Event Name When Slime Sticks on Clean Deeds: The Political Opportunism of E.H. Duckworth's Clean-Up Lagos Campaigns
Start Date 7th Feb 2018 4:00pm
End Date 7th Feb 2018 5:30pm
Duration 1 hour and 30 minutes

On 3 April, 1952, former colonial Inspector of Education, Edward Harland Duckworth (1894-1972)—founding editor of the cultural magazine Nigeria—announced the birth of a sanitation venture he christened ‘The Clean-Up Lagos Campaign’ in a Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation radio programme. The initiative declared war on “squalor and filth” in Nigeria’s colonial capital, Lagos. Duckworth urged Nigerian citizens to join his army of ‘volunteers ‘to wipe Lagos clean of literal dirt, and by extension, eliminate the moral stench exhaled by advertising bills plastered on buildings and monuments. The short-lived campaign was amply disseminated in the Nigerian press and (alongside its two encore performances of 1960 and 1967) featured in confidential Commonwealth Office papers of enormous political import at the height of the Nigerian Civil War. However, it was not Duckworth’s first intrusion into Lagos’ sanitary arena. In the course of this talk, I will examine Duckworth’s ex-centric discourse on dirt as a remarkable permutation of more generalized colonial standpoints. While Duckworth’s ambivalently enunciated views on dirt respond to his personal eccentricity and undisguised quest for power and recognition, his campaigns, rather than mere asides to an eccentric colonial life, shed light on one of the most understudied dimensions of Nigerian colonial history—the political use of deviance.