Small but life saving
Ps: I am writing this piece from my phone at the cool reception of Kisumu girls. Do you know what comes to mind? Silly. But I just think “these kids might burn this place”. Someone tougher than Matiangi please stop them. I shift out to some smoky cafe.
It was early in 2009. Straight out of high school and hungry for this town. I am down in the crowded Muthurwa market then the small man gets calling. It’s discomforting. Utterly bad. It’s late evening. I am your typical Nairobi hustler. Broke as a church mouse. I don’t even have a spare coin to earn a passport to the unhygienic city council toilets. Those places you’d want to have a committee with yourself before walking in. Your guess is right. Man must live. If you read coming to birth at school it will be familiar. That place she’s comparing city life to village life and she says they’d walk to the bush and no one would tell what you’re from doing.
I walk towards the hedge and do my thing. Stupid but dangerously relieving. I am almost done. Just a few drops and a shake to go. Then I hear a fatherly tap on my my shoulders. Warm breathe pass the endings of my ear. A voice goes “maliza usirudushe ndani. Hiyo ni evidence”. I freak. The remainder drops swim back. I don’t even remember shaking anything. I want to turn like that. But it’s not manly. I this do what’s manly. I tuck it away defiantly and turn. No one wants to expose his member to the scrutinising public. Girls might just start those endless discussions of size matters. No it doesn’t. “Look guy, I can explain…” silence.
That guy picks my hand at the wrist. I feel like a child about to be disciplined by his father. It’s demeaning. I don’t even have an ID card. I want to run but I know not the corners of this town yet! So I humble. And stammer. And that chap now joined by a “colleague”, realises that I am cornered. Tensed as a rabbit. My palms are sweating.
Let’s just move on. It’s 2018. A lot has happened. Kenyans online have adopted that boring phrase; bora uhai. Sonko (the governor) spoke of scrapping off the charges by those toilet facilities in town. No one took him serious. But is he ever really serious with policy decisions? #boraUhai
It will read like a small matter but it’s life saving. Come on it will save the planet if chaps in this town took the lavatory space with a pint of seriousness. It demands for more of behavior change. A paradigm shift of a kind. You and I have walked into public toilets that are unbearably dirty. Those places are run by individuals who charge us to use them. Which is a good thing. Using them. And them charging (perhaps). Should we really bargain on them keeping those places tidy? But wait, it takes the smallest of a fraction of your life to take leak in that room. Where on earth do some creatures get time to scribble on the “walls of fame” “Schola mbaaaaaadiest was here” heavens!
Plus fellow brethren why can’t we just use those places like we’re civilised. Is it possible we leave them cleaner than we found them? Would that save the planet? See it’s an issue of society. Indeed.
Sometime back, before Sonko happened, someone sitting at County Hall, proposed something to do with a law or is it a by law to ensure each business in CBD provides a functional lavatory facility for its customers. I want to shake that person’s hand. That’s a smart move. Because well, let’s face it, it’s 2018 but some restaurants operate in CBD without a toilet facility! It will take you the longest of times to shop and queue in a supermarket on Moi Avenue when it’s end month especially and all Nairobians have been paid. Yet not a single supermarket in this town provides a toilet facility for its customers. Some Kenyans don’t know that it’s cheaper and faster and more convenient to bank online and they will queue (seat lately if it’s Co_op Kimathi Street) at a bank all day waiting to be served yet not a single back has toilet facilities for its customers. The list is long and tedious but the long and short of it all, businesses need to get serious about the issue of lavatory hygiene in this age of experience economy and while at it, Sonko should get serious about his policy thought process!
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