It is a common truism often bandied around, in churches too, that cleanliness is next to godliness. God loves cleanliness and enjoins us to be clean; in our souls, body and environment. Many have been seen evading this divine injunction as they desecrate our communities with plastics, plastic bags and other filthy waste, even while on their way to and from religious houses. The result is the recurrent flood which usually leads to loss of invaluable lives and properties worth millions, annually.
As people journeyed to their various churches to worship and praise God on Sunday, Mr. Emeka Festus decided to exemplify the above truism. He attended his own church service by demonstrating that indeed it is Godly to make one’s environment clean all the time. There were reports of a gutter around his community which had not been cleaned for 7 years. Yes, 7 years. Embattled with thoughts about its hazardous implications on others in the community, Emeka “went to a mall, bought cleaning tools and went to work on the gutter. It was filled with human faeces and plastic waste.”
Although he had thought it would be a small task until it became apparent that sanitizing a gutter that had been desecrated for 7 years was no child’s play. He, however, did not leave it for another day but rather became resolute in his chosen Sunday community service. “When I started, I discovered how tough it was. But no retreat no surrender.” Emeka stated.
It is often believed nowadays that anyone engaging in humanitarian service would probably be a member of a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) or backed by government. But humanitarian activities, selflessness and communion had been socio-cultural factors that had always glued our interactions as Africans. When asked by some youths if he was doing the work for an NGO, he said no, and that surprisingly stimulated their interest to assist in evacuating the waste in the filthy gutter.
Our attitudes as Nigerians, save a few, towards waste disposal has been characterised by conscious indifference and negligence. One could see people who eat while on transit throwing the waste of sachet water or plastic bags through the window. After all, the roads are public roads; whereas they are (un)consciously creating public hazards for us all.
After 4 hours of commendable cleaning by Emeka and his newly-found humanitarian acolytes, the waste evacuated from the gutter filled 6 bags – the type used for rice. The gutter was cleaned, blockages removed and the water passing through it drained in 30 minutes. Therefore, his little contribution, including financial expenses, has created a healthy atmosphere.
Irregular waste disposal is harmful to humans and even aquatic creatures. While government has been besought many times to enshrine stiffer policies to curtail its practice, Nigerians too, irrespective of social backgrounds must develop a culture of responsibility to themselves and their immediate environment. It is high Nigerians began to dispose plastics and other waste in dustbins and other waste disposal facilities provided by government and other institutions.
The foregoing has also shown that Emeka possesses a high sense of self-awareness and godliness; demonstrating through his altruistic community service that we should not always ask what our country would do for us, but what we would do for our country.
And indeed, he is a great guy whose actions are manifestation of a saying by an Indian lawyer and academic, Bhimrao Ambedkar, that: “a great man is different from an eminent one in that he is ready to be the servant of the society.”