I was beginning to think good personal and environmental hygiene is an alien culture to Africans after observing the behaviour of many Africans around me in the past few years. Just recently, I was looking for the nearest waste bin to dispose off the cellophane waste in my hands. But it was where to be found within a 10-meter radius. And after a thorough search and questioning, one of the people I met emphatically told me to dump it anywhere I could but that was difficult and practically impossible for me.
That put me into a long thought process to determine if good hygiene is a foreign culture to Africans. But from what I knew previously, Africans have a rich history of personal and environmental hygiene. What then has happened over the years?
Hygiene History Of AfricansAt least from what I know of, Africans have once made crude materials for keeping their environments clean. Palm brooms and wastebaskets are just some sanitary tools used by Africans in the not-too-distant past. The act of washing dirty clothes and dishes was routinely practised in the African communities. At those levels, there were no national health policies for environmental sanitation or international acts and decrees, but it seemed to be a culture so entrenched in them naturally.
1. Maintenance of good health.
2. Prevention of discomfort.
3. General wellbeing.
4. Quality of life.
Why is poor hygiene now the order of the day in most African countries? Maybe I over-hyped the African history of sanitation. But even that were true, that does not completely rule out a need to develop in the right direction towards the maintenance of personal hygiene.
Many diseases encountered in this region are attributed to a lack of personal and environmental hygiene. A notable example is Malaria, associated with improper management wastewaters.
It all makes me wonder if good personal hygiene and environmental hygiene is an anti-African culture.
Role Of The Public SectorOne thing I realised is that, when certain provisions are not met, even the willing people can become corrupted. The provision of disposable waste bins at strategic locations is grossly recommended. It is recommended that waste bins should be sited at least 3 feet(approx. 1m) apart and 10 feet(approx. 3m) from any obstacles like powerlines, etc.
In most locations in Africa, you would hardly ever see a waste bin within a 10-meter radius. That means you would have to keep your waste for so long if you belong to the class of willing people, people who are truly willing to uphold sanitary laws.
With time, their zeal begins to wane until they are no more adept to maintaining good hygiene. Thus, a chain reaction is set up until all Africans domicile in certain locations becomes anti-sanitary.
One important question you may ask is, whose fault is it? The public institutions or citizens.
Issue of patriotism springs up when you notice how concerned Africans are with their private property and environmental space, but become lackadaisical when it involves the general public. With these majority of people, their homes and immediate environments are safeguarded but they exhibit an I-don't-care attitude when it comes to public property. Does it mean their patriotism is questionable? I'd say yes, but not absolutely.
People gradually lose interest in anything when they are the only ones championing it without any direct benefits to themselves. They assume the position of "sole maintainers" while others are busy destroying what they have suffered to maintain. What can be so innervating than that?
Thus, before you question their patriotism, you should first question the role of the public sector in enacting and enforcing policies that encourage collective efforts.
I would further question what has deterred Africans for the sanitation culture or when good hygiene became an anti-African culture? I could begin to list some points on how to restore hygiene like I so love doing but in this case, I just want to re-emphasize the need to maintain a good personal and environmental hygiene.
Ranging from the health implications to social and environmental effects and their economic impacts, poor hygiene can have very grave effects. Hence, the advocacy to return to the former hygienic culture if it ever existed, or to develop it afresh if it is truly anti-African.
Remember that, it is often a difficult job for just one person. It is easier and only truly effective when it is a collective effort. Let's save the world by first saving ourselves, by saving things around us.