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Sex, theft and transformers

A spate of thefts outside the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, has left homes in the dark as desperate criminals try to make a buck. Gangs of thieves knock down transformer boxes that sit on the crossbeams of H-shaped wooden electricity pylons cutting through the wires and disrupting the
power supply in their bid to get at the valuable components inside.

The large rusty transformer boxes are gutted and the electrical wires and springs inside sold to scrap merchants, mechanics or jewelers.

Stealing electrical or industrial equipment is nothing new. One of the reasons why mobile phones have spread so effectively across Africa is that they avoid the landlines that were regularly stolen, torn up and sold for scrap. In some parts of the continent it is not uncommon for train drivers to discover that the railway tracks have disappeared in between services, dragged away by enterprising and overly proactive scrap merchants.

But in this series of Nairobi thefts it seems that the most highly-prized content in the transformer boxes is not the metal wires but the liters of old transformer oil. It is thought  that drinking a few drops of this liquid, charged with electricity over years, works as a sexual stimulant more powerful than a double dose of Viagra.

GlobalPost has yet to conduct its own investigations into the truth or otherwise of this popular belief but either way it seems the quest for sexual satisfaction is worsening to Kenya's already erratic power supply. Still, there is a neat symmetry in those seeking to improve their sex lives by causing the lights to go out.