From shack to a toilet mall: How I moved with my toilet to the city

Standing in the chilly, drizzling night of April, I debated whether to dash some 100 feet to the corner of our garden, where a little shack of rafters and mud—with a severely torn sack for a door and without a roof above—served as our toilet. The floor was laid with wood poles, with enough gaping separations that I could fit my leg through. I was not convinced I would make it, and my stomach was not giving into the demand to wait till morning.

That was three decades ago.

A decade later, I was admitted in Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology for an architecture degree in Nairobi. On admission to the residence hall, with the toilets and showers designed at the intersection of two wings, and at least with lights, I felt relief.

I quickly learned how to use a flushing toilet. I could not fathom how much water was being used and the amount of pressure just to flush a few grams of waste—but it was fun flushing. It was even greater fun trickling water for a shower, especially because I’d come from a village where we could only take a bath from a small jerry can.

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