A Filthy Nation.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness that is what was taught in Sunday school. It is hard wired into the human psyche to  keep our surroundings clean and whenever even the smallest living space gets even the smallest of messes arises most of us swoop in with broom and bleach bottles in hands with mops and  brushes and masks to make the once messy space glisten and shine once again. I am one of these people and I seem to be one in a dwindling number of the Kenyan populous who still cares about my surroundings enough not to turn every spare stretch of road or room into a dump site. I take my rubbish back home with me when I cannot find a dustbin to put it in. I recall how horrified I was the very first time I saw someone litter I was quite young and had just been taught about the environment and how we all must preserve it only to see that in practice things were not as clean cut as my primary school teacher had made them, nor was the clean up an easy task as I had read the books found at the library a moment of confusion ensued but then I assumed that’s how things worked in the real world.

This past week it was proven to us again that if Kenya was told to sit an exam on proper hygiene and cleanliness standards most of us would fail fantastically, choosing blindly and rather foolishly to blame others for the mess that sits before us from every space available. This is exactly the scenes that played out when Nairobi’s Burma Market was forcibly shut down due to its deplorably filthy state. You know things could not be worse when the government sends the Chief Public Health Officer at the Ministry of Health down to give your market the critical once over and he says “You have seen the sanitary conditions in the market… the waste water; the facilities in terms of the rooms and the traders need to be subjected to medical examinations because it is not proper for Kenyans to be running away from them,” then sees it fit to halt all business until these surrounding are spick and span. That is exactly what Kepha Ombacho did on Monday saying: “the place must be cleaned to the standards that we are giving but you cannot be cleaning and at the same time sell food here” and adding that the exercise will be monitored by the public health officers.

But as is the case with everything Kenyans had to point the finger of blame on someone else and this time the City Council of Nairobi (CCN),the environment, and even the Ministry were the perfect scapegoats market merchants gathered around the camera and blamed the Council for falling asleep on their jobs saying: “Burma is clean according to us but you know that there has to be a lot of politics in the management of the market,”
“The people who open up clogged sewage here are only three. That is why if you look outside there, the pile there normally looks as if it is never collected but we as individual traders ensure that our stalls are spick and span” said one vendor. 
“When the notice came, we thought that there was something fishy. A notice is not an order. These people came with a letter that they have closed the market. Is that how we normally operate?” said another.
Burma market is not the only one that has been victim to mass dumping when in 2011 the Majengo, Marikit and Sega markets were all close down by Nema (the National Environment Management Authority)  due to mounting heaps of rubbish. The state of Marikit market was especially worrisome because of its status as a tourist attraction "The market is a national monument, but the situation there is horrible. What one is confronted with when you get there is a heap of garbage and stench. Is this the kind of picture we want to portray of our town to tourists?" Nema compliance and enforcement officer Benson Wemali said.
 This sad story replays itself around the country at not only the Dandora Dump in Nairobi, and Gioto another dump site this time on the Nakuru- Eldama Ravine road but in neighbourhoods and towns across the nation.

Literally anywhere is a good place to throw away ones rubbish, either by the already swept road side, on a spotless stretch of road, or adding to an already mounted heap in the middle of the road or being an originator and starting a new pile. We seemed to have skipped the queue when cleanliness megabytes were being dished out because ours are missing! We seem to have no problem with sharing our space with filth; the putrid stench certainly doesn’t seem to faze us, I guess those megabytes weren’t the only essentials we missed out on.
  If only cleanliness was as simple to navigate as those Sunday school teachings once made it out to be!

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