Clean Sweep

Apparently rallies for the Action Congress of Nigeria feature broom-waving supporters for whom the broom has become a symbol to “sweep away corruption.” According to The Wall Street Journal (April 26, 2011), Babatunde Raji Fashola, the governor of Lagos, often appears in the campaign trail with a broom.

Unfortunately, says the Times, “housewives in Africa’s most populous country are bristling. The price of brooms has more than tripled in some places. In parts of Lagos, it’s difficult to find any brooms at all. Over the past few months, the ACN, an opposition party, has bought truckloads of the domestic tool. The brooms are supplied to supporters who attend the rallies. Many are young men who don’t appear to have much use for the brooms beyond waving them at rallies. The brooms, made from palm fronds in eastern Nigeria, are trucked into Lagos. Normally, they sell for about 50 to 75 cents, but on days the ACN is holding a rally the prices can triple or more. As Rachel Fawole cuts up pieces of frozen fish for a stew, a hawker walks by with a set of ten brooms on his head. The 51-year-old manager of a food canteen isn’t pleased. She recently bought a broom with bristles the width of a forearm for 50 cents. Now, one the width of a wrist fetches the same price. ‘The price is up, and they reduced the size,’ she says.”

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