Photos

‘Dealing with Dumsor’ Is a Photo Essay About the Ghanaian Approach to Power Cuts

This photo series on dumsor documents how the millennials of Accra, Ghana are nurturing a seeming disadvantage to empower themselves.

I do remember a lot of fun things happening when the lights went off—like having rap battles in boarding school and classmates throwing food at obnoxious seniors in the dark. There are many childhood memories of mine that involve power cuts but it upsets me that Dumsor is no longer a distant memory and is still very prevalent in Ghana today.


I think one of the most frustrating things about Dumsor is the fact that electricity is such a basic necessity and something that many people can’t even imagine living without. Dumsor is an amalgamation of the Twi words for “off” and “on.” The electricity situation has always been bad for as long as I can remember, but Dumsor as a term in reference to the electricity issue seemed to have taken off as the power cuts worsened towards the end of 2014.

These erratic power cuts have been at the root of frustration and motivation for the people of Ghana for many years now. In recent times, this national crisis has since gone on to inspire songs, social media campaigns and now in her latest photo essay, Dutch photographer Desiré van den Berg is showcasing the effects of Dumsor on the millennials of Ghana. Van den Berg, a wanderer, creative and photographer visited the country to find like-minded people, document their lives and share their stories.

Upon booking her ticket van den Berg got connected with Sammy, a fashion design student at Radford University College, East Legon, who introduced her to more creatives.

“While taking photos of wherever I went and whomever I met, the power outages sort of naturally became the common thread,” van den Berg tells me over email.

“It started to develop itself as a theme throughout the pictures. The Millennial Generation, or Generation Y, represents the first generation to grow up with new technology: computers, mobile phones. They are identified as ‘digital natives’. They use technology at much higher rates than people from other generations and use tv and the internet to get most of their news. All in all: they’re very dependent on power as it is the source of what occupies most of their day. So dumsor, which is the Ghanaian term for very irregular, persistent and unpredictable power outages, has a huge effect on this specific generation. The outages sometimes last for days on end and since technology for this generation is an essential part of life, few can imagine living without it. How do you keep in touch with your friends and family when your phone and computer both die and you can’t charge them for hours? How do you write an essay when your router has stopped working because you lost power? Where do you get your information from when there’s no internet? How to set your alarm in the morning?"

This series highlights that millennial Ghanaians are just as dependent on power as any other country, and although these erratic power outages have been occurring for years now, it is still intolerable.

On the impact of Dumsor on the nation, Nana, one of the millennials interviewed for Desiré’s series says:

“Perhaps it is too early to know the definite effects of dumsor on this generation. For the youth in particular, a positive one seems to be a bit more determination, creativity and wisdom when it comes to making a cedi out of fifteen pesewas.”

Check out images from van den Berg's photo essay, "Dealing with Dumsor," below:

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

From Desiré van den Berg's Dealing with Dumsor.

Find more information on "Dealing with Dumsor" here.

Music
(Youtube)

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