Brownites and Environmental Outreaches; The Irony!


Christopher Anekwe, a 28 year old Nigerian, went viral on twitter in February, 2018, for cleaning up the gutters of Onitsha. Onitsha had been previously applauded by the WHO for being the most polluted city in the world. Following his path, many patriotic Nigerians have not only cleaned up major streets across Nigeria, but they have also taken to twitter to upload pictures and videos of such “philanthropic” gestures!
Worthy of note, many organizations and individual volunteers have drawn a lesson or two from Christopher Anekwe and acted accordingly. It will not be entirely false to state that Alexander Brown Hall is either yet to learn or too slow to take cognizance of the environmental decay flourishing in different parts of the hall. Interestingly, ABH houses a vast proportion of the healthcare students of UI and so one would be pardoned for being quick to think it would infer that the level of sanitation within the hall is top notch.
For the purpose of clearer understanding, WHO defines “Sanitation” as the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human waste including urine and faeces.
A visit to the west wing of G block revealed a level of environmental decay which is without mincing words, embarrassing. One thing which is scarier than the sight of a leaking septic tank and an over-burdened sewage system is the wonders of what animals this ecosystem will be playing host to –especially in a time where Lassa fever keeps reappearing in the news. It might not be unforgiving for one to conclude that such pictures as those displayed above are from the slums of Ajegunle or Bariga and not from within the walls of the foremost teaching hospital in West Africa. To claim to not know the immediate hazard that such unsanitary conditions pose would be akin to claiming that the holocaust never happened.
One wouldn’t need to walk too far down memory lane to recall that a similar sight was once notable around the entrance of F block, adjacent to the water tanks that serve both Brownites and the cafeteria within the hall. The nonchalant attitude with which Brownites approached the F-Block incident was rather remarkable. Perhaps an outbreak of cholera ensued, we wouldn’t have had to look into the heavens for an explanation. Furthermore, the neglected refuse dump has for too long struck a pose while facing the now renovated cafeteria and this is forcing many to wonder if nothing can be done about it.
Rather than pointing fingers at one another regarding the unhealthy oversight accorded the far end and back of G Block as well as other ailing areas within the hall. It would be nobler a cause to make a plea to the various parties saddled with the responsibility of keeping ABH clean to look into the state of obvious neglect hovering around, lest we begin to cry “Had I Known”.

The least we can do is to now learn from the example of Christopher Anekwe. The most effective way to sweep the country is to start from one’s home. It is commendable to note that Brownites journey many miles away from home to clean up areas and markets within Ibadan that desire urgent attention. But we cannot continue to chase rats for meat while our house is on fire. Summarily, the need for “Project Keep ABH clean” is more pressing than ever.

Would we rather wait until the same people who we have reached out to during community clean-ups reach out to us because the once-upon-a-time experts on sanitation have become victims of the gospel they preach?

-Okwunze Kene, ABH Press

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