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Isio Knows Better: Hello Germophobe



Isio-Knows-Better-May-2014-Bellanaija1-562x600I sincerely lay no claims to being more knowledgeable than anyone, but I do confess that I know better than I did yesterday, last year and a decade ago.

Isio Knows Better is an attempt to capture the shocking and highly entertaining conversation within myself. The conversations between my mind (the sharp witty one), my soul (the lover and the spiritual one) and my body (the playful one concerned with the more mundane things of life). She is the eternal referee between the caustic mind and the sensitive soul. This is Isio. So, here’s to making private conversations public.


So, there we were – my friend and I – at one of those fancy cafes in Lagos. I was there for the tea, brioche and the ambience. My friend was right there with me for all of that. It seemed like a good day to gist about this and that.

The designer in me noticed the interior. Modern Contemporary… not bad at all.

I reached for my tea and sipped slowly. From the corner of my eyes I could see a group of four seated to our left. Talking most loudly amongst them was a jowly man of about sixty. He had a younger female companion who seemed at least half his age.. and then some.

Awon baba ni yen, e go on soun jare! Aye o’le!

The other two were another couple. Whatever they were talking about pleased them greatly. They cackled a lot, generally… but in particular the jowly man cackled most boisterously.

GBAM. Big English. “Most boisterously”

It was good to see people happy and so I smiled to myself.

That is until I saw the jowly man with a mouth full of semi-chewed food raise a well heaped spoon of food to his mouth. To be fair, he did wait to swallow the liquefied paste that was once called rice before raising the next spoonful to his lips.

Oh, what mighty, bountiful lips they were! They clamped around the spoon and pulled the-thing-that-was-once-called-rice into the mouth wherein dwelt the mighty jaws and teeth that did not only produce such loud sounds (previously referred to as “boisterous cackling”), but which promised to deliver to the-thing-that-was-once-called-rice a mangled future and a merciless liquefied death. For sure- the soul of the rice will be tattered when it got to heaven, and would insist on coming back to this world as a cactus. (To escape death by human consumption).

Damned spoon.

Now I knew that my dining experience would be ruined. I couldn’t help but imagine that that spoon he was using today might be the spoon I am served with tomorrow. It could be even worse. If you are under 18, you can very well imagine what adults do with their mouths. If you are above 18 and a decadent deviant… well, you know what you’ve been doing with your mouth. (*insert side-eyes*) Y’all should have your own spoons. Naughty-naughty.

My mind was beginning to panic, and I in turn tried to calm my frayed nerves. It replayed all the horrific possibilities of death-disease-and-pestilence-by-sharing-saliva-soaked-yet-unsterilized-spoons between unknown persons. I tried to psyche myself that surely the café owners must not just wash with soap-and-water but do something to disinfect their cutlery (especially in these days of Ebola). All that going from mouth-to-mouth between unknown persons is something that can just make you go around with your own spoon.

I had had enough. I pushed my cup of tea away. The brioche remained uneaten.

Hello germophobe!

I know, I know. Truth be told, I must admit that to an extent, a teeny-weeny-tiny bit, I am a bit of a germophobe. I wash my hands a ton of times daily. I have a bottle of sanitizer and moisturizer in each room of my house.

Well, I used to have just one in my bathroom until Ebola came to Lagos and now I have all of that and a set of two in my car (just in case one bad-belle person decides to steal one).

That being said, I wasn’t always so particular. It happened that once, while holidaying in England in the Fall of ’09, I caught the most horrible, most devastating flu known to man. I was bed-ridden and my sister (who is a nurse) had to treat me herself. I coughed so hard that each time the cough-spasm hit me, I was forced to double up in pain. The abdominal muscles I didn’t even know I had, ached with the intensely of a hundred thousand Jet-Li kicks. Yep, it wasn’t that bad. It was worse.

Since then, every time I go to London, I always have a handkerchief over my nose when taking the London Underground. Too many people cough deep-throated coughs with their mouths open. Either I sit quietly or stand like a stick. Too many people touch those rails.

Hands (even worse than mouths) have an uncanny way of finding themselves in not-so-pleasant places. Once when standing like a stick on a train, the guy closest to me sneezed a hurricane. I could feel the vast, moist air from his nose and trembling lips on my wrist. The look I gave him could kill a charging buffalo mid-charge. Oga why have you decided to put all your biological mende-mende A.K.A atoms, cells, neurons, micro-organisms and DNA on me just like that? I don’t like it o!

I have always had a healthy respect for other people’s bodily fluids and tend to just avoid them at all costs.

Walahi, this includes tears, sweat, saliva and the worst of it all has to be picking out other people’s acne/black heads. God forbid bad thing. The only exception I am psychologically and biologically able to make at this point are for my partner and my children.Although that whole catarrh-sucking-from-the-nose-is-just-pushing-it. Haba. This pikin sef. No be only you waka come? Where you go pack this draw-draw kelebe from na. Oghene biko o!
If we’ve never met, and you see a girl struggling to open the door of any restaurant/bank with her elbows- then that’s probably me. No way am I touching those handles. If you see a girl wrapping her index finger in paper/tissue just to punch in digits on an ATM machine… yep, you got it. That is probably me again. No way in heaven, hell or earth am I touching those buttons with my bare fingers.

Do you know how many people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom? Or how many scratch their nyash and ‘pits when no one is looking? What about those that pick their ears and noses? Laiye-laiye. Aint touch’n’ nothin’! Do you know how many people use those machines daily? Abi you thought it was just you and your posh, health-conscious friends?

As for those Toll workers on the LCC toll road and the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge with their tattered, smelly, worn-out notes that one Iya Oloja has kept inside her damp bra for safe-keeping, una well done. Be distributing it you hear. Two hundred naira notes are the DIRTIEST in the world. Ki lo de?!

Anyway, the toll officials know me well. If I give you a clean note and you hand me a former tenant of Iya Oloja’s damp bra, I will just keep looking straight ahead after politely rejecting it. Worst case scenario I will ask that you use the receipt like a mini-folder and hand me the cleanest side of the paper. They always find this amusing. Na una sabi o. Me sef I follow una laugh.

My darlings… that is it for today o jare.

Have to dash back to site before I head off to lunch. Don’t worry, my germophobia is NOT that bad yet. I am not going with my own spoon.

Dry, e-kisses to you all.


Isio De-laVega Wanogho is a Nigerian supermodel, a multi-award winning media personality and an interior architect who is a creative-expressionist at her core. She uses words, wit and her paintings to tell stories that entertain, yet convey a deeper meaning. Follow her on Instagram @isiodelavega and visit her website: to see her professional body of work.


  1. Ivy Baby

    October 14, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Isioooo, I thought I was the only one who used their knuckles to make use of ATMs! I have been doing this B.E. (before Ebola), since I saw a man sneeze heftily into his hands and proceed to use the ATM before me. I have always been germ-conscious: washings hands after toilet use, after shaking people, upon getting home from work, before cooking, etc.
    You wouldn’t believe how many grown men I have had to ask if they washed their hands after using the toilet. I usually get a ‘this woman and her wahala’ look, before they quietly turn around, return to the toilet and wash their hands (seriously). Don’t even get me started about guys who take you out for a drink at a garden, then proceed to get up, walk to a fence, urinate against aforementioned fence, walk back to you and try to put their ‘urine’ hand on your knee (God Forbid!). I used to be paranoid of restaurant cutlery, the best I can do is to eat delicately with the spoon and not ‘smooch’ or lick it.
    Health is wealth, we should keep trying our best to be healthy and manage germs the best way we can.

    • Miss Anonymous

      October 14, 2014 at 10:46 am

      Ivy Baby you are not alone!
      I use the atm with my knuckles, press elevator keys with my knuckles, use our common office printer/scanner with my knuckles, open the office rest room door with my elbow if I don’t have tissue, open the restroom tap with tissue, never keep dirty notes in my wallet (especially the stinky,drenched kind) and I’ve been using hand sanitizers way before Ebola.
      I don’t sit on my bed with my clothes,especially when I’ve been out and always wash my hands the minute I get home.

    • busybee

      October 14, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      I don’t understand people who sit in their beds with outside clothes!!

    • Tru

      October 14, 2014 at 10:51 am

      Oh my days…”B.E as in Before Ebola”???? LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

  2. Omoté

    October 14, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Lol! Isio dis ur own don pass germophobia, nah refined OCD oh!

  3. Berry Dakara

    October 14, 2014 at 9:32 am


    What I don’t understand is how a grown woman, in full view of another, will walk out of the toilet stall and saunter out! I mean, aren’t you embarrassed?!?!?!?!?!? I see it happen so often at work and it really weirds and grosses me out.

    • MJ

      October 24, 2014 at 11:56 am

      OMG!! Berry dem plenty. In my office complex, each floor has its own toilet and there is is woman who work in another office who never washes her hands. Heavyly pregnant Madam oo.. The first time I noticed it, I was in shock so I said let me chill may be she forgot. then came 2, 3,4,56 at be be lo.. I was in utter shock!! Even if you are an “akpa durrtty” sombori you for like pity ya baby wey dey bella naw.

      Then came Ebola, somebody rejoice with me!! She washed her hands!!! Heyy I ran to tell my colleagues in the office in excitement. LOL.. I don’t think I am that much of a germophobe but I don’t open public bathroom doors without a paper towel. I used sanitiser immediately after using ATM, Public doors and lastly, I never share my germs.. I am nice like that. I make sure I cover my mouth before coughing even in a public toilet. :d

      Haha.. I know too proper germophobes.. Its so cute sometimes.. One has a disinfectant spray in her bag at all times. 🙂

  4. Lamie

    October 14, 2014 at 9:35 am

    LOL!! This is so me! Reading this makes me realise how ridiculous people must think I behave…but abeg better to be termed weird than to catch one yeye sickness biko. Nice post as usual Isio.

  5. bumble bee

    October 14, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Isio ooo!!! You always crack me up just followed you on ig would love to put a face to this personality… lol.. i’m certainly no germaphoBia!!! but pls pls plss don’t sneeze close to me, do not cough within my range, I touch the atm keys with bare fingers But use a sanitizer once I enter my car.. it’s a crazy world out dere with people who simply have no manners!! But Isio if u see a girl laughing heartily when you are wrapping your fingers know it’s me your loyal reader

  6. Loulou

    October 14, 2014 at 10:12 am

    I am for washing of hands all the time too o, and i have angered quite a number of guys cos i don’t want to shake their hands, i am sorry o but really, guys the peeing and scratching and behaving like its normal? Hand sanitizers are the order of the day cos even though i don’t wrap my hands to use atm or open doors, i still wash up after i do cos sickness is not my portion. Thanks Isio, lovely write up as usual…


    October 14, 2014 at 10:17 am

    LOL!! Sooo funny! Isio has made my morning. I’m no germophobe but i do try as much as possible to run from it. Now, i’ve mastered the act of running up and down the stairs without touching the rails, when i see others touching it i want to just scream ‘remove your hand from there, do you know what it has been thru’?? What makes me cringe is see people use the toilet and just walk out without washing their hands, bet why?? One time i had to collect my change from a guy and he came out the bathroom, i noticed his hands were dry and i hadn’t heard the sound of water running, if eyes could kill, i would have officially been a murderer that day.


    October 14, 2014 at 10:22 am

    i have a friend just like dis …i find her really annoying …na so person they take catch disease?

  9. Veevian

    October 14, 2014 at 10:26 am

    LOL!! Sooo funny! Isio has made my morning. I’m no germophobe but i do try as much as possible to run from it. Now, i’ve mastered the act of running up and down the stairs without touching the rails, when i see others touching it i want to just scream ‘remove your hand from there, do you know what it has been thru’?? What makes me cringe is see people use the toilet and just walk out without washing their hands, bet why?? One time i had to collect my change from a guy and he came out the bathroom, i noticed his hands were dry and i hadn’t heard the sound of water running, if eyes could kill, i would have officially been a murderer that day..

  10. Vics

    October 14, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Thank you Isio for bringing up this topic. Even though yours is a bit extreme, lol…I think personal hygiene should be taken more seriously in Nigeria.

    I think for instance it will be helpful if parents teach their kids right from a tender age to wash their hands after using the toilet. To be honest, my parents never imbibed that habit in me and I had to pick it up as an adult, I am sure many people can say the same.

    This should be enforced in schools as well by providing the facilities, not just reading out personal hygiene instructions from integrated science textbooks.

    We really don’t have to wait for an epidemic like Ebola to force us to do simple things that are right for us.

    • Iya

      October 14, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      I completely agree with you on the part about making students/pupils read it in their health books but the schools have made ZERO provision to practice what they are learning. You’ll go to the toilet in some schools and there’s no running water. Some even have no sinks! I’m like….que???

  11. lollly

    October 14, 2014 at 11:07 am

    hahahahahahahahaha…very hilarious post.

  12. chi chi

    October 14, 2014 at 11:28 am

    ugh! what about the torture those of us that use public buses on a daily basis have to go through.
    When you bathed, washed and cleaned up properly, only to enter our dear Lagos public buses and see/smell all the rubbish, you just die a little every time. Gosh. I can’t wait to be rich.

    • tuu

      October 14, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      My dear, you just spoke my mind, what i have to go thru every day, from dirty abokis to fish sellers down to sweaty men, Chai.. d tot makes me sick already, this morning as i got down from d bus, i saw a well dressed man scratching and plucking at the bumps at the back of his head, I had to cross d other side of d road when i saw this, and guess what, he still entered d same keke with me afterwards, but i made sure he was far from me. Thank God Ebola didnt go so viral in Nigeria, if not ehn, no1 will escape, how u wan do am, in dis Niger.

    • feggy

      October 15, 2014 at 4:14 pm

      @chi chi thats what i go through too!!! He will perfect His promises towards us…

  13. Okaro

    October 14, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    How’d you shop for fruits/veggies in the market

  14. Dandelion

    October 14, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Dear Isio,
    I decided to read your article today whilst having my lunch. Let’s just say, ‘bad idea’. I am such a germophobe!
    Amongst a host of others, If I’m not the first person to wash my hands in a bowl of water before eating, the water has to be changed. I find it extremely gross to put my hands in water already used by someone else.

    • raqs

      October 14, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      But who shares handwashing water?! Confused. Elbows on most public doors, sitting on the edge of a chair so my bare thighs don’t touch the chair, and so many others.

  15. the generous economist

    October 14, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Loool… every person has. an extreme case of weird tins they do for hygiene sake…I really can’t share cutlery wiv ani1… I jst cringe wen I see people use the same spoon to take tins like icecream…Gaadss Forbid!!! The only person I can share spoon wiv is my momma…(I alwz rationalise it that I cme outta her)… even aft kissing le boo…I wnt still use his spoon…he finds it uber strange tho… also using bare hands to touch the handles. of toilet flushers, and touching the tap in a public toilet…is a no no…
    @veeciousnotes if you work in an IOC where not using the hand rails, violates safety rules and can make you lose your job.. you will grab the handles even with your teeth…when you remember the millions wey dey enter your account!!!….Shebi after holding the rail.. ur salary can buy a truck of sanitizers

  16. D

    October 14, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    I am the one that uses hand sanitizer right after washing my hands in the bathroom and opening the door. I don’t want to use another paper towel to open the door (poor trees) and don’t want to start looking for where to dispose said paper towel and so sanitizers manufacturers make tons of money. Thank God my office has hand sanitizer dispensers at the beginning and end of every stair way and at the door of every elevator. I don’t think I am extreme though, although now that Isio has done a good job of painting this picture in my head at ATMs and gas stations and even restaurants. I know paranoia will start “worrying” me. Although all the restaurant kitchen I have been into (Not in Nigeria) they steam the dishes and utensils to get rid of germs. My hubby has disposable fork in his car (at all times) but I don’t know why. I don’t hug many people even co-workers and they know already so when people start to hug there is this “mouthed” colleague that will let everyone around know that I am not a hugger because of my fear of germs. I mean I don’t know where the entire body has been. And the stories I heard when we went on a vendor hunting trip after alcohol had been “poured” into some people about the guys bathroom habits abeg let everyone stay put.

  17. slice

    October 14, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    I’m such a germ’phobe, I can’t even read this post. I’ll be back next week!

  18. Neo

    October 14, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Isio, no need for long story on this. We are soulmates. Just pick a date and venue for the wedding. The fact that we are both women is something we will take up with the Lord as I am sure there must be some mistake in that department.

  19. Beverly

    October 14, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Isio,u re not alone on dis one o.I ave bn germ conscious way back 2004 in Festac.A guy sneezed,used his bare hands 2 wipe his nose,wiped same hands on a nearby wall n continued his journey.About 2 mins walk,he saw a frnd n u knw Nigerians naa,they must shake hands.I was like ‘Jesus,Wetin b dis?I wash my hands immediately I get home frm any where,wed a church or mkt.My fronds knw me cos I watch over dem like hawk.Jus yesterday,my frnd wit catarrh wanted 2 show me something, I told her point blank 2 wash her hand 1st,I nor dey 4 walaha o.In d cab,I am usually stiff cos I nor want anoda contact wit pple.I buy handkerchief in packs.Most pple dn’t care,but me? I care pass care o.

  20. Zeal

    October 14, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Ea meh via!!!! Shuooo!!!! Some women carrying children around will not cover the child’s mouth when sneezing, coughing or yawing and I’m always in awe of how careless some mothers can be. Abeg o its necessary to protect yaself from all this evil diseases. T your tent oh Moses

  21. Monisola

    October 14, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    You are so right to be extra careful.
    Working in the hospital open one’s eyes to every type of bug out there, VRE, ESBL, MRSA etc.
    knowing that these germs are out there, makes you want to keep our hands clean at all time.
    The mode of transfer in kids are even more rampant. It’s always great to keep a clean hands as much as possible, not to the point of having OCD though.
    Cellphone, remote control, computer keyboard, tablets are all germ carrier.
    Thanks for sharing Isio!

  22. HowIzzitAffecting U

    October 14, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    liquefied paste that was once called rice….Former tenant of iya Oloja’s bra…lol *I’m on the floor*. Hey God, the oyibo people in my class have been staring at me as if i’m going crazy as i’ll just stay and be laughing at my phone. Kai…what would I do without Isio and Atoke???

  23. blah blah

    October 14, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Oga o. So everyone is now a germophobe? Who are the culprits na? The way we always side with the ‘right’ on bellanaija makes me wonder where the people who do wrong are. Abi dem no dey read bellanaija?

  24. B.b

    October 14, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    I must admit am not germophobic and Am usually So care free about personal hygiene and all But with the pictures painted by Isio and some commenters walahi talahi fear Don catch me . My roommates will probably throw me out of the room with the kind of close inspection that will commence in that room when I resume. The fear of germs………………

  25. jcsgrl

    October 14, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Chai Isio my love your own reach OCD levels. How I handle cutlery in restaurants? Ask them for lemon or lime slices and use it to clean your cutleries. I also dont drink straight from the glass without straws cos these servers be touching everything.
    On another note, how do you explain someone who is a germophobe like Isio but lives in a messy house? I have a friend who is seriously OCD with anything outside…I wonder how she shops for fruits and vegetables. Oh in naija I wash mine with detergent and in US I use a veggie/fruit washing solution. Anyway, this friends house is a hot mess. But she claims its her own mess and germs shes comfy with and not others. I don gerrit

  26. Okaro

    October 14, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    I know people like your friend….hahaha chai.

    Isio sha,the hands are always a germ carrier,so what i do is i try to wash my hands and whatever goes along with it into my mouth thoroughly with soap and water before it goes in.

  27. akinwumi

    October 14, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Hello bvs. I need your advice urgently, I have a big willy I mean like 13cm and I usually have a budge whenever I wear a trouser giving me unnecessary attention when walking around sigh!. And whenever I have sex it take me up to 1:30 mins before cuming I don’t think this is normal oo coz I don’t usually have sexual urge…… Please anything that will just make my willy lock itself inside my boxer is need pls.

  28. [email protected]

    October 15, 2014 at 9:53 am

    @blah blah: those who r guilty will nt comment, they simply read d post n move on.

  29. Truth Teller

    October 15, 2014 at 10:15 am

    ” The look I gave him could kill a charging Buffalo mid- charge”

  30. Truth Teller

    October 15, 2014 at 10:27 am

    @akinwunmi Theres a clinic for men that treats numerous sexual problems. You can even start with a personal online assessment on their website .

    They’re based in lagos at 12A, Olatunde Ayoola Avenue, behind Bertola Machine Tools, Anthony Village, but if you don’t reside in lagos you can give them a call on 0903 273 1614, 0709 425 1635 and 0903 253 9384; email [email protected]
    Good luck!

  31. dex

    October 15, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Isio,wonderful as alwys I can’t stop laughing

  32. oj

    October 15, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Geez, Isio, your own too much o! Now i see germs everywhere. *grabbing my hand sanitizer*

  33. azzy

    October 15, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    i found this funny

    but i’m cautious with anything public myself

    i always have sanitizer with me and i use my knuckles not my finger pads too to punch at atms and lifts

  34. aye

    October 16, 2014 at 9:14 am

    I have not taken as much care in the past, but after reading this post believe me I will.

  35. le coco

    October 18, 2014 at 11:32 am

    ahh isio.. u r soo ryt.. i cant oo.. even holding onto the escalator…. ewww.. after i hv imagined hw many men hold their ding ding in the bathroom and dont wash their hands.. ewww and even elevator buttons ohh.. u ppl shldnt forget that one.. AND FOR MY ULTIIMATE … WATCHING SM1 CLEAN THEIR EARS WITH A COTTON SWAB IN PUBLIC AND THEN THEY NW WNA COM N GREET U.. ASIN.. EWWWWWWWWWWW.. BUT WHY? *STRAIGHTFACE* why oh why must u have a cotton swab in ur pocket, nd why is it soo convenient for u to whip it out and start cleaning ur ears and making orgasmic sounds while ur at it.. abeg…

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