you sit down and watch a sport game, unless you are supporting an invincible team, there is a 50% chance you will not win. And this causes unnecessary depression. And if you are supporting a team that wins everything, there’s no fun in that after a while, and you turn into an absolute snob. Whereas if you play a sport, you will discover you lose weight, have fun and also gain a little humility as opposed to your godlike couch analyst criticisms of what players are doing wrong.

Instead of whining about being powerless, we can be happy for once we are unplugged from the madness of everyday life. Make a list of things that do not need electricity to do them. Then do them. Here is an example sample list.

Write a poem. Play cricket. Have a good round (or two) of sex. A deep and intelligent conversation. Pray/meditate/talk to your ancestors depending on preference, or all at once. Go cycling. Start a revolution. Climb a mountain. Paint. Sketch. Draw. Look at a sunset. Climb a tree.

And to repeat what seems clichéd, look at the stars. Sometime back I went to comfort a family living on a remote mountainside deep in KwaZulu-Natal’s Valley of a Thousand Hills. The place had no electric supply. The elderly told us stories of their departed son. We talked. We let grief take shape in the room, and felt its human form connecting us in a story of pain and yet the very affirmation of our humanity. We connected in our stories. Outside, when we left I looked up. Untainted and untouched by human ambition and contesting ideology in an electric-paced world, I saw stars spread out across the night sky. Beyond my reach, but their meaning was there for anyone. I thought of those who could hear the stars sing, and whose poetry testified to that. I stood there for a long while, and felt them sing across the dark in light, in a place far from electric light.


Kyle Allan is a 27-year-old poet, performer and recording artist who has released an innovative album titled Influences comprising a fusion of poetry with various genres of music including kwaito, house, R&B, Afro-jazz, rock and maskanda.


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  1. Mallory Moreton Mallory Moreton 8 December 2014

    I hate these kind of sentiments. Lets all go back to some luddites anti tech pipe dream while the country slides further into recession due to rolling blackouts. This is serious and people should get angry. Nice prose, but an otherwise pointless article.

  2. RSA.MommaCyndi RSA.MommaCyndi 8 December 2014

    It must be so wonderful not to own your own business or to be born with such a gleaming silver spoon in your mouth. I almost envy you

  3. Paul S Paul S 9 December 2014

    The undeniable economic impact on the country and resulting anger aside, these are really good thoughts.
    Spend a few days in North America and see what the proliferation of electronics and unsocial media has spawned: an entire generation of socially inept zombies and emotionally detached individuals who have little real interest in anyone else, unless it’s for personal gain. The writer isn’t proposing a luddite existence, simply that you make the most of a bad situation which you can’t do a damn thing to change on your own.

  4. Heinrich Heinrich 9 December 2014

    This is really the heart of the matter. Perplexing, ain’t it?

    To do these things, one still needs money. But who can make money nowadays, without electricity? And who can make money with this high cost of electricity?

    How did the people survive before electrons started flowing?

    All the electrical and electronic gadgets and systems should have made operations and procedures infinitely more effective and efficient, resulting in commensurate decrease in the cost of living. ATM’s and PC’s are but two examples. But the trend went in the opposite direction…

    So, it seems to me that, if we want to enjoy our natural freedoms, we should strategically liberate ourselves from the self inflicted reliance on electricity. Or – if that is too much to ask – work in the direction where electricity, like air and water, is treated as a primary right – free and abundant, with no-one capitalizing on it.

    Perhaps hydrogen is the answer.

  5. Heinrich Heinrich 10 December 2014

    I like that, Paul : “unsocial media”…

  6. SarahH SarahH 10 December 2014

    Agree. It is a great opportunity for some serious lateral thinking about ways to wean ourselves from the earthkilling mission we are on, But then again, maybe we should become extinct.

  7. Mallory Moreton Mallory Moreton 11 December 2014

    Well done on being part of earthkilling mission. I, as an advocate of technological progress, applaud you. You apparently use the internet which requires servers, which requires power, which requires stations, so unless you have finally developed remote telepathy while becoming one with mother earth you share the same responsibility as any other human. You can chose extinction if you wish, I will abstain.

  8. Mallory Moreton Mallory Moreton 11 December 2014

    Not yet, it isn’t. What do we do until then?

  9. Mallory Moreton Mallory Moreton 11 December 2014

    I have spent plenty of time in America and I’m sure your generalizations
    cover all 50 states. That country of “socially inept zombies” still
    produces half of the stuff you will be buying for people this christmas.
    It even gave you the medium (the internet) you use at the moment to
    slam it. Enjoy your ipad…

  10. Carel Jooste Carel Jooste 12 December 2014

    I get it that this is a light-weight ‘make the best of it’ piece of coping advice and not a serious rethink about our reliance on resources. Otherwise we go down the slope of ‘no drugs delivered to hospitals – we are over medicated anyway, no textbooks in schools – children have too little play time anyway, no roads – we walk too little anyway’ …From Kyle Allan’s bio he surely realises that as a poet, performer and recording artist he will publish, perform and record very little without power.

  11. SarahH SarahH 12 December 2014

    What exactly are you saying Mallory? Or did you just do a pr stunt now, giving answers to a question I did not ask and a comment I did not make? Just trying to engage : )

  12. Sara Miller Sara Miller 16 December 2014


  13. SeverinIvan SeverinIvan 19 December 2014

    One of the best blog posts I have read in a long time, totally agree with so many points on here.

    Ivan | Simply Business Electricity

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