I’d been invited to a party in Zaria. Now I’d better explain Zaria is in the north of Nigeria, and in those days was the centre for tobacco cultivation. That was a long time ago, like 1970.
The staff of the tobacco company lived in a row of houses along one road facing the old racecourse, and some had been modernized, but one or two still had their privy at the back of the house. The custom was that when one privy was “filled” another would be excavated not so far away, and the small outbuilding “the privy” would be manhandled to the new site, so that the seat of the lavatory would be over the newly excavated hole in the ground. The earth excavated would be partially used to fill in the hole at the old site.
The house for the party actually had two privies. They’d probably borrowed one from their modernized neighbour. One was in occasional use and the other had evolved into a handy garden shed.
Well, let’s go back to the party. We were all having a good time and the party giver had ensured that there was good supply of cold ones. It was nearing midnight when one partygoer decided that a trip to the privy would be a good idea. Maybe the new modern lavatory inside the house had been occupied.
It was a bit dark and there was no light so instead of standing to urinate into the privy he decided to take of his trousers and sit on the seat inside the privy.
So far so good.
Suddenly all the partygoers heard a huge shout, from the occupant of the privy. The wooden door was flung open and he staggered out with his trousers still around his ankles. He didn’t get far before he tripped up but was still hollering loudly; “I’ve been bitten by a snake!”
Several men rushed out of the house towards the former occupant of the privy. He was lying on his front and we all see in the half light from the house the double bite marks in his buttocks, which they assumed to be that of a snake!
Someone told the man to lie still, whilst two of them went towards the open door of the privy. One held a stick.
They peered into the privy and looked towards the seat of the lavatory. Nothing.
So they looked a bit closer constantly ready to leap away if the snake was still there.
Then they heard a sound, and small head with a bright eye looked at them from inside the lavatory.
It wasn’t a snake.
A mother hen had decided that the old unused lavatory would be a good place to brood her clutch of eggs.
She looked at them a bit indignantly.
The two men who had ventured to find the snake couldn’t stop laughing, but one managed to tell the others between chuckles.