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Sex education in Nigeria

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There is very little sex education in Nigeria, at least when I was growing up. Most Nigerians learn about sex from peer groups or lecherous adults who exploit the ignorance of the young.

The main teachers of sex education in Nigeria are the prostitutes so strategically located near every boys’ boarding school or university campuses. And nannies and houseboys.

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In boarding schools, one joins several societies – debating, dancing, sports, religious, etc. My school had a gramophone with some records which we used to learn how to dance. The missionaries never built a boys school that was not near a girl school. Nobody taught us how to talk to girls. We wrote love letters to girls we never knew or rather copied some love letters which some Indian had put together. There were Indian books for every conceivable activity making these our Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia of our day. The senior boys pretended that they were reincarnated Romeos. In fact, they know nothing and only used the junior boys to learn about their own sexuality or lack thereof.

There was a school dance on Saturday afternoons once a month, sometimes twice a month. The girls come to our school or we went to theirs. All the girls sat together at one end of the hall whereas the boys sat together at the other end, resplendent in their white starched and pressed trousers and school blazers. The boys would have groomed their hair with an abundance of dry clean lotion.

At the dances the longest distance anybody had ever walked was to move from where his colleagues sat and have the temerity to go and ask a girl for a dance. So Bayo walked the walk of death to the girl’s section. He had not made up his mind which girl to ask and as he walked it was clear he had no idea who to ask for the dance. He had been urging Seyi to come with him but when he and Seyi got up, Seyi had cold feet and sat back. The eyes of 30 boys and girls were beamed on Bayo as he took one faltering step after another. He would have done himself a favour if he had lazer focused on Funke who was sitting straight in front of him. By some telepathy, Funke moved and started a conversation with the girls near to her. Bayo saw the movement of Funke as an indication of refusal. So he veered a little to the left, making straight for Funmi whose demeanour changed instantly to suggest that if Funke was unavailable then she could not possibly accept a dance. Bayo gets to Funke. He stretches his hands out to ask for a dance. Funke points to her chest – moi??, me?? Oh No!

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I was 21 when I went to New Zealand on a commonwealth scholarship. I was normally attracted to the girls who were predominantly white but determined to wear as little clothing as they could get away with. It was summer in the southern hemisphere in February when the university resumed: the campus was littered everywhere with half-naked girls wanting to keep a tan, sunning themselves on the abundant green fields. For me, the sun was too hot. I sought the shade and other vantage points to google at the girls. At weekends there were parties – you took your own beer – I had stopped drinking. I could not talk to any girl, because I had never met such bold girls in my life.

I cannot remember now where I had read that all a white girl had to do was to claim that a black man raped her or wanted to do so. I was so petrified by New Zealand girls that at parties I ended up like a proverbial wall gecko. I stood there until some girl would come to drag me to dance, which I would do well. As the record was changed I ran back to some other bolt hole to hide in the wall. The erstwhile eager beaver of a girl, not finding me, would go after other fishes. The girls were aggressive, self-assured, and wild. Meanwhile, I debated when someone would call out “rapist” – and stuck to my wall. I was in a hall of residence, a room for myself – but totally dysfunctional sexually. There were two or three other Africans in the university. They seemed to have sauced the place out and carried on like a house on fire. One weekend I met Elsbeth. She did not call the police. Did not shout rape. She insisted I teach her how to dance. She would not leave my side despite numerous offers. She was a second-year student reading biochemistry before going to medical school. If a woman is wearing a short skirt or shorts it is not an invitation for a man to come to sleep with her. Her clothes are not a moral statement. It does not make her an evil temptress any more than when a man wears a T-shirt or only short pants makes him a master sex organ like Clark Gable or Will Smith. Women would not jump at you when you show your six-pack. Nor does your athletic define your morals.

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Sex Education and Cheating on your wife: (Collins English Dictionary). Cheat: to deceive for one`s own advantage, trick, swindle: to be sexually unfaithful to one`s wife, husband, lover.

One of the most regular themes in the Nollywood, Social Media, and now perhaps a cause for the breakup of marriages is the question of wives and husbands ‘cheating’ on each other. Yet the concept does not exist in any of the 520 languages of Nigeria. To the millions, who watch Nollywood, it is a very clear and legitimate cause of fracas and even breaks up in marriages. But if one was speaking any Nigerian language – cheating on one`s wife is a meaningless term or concept. It cannot be translated the way good and bad eyes, nose etc. can be translated. One has to go through a tortuous explanation of what it means that the wife or husband slept with another woman who was not his wife.

In most Nigerian societies, sleeping with a woman who was no one’s wife, apart from the initial drama, is not really such a huge issue. The wife’s anger would be carefully calibrated to prevent a worse situation wherein some societies the “cheating” is removed by the man simply marrying the other woman. In many cases the ‘outside’ woman fully realises what she is doing and even seeks to be either the second wife or to be the mother of the children in this illicit union, knowing fully well that once she has children for the man she is regarded as his wife.

To be continued tomorrow.

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