“Nepa Don Take Light For my House”
This picture sums up my nights in Abuja! (Picture from a friend’s Facebook post). Photo credited anonymous.
Since the end of January, the weather in Abuja has been down right horrific. What was once cool mornings and evenings quickly turned into sauna like days and nights of temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). It has been downright uncomfortable just commuting to work in this heat. What has compounded the issue is that as the temperatures soared in Abuja, the strain on the already inefficient power grid in Nigeria has led to difficult nights of trying to sleep in muggy filled homes.
Now, some of you are thinking, “Sentell, you live in a compound that has not only one generator but two generators to ensure that you don’t spend a night in the dark. Why are you complaining?” And yes, you are correct! And I know my complaint sounds like a spoiled American who is use to accessing his air condition at any time. However, because of the strain on the power grid, our generators have been working overtime which has led to the generators breaking down a few times causing some difficult nights of sleep. Since the start of this unbearable heatwave, I have not been able to sleep through the night. I often wake up thinking I am swimming in a pool only to discover that the bed is soaked from sweating through the night. While usually the generators start within 15 minutes of the lights going out, my air conditioner does not restart once “NEPA takes lights.” So, eventually I wake up drenched in sweat after sleeping in a hot and stuffy apartment.
This was the temperature at night a few weeks ago. I actually played tennis that night and it was extremely hot and muggy.
But I have to put my uncomfortable few hours of sleep in context and face the fact that I probably live like the 10 percenters (or less) in Abuja. While many middle class Nigerians may own a small generator to power important appliances in their home, for the most part, most Nigerians don’t own a generator so most suffer through these unbearable nights of heat. Colleagues have complained of their children suffering through the night as heat makes sleep even more difficult for little ones. One friend told me that he and his wife face a very tough decision each night, do they sleep with the windows open and risk someone coming into the house to rob them (actually not sleeping at all because of fear) or close the windows and try sleeping through the heat. Again, I don’t face those challenges at night…
What is nice to know is that relief is on the way and it seems that it will be here before we know it. The dry, dusty Hammattan season is coming to an end. On Friday night, as I was finishing my tennis game, the wind and dust started to swirl around the court and lightening could be seen in the distance. It was a sign that the heat wave would be ending and this dusty climate that we have been suffering with since November would be lush and green again. I woke up that night because of the lack of air in my room but could hear the rain falling outside my window. I just laid there listening to the sound of the rain drops fall to the payment. For that brief moment, it was amazing. You don’t miss the rains until everything you own is chalked in a reddish dust.