Night Soil-Men and Their Reincarnation- @segalink

Homes and market near the Lagos Lagoon. Nigerian cities havegrown to resemble western urban Courtesy: World Culture Encyclopedia Night ...

Homes and market near the Lagos Lagoon.
Nigerian cities havegrown to resemble western urban
Courtesy: World Culture Encyclopedia
Night soil is a euphemism for human feces collected at night from cesspools, privies, etc. and sometimes used as a fertilizer. Another definition is "untreated excreta transported without water (e.g. via containers or buckets)".The term "night soil" is more and more seen as a historical one, and is being replaced by "fecal sludge" and "fecal sludge management" which is an ongoing challenge to this day, particularly in developing countries (Wikipedia).

In the early 70s in Lagos Island (Isale Eko) then, there weren't anything called pit latrine or WCs then but an Alluminium bucket with a lid on it. Each home has one and every night a Night Soil man bearing a short broom, with an handkerchief over his nose and a bucket would come around to pick up the bucket for disposal for a fee.

My sister told then, of the secrecy the job entails, as the families and friends of the Night Soil-Men don't even know what they do. They were like Ninjas back then operating in the shadows.

When you encounter these special breeds of men at night while going about their business, you dare not sneer or show disgust as people told of many instances where these men have emptied the content of their buckets on the head of their disparagers.

In those days if you ever get the punishment to go look out for one, you dare not call them Night Soil man, AgbéPò (potty carrier) or Arupo (Potty bearer), so a name was coined for them. We simply call them managers.

In primary school then, people who come last in class are called AgbéPo or Arupo (euphemism for someone who packs the waste of others). This social mores tend to instruct pupils to focus on their academics to avoid being relegated to such profession.

However, the Night Soil men of those days were the made men in daylight. They also coined an adage for themselves to dignify their noble profession "Owó Ìgbé kì' rùn" (Money made from fecal sludge don't smell).

The story of the transformation of the sewage business will, however, be incomplete without acknowledging the contribution of the late founder of DMT Toilet, Otunba Isaac Durojaye. The man popularly called Otunba Gadafi, so much pursued the business with pride that he came up with the slogan, “Poo business is serious business.”

The President of the National Union of Sewage and Waste Waters Disposal Association, Lawrence Adebajo, says that was a long time ago. Today, theirs is no longer a profession to be ashamed off. It is now dignified.

He says, “We have risen beyond the stigma that was once attached to the profession. I must say this business can be very lucrative, depending on your skill and the condition of your evacuation truck. Moreover, the government now regulates the business.
“Before now, some operators carried the poo on their head and with their bare hands. But the Wastewater Management Office was created and it has succeeded in changing the face of the business as all sewage trucks have records and are inspected on a daily basis. Our union holds regular summits where scholars and other experts are invited to give talks.”
The question today is how many millennial will want to become a fecal sludge manager or disposer? Better put, how many parents or today went through all they did in educating their child, would agree to his/her decision to become a fecal sludge consultant?


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