You’ve Got The Power: Oops- Mistake-!

Long ago, as a young child, I lived with my parents in a remote part of Burma, on a mine, in the jungle, on a hillside, and there was electricity. Yes, we had the know-how to produce and distribute electrical power to the working areas and dwellings, away in that far place, long ago.

Then civil war came and we had to flee for our lives. We went half-way round the world to what is now Namibia, then called South West Africa, also long ago, and far from town or city, on another mine, in the wilds, and we had electricity. We had the know-how to put together an electrical power generating and distribution system.

A few years later we moved into the midst of central  Africa, to old Northern Rhodesia, to yet another mine, and there was a massive power station, built by the mining company. There were many such power stations dotted around central and southern Africa, even way back sixty-seventy years ago.

Now that I am an ancient fellow, living in the most industrialized, resource-rich, infrastructure-rich country in Africa, I find that we have turned the corner, and are going back to candles and paraffin lamps, because the people who have the power to run the country have lost the ability, the know-how and the project-management skills to do what my grand-parents could do a hundred-or-so years ago, in the wilds, in the jungles, far away.

A nucleus of people from South Africa, and similarly capable  folk from parts of Europe, moved around the world, building those mines in Burma, in the Congo, in Southwest Africa and old Northern Rhodesia. They built the power stations and grids. Those facilities were built by ordinary people, thousands of whom came from here. Why do we no longer have the power to keep the lights burning? What happened to our knowledgeable, adventurous people? Is there anyone in charge who knows where they are today? Who is in charge? Who destroyed the treasure-house of skills?


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