When I was a little boy, We lived in the boonies. Our Home was a railway house on a little station that consisted of the platform, the office and three houses. One for the station master, One for his relief and the one my Grandpa(Pappa) and Granny(GingGing) lived in as a retiree. This house never had electricity, When my Grandpa died in 82, it was knocked down and no electrical connection had ever been made.
Heating for hot water was supplied by a coal stove. It was an idyllic place for a kid to be growing up, but it meant we spent time in boarding schools. I recall the effluent system as being the biggest issue faced by the family. You see we had a pit toilet that was about 25 meters from the house. The closer you got the worse the smell. Granny had a bucket of lime and the rule was when you did a number two you chucked a scoop of lime into the hole. This helped minimise smells.
I was born at a very young age and lived in this house on and off for 14 years. I spent most school holidays living there and I don't recall the bog being inhuman, a little smelly sure, Walking to it it in the dark could be terrifying but the terror was overcome by not walking there, but using a potty that was kept under the bed which would be mysteriously clean the next night. GingGing did not have a maid or a domestic as the PC will have you calling her today. We were blue collar people and GingGing did everything except light the coal stove, that was Pappa's job. Pappa looked after the animals, the garden and made sure that the parafin lamps were full and the fridges were lit and all that stuff.
A pit latrine is basically a hole in the ground with a floor and a box on top of it, The enclosure most commonly was a sink shack. People used them in rural areas untill well into the seventies, It was only when I was in Standard 4 that GingGing and Pappa got a porcelain throne, an inside toilet. It made life a little easier as we no longer needed to walk or run 25 meters when the urge was strong.
The point of my story is that I was no older than the kid that recently drowned in a pit, I suspect that one of two things occurred, The kid had never seen a pit toilet because they either go bush or have a nicer toilet at home and climbed through a hole in the box to have a closer look and slipped in. A fate I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy as I recall a swim in a pit at another place Dad, Mom and us kids lived in in Durban.
There was a problem with the septic tank and a pit had been dug about 2m squared that the sewerage was being diverted into, The repair took some months as Dad was famous for starting stuff, patching it and in need of a round tuit in order to complete anything. Dad was a procrastinator of note and the procrastinators cry of I'll get round to it was heard daily in the house. (it got so bad that Mom overhauled her car's engine because she just could not find a round tuit for Dad)
Back to my tale of woe, We were playing out back and I fell into the pit. Fortunately my brother had the sense to call Mom and I was rescued. It took days to get the smell off me. I also had another brush with a sh1t pit in my late teens whilst on a long holiday in Owamboland compliments of PW Botha and Sons. I was deployed to a base in the wilderness of Namibia (SWA back then) and my initiation included a swim in the sewerage pan. 32Bn was not for sissies I tell you, Sadly those "Ou Manne" did such a good job of almost killing me the Omauni Special and the swim in the pit, and any form of initiation were banned for all that followed me.
My advice to all is stay out of such places, I hear talk that Pit Latrines are inhuman, I doubt that, What I would consider inhuman is having to grab a shovel, Sh1t running down the streets because buckets were being emptied into them as in Medieval times. A good bucket that is being emptied regularly would be better but a long drop worked well for millions. Sure a porcelain thrown that flushes is better, more hygienic and less likely to atrract flies. The Brommer is particularly evil creature but a pit well stocked with lime is better than nothing.
If you were in the military you remember the go kart if you did any service in the bush, That was a long drop with a plastic seat, nothing fancy but many young men drove them daily.
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