The access to electricity for power is something that we take for granted in North America. While the odd power outage might cause temporary discomfort, our expectations are that the lights will come on whenever we want them to. Many of us are more concerned with our cell phone data usage than with our electricity consumption.
Unfortunately, many of the Nigerians featured in Shasha Nakhai’s Take Light do not have such luxuries. As we learn in Nakhai’s documentary, over half of the nearly 200 million citizens do not have access to 24-hour electricity. Who is to blame for this? Well, the answer is rather complicated.
As we witness through several individuals including Martins, an electrician who risks his life daily to provide for his family, and Deborah, a customer service rep who takes the brunt of the client’s volatile and violent rage, the problem is a systemic one.
The government’s decision to privatize the electrical system, which runs off an old and unstable grid, has led to the misuse of a key natural resource. Furthermore, narrow-minded consumers, believing they are entitled to things for free, are using dangerous and illegal ways to syphon power to their homes.
All this makes for a compelling and complex look at a society in a vicious cycle. By focusing on the individuals who, like Martins and others who are simply trying to better their lives, Nakhai ensures that the human cost remains at the forefront. Though the film points to alternative energy sources as a possible solution, it is clear a new direction in both execution and thought is desperately needed.
Take Light is an urgent and necessary call for change as time and patience are two things those living in darkness no longer can afford.
Friday, April 27, 6:45 PM, Hart House Theatre
Tuesday, May 1, 3:15 PM, Scotiabank Theatre
Thursday, May 3, 6:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre