Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Hakuna Umeme

The first word of this title will be familiar to those who have seen the Disney animation "The Lion King". In that manifestation it is followed by the word 'matata' which together give the African continental motto that can be translated from Kiswahili as "we have no problems".

The second word in this case slightly changes things to a phrase also very commonly used in Africa (and should be used in New Zealand following privatisation) that translates as "we have no electricity".

While we lived in urban Canberra (I hesitate to use the word metropolitan for that overgrown suburb) electricity failures were few and far between. Unless, of course, the fire brigade had a controlled hazard reduction conflagration in the area.

However out in the bush we have a lot of kilometres of wire and a lot trees underneath them. Also a lot of lightning-prone hills. So it is not unusual to get the power to fritz out about once every couple of months. A quick phone call to Country Energy usually elicits the information that something has happened, or is happening, somewhere within 30kms and a guess at when it will be fixed.

However on 17 December my call of "Hakuna umeme" got an English equivalent to the response "Hakuna Matata." The nice lady walked me through a number of steps to check that all was OK and logged a job. Had she been in East Africa she'd have said "I'll send a fundi." but she didn't have the Kiswahili so just sent a guy in a truck. A further difference to East Africa is that her answer to my final question "When will they be here?" would not have been "About 20 minutes." but rather "Any time from now."

To my great embarrassment when the fundi turned up - a very pleasant chap, as they usually are from Country Energy - he found that one of our circuit breakers had tripped. Thus they were still 'Hakuna matata" we have potentially "Matata moja" or "one problem". Watch this space!

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