- TABLE OF CONTENTS
- WAR ROOM -
STUDY - MORAL
ISSUES - KING
JAMES BIBLE - CULTS
SKIP TO ME LOO
Violating journalistic rules, we look at unlikely stories about Elimination in Africa and my World
photo is of a Roman toilet from the days of Caesar.
The title is a take off on an old American folk song.
So, I shall cautiously try to relate some of the strange and terrifying experiences I have had in the art of elimination in Africa and other back country places. Nothing will be left out, er, in.
Is this disgusting? Absolutely.
Is this a bit off color? Actually, in the story of elimination, the more dirt, the better we cover it.
Is this offensive? Of course, and I am willing to bet pie and coffee at the Dahlia Cafe that you will read these stories anyway.
HISTORY OF THE MODERN CRAPPER
One great revelation to modern man was the flush toilet, which was invented in 1596 by Sir John Harington who designed the forerunner to the modern flush toilet at his house at Kelston, England. It let water out of a tank to wash down and empty the bowl. He installed one for his godmother Queen Elizabeth I at Richmond Palace, although she refused to use it because it made too much noise. The roar of the royal flush doubtless announced to the whole palace that her highness had once again fulfilled her destiny. Such things should be left to the privy counsel rather than the commoners.
Sir John did not find an "S" trap at the Home Depot hardware store when he invented his toilet, and the fumes from the sewer came back into his home for nearly 200 years. Alexander Cummings invented the "S" trap in 1775, and we all should be very thankful he did. I did not see a monument to Al in Piccadilly Circus when I was in London, and I think that is very unfortunate.
A year later the American Revolution took place in New England because "S" traps were taxed so heavily by King George. The US set up a boycott of British "S" traps, and to this day you can smell the stink in the air whenever Congress is in session.
But, the toilet, or "water closet" as the British have it, was really perfected and marketed to the world for the common man by Thomas Crapper. That is the absolute truth, and in some parts of London and the back woods of America the toilet is still referred to as "the Crapper." What a legacy for any man to realize his name has endured and not gone to waste.
The problem with Mr. Crapper's model was the tank high on the wall. When you pulled the chain, the flush was violent, and if the toilet happened to clog, you could not jerk the top off of the tank and stop the flush.
You may have heard that tornadoes and hurricanes in the north rotate in reverse of cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere. Thus, some clever soul claims that toilets in Australia also flush or swirl the water in the opposite direction as in the US and Europe. I checked it out when I was in Brisbane, and I can assure you that is not true. If it were true, the toilet would swirl the water right out onto the floor..... well, maybe.
You may also wonder why the toilet needs to make so much noise when it flushes. This is because if there is not a great roaring flush of water, followed by a painful gasp, the toilet will not "swallow" properly. And, in case you do not like the term "swallow," that is the official technical term used by your trusty plumber.
In fact, long ago, Father Junipero Serra of San Juan Capistrano Mission in California, installed the first flush toilets in the USA. They were defective, and would no swallow properly. Father Serra sent off to Spain for a whole new set made by another company, and they flushed very well indeed. This is where we got the old Spanish ballad, "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano." Well, if that story is not true, it sure missed a great opportunity.
Elimination puns are presenting themselves in violent abundance, but I am trying to ration them so as not to over fill the thing.
THE AFRICAN LOO, OUT HOUSE, LATRINE ETC
Let's get this straight right now-- Africans do not make a big fuss over the place where they leave their poop. Americans and Europeans now days make a bathroom into a palace of sorts. All manner of decorations, wall hangings, photos of your vacation to Greece, and air quality management are added to the Yankee loo to give it ambiance. The Japanese are the most extreme in their obsession with classy elimination and have even added automatic bottom washers and dryers. The Japanese crapper greets you by name and turns on your favorite music to poop to. A rollicking tango does wonders for regularity. The Japanese give you a remote attached to the pot to turn on all the various electronic accouterments that simply must be included in order to make pooping a fulfilling experience. Here is the Rolls Royce of toilets in Japan.
Americans in particular are known to spend long hours in the loo, perched on their porcelain throne, reading the newspaper, doing home work, and even texting friends. I refuse to be social and even answer when anyone tries to update me about world events from outside my throne room. I want to get it all over with, work it all out, and get on to much more interesting places to be sociable.
They tell me that Nebuchadnezzar sat on a golden throne and watched the battle. We sit on a ceramic throne and listen to the battle. There are a lot more of these sayings on college restroom walls, but they are all unpublishable. I think a bit of ancient history about the African loo is in order.
The African has no interest in an ambient loo. Their latrine is often a small building made of posts cut from trees embedded in the ground vertically, and there is a limited attempt to weave some branches and leaf rubbish horizontally between the posts. The modest White Man enters, and to his chagrin can see way too much of the outside to feel comfortable. What the poor fellow fails to realize is that the inside of the loo is almost in total darkness, and no one can see him.
The pit toilet at the right above actually has an improvement over the latrines of the days when I lived in Africa. Some African has learned to add the ventilation pipe to draw off the smelly fumes. If the wood cover at the side is faithfully placed over the hole when not in use, the latrine will not smell. Clever.
The latrine at the left is a rather temporary one, maybe for a church conference or out in the fields during cultivation time before the rains come.
So, our Anglo-Saxon missionary, explorer, or visiting theologian to Africa asks to be shown the facilities. If he is British, he will say, "And, where may I wash my hands." He has just come in from a long safari, and he has no interest in actually washing his hands. In reality, his bladder is about to burst. One American missionary I knew took a poor British Government official out on their porch where they kept the wash basin. He did not know about the Victorian way of asking where the loo was.
This new arrival to Africa is in for a shock when he is escorted back out of the house and pointed to the rickety loo in the back yard, and it is sometimes a bit of a trip. [ Free item-- when you build an out house, be sure it is down wind. ] He walks into the loo, and he finds it breezy, and if the African did not know how to vent it, which they did not long ago, the visitor is hit by a powerfully rich atmosphere.
Now, he looks for the throne where he may sit and contemplate life for a few minutes, and there is none. Instead, there is a hole in the floor, and that's it! The missionary of long ago who was out visiting Africans learned to take along his own paper because the cleansing process was seriously flawed. In India the method is washing with water which is horribly unsanitary. Paper in Africa long ago was a real luxury, and no African would treat paper with such disdain. However, the Sears and Roebuck catalog eventually made its way to Africa in the 1950s to missionaries who wanted to order from it. This catalogue had long been in use in the USA in outhouses in the Ozarks and Appalachia. So, the missionary would trade the old catalogue for a few eggs or some bananas, and the African would drop the catalogue inside his loo to upgrade it and be ready for visiting White folks.
My experiences go back to 1954 and up to about 1976. So, African loo arrangements will be much more modern today, especially in towns and cities in Africa. But, out in the rural areas the above discussion will largely still apply.
HOW TO BE FAMOUS IN WASTE MANAGEMENT
There was a missionary in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) when I was a kid who had mastered building out houses. His were substantial cement block wonders, and he had learned of the way to design the things so that they vented out the odor from down below. I shall not go into detail, but it works. He even white washed the loo so that it was a marvel to look at. He built seats, a lower small one for kids, and a higher larger one for grown ups.
When the Africans saw this they were in awe of the missionary. Just think, no stink, and the cement floor in place of the tamped mud one of the African, and the thing looked better to the eye than their own homes..... this was an amazing missionary. The word for latrine in Swahili is "choo". Because this missionary had built many of his models and made thousands of Africans marvel at them, the Africans did what they often do to honor a man-- they named him after his highest skill-- Bwana Choo-- "Mr. toilet". To the Africans this was a way to give the missionary distinction, but to the rest of us missionaries, and to the missionary man himself, it was very suspect and not quite what we would want carved on our tombstone.
HEDGING AND OTHER NIGHT TIME VENTURES
The art of hedging was one of our skills in our missionary kids' boarding school in Kenya, Rift Valley Academy. The founders of the school planted cedar hedges along many paths, and these hedges over many years became huge. At night, instead of going all the way to the bath rooms building, we boys would stand against the hedge and pee. All went well until one day Pa Hollenbeck, our dorm parent, caught the foul stink of aging urine as he walked by a hedge, and he read us the riot act. We were more careful from then on to pick our hedges and rotate from one to the other.
Of course, our hedging was nothing new. Long ago in Rome the citizens all peed on the walls of any building around. Caesar contra murum navigate. He did. And, in the Bible we see that this distinguished men from women. God's curse on Ahab was thus: 1 Kings 21:21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,
In Ethiopia, while we were missionaries, we found that there was only one public toilet in Addis Ababa, a city of one million people. We also were warned that the custom was to pee on the wall for the men, and in the gutter for the ladies. This in no way implied that the Ethiopian people were primitive. It was common to see a man in a business suit step over to the wall and take care of business. And, this would have been true all over the Middle East.
One missionary was trying to practice his new language skills and greeted a lady squatting in the gutter. He reported that she did not reply with the usual response to a greeting, and he had not idea what she was saying. Culture shock is serious stuff. During the dry season, the sidewalks near the walls reeked horribly, and we all looked forward to the rainy season which we called the flush season.
The Ethiopian people have a very sophisticated language with very precise tenses and grammar structure, but many of their nouns are blunt. A bathroom is called a "shinte beit," or urine house.
Pinching ants (Siafu in Swahili) roam in mammoth swarms large enough to fill your whole home, floor to attic, if they invade. They have powerful pinchers which they use to catch and dissect their prey. They will clean your house of all cockroaches, mice, and even snakes if you vacate for a day or two. In the early days of missionary work in Africa that is what the missionaries did because they had poor methods of insect control.
When the pinching ants are ranging and looking for a food site, they move through the grass almost unseen. If you were to step on them, in their migration trail, and keep moving, you would probably not get any on you. But, if you stop and stand on a spot where the pinching ants are, they will at once swarm up your shoes and legs. All people familiar with them report that the pinching ants have a strange behavior. They will not bite you until they are all over your legs, and possibly other parts, and all at once they will bite together. The result is a horrible feeling of tiny knives cutting you all over your body.
So, what does this have to do with elimination?
It is common for men living in the bush of Africa to not use the outhouse at night but to go outside to a brushy area and go there if the task at hand is only to urinate. One evening, while my family were visiting Charlie Hess and his wife, my little brother and I needed to relieve ourselves. Uncle Charlie told us to take a flashlight and go outside in some tall grass nearby. We went outside, found the appointed place, and turned off the flashlight. We were almost finished with the process when my little brother screamed. I thought a snake had bit him. Then, it was my turn. We were both being attacked by pinching ants.
These ants do not bite and run. They bite and bury their pinchers and hang there till they die, or until you pick them off with force. The photo shows how the mandibles are buried deep. In the photo the victim tried to pull the ants off, and the ants' bodies came off and left the heads firmly attached.
Well, my parents came running out of the house wondering what horror had gotten to us, and they soon figured it out because of the dance we were doing-- the antsy two step. The rule in Africa is that all modesty may be thrown to the wind when a person is attacked by pinching ants. These beasts have been known to wait until they have occupied a person's whole body up to his neck, and then BANG, attack.
So, the rule is, strip at once, and start picking ants. There is no way you can stand to go find a private place to do this. My brother and I were told to strip down, and Mom and Dad started picking while chuckling at our plight. Their turn would come.
We boys, when we found a mass of pinching ants moving along, would slip up quietly and start grabbing ants by the abdomen. We would then point the ant at our jacket, and the ant would grab the jacket. We would then pull the abdomen off. We did this ant by ant until we spelled our name on our jacket in ant heads. Hey, when you were still only ten years old and too young to get a game licensee and go hunt the big game, this would have to do.
The video tells about the life of pinching ants. In Africa we called a larger less aggressive black ant "army ants," and the ones in the video pinching ants or Siafu. Sometimes they are called driver ants. As to the blind aspect, if you had the nerve, you could slowly put your finger down in the wide path of pinching ants marching along, and if you did not move they would go right around your finger and keep going. Twitch your finger, and you would get nailed at once because anything that moves is lunch.
Most of you will never have to provide facilities for a rough camping situation. But, for you interested in preparedness and camping, here are the rules.
A slit trench is meant to be used only for elimination. Dig a separate hole for camp garbage and bury it daily.
Dig a trench about one foot wide, two feet deep, and long enough to not completely fill up during your camping session. If you can arrange to dig the ditch on the other side of a fallen log, and in a clump of bushes, that is ideal. Tell everyone to case out the location every time they use it for unwanted varmints. The log can thus be used as a seat.
As the trench fills, cover it with dirt, and move over a bit. If you dig a longish ditch, each person can cover with dirt every time it is used and prevent flies. Plan to take a small shovel for this purpose, and leave it at the slit trench. Tell everyone to use some sort of call word to inquire if the facility is in use before barging around the bush.
Whatever you do, do not forget toilet tissue, and take plenty in case some other campers steal yours because they forgot their own. Tell the guys to urinate at night in some other bushes downwind so the slit trench use is minimized.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to locate the slit trench downwind from the camp.
This has been well proven by myself and friends and family in game park camping in Africa. If elephants decide to browse the bushes where the slit trench is, you may want to dig a second one for a back up. Elephants do not really care to use slit trenches, but they are a bit insulted with people to do so while they are eating.
Now, tell me, how many places on the Internet will you get such tried and proven instructions on elimination in the wild?
SUN DOWNER STORY
A sun downer is a British colonial invention. The sun goes down on the equator at the same time all year round. So, you may invite your friends to come over at the end of the day for a sun downer. This consists mostly of sipping gin and tonic and lemonade spiked with Nubian gin, a deadly high powered gin made by natives in the Sudan. Everyone catches up on what is happening on all the farm estates, and news from the UK is gleaned by those far from civilization.
A group of British White settler farmers and government officials were having a sun downer in Kenya one lovely evening in the 1950s. The usual colonial home had manicured lawns, tidy and abundant splashes of flowers all around the perimeter, and at the lower end of the lawn / flower garden was an out house. The home in those days had modern indoor facilities, but when people were outside it was often easier to use the old out house. These were thus kept presentable for this purpose.
In this group was a lady, a very proper type, who slipped from the group and went to use the out house. No sooner was she inside than the group heard a terrifying scream from the out house. Several ladies rushed to the rescue, and they learned that as soon as the lady sat down to take care of business, a snake had promptly struck and bitten her from inside the hole.
It was decided that the medial officer visiting the sun downer should be called at once. He rushed to the scene, and keeping a stiff upper lip, and a classically British composure under such emergencies, he inspected the site of the snake bite. Sure enough, the lady had the two fang marks on her bottom, and the medical officer at once fetched his snake bite kit, made two small cuts over the fang marks, and proceeded to suck blood and venom from the wounds with suction cups.
At this point a chicken cackled. And, someone said that it came from the outhouse. An inspection was made, and the chicken was found inside the hole near the seat. She had made a nest there, and she did not care to be disturbed and let the lady know so by pecking her violently.
The medical officer dressed the wounds, and everyone tried not to laugh and make merry. But, the lady never again spoke to the medical officer. Doing one's medical duty can sometimes be perilous in the end.
TRAVELING AND ELIMINATION
Traveling in Africa brings many experiences in elimination. On African trains long ago, and on the lake steamer passenger ships on Lake Victoria, both types of cultural toilets were available, "Asian Type" and "European Type". This meant the Asian type had the hole in the floor. Some Africans and Asians would sneak into the European type for a bit of culture, but we could tell by the foot prints on the toilet seat that an African had been there before us. I am not making this up. Sitting to eliminate was simply not right to the African.
In case you think the African form of elimination is primitive, and that we Europeans are more advanced, recent research has shown that squatting to eliminate is more natural and makes things work the way God intended. So, we pay the price for our idea of what is more civilized-- hemorrhoids.
The railway coaches did not store the sewage in tanks and drain them later at some facility. The flush of the toilet sent the contents straight to the trackside. A sign in the WC said, "Please do not flush the WC while the train is in the station." Even so, smart peasants wandering about the train station platform stayed clear of the side of the cars. Also, when the train was traveling out in the country, the only people you might see standing near the tracks as the train went by were tourists trying to photograph the train. A very interesting picture might well come about in this way.
The East African Railway and Harbors Company had a brand of toilet paper called Bronco. Why this US Southwest name was used for British toilet paper is a puzzle, but it may have been telling us what kind of people might use it-- bronco busters. It was hard paper that had been burnished to a high polish. I hesitate to tell you what it did when used, but you could tell as you passed a loo on the lake steamer from the comments in progress. It was necessary to hold it between your hands and rough it around violently so that it did something other than polish the product. And, the railway people never changed it. They must have had five boat loads of it in a warehouse in Mombassa.
I found a site online that is about British products from long ago, and someone actually made a recent run of the original Bronco for nostalgic purposes. You can see it in the photo at the right. The site gave the following description:
How true, it only made the problem bigger.
A word on wiping. When in the woods of America, or in the forests of Kenya, indeed, in the wilds anywhere, do not wipe with just any old leaf handy. There is poison ivy and poison oak, but they are not large enough for the task, so they seldom are a problem. Just don't get into them with your tender posterior while squatting.
But, in Africa and some other areas of the world there are stinging nettles. The leaves of the African variety are large and just the size for an effective wipe. The nettles are microscopic and not easy to see. When you grab a nettle leaf and pluck it, the thick skin on your hand will not tell you that you are into a serious situation. But, one wipe, and your tail end will be on fire. The nettles are actually tiny hypodermic syringes, and when touched, they pump the poison into the victim.
One solution for nettles is mud, so if you are in enough trouble to sacrifice modesty, go plant you bottom in the mud along a stream.
RIFT VALLEY ACADEMY STORIES
Growing up in a boarding school is one thing, but in a boarding school for missionaries kids is quite another. Missionaries, much like their British colonial government official neighbors, are usually people of strong will and motivation or they would never make it to the jungles of the Congo or to the social jungles of Nairobi's east side.
So, we kids in Rift Valley Academy were sometimes a bit odd and independent minded. We also had our own vocabulary for many things. Much of this was borrowed from the British colonials and their kids in another boarding school nearby.
The word for the bath room, the loo, was the "gudge". Toilet paper was "gudge roll". I have tried to find the origin of this word, and it would seem this one was entirely invented by some former social sub-set at RVA long before my time.
During the Mau Mau uprising we were under lock down at night because of the stated intentions of the Mau Mau rebels to kill the kids in our school. We were well guarded, but we had to stay in all night. The rest rooms were in a corrugated building outside the dorms, and anyone needing to go in the night had to walk outside to that building and back. This was forbidden at night during the Mau Mau era. So, a large porcelain pail was set under a staircase in the hall of the boys dorm upstairs. This was usually nearly running over by morning, and it was extremely fragrant as well.
Any bucket used for this purpose in our school was called a "poo-how". Again, no etymology found. But, anyone using another name for it was not one of us, he was just pissing through.
This procedure went on for a couple of years without incident, and then one day I was in the dining room just below the boys upstairs dorm. I noticed that Helen Barnett, a student who helped with kitchen work, had put all the deserts out on a table for supper. It was chocolate pudding on individual saucers. This pudding was a British product and was like chocolate flavored chalk mixed into milk. Many of the kids declined it. Being addicted to chocolate, I would have eater a brick if they had dipped in in chocolate, so I was pleased to see the pudding.
Then it began to rain, and the rain was coming from the ceiling over the chocolate pudding. AND, the rain was yellow. It seems some young boys were upstairs playing rough games and chasing one another, and one of them kicked the poo-how over. All the kitchen ladies came running, and a wail of screams and terrors burst loose. As soon as they got control of themselves, they then wailed for lack of desserts for the meal which was very near to be served.
The boys dorm up the hill was called Kidong after a local place name in the area. One had to be in at least ninth grade to move up the hill to this prestigious palace, and my day came. We all had jobs we had to do, and I hated washing dishes. This task consisted in leaning over steaming tubs of very hot water, plunging your arms into that hot water up to your elbows, and scrubbing dishes, or dipping the dishes into even hotter water on racks for the rinse. Gloves were not on the budget in the 1950s. My hands ended up looking like anemic prunes from this process, and I hated it. So, I volunteered to clean the bath rooms. The thing about that job was that I could haul a huge hose into the bath room, and I could blast the whole place (except the toilet paper) with water and wash it down top to bottom in a very short time. I always did this when other boys were not around so they would never figure out how easy my job was. Toilet cleaner tenure was a precious thing, you see.
Later, in college something similar happened. I got a job on grounds keeping for the college to help pay my tuition. A list of jobs was posted, and one of them was to clean out the horse coral. The college had a Physical Education course in Equestrian Care and Riding. Everyone else was avoiding the job of cleaning the horse coral and signing up for other jobs. I got to thinking about horse manure. It is pretty dry, does not get sloppy, and furthermore, I like horses. So, I signed up for that job. I got some kidding, so I moaned and tried to seem heroic for doing this. As I expected my four hour shift cleaning up the horse coral was easily done in about 40 minutes. A lady in the community next to the college helped the college with horse riding instruction, and she saw me one day and brought me an ice cream bar. This became a regular custom, and I told no one. The rest of the time I drove around in an old 1938 Buick that was converted into a flat bed utility truck. It had steering that had one full turn of play in it, and no one wanted to drive it. I drove it here and there tidying up this and that and looking intense like I was in a very big hurry.
Never underestimate the joy of volunteering to do something nasty. It usually is a lot less horrid than you think, and no one will ever bump you out to get your job if you groan a bit at the right times.