|A Nightman's Calling Card. Source: Wikimedia Commons|
One the unfortunate characteristics of rapidly urbanising cities across the globe, is the issue of waste disposal. Although we never want to think about it, human waste is no exception. How does one deal with it? Apparently Georgian London had the "Night-Soil Men" or "Night Men" who were paid to remove excrement from cesspits/privies to be taken out of the city at night. In Victorian times, there was the aptly named Great Stink in the summer of 1858 when apparently the smell of untreated human waste reached overpowering proportions in central London. Not sure where the Night Men were then.
Quite recently, the spotlight has been on the Safai karamchari in India who have the unenviable task of collecting and disposing of human waste in towns all over India. Apparently the practice has been banned but still continues.
|An Urban Centre. Country unspecified. Source: Ghanaian Times|
In Ghana, we have a similar history of night-soil carriers or bucket latrine collectors. They have also been banned and the emphasis has been on having a water closet (WC) in one's home or accessing public toilets for a fee. Perhaps I had been living on Planet Naivety too long but very recently I was rendered speechless when I heard that some landlords in Ghana rent out accommodation without necessarily providing toilet facilities! It gets worse when such houses are in places without public toilets and tenants are left to their own devices. In case anyone is eating, I will refrain from mentioning some of the more colourful waste disposal methods I have heard of.
Last year apparently, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) issued an order that all landlords in Accra should have toilet facilities available to their tenants or riskfacing fines.
The Mayor of Accra, Dr. Alfred Vanderpuije , has started his own "Action Year" with an interesting initiative deserving of a gold star. In the company of glamorous Ghanaian celebrities, the Mayor embarked on unannounced house-calls a few days ago to inspect toilets. I can't think of anything more embarrassing for non-complying landlords than having the Mayor, actor Majid Michel and a swarm of journalists at your door to inspect a non-existent or sub-standard toilet. By the way, in case you are unfamiliar with the talented Majid Michel he's is known for his lead roles in contemporary Ghanaian cinematic gems such as Agony of the Christ. If you missed that one, you may recall his uncanny ability to deliver his lines exactly like Al Pacino in the epic Ghanaian Scarface "remake" Crime to Christ. Well, to be honest not 'exactly'. Hmm...in fact, not even close. Anyway, now that the Mayor has somehow tackled one aspect of the toilet issue, I hope he will act on decongesting Accra Central and finding creative ways to deal with waste disposal in general. Hope.
|Ghana's Finest: The smoldering hot Majid Michel.|