ABH IN THE DARK

For medical students at the University of College Hospital, Alexander Brown Hall has become a mini sanctuary, a home away from home. However, on Friday, June 21, 2024, the rug was pulled out from underneath their feet as this sanctuary was plunged into darkness, literally and metaphorically. A power outage that lasted about a week: the unexpected outage extended, not only disrupting the daily lives of residing Brownites but also drawing our attention to the urgent for infrastructural improvement. 

The prolonged outage rendered many students powerless. Many students rely on power for their laptops and phones, and they cannot carry out essential tasks. This disrupts their academic schedules, halts meetings, and affects their sleep quality for many.


Imagine a student returning from class, ready to kick back, relax and power his gadget. He walks downstairs in search of water, only to discover no water. Finding the tap as dry as a bone. There was no electricity to pump water for the hostel. This was the grim reality for medical students on Friday. One minute, they were in their rooms, studying or unwinding after a long day; the next, they were plunged into an unsettling darkness. 

The blackout was just a brief flicker. It was a complete blackout, stretching for days and extending to some parts of the College building, leaving students scrambling for other alternatives.

To understand how medical students felt during the blackout, this article will share some of the experiences and alternatives medical students employed to sustain themselves during that harsh period.


The blackout was nothing but a nightmare for students juggling their already packed schedule of lectures, tutorials, postings, and studying. The absence of power meant no light to study, no means to charge devices, and complete disruption of students’ daily routines. Seeking insights into their ordeal, some of the students narrated the hardships they went through, expressing that there was no way to iron their clothes and properly freshen up for classes, as Jola from the 2k23 class recalled:

“It was so terrible; it hasn’t just reduced my composure, but has also reduced my productivity.”

Apart from the lack of light to charge their gadgets, students were also faced with the daunting task of hunting for water. The probability that you would find water was uncertain, and having to queue in a long line to fill up a few buckets that would manageably carry you till the next day was one hardship no one wanted to endure. Another student from the 2k23 class, Bolu, expressed his unease during the blackout period.

“For water, I had to fetch water from down and fill my kegs and bucket before leaving for school. I just had to prep before time and plan. Sometimes, I just had to leave the long queue. It’s scary to see a long queue in the morning; it creates a lot of uncertainty, and you can’t get much of your stuff done on time. “

Reflecting on how this generally affected their routine, a newbie to ABH, David from the 2k24 class expressed dissatisfaction, saying, “This has affected my reading pattern and some other things I do. For instance, my feeding pattern was affected.”  He further explained that being in M1, he’d have to go hunt for  procedures and weekend calls and tutorials, and there would be no water.” I had to wait for a particular time for them to pump. We needed to queue to fetch. I think I stayed for an hour and 15 minutes before I could fetch it. I couldn’t even attend the call anymore.” He complained.


Asking how the power outage affected their studies, work, and tutorials, some students expressed the negative impact they faced and a few drawbacks in their studies. Those accustomed to studying at night had to adapt by becoming daytime learners. Making most of the daylight and resting during the night in preparation for the next day

As we approach our MB 2, I read less since most of my materials are on my phone. However, one good thing it’s teaching me is how to maximise my days for learning.” Jola said.

And this sentiment is also shared by the 400-level students staying in the hall. John, another member of 2k24, explained that the outage had prevented him from being fully serious with his studies.  

I can cover a lot in a little time, and that is usually how studying works for me, but I’ve been unable to get anything done. I mostly rely on my laptop, but now there’s zero academic work waiting for me.”

When asked how online meetings and tutorials were conducted without electricity, he said, “I didn’t attend any meetings apart from tutorials with my SRs. I couldn’t attend some tutorial because I had to queue for water.”

He added that he was lucky that he did not have any meetings that fell at night, and when he had virtual meetings, he attended them with his phone, which he always found ways to charge. 

Others like Chiamaka had to wake up very early to prepare and get to the library, where there was usually power to charge. Places like mosques also helped a lot.”To charge, I give some of my friends to charge in the mosque. I rarely use an alarm, so I had to make do with what I had.”  John explained.


The blackout that lasted for several days exacerbated the living conditions for students, leaving them with no electricity to power their fans amid intense heat. Already burdened with rigorous academic demands and clinical postings, the poor ventilation and mosquito infestations made things uncomfortable and frustrating. This was a classic case of being caught between a rock and a hard place.

People were left vulnerable to their attacks without electricity to chase mosquitoes away. Each bite was like adding insult to injury, posing a nuisance to their health as well as their overall well-being. Some students came down with malaria, and anti-malaria drugs became vitamins during the outage. Combined with heat, the situation led to complaints of sleep deprivation and an increased number of sick students with Malaria.

In the clash between Mosquitoes and Man, it is safe to say that the students of Alexander Brown Hall had to surrender their stronghold to their vicious opponents and retreat, and they faced the music.

Hmm. I lost the battle to them o.” Ife, a member of the 2k21 class lamented.

The Mosquitoes were winning, and they sang to that.


The power outage at Alexander Brown Hall has sparked the need for urgent upgrades to the hostel’s power system. Listening to what the students had to say concerning the matter, we only hope for better days as the ABH community continues to shine, even in the darkest times.

Ndidiamaka Okafor

None of the names in the article are the real names of the respondents, as they have chosen to remain anonymous.

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