South Africans learn to laugh at load shedding

Johannesburg - Facing a long, cold winter of power cuts, many South Africans are choosing to cope with their frustrations by seeing the lighter side of life in the dark.

The country is in the throes of its worst electricity crisis since 2008, with residents subjected to frequent load shedding as state power utility Eskom battles to avoid total grid shut down.

Electricity outages are expected to last until 2017 and the government says the knock-on effects could cut 1% from economic growth this year.

A wave of crisis-related jokes have sprung up on social media and the stand-up comedy circuit, exemplifying South Africans' ability to use humour to cope with adversity.

"Eskom is the only business that pleads with you not to use their product," one comedian observed. Social media users have latched on to handles like #eishkom.

"What did South Africa use before candles? Electricity," goes another joke.

The power crisis has also been called the "50 shades of darkness", in reference to the erotic Hollywood movie 50 Shades of Grey, as some people joke that having the lights off sparks romance.

"Wonder how many babies will there be next year?" was one comment on a Facebook page set up to share jokes about electricity shortages.

Some companies are tapping into the public's ability to see the funny side with light-hearted promotions.

"Blackouts? We'll introduce you to switched on candidates," reads a billboard mounted by one recruitment agency.

Restaurant chain Nando's has been poking fun at blackouts since the last crisis in 2008.

"When the lights go out, you can still enjoy a saucy night in," was one tagline used beneath a billboard image of the chicken chain's spicy marinade.

Insurer Santam's television commercial features foreigners telling their bemused friends about the experiences they had on holiday in South Africa, including load shedding.

"Sometimes they just switch the power off. They even have a name for it: 'load shedding'," a series of travellers explain to seemingly shocked friends. An amused American woman responds with a joke about weight loss: "I could shed a little load."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
18.00
+0.4%
Rand - Pound
20.15
+0.1%
Rand - Euro
17.67
+0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.60
-0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.5%
Gold
1,664.62
+0.2%
Silver
19.35
+1.7%
Palladium
2,171.03
+0.2%
Platinum
867.50
+0.4%
Brent Crude
85.14
-2.4%
Top 40
57,336
-0.1%
All Share
63,652
-0.1%
Resource 10
60,032
-0.3%
Industrial 25
77,392
-0.0%
Financial 15
13,773
-0.2%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE
Government tenders

Find public sector tender opportunities in South Africa here.

Government tenders
This portal provides access to information on all tenders made by all public sector organisations in all spheres of government.
Browse tenders