You know advertising is powerful when you walk into the ladies and hope there is tissue paper and then when you see it, you think, “Tissue si tissue, tissue ni Hanan.” Epic fail. I hate that advert. Nevertheless it is engrained in my head. In fact, come to think of it, if I was responsible for buying tissue in the house, I’d actually try it out. I will try you out when I move out, Hanan. You can go ahead and thank that guy. What’s his name again? I know it’s not Otoyo. Wait. Think, Shiku, think. Colourful clothes. Luo accent. I give up.

Anyway, who goes into a public facility and makes away with an entire roll of tissue paper? (I hear the mark of a lady is always carrying tissue paper with you. Maybe that is where you take it?) What is your problem? It happens every time at my place of work. A few weeks ago, I walked into the ladies on a Monday morning and the Velvex plastic compartment that holds the roll of tissue had been broken into pieces and reduced to the contraption that still stands today. I do not even want to imagine what was going on in there during the weekend. When it rains, women deposit all the mud from shaggz in there. Why do people make the worst use of public or communal amenities? Is it because you are not responsible for it?

Think back to campus, for instance. Back in my hostel at Moi University, every wing had a kitchen in the middle or end of it. The kitchens were fitted with sinks. They never did work right, however, thanks to the uncouth actions of fellow hostel mates. Whether the girl cooked ugali and omena the previous night or rice and greens that lunch time, all the remains would be dumped in these very sinks. Result? The sinks would block so none of them were piped. We had to make do with old, slimy buckets under the sinks to prevent the bothersome torrents of water that would bombard your legs and clothes where there was none. In stark contrast, the rooms occupied by these ladies were little versions of the homes they left behind to come pursue their degrees. Bleached spreads of white lace lined every bit of the walls while the floor was carpeted by both PVC and woollen mats. The study table also had its fair share of mats and pinned accessories. The food shelves dutifully held the transparent dishes of cereals, towering towards the ceiling from largest to smallest. (In case you are wondering, my room was devoid of any of these paraphernalia, save for a PVC carpet which I just had because people would drag their muddy shoes into the room if you did not have one. And trust me, you do not want that in Eldoret. It rains every ten seconds.)

So these girls were not dirty, they were just selfish. And they still had the nerve to complain about the state of the kitchen. That is what most of us are when no one is watching. You throw litter all over, because it’s in the street or on the road, not your sitting room. You pee on the same spot on your way from work, gentleman, because it is not in your bachelor pad. You steal tissue paper. You use the water closet like it’s a pit latrine. You do all those barbaric acts because you are inconsiderate and think that the next person does not deserve to use the facility in the exact good condition you found it.

I remember as a kid, I would dread visiting the public toilets in the Nairobi CBD. Remember those? Close your eyes and remember the flowing horror. That scene from Nairobi Half Life should do it. Back then the failure was two-way. The failure of the city council to maintain proper toilets and of course, the good ol’ mwananchi. That is when you thank God for the brilliant Mr David Kuria for IkoToilet. Today, I do not mind going to the public toilets in Nairobi because I know they will always be clean. Why? Of course there is Mr Kuria to begin with but secondly, there is always a queue in there and the tissue paper is dished out to you in person. You may think this is an inconvenience but it is not for three reasons. One, no woman will leave the toilet soiled because she cares what the next person getting in after her will think, so she will always clean it with the water so graciously provided by the establishment. Two, there is no way you will waste or nab tissue. Three, you are bound to bump into someone you know in there because in the end, we all need to relieve ourselves. I know I have caught up with many a girlfriend during my stops. 😀

It is sad that we have to be monitored like kids when we use public facilities, but that’s the only way it seems to work best for Kenyans. I cannot talk about how men use public utilities because I can never be too sure. My knowledge of their irresponsible behaviour stops at their passing of water almost anywhere in public. I always wonder if their capability to hold it is challenged as compared to their female counterparts. Next time you are about to misuse a public amenity, think about what you are doing. You say you want to make a difference in the world, right? It is easy to make a difference. Only that it can be a positive or negative difference. Which one are you making?

Written by Shiku Njathi
Loved and loving wife. Blessed daughter. Humbled big sister. Friend. Walker in the light. Recipe peruser. Book sampler. Music selector. Author-in-waiting.


  1. James Mwangi September 11, 2014 at 6:18 pm Reply

    Hehehehehehehe! Those dirty sinks always frustrated me too. I once had to brandish a fist at some guy for using a sink like a rubbish pit. God forgive those poor toilet users who made me curse like a secular hiphop rapper. This is a great piece. I love it and I can’t help smile. Manners 101.

  2. shikungigi September 11, 2014 at 8:57 pm Reply

    Man that was annoying. You should have punched him too!

  3. Billy Adera September 11, 2014 at 8:58 pm Reply

    It has been awhile and I see you still got it

    • Shiku Ngigi September 11, 2014 at 9:03 pm Reply

      Welcome back!

  4. Evans Ndekei September 11, 2014 at 10:52 pm Reply

    I am getting you a picture tomorrow of my 7 pack hannan tissues. Those things are great, quality like no other almost equal to those things you call serviettes. About the last paragraph let me not air my viewa

    • Shiku Ngigi September 12, 2014 at 7:18 am Reply

      Haha! By all means, do your thing.

  5. fullieokaka September 12, 2014 at 9:59 am Reply

    THe dirty toilets that made us go spiderman in the loo..that was the purpose of High school…to ease you into Campus Life

    • Shiku Ngigi September 12, 2014 at 10:34 am Reply

      LOL. Toilet Spiderman Mitch Modern Family

  6. Shawrie September 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm Reply

    Great article. What I still do not understand is the pips who soil the toilet seat. How do they even do it and can’t clean it up? Ga!

    • Shiku Ngigi September 12, 2014 at 1:25 pm Reply

      IKR? We get that no one wants to contract diseases and whatnot but it is unacceptable. Do your thing and leave it how you found it.

  7. Njoki September 20, 2016 at 8:57 am Reply

    I really enjoyed this post. Happy leave, Shiku. 🙂

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