The story of a wasteland: A must read call to action

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– by Ivonge Victory

There lives a town situated in the southern region of Nigeria, precisely in the old Bendel state, now Edo state. To speak more precisely, this town is at the heart of the Etsako Nation.

One of the fastest growing community in the entire southern part of the country, it is a very small town with little or no natural resources, yet it is very vibrant- just like Dubai. Like Dubai, in this town, it rarely rains. The sun reigns unquestioned. It is the hottest place in the entire Southern region of the country. Simply put, it is dry land like Dubai. This town is best known for its frequent erosions.

This town is gradually becoming a pilgrimage site for most Christian tourists/worshippers. It is also a town with some of the most fearless individuals who can speak with reckless abandon. A town where you have an issue with one of their indigenes just be rest assured that the entire community is coming to retaliate whether you were right or wrong.  Here, wives are barely accorded any value.

Wasteland is a town with a beautiful greeting culture. With the simple phrase “Mo”, you are viewed as a child with proper home training. Most parents teach their children to say “Mo” and leave the job of parenting for the primary preoccupation of earning their daily bread. One can hardly blame them for this is a Nigerian problem.(though this is a Nigeria problem).

It is not a sorry story all the way. I have made it sound all along as though this town lacks everything. It does not. There is good news about the town. It possesses a very great manmade treasure. So far, it is the major economic driver of growth in this little town.

From this point forward, I will refer to this town as Wasteland. In Wasteland, personal hygiene is a “taboo.” No, there are no rules against personal hygiene, no curse waiting to descend on an offender’s head, as I would later come to discover. Perhaps, to call it taboo is to exaggerate. To talk in plain terms, it is the norm in Wasteland to neglect personal hygiene.

Why do I call this town Wasteland? Perhaps, because“WASTE/REFUSE” is simply their concubine? They live with waste and dine with it. Well, can one blame them for a culture that has been there, probably long before they were born? Hardly will you see a gutter that channels waste into the main street gutter. The irony of the whole issue is that most of these streets even lack gutters. Therefore, it is natural for them to dump refuse in their homes or close to their homes. They sometimes try to justify themselves by burning their refuse in front or back of their homes. This then raises a question. How about the waste that one cannot burn i.e., kitchen waste, liquid waste, etc…? They simply pour them onto the street.

One thing this town loves as much as waste in this town is food.. Wasteland is a town that loves food, yet pays little or no attention to the environment in which the food is being prepared. This town loves waste/refuse so much that its nose has gotten used to the smell. The townspeople’s brains no longer interpret waste as a harmful substance anymore. Therefore, food and waste mingle.

The town absolutely lacks planning. Buildings are erected at any spot that looks like land without government hindrance.The only time you see government officials interrupting construction is simply because the owner of the building has not “SETTLE”, a  typical Nigerian word for Bribing and corruption. This town has a very big water board facilities that is capable of supplying water to every home, (My thoughts are: the administration of the previous government that built that facility, did it because of the extreme dry weather condition of the town). Unfortunately, the facilities have been grounded due to lack of maintenance and brainless government agents. The people now rely on water-supplying-tankers who get their water from feces-infested rivers or buy from individuals who can afford the high cost of digging a borehole. This is a town where big refuse bowlers are situated within the immediate residential area, where little kids have chosen to use as their latrines (on the guidance of their parents or older siblings) during the day while “OTHERS” makes use of them at night for the same purpose. In this town, houses barely have sewage pits. They mostly connect pipes at the back of their “Open Heaven” bathrooms that flushe the water directly onto their streets.

I can talk from this moment till eternity and my point will simply be that things aren’t just right in this town and everyone seems to be at peace with it. How can a wasteland become the natural habitat for humans? Should we also blame the government for this simple “Common Sense” ideology?  What does it take a landlord that can build a complete storey building to just add a single waste disposal system in his house? What does it take a landlord that can build a complete set of one-room apartment to construct a channel that would dispose human unavoidable waste? What would it cost a government that collects tax from its citizen to make policies that will compel landlords to fix these errors in their homes because of the health implications? What would it cost a government that is largely funded by the poor through tax-payers’ money to make it mandatory for  every house to collect their waste in a black-big-nylon-bag and place it neatly in front of their homes and arrange for a comprehensive waste management company to collect these waste on a weekly basis for a little token? What will it cost the government to create a master plan that would be a template for the development of this dry land into “Future African Dubai”? What will it cost the government to harness the gift of sun-light in this town to produce energy that would make this town self-sufficient in power generation? What would it cost the people of this wasteland to start embracing the culture of cleanliness? What would it cost mothers to start focusing more on parenting, on instilling good morals in their children? How expensive would it be to pay more attention to their children? What will it take for the people of this wasteland to start talking less and doing more?

Well, if this question was put before me, I would emphatically say nothing is needed to make all these things happen. When the MAN is RIGHT, HIS world would be RIGHT. Lest I forget, I live in AUCHI.

Written by:
Ivonge Victory

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