Every neighborhood has that one influential person. Ours is Jedekaya. We call him Jedii, with the double “i” intensely pronounced. I don’t know how the “e” was dropped. Don’t ask me.
His friends call him Jed. But if you came to our village on a hot Sunday afternoon looking for Jed, we will point you to the next hot village. Until our last Uhuru service we didn’t know this Jed version. It’s the good Reverend that announced that our influencer is called Jed by his friends. Still, someone will point you to the next village. Not all of us are Sunday church goers.
These past few days has been a mix of no electricity, dim electricity, and no electricity. This doesn’t happen when our Jedii is present. He is certainly not around because this hide and seek game electricity is playing would not be.
He must have merely gone to the kyaro to have his uncle Mukungu released from the local prison. Mukungu’s wife, Min Jok has probably been persistently beeping Jedii. Then, when he returns her call, wailing incessantly in between mumbled talk she asks him to have her Mukungu released, saying he is going to die in prison if he is not freed before Christmas. She does this in between heavy sobs. It’s a routine.
The rich man knows grannies like Min Jok just don’t give up. Like the lady in the Bible that kept badgering the king, their persistence is annoying. The Reverend read us this story from the good book once.
Jedii has decided to go to the village and have Mukungu released. Last thing he wants is upsetting the mother of twins; Min Jok. Hence our phase of darkness. When Jedii is away, electricity goes with him. When he is around, electricity stays.
See Mukungu is a man who likes to test his nephew’s limits. He enjoys pushing boundaries beyond his coop. He will take every thing from a poor widow and her children. If he must. Big leech that one. He believes what belongs to his departed brother belongs to him. Not to the widow and orphans.
He would have stripped Jedii’s mother, and her children of their inheritance had it not been for the firm presence of the local Ot court, St. Stephen Waribe Widows’ group, the Village council, the young sub county chief with a law degree, the retired Deputy Police chief, and the local Judge in Jedii’s village.
These stakeholders, and all other manner of odds have been weighing heavily on the other side of Mukungu’s greed scale. From the day his dear brother passed he has wanted his brother’s estate. Before his brother was put in a casket, he had already taken a mental note of the assets. And before St. Peter had time to find the departed‘s name in the big book of life, Mukungu had made his intentions known.
Good thing the cherubs never sleep on the job. So, nothing has ever balanced off for Mukungu. Well, nothing ever does until Min Jok makes that one phone call.
Because the clan, the Police, the prayers of the widows’ group, the Ot court, the young sub county chief, and LC won’t let him have his way with his late brother’s estate; he has made it his life mission to stress Jedii’s mother. And messing with her means angering her kids. Hence the many times Jedii has put Mukungu in jail.
When his nephew decided to do some work on some acres of land, Mukungu was irate. He went crazy like the dry season fires. First, he quarreled with no one in particular and then went to the Trading center drink hole to announce his intentions.
Jedii planted teak, pine, and eucalyptus trees.
One fine Tuesday, in the middle of the dead night, Mukungu went to the tree farm; uprooted the baby teak trees before their first birthday, moved the 3-month-old pine trees, and set the 3-year-old eucalyptus trees on fire.
Jedii was livid and had Mukungu jailed. That wasn’t the first time.
It’s this cycle of events. Mukungu moves the boundary stone of Mama Jedii’s shamba. Mama phones Jedii. Gives him these lose ended cues in a long paragraph about his uncle. Says her pressure is up again. She can’t feed the chickens properly. The ducks won’t fly in a peaceful single file anymore. Her feet hurt like the other time. And she can’t weed her spinach in peace.
She will go like……..
“Yes, the headaches are back. The goat cheese I have been attempting to make with the Widows’ group was an absolute fail. The cows have that brutal cough again. I may have that sugar disease Min Jok has, Jedii. Yes, the rabbits gave birth again, the Angora ones. Those creatures nyal tutwal, they are too busy populating. Tell your wife the ones I sent are not to be petted but cooked into rabbit stew with chilli or odii. You should bring that rabbit sausage machine this weekend. No. I don’t know what to do with that acidic man Mukungu”
She is stressed. And that upsets Jedii.
Jedii phones the police chief. Police chief calls the constable who looks for Mukungu, takes him to write a statement, and charges him for disturbance of the peace.
6 weeks Mukungu is away in prison. The village is a quiet peaceful existence. Until his old kind wife Min Jok pays him a visit. She misses him. He begs her to call Jedii. Promises to keep it together this last time.
She makes the call. Wails on the phone-incessantly. Jedii calls the judge. Judge releases Mukungu. Mukungu then forgets after 6 months. Disturbs the widow again and is sent back to jail. It’s as predictable as the wheel of a bicycle.
So because our influential person is away handling Mukungu and burnt eucalyptus, electricity at our place goes off over the slightest of things. Just a ka dull-dull thunder rolling from 1000 kilometers away in the skies and jwich! Power goes off!
Now yesterday it was a confused cloud hanging about aimlessly in the skies. The kind that is not sure whether it should rain in Kumbuzi or those ends of Kisaasi. And this unsure aimless floating of the December nimbus got us switched off.
Sometimes it’s a small cloud. A baby cloud; the size of the bottom of a one-day old tot. Not dark gray, but the angry and threatening kind. This thing will just peep below, and power will go off. I mean how can something as small as a lanyuru’s pwol be harmless?
The turning off of this mac thing must be manual. The chap responsible must be some tired human. The kind of employee that has done the same role for 40 solid years, wants respect, feeds on self importance and couldn’t care less.
He has seen the electricity institution from when it was a kiosk on Old Kiira Rd, and power was rationed, and generators were the norm in towns far from source of the Nile to now when people don’t have to go to the electricity office to queue for the purpose of paying for electricity.
When he hears distant rumblings, he will lazily press the off button and go back to his nap no matter what time of day it is. When he sees a distant lightening sliding across the horizon, he will press that red button down and go back to tuning his ka small old raspy oloyo lwiyo radio so as to listen to the Arsenal game. Never mind their position in the EPL.
Gone are the days when we used to brag about our neighborhood having constant power despite its remoteness. We used to tell our friends and anyone who cared to listen that apart from the dust, cold, and puddle filled potholes, electricity disappearing was the least of our problems.
Those days, whenever power would go off, you would count to 5 and bam, it would be back. If it went to 6, you would leave your seat go check the neighbors to the east, west, south, north, upstairs, downstairs, and scan the rich people’s hills of Ntinda, Najjeera, and Kyanja.
If the entire place was in darkness, you would rule it as a general thing and go find your solar lamp. If not, you would check your Yaka just to be sure and check the battery percentage on your phone.
You would get off social media because your phone is showing 2% and you couldn’t tell when the switch guy will get off obsessively tuning his raspy senile oloyo lwiyo radio.
On a bad day, your solar lamp will last a few minutes and start blinking. This, because you weren’t mindful enough to check during the week whether it was charging. And because you forgot the sun was hitting the window from another angle since it is December.
The solar lamp eventually blacks out. You remember you have an old power bank somewhere. You locate it, plug your phone to its beaten side. The two connect! You’re elated! But your victory dance doesn’t last long. The two disconnect because, again, you didn’t charge the power bank.
So you start this redundant and unproductive touch game with the power bank. You press the on button. It comes on. Your phone springs to life. A few seconds it goes off. You give it a minute. Turn it on again. Phone springs to life, well until your power bank tires of this nonsense and goes off for good.
That’s when you realize you should just go to bed. You turn those switches you have been hoping you won’t-off. You unplug your charger from the socket. Collect your angry self and go to bed. As soon as you put your bottom on that bed, you see light.
The entire neighborhood is lit including your kitchen. You want to give up and go to bed, but then you realize the series you were watching is probably still on. So, you go back. Turn the TV on. Then, you see those white tiny sentences going up. Even the Nigerian movie you had stumbled upon has the “In God we trust” line plastered across the Telly.
You are a trouper. You decide to watch the next movie on the line up but before you sit power goes off!
You just pick your tired self and go to bed. You take a mental note to add a prayer request; that Jehovah sends the neighborhood more Jediis who hate the noisy generators and don’t like solar energy to your neighborhood.
You also pray for them to have no deranged and acerbic uncles to attend to when you need electricity.
By: Laker Winfred L
PS: Oloyo lwiyo in Acholi refers to a something far better than whistling.