Monday, 6 May 2013

Do blackouts mean more babies?

PHOTO | FILE Why does life in the majority of homes stop when there is a blackout?
PHOTO | FILE Why does life in the majority of homes stop when there is a blackout?  NATION MEDIA GROUP
Posted  Sunday, April 28   2013 at  01:00
What’s the relationship between blackouts, poverty and babies?
“Do you know why poor people have more children than rich people?” asked my History teacher, an odd smile beginning to form on his lips.
None of us raised a hand, because having taught us for some time, we could tell when he was asking a rhetorical question. I must confess though, that I had no idea what the answer was, and couldn’t wait to find out.
“Unlike rich people, the only source of entertainment they can afford is sex.” And then he actually burst out laughing.
At that age, we were Form Two students and sex was not a word you uttered freely. In fact, it wasn’t a word you uttered at all. We had a nickname for it, and even then, we’d only whisper it, and then giggle furiously afterwards. As you can imagine, the last thing anyone of us had expected is that one of our teachers would say it out loud.
We were embarrassed, but amused at the same time, and try as we might, not a single student could keep a straight face. I was tempted to ask him how many children he had, but I had a feeling he wouldn’t appreciate the question.
Anyway, when he stopped laughing at his revelation, he went on to explain that rich people had a variety of activities that kept them occupied, (television, nights out, books, entertaining friends) therefore they retired to bed much later than their poor counterparts and by then, they’d be so tired, they’d conk out immediately their heads touched the pillow.
This, according to the teacher, left them with less baby-making time, unlike their poor neighbours, who had all the time in the world to fill God’s earth, since even television was a luxury.
I had forgotten about this anecdote until a contribution from a Daily Nation reader caught my eye the other day. The writer, James Wakibia, was lamenting about the frequent blackouts most of us have had to put up with since the rains began.
“Power cuts, coupled with cold weather send us to bed early, and a bigger population could be the result,” he wrote.
According to Mr Wakibia, blackouts mean more babies and increased poverty since these babies in the making will have to eat. Yet as matters stand, there isn’t enough food to keep every Kenyan’s stomach contented.
Birth control
I have no idea how true these two rationalisations are; whether there has been a study of some kind or whether they’re just based on experiences or observations. One also wonders what, then, is the role of birth control and, oh, does contraception cease to work during blackouts?
As you ponder that, one more thing caught my eye in Wakibia’s letter: the fact that he cannot keep a conversation going with his better half over candle light.
“It’s boring staring at each other in the sitting room for even an hour,” he wrote.
I have a feeling this gentleman isn’t sailing in this boat alone. Kenyan homes lose life immediately the lights go out. The first thing you notice is the deathly quiet, not surprising because the only conversation that had been going on was the one taking place in the television.
Once that’s gone, we’re left restless, wondering what to do with ourselves, or how to occupy our time.
Let’s face it, the idiot box has taken over our lives, our time, and in the process, we have forgotten how to talk to each other.

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