Pissing Culture?




The public restrooms of my city are so unbearable; it is agonizing to pass by them. Let alone use them or even come close to them. I am not sarcastically referring to the dusty or clean roads adorned by piss grown trees or flowers and what-have-you, but about the premises of businesses, as if no one takes ownership of them.

One of the many topics I heard growing up in Addis for over two decades. I am reminded of this as the occupied airwaves regularly bring it up without any mechanism to change the way of our city. It always impresses me how precise our animal instincts can get when it comes to identifying the spots and corners of the city to urinate on. It seems to me that there are special secret signs for public “urinators” (neology).

Have you ever noticed those same streets, same holes and same corners busy almost 24/7 by people, always men, relieving themselves?

I digress, the main issue I wanted to caress this week was the obligation we, generally speaking, don’t feel when it comes to providing decent public restrooms. It is often said that the most important sections of one’s household should be the restrooms and the kitchen, at least, when it comes to sanitation. If not, as far as luxury is concerned, it being quality of materials used and monetary investment.

However, it is as though these are the most neglected and forgotten parts of a household within our city. Including to service providing businesses, that it seems as though it stems from the logic of leaving waste to rot; as though having a clean bathroom with a floor on which one can literally eat on is a complete waste of time and resources. This goes to say that the importance of the cleanliness of one’s bathroom comes at the bottom of the list of our necessities as a community, where one should have at disposal in a home or in public.

I understand that this isn’t true for everyone but needless to say, that it is mostly true of the majority of public restrooms we encounter. There is an unshakable logic that I now understand, when it comes to the decency of our restrooms in general.

This is the fact that one cannot know what one has not known before and one will not shake what one already knows so well. By this, I mean, that if one hasn’t not either grown or lived, with a clean bathroom then it becomes difficult to understand that it is also a requirement. Even for a healthy living and peace of mind.

I am not sure if there is anything that can be done in order to raise more awareness towards this subject. This is not to solely spread the words but to rather induce change and action.

Don’t you ever wonder why it has now been twenty or more years that we’ve been discussing our disgust on the matter?

This feels as though nothing is really changing. I personally have noticed that there is more and more service providing businesses that have very clean restrooms. In these cases, it isn’t surprising to hear compliments overflow about the clean bathrooms they provide. Or about how they go out of their way to keep them fresh smelling and hygienic. Are they going out of their way or simply providing what is their core obligation to provide?

That being said, I can’t fathom the idea that these restrooms are solely limited to certain businesses and not others. Perhaps the fact that those restrooms can be spotless but not the kitchen!

I often wonder if we can remain content with the under the bed strategy. You know, shove everything under the bed, when you have a guest coming over on one of those bad days or your mother asked to clean the room! Simply because these are parts of the house that remain hidden at a first glance, I wonder if they should they be neglected.

What about our own hygiene, what becomes of it?

I wonder what to make of the health or the hygiene of the server that brings our food to our table. Is it sufficient to prompt all employees to wash hands?

These are all things that each business owner, employer and manager can and certainly, but then again, I go back to those street tree growers.

Are they now a part of our city’s infrastructure that we have silently agreed it is a conventional thing to do while in Addis? What are we exactly waiting for, that this too gets added on the top ten things to do while in this city after trying tej or tela? What do you suggest we do – write me!



By Christine Yohannes
Christine Yohannes writes about social change, performs at public events and conducts poetry workshops in schools. She has established a monthly event entitled

Published on Dec 27,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 869]


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