Power Outage in Zambia

My last night in Zambia, on this two week trip, and the power is out for the second time this week, for more than a couple of minutes. Usually the generator kicks in, but tonight it sputtered and failed – did someone forget to fill it with fuel? So, I’ve got candles lit, and my iPhone will work for a little while longer for me to write this draft (which, of course, I can’t upload, since the wifi connection is out).

I want to cook dinner, especially since it’s cold (winter here), and a hot meal would be lovely, but clearly that requires power.

It definitely makes me think about how reliant we, esp in the West, have become on a reliable electrical grid to supply us with our needs, for sustenance, for entertainment, for simply existing. It’s Friday night, Shabbat/Sabbath, and I’ve never really thought about what strictly observant Jews do in the setting of a power outage. Obviously, unlike me right now, their meal is fully cooked, but if they only have lit 2 shabbat candles, the whole house is dark, and they must continue their meal in darkness. But, that, I have always thought, is part of the beauty of Shabbat – that you have to accept things as they are, and adapt, not looking to “change” the situation. Our modern approach is to “muck around” with things – never satisfied with how nature has ordered the world around us. We landscape our yards, yanking weeds and native plants, replacing them with hybrids and imports. In Africa, the natural forces often seem to be winning the battle with human attempts at conquest – the futile cloth that covers our copy machine in the office, to try and limit the pervasive dust that finds it’s way into everything.

Why is the Zambian dust so hard to control?

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