If there are cockroaches in your house here, you are either a dirty person, or you live in a dirty area of town. Roach-infested places are often closed down, at least temporarily, and the cockroaches are destroyed. I’ve not seen a cockroach here, something that given my fear of bugs, I am very thankful for.
Nigerians are clean people, a generalization perhaps, but one I have observed to be true. I’m not just saying that because I happen to be Nigerian (especially since if you came to my house you’d be horrified by how messy it is). No, it seems to be part of our culture to be clean: we wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without taking a bath that day (not everyone around the world has adopted this philosophy I’ve observed!) and we pride ourselves on looking neat. We keep our shoes clean and polished, our clothes washed, ironed and looking crisp. We sweep our parlours daily and don’t let dishes pile up unwashed.
But despite these efforts, even homes like that of my great aunt, with floors so clean that you could eat off them, will have the occasional cockroach visit and that is something that I have trouble with because I am scared of bugs. I’m talking I’m going to scream if I see a bug even though I’m 31 years old kind of scared. The I can’t even move close enough to try and kill it scared. The Young children will inevitably mock me for my cowardice kind of scared. I guess cockroaches are like spiders here (another critter that I’m scared of).
One evening I wanted to ease myself (that phrasing makes me giggle; Naija speak for “use the toilet”) so I went to the bathroom with a flashlight as there was no electricity at the time. As I entered the bathroom and flashed my light around the room in my typical way, one cockroach scurried up the wall directly in front of me, and another roach dashed past on the ground in front of me.
I guess I was having a bad day because I screamed (predictably), stomped my foot and said “I can’t handle this!” and proceeded to go to the room I was staying in, grab my purse and march to my great aunt’s house (she lives one street away from my grandma) where I was able to use the bathroom in peace. I don’t have to mention that my grandma’s tenants’ laughs and jeers followed me all the way to my great aunt’s house…though many of them did offer to help me kill the roaches (through their laughter). After easing myself at my great aunt’s house she gleefully informed me that they have cockroaches too (for you see I thought they had found a way to avoid the critters). It gave her great pleasure to burst my bubble regarding me thinking I had found a solution to avoiding the creepy crawlers for the rest of my trip.
One evening not long after that incident, I was gisting in my grandma’s backyard with my cousin and a tenant and my cousin got up suddenly and went to take care of something. He did it twice more before I clued in that he was killing cockroaches that had come out at night before I noticed them and before my screams woke up sleeping tenants. Even seeing the dead carcass is enough to make my stomach turn.
So even though I know I can adjust without problem to bathing with ice cold water, days without electricity, and though I have no problem fetching water and doing dishes and laundry by hand, when it comes to bugs I’m a total princess. I hate it but I don’t see it changing any time soon…especially when you learn that even in Canada, I still scream when I see spiders and when I lived at my parents house I used to get my sister to kill bugs for me.
Are there any good Nigeria-friendly cockroach elimination remedies out there?