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Faces of Africa 20120521 Wadongo's little lamp

05-21-2012 03:26 BJT

90% of Africa is still in the dark. Life for the school going children in Africa could not be any tougher. Trying to study using firewood light is not an easy task. But for some lucky ones like Cedric in Western Kenya, a kerosene lamp comes in handy. But that comes with its own hazards. The smoke and fumes could lead to respiratory problems while the inadequate light can cause eyesight complications. A kerosene lamp could also easily cause a fire.

Many Africa children don't have electricity at home.

Cedric Mutiso: You would buy a matchbox and kerosene, then light the lamp and smoke fills up the room. At times kerosene runs out and since you have no money, you are forced to stay in the dark.

Robert Brudisko: When the lamp goes off, you forget what you were studying.

But dawn always follows darkness. Electrification all over urban and rural Africa is in top gear, but it will take ages before the needs for power and light are fully met. Lack of power means, no economic activities, which translates to rural-urban migration.

The resulting brain drain from rural areas means that rural African children like Cedric, still have to contend with conditions that prevail.

But for those who abandon the rural areas for the lights in the cities, there are those, who remember their childhood problems and return with solutions. One of those is Evans Wadongo.

Evans: This is the village where I grew up in. This is Malava in Western part of Kenya.

If you look at this village, this is the kind of setting you will find in most rural villages, not just in Kenya but in Africa. The lifestyle is still the same; people do subsistence farming and they do not get a lot of money. The main economic activity as you can see is sugarcane growing which is not profitable at all. They earn $1 or $2 a day, which they have to use to buy food, kerosene and all their daily needs.

You can see power lines passing here but this is power that is being imported from Uganda by the Kenyan Government, so it has to go all the way to Nairobi. It does not benefit the local community.

When I was growing up we used kerosene lamps, which have an open flame. We were living in one house and we used this kerosene lamp. It does not produce enough light, so you had to put it close to your eyes.


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