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SHORT-PUT (A pinch of Lagos life by Uwakwe Ngozi Eke)


Back in my University days in Uturu, when shopping for items to take back to campus for another semester, I would buy a pack or two of black nylon bags. I, like every other student on campus would use the nylon bags for shot-putting. We would wake up before dawn and line our buttocks at the backyard in the shadows of our hostel walls. Stooping over the opened nylon bags, we would expel trash our bodies did not need. It was better, even soothing to do shot-put and fling the heavy nylon bags onto the mounting heaps of nylon with faeces inside like poorly wrapped moi-moi. It was better than covering our buttocks over the very few heat-emanating water systems in the hostels that always had millions of maggots floating on top the sometimes crusted, sometimes watery excreta deposited in turns by those who did not mind. Shot-putting was one of the Campus rituals I was initiated into on campus by instincts. Visiting my village also during the Christmas break, villagers would stoop over plantain or cocoyam leaves and thereafter dump whatever they defecate inside the hot-aired small hole that serve as a public toilet for the village.
School over, NYSC over and it was time to explore Lagos, the city noted for having unlimited opportunities for job seekers; the town reputed to have very green pastures for those just launched into the Labour Market, like me. The night bus I boarded form Okigwe to Lagos halted just before dawn at the Maza-Maza motor park and as I stretched my legs to ease the heaviness they had acquired during the long trip, I noted a man in the shadows stooping with what seemed to me like a tiny kettle decide him. Curious, I hovered around just to confirm if the thought that rang through my head was correct. The man finally stood up, shifted a little bit to the left, stooped again but this time washing his buttocks with water from the tiny kettle. I was taken aback! The question the bugged my head was – So this happens in Lagos too? I had assumed Lagos was a real city lined with fine houses that had snow-white water systems and one only needed to pull a handle on the cistern and whatever was dropped in the water system would vanish, leaving only blue-like swimming pool water to welcome the next quest. How had the mighty fallen! I exclaimed of Lagos that morning. But as I gradually metamorphosed into a proper Lagosian; anOmo-Eko, I realized that shot-put was a Lagos lifestyle too, just like my campus and my village.
There is even more need to shot-put in Lagos, I realized – Houses with no provisions for latrines; too many people walking the streets of Lagos homeless; too many tenants made to queue up and wait for turns to use one single pit toilet that serves a large yard; too many people who leave their homes very early to meet up with the demands of the day. Too many reasons to forgive or even pity the sun-baked or sometimes freshly ejected pooh-pooh one comes across ever too often on Lagos walk-ways; very indecent and unhygienic but quite pitiable.
The irony I wonder is that one rarely sees when the act is done or who does it but there is always an assurance that there would always be a fresh pooh-pooh every morning in so many streets in Lagos. It happens in Lagos too, even more than my university campus; even more than my village. This shot-put!

Uwakwe Ngozi Eke is a graduate of English language. She writes and lives in Lagos.


  1. Kai! This is bad. Too bad. Nice essay, anyway.

  2. As much as I may see this write up a bit 'greasy', I must admit in all fairness, of its obvious point outs in terms of reality. An open opinion about attitudes in an enviroment that is crazier than thought. Good one I must say, and most imporatantly, the honesty behind it. Cheers Ngozi. U'll still do better than this, I'm certain.


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