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Sunday Serenade- The Igwe Ensemble

 

It`s 7.am.
The strains of music are close enough for me to make out the shrill voice of the soprano and the strident choir cutting through the greyness of dawn. Its Sunday morning .

The  Sunday serenade has begun in typical Nigerian style. An ensemble of many different sounds outside my window determined to get me out of bed one way or another.

Next door, the lady singing at the top of her voice is in joyous abandon. From the balcony, two male voices join in with snippets of Olamide`s tune “Eleda Mi O”. The refrain is carried on by an unseen chorus with bright morning vocals.

The sounds persist. They march stubbornly into my thoughts, nudging me to life. But my plan this morning is a simple one. Ignore them all.

However, the serenade waxes even stronger. The latest one has taken over my head and I nod along half asleep. Deep bass. Rhythmic thumping reverberating in the distance. Non-stop drumming. Church.

Sunday is simply not complete without blaring waves of Yoruba gospel songs, drumming and keyboard accompaniment from the churches on almost every street corner.

All in all, I could probably have made it back to sleep except in comes a very different beast. For those who need a lesson in the “who is who” of  electric generators in the Nigerian market, the “Igwe” is king.

Rocking into my consciousness, the “Igwe” ensemble have joined  the symphony .  The TEC electric generator Igwe 8100ES is one of the most iconic  generators in Nigeria.  A few Igwes belching together make a mighty sound. This revving and spluttering of generators altogether at the starting line is completely unrehearsed. It creates a rising fracas of sound. I am pushed to the limit.

It’s an intense and a rude awakening.

And the Igwes are here to stay.  In 2012,  Nigeria was estimated  to have over 60 million generators in active service morning, noon and night.  The ratio of one per household. An annual spend of N1.6 trillion.

Today the situation is even worse. The state of energy supply in Nigeria is routinely described by everybody as a “crisis”.  With only 5 out of 23 power plants currently functioning to supply 180million people, it is indeed a tragic crisis. All across Nigeria, the Igwe ensemble continue to cost small businesses thousands of Naira everyday.

Startups run at a permanent loss. Resources are diverted simply to fuel these petrol and diesel guzzlers. Its a shame.
I couldn’t help but wonder. What happened to the development of renewable energy sources like solar technology  in Nigeria?

Wouldn’t the everyday existence of ordinary Nigerians be unbelievably transformed, its quality incredibly enriched without our strangling dependence on these generators?

Imagine the number of lives that would be saved in hospitals. Imagine the number of people that could be employed in cottage industries. Imagine the quality of uninterrupted education children could have in schools.

Nonetheless, my cue is complete. I must wake with the world and do as others do. I dust off the night and welcome the relief which daylight brings. The light streaming through the windows is fresh and soothing.

All around me, the energy is apparent. Voices are raised defiantly even above the cacophony of the Igwes.

Daylight hours are precious. Nothing beats waking up to the flourish of a new day- new hope.

Perhaps as we hope, we ought to keep asking our elected leaders: when will Nigerians hear the last of the Igwe ensemble?

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