Chimbuzi; Bayan Gida; Ulo Mposi; Choo Choo; Igbonse.
Hey, I am not speaking in tongues here. I know you will be wondering what all these names I have reeled out mean, right?
Simple. They all mean the same thing in different African languages. And that is simply toilet, you know that place hidden in one corner of your house where you sneak in to do the business of emptying your bowels!
The humble toilet now has a day dedicated to it by the United Nations (UN). But sha oh, the way the UN is declaring these days, we just may soon have a World Nkwobi day, after all, Nkwobi has been providing delicious nutrition even before Mongo Park discovered River Niger.
World Toilet Day was enacted by the UN in 2013 and it is celebrated every on November 19 every year.
The aim of the day is to mobilize millions around the world on the issues of sanitation as well as celebrating the overwhelming and life-saving importance of the humble toilet.
According to AfroBeat legend and creator, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti in one of his monstrous hits, ‘ITT’, the African man had been used to doing his business long before the coming of the Europeans.
‘Long, long, long, long time ago
African man we no dey carry shit
We dey shit inside big big hole’
But when the colonial masters came, things changed.
In Fela’s words…
‘Na European man, na him dey carry shit
Na for them culture to carry shit
During the time them come colonize us,
Them come teach us to carry shit,
Long, long, long, long time ago,
African man we no dey carry shit,
Na European man teach us to carry shit.’
That was Fela’s view but the bottom line now is that millions of Nigerians are doing the ‘do’ in the open spaces.
2.5 billion people worldwide do not have adequate toilets and among them, 1 billion defecate in the open.
82% of the 1 billion people practicing open defecation live in just 10 countries: India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Niger, Nepal, China, and Mozambique.
Having a safe and optimally functioning toilet impacts positively on public health, human dignity and personal safety, especially for women.
Where open defecation is the norm, there is AN increased risk of contamination of both food and water supply, thereby resulting in attendant increase in water-borne and faeco-oral diseases. These includes dysentery, typhoid fever, cholera and the likes.
The 2019 World Toilet Day campaign is based on the narrative:
‘When nature calls, we need a toilet.’
Sadly, billions do not have one. Clean and safe toilets positively impacts health, dignity, privacy and education.
A lack of clean and safe toilets in schools has been shown to lead to higher dropout levels among girls once they reach puberty.
The availability or absence of toilets have also been used to assess how the poorest of the poor in a country fare.
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While it is often the poor who overwhelmingly do not have toilets, everyone suffers from the contaminating effects of open defecation.
The reasons for open defecation are varied but most of the time, a lack of access to a toilet that is safe is the dominant reason.
Some people by choice, prefer ‘ open defecation’ and voluntarily choose to defecate in the bush but they are in the minority.
Toilets save lives because untreated human waste can spreads killer diseases and put the population at risk.
By all means, stop open defecation because the lives you would be saving may include yours and those of your loved ones.