Tuesday, 27th September 2022
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Toilets at rear, wear suitable garments

There's a lot of talk about toilets lately. After the Obama administration told US schools to let transgender pupils use toilets matching their gender identity...


There’s a lot of talk about toilets lately. After the Obama administration told US schools to let transgender pupils use toilets matching their gender identity, everyone has an opinion about who should use which toilet.

Meanwhile in the interest of public service, I’d also like to encourage a debate about “how” toilets are used. I encourage male readers to pay particular attention because I’m asking you to stop peeing on rather than in the toilet.

Were an alien species to conduct an in-depth study of the human species, they would say of Nigerian men – a well-adapted group, intellectually vigorous, entrepreneurial and charming, but with disgraceful toilet manners. Of course there would be exceptions and some women would be similarly judged. But the good number of male “splashers” amidst us would bring the score down.

Since aliens may not land on earth in my lifetime, I conducted my own in-depth study about this corrosive issue. The study did not (thankfully) involve visits to the Gents. Rather it was undertaken (reluctantly) in the one given place where all genders share toilets, namely on airplanes.

The study confirmed that using the shared toilets on flights to and from Nigeria is an extraordinarily unpleasant experience. In fact, the situation is such that on my next Nigeria bound flight I will bring a raincoat, rubber gloves and Wellies.

Jokes aside, toilet use is in truth a political issue. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti himself often connected the scatological with the political. Though judging by the lines, “Long time ago African man no dey carry shit, we dey shit inside big big hole, na European man teach us to carry shit”, Fela may have disagreed with me on toilet matters. Because in a sense, I am indeed advocating for western toilet habits. (By the way, I never imagined I would combine those last three words.)

To be clear, had we modernized the old African way of using the toilet to contemporary society it would be better suited both for the environment and for our bodies. But I’m thankful that at least airplanes don’t use the hole system, or I would need to add a diving suit to my in-flight gear.

Toilet use is not only a political matter, but also a “geopolitical” one. I hate to admit it, but I find myself making toilet habit comparisons between countries. It turns out that flights to and from the US are a particularly “dry” experience. When you enter a toilet cubicle that has just been used by an American man, nine out of ten times it will be pristine. Maybe American men go to a special toilet training school? Or maybe they are just particularly good at tactical target aiming. [Sarcasm]. Whatever the case may be, I see no reason why my countrymen can’t show equal consideration to their fellow human beings.