Surviving Off The Grid – The Essentials

So we have no electricity and its getting dark and the kids are all over me, outraged!

Dad! There’s no electricity!

Yes, I say, I can see that.

Why!? they ask.

Uh, mumble mumble, payment mumble, I mumble.

Soon I have to confess: I paid late and we got cut off. Now there’s a re-connection fee I have to pay and a delay. I’m thinking fridge, freezer, supper tonight but they have far more urgent and greater disasters and catastrophes in mind:

“THERE’S NO WIFI!!” they scream in unison.

Now they’re ganging up on me. “In unison” and “Jess & Tom” are not usually linked phrases.

Well, I’m walking to the shops, I say, thinking charcoal, firelighter, matches, candles. Do you need anything? Their voices go up two octaves as they shout as one:



Lasted four days. It was cool. Very instructive. Gas cooker and candles. Cleared out the fridge and deep freeze. AND – they survived!

(I had paid on the due date but had ignored this little instruction “Rx is due immediately, the rest can be paid on the due date”).


On the Grid – and YAY!!

It’s 2017 and Tobias Gumede has electricity in his home at last! This Friday he switched on the fridge he bought many years ago – and it worked!

He’s here:

Jozini Map

Here’s a pic of his home the last time I saw it:


and a close-up of his environment:

Tobias Homestead map

A pre-paid meter has been installed and his wife Thulisiwe will top up her electricity card at the store a few km away, or on her trips to Jozini village.

Hats off to Thulisiwe! Imagine raising seven kids over twenty years before getting running water a few years ago – and now electricity! Here she is with Tobias and five of the kids. In the background as always:


And now they have ugesi, isiZulu for electricity.

Celebration called for!


In 2019 he had a room added on the left side of the house as you see it in the pics. Then he bought a new fridge in Pinetown and had the store deliver it to the bus stop. The bus driver said ‘Sure, R60’ (his ticket was R130); then ‘No, not on top, INSIDE!’ So they fitted the fullsize fridge inside the bus and off Tobias went to Jozini. There he unloaded it and found one of his homies nearby who needed money and had a wheelbarrow. They loaded it up, he pushed while Tobias balanced it for the last few kilometres on the sandy road to his umuzi.

Thulisiwe was delighted, he says.


A horse of a different kettle of fish

We got a new kettle. The fancy black round Russell & Hobbs started leaking and that irritated me as it was only a year (or three? four?) old and I thought stuffit, so I dug the camping kettle out of the ammo box in the garage and we became Team Liquigas.

So I got to know the smell of red hot aluminium and that wasn’t good, so I used a pot and got to know the smell of really hot plastic handles and sometimes we’d only get tea after two boiling-dry’s and by the third boiling the kitchen smelt funny. And sometimes we rescued it but there was only enough water for half a cup, not three cups.

So I caved in within two months and bought another kettle that uses Eishkom electricity and switches off automatically because we are MAA in our house – Multiple Attraction Abundant – or VWE – Various Wonders Enriched.

We are NOT Attention Deficit.