I am particular about cleanliness.
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so spooked by filth. I’m utterly convinced it must be an allergy of some sort.
It hasn’t always been this way though.
As a child, I didn’t understand why my folks were so neat. They always forced me to tidy up and I wasn’t happy about this. Mother especially was always saying, “Haba! o ti rough ju”.
Having to do the chores in her presence was the worst form of punishment. She never was satisfied until the whole house gleamed. Since there was no escape from this back-breaking routine, I accepted my fate.
Till today I do not know if this obsession with cleanliness is as a result of my genes or Mother’s influence.
From my appearance to my handwriting, everything had to be clean and neatly arranged. This has saved me a lot of trouble. In time, I tried to change people’s attitude towards being tidy.
What peeves me is the common notion that poverty makes people unclean. One might be tempted to believe this but that’s before this comes to mind, ‘Filth cuts across all social classes’. That someone is rich doesn’t mean they can’t be scruffy. Yet there are poor people that are really tidy. It is a thing of the mind and not the number of zeros in a bank account.
Hygiene as a topic is included in the school curriculum and is taught in Home Economics, Health Education, Physical Education, Integrated Science and Biology. How we end up with a dirty society makes me doubt the efficacy of the classroom in ensuring proper sanitation.
A Yoruba adage says, ‘Imototo lo le segun arun gbogbo’. It means, ‘Cleanliness defends against all diseases’ RadioLagos aired this line on a kiddies programme sponsored by USAID. How on earth did we forget that cleanliness is next to godliness?
I was glad the day I learnt that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was spick- and-span. He said in one Hadith,’Cleanliness is half of faith’. This means a Muslim must be hygienic. Back in the Middle Ages during the reign of Harun Rashid, the streets of Baghdad were washed with soap and water. This was at a time when much of the world was did not realize the value of sanitation.
From all the if-i-don’t-take-care-of-him-who-will adverts many of us know that proper hygiene is key to healthy living. It is good to be clean. Wash your hands before eating, after using the toilet and immediately we get home. This reduces the spread of germs and exposure to infections.
Lagosians are a bit lucky. Every last Saturday of the month, there is restriction of movement from 6-10a.m so we have to clean our homes and surroundings. This has been going on for as long as I can remember. Markets are closed till 10 a.m on. Thursdays for the same reason. I wish we took the sanitation exercise more seriously.
On my part, I prevent my friends from littering. I sometimes throw their waste into the nearest dustbin. For this, one of them named me ‘Medical LAWMA’.
If we all contribute in our own little way, our streets can stand side by side with those in London, New York or Dubai.’