The Sun is Going Away For Awhile, Don't Panic

The sun is going away, but don't panic ...

The Nigerian government, anxious to avoid a repeat of riots that marked a solar eclipse in 2001, warned citizens they may suffer "psychological discomfort" during a new eclipse this month but urged them not to panic.

Information Minister Frank Nweke said an eclipse five years ago caused riots in northern Borno state because people did not know why it happened.

"Some people even felt some evil people in their communities were responsible for the eclipse," he said in a statement on Thursday aimed at reassuring Nigerians that the eclipse is expected to darken parts of the country on March 29. "Others are convinced that the Iraqi people are correct in their feelings that 'the American Satan' has chosen to punish the whole bunch of them." Their rationale is that "Satan did not cause the sun to go away in America, why is he punishing us?" Their belief is that an extended period of worship of their God will appease God to return their sun to them after a period of darkness.

"The eclipse is not expected to have any real damaging effect, only social and psychological discomforts are envisaged," Nweke said, "So many of our citizens are not that well informed."

He did not explain what the discomforts might be.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: The one almost total solar eclipse I can recall did not cause absolute, total darkness in the USA (I was living in the Chicago area at the time). It resulted in what appeared to me as a sort of 'twilight' condition; the sky was extremely _blue_ and transparent. After eight or ten minutes of that, things returned to normal. Does that make sense? Does anyone know exactly where the eclipse will cover on March 29, and to what extent and for how long? PAT]

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