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OF TEXTBOOKS, DAMP-PROOFING OF BUILDINGS AND CHANGING THE COURSE OF HISTORY?

Some days ago, I was taking a prayer walk around my area and then I spotted a building in progress. What struck me was the fact that they used black polythene to line the foundation before they continued laying blocks on it.

It took me back to about 15 years ago. I had become a volunteer at Educare Trust Exhibition Centre in Ibadan and I was working with the Head Librarian in the Centre’s Library. Being a lover of books, I couldn’t help devouring as many books as I could. One of those books was a Science textbook from the UK.

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In that text, I came across a chapter on the building of houses and other themes like insulation etc. As I read on, I came across a simple solution to the menace of watermarks/damp marks on buildings that is very common in Nigeria. I saw that a lot in Warri when I was in high school. Also saw much of it in Ibadan.

So, I had been perplexed as to why a solution hadn’t been found to it. But staring me back in the face was this simple but elegant solution to the damp issue. The illustrations in the text showed the masons using felt material to insulate the upper layers of the building from water from the soil. I was so excited at seeing this in a textbook, a high school textbook for that matter! Well, if you know how Nigerian texts are, you will understand why I was that excited.

With that knowledge tucked in my mind, a day came when I had the opportunity to persuade a bricklayer to adopt it. They were to build a small two-room store in my parents’ compound. So, I insisted that they had to get felt to line the foundation so as to damp-proof it. I pointed out the watermarks on the main building in our compound and told them with felt, the new building wouldn’t ever suffer the same fate.

The bricklayer was sort of taken aback with my insistence. He said he had never seen it being used anywhere since he started his profession. I told him this would be his first but not his last. He obliged me. Today, that small building stands free of watermarks. But why did I decide to share this?

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Not too long ago, I began to see more buildings popping up with either felt or the cheaper polythene used as foundation lining. And in my mind, I was wondering if that bricklayer I persuaded was the one who spread the knowledge as far and wide as it is today.

I wouldn’t know but the possibility will always remain at the edge of my mind that the knowledge I got from a highly informative high school textbook could so easily have been why many houses in Nigeria will last longer and spare their owners from using hard-earned cash to periodically plaster and repaint their building walls.

Summary: π‘»π’†π’™π’•π’ƒπ’π’π’Œπ’” 𝒅𝒐𝒏’𝒕 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒃𝒆 π’ƒπ’π’“π’Šπ’π’ˆ, 𝒂𝒃𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒕 𝒂𝒏𝒅 π’π’Šπ’‡π’†π’π’†π’”π’”!

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