The Broken Grid 1: A Nigerian fossil fuel love story

Part 1

Image Source: Financial times

It’s a chilled Friday night and I’m binging on my favourite TV show which talks about political reforms that are needed in my country ( p.s. the reforms hardly ever happen 🙂 ). All of a sudden, there’s a blackout and the TV and lights go off, my living room turns into an abyss of darkness. I manage to locate my phone and turn the flashlight on. Hurriedly, I step out of the door to the backyard to switch on the generator, luckily, I do not have to pull as the generators nowadays come with a starter which is much easier than using the recoil pull.

This is the reality of millions of Nigerians, including the Ogas at the top that have failed to fix the erratic power supply, but oh they do not have to turn the generator by themselves, they have maigadi’s to do that for them. So here we are today, a so-called sane nation with power outages every now and then, a country where the soothing Beethoven-like sounds of backup generators will make your eardrums pulsate, where beautiful exhaust fumes fill the air creating an artistic masterpiece of soot in the sky.

On some nights where you decide not to turn it on because you are low on dirty petrol/diesel or you are just plain broke, you’ll have to decide sacrificing your body to mosquitoes, because I assure you they will have a good barbecue that night. Bon appétit to Mr. Mosquito because Kentucky Fried Human-Blood (KFH) never tasted better. On other nights, the heat due to the weather will make you think of life deeply, I’m sure you can relate and if you can’t, the electricity supply in your country is stable.

This is just the beginning of a love story

It’ll be in free verse form

Sometimes, it’ll rhyme.

It is meant to inform

To help you understand the source of the grime

A story about humans, electricity, fuel emissions, health and our environment.

A story of hardahip, pain, love and greed and of a country that needs development.

By Salim Ubale


i’m hyperventilating, not because i ran on a 50 mile track, it’s an entirely different reason today. the stifling air in my lung’s thick with a smoke-like rage sweeping me into a vortex of my emotions.

pain (n)
how peculiar pain is, it comes from distinctive sources and makes its way to your heart causing arrhythmia.
death, heartbreak, divorce, a blow in the face, failure, all these connote pain.
it seeps through your bones, through every fibre of your soul setting it afire.

rage (n)
pain morphs into rage and thrums it’s way through you, it is fuelled by anger, anger at things we can’t change as much as we try, anger at those we care for who seem not to look into the subtleties, outrage over the state of the world’s affairs, these build a pressure in our souls, in our hearts, waiting for the right time to explode, waiting for purgation to occur.

release (n)
a cleansing phase we undergo, it vents through our tongues, though our fists, though our legs, or our fingers as we write about our ordeals, it gives us satisfaction, a feeling of contentment or regret for what we’ve experienced. the fury abates at this stage and we wear an unbridled smile or a cloud of sadness. a maelstrom of gratitude rises high and takes over our minds
an appreciation for what we’ve been through.
a catharsis.

image by me