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Confused Clergyman Caught Up In
Nairobi Self Serving Soap Drama ...

Coastweek -- Travel exposes one to many unusual situations and it is not simply the fact of travel but also where you visit when you travel, writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.

One meets also sorts of opportunities and impediments when one travels.

They come in many forms and the most common form of impediment is language limitation.

There are also others like cultural barriers and local prejudices that could be an impediment to enjoying or completing the travel experience. 

Kachumbari gave me examples where he had witnessed fellow travellers in very embarrassing or frustrating moments.

Let me start with one this week.

This first one happened at a hotel in Nairobi.

This was a relatively high end hotel that also had excellent conferencing facilities.

On that material day there were several meetings taking place at the hotel.

There were private sector board meetings, foundations as well as civil society activation meetings and a large government sponsored gathering that had people representing interests from all parts of the country.

Almost every single facility that the venue had was occupied with some activity.

Kachumbari had gone to the hotel to attend a board meeting and during a break in the proceedings, he went to the washrooms.

He found that it had a short queue waiting for the facilities to free up.

As he waited, he observed one of the people in the washroom, a clergyman by his dressing, finish his business and then go to the hand wash basins to wash his hands before leaving place.

There was one other person also washing their hands.

The clergyman seemed to know the person and they started a conversation even as they attended to the business at hand.

The clergyman wet his hands and then pressed the pump on one of the several bottles that were placed on the working top where the hand wash basin was located in order to release some soap.

Whilst he was doing this he was also talking to his colleague.

He started to rub his hands to lather the soap and nothing seemed to happen.

He pressed the pump for more material and put it under the tap and rubbed harder.

The lather did not appear.

He looked at his colleague and the hands were fully lathered with plenty of suds.

He pressed the dispenser a third time and repeated the process and still did not get any lather.

His colleague finished washing his hands and started to dry them with the disposable paper towels provided.

The two continued talking and just as he colleague was about to leave, the clergyman commented as to how hard the water was because his soap was not lathering like that of his colleague before.

The colleague suggested that maybe the soap may be “off” so pushed over the soap dispenser he had been using.

The clergyman tried it and lo and behold his rubbing action produced lather.

He quickly finished washing his hands as his colleague waited and they then made to leave.

Just as they were about to exit the washroom, one of the attendants entered the space and the clergyman collared him and went back to the wash hand basin he had been using.

He told the washroom attendant that one of the soap dispensers had material that had gone off and that it should be emptied and the right soap be put in it.

He did not wait for the response as they seemed to be in a hurry and they left.

It transpired that the clergyman had not read the label on the dispenser despite having tried a few times to use the material without achieving the desired effect.

What he had tried to use as hand soap was actually hand moisturiser.

The container was transparent and one could see that the material was different in colour to the other one that had hand wash soap in it.

The labelling was also transparent with the writing in italics.  

It seems that the thinking was that everything put near the was hand basins was soap.

In most places that is the case.

It is also true that most places do not offer hand moisturiser.

Most of the experience of people using hotels and similar establishments is limited to hand soap only.

It was not easy to tell the difference unless one was a regular of the establishment and probably gone through the mistake several times.

It is not often that an establishment provides both hand soap and moisturiser in its public washrooms.

The trend of providing both is increasing but it is necessary for the providers to realise that with the multiplicity of people using those facilities, it would be prudent to very blatantly differentiate the look of the dispensers as well as putting very large labelling.

This may not look elegant as establishments of this type and size tend to want to be “fine’ and discrete in how they present themselves.

However, if one is opening their establishment to conferences and meetings, one should consider that the people who will attend the events will come from a very mixed background and the service offered should take this into consideration.

As Kachumbari says, it is all in a day’s experience.




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  This year’s rally will be
flagged off at Sarova
Whitesands on November
23rd and finish at the same
venue on December 1st.


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