When my period arrived I told no-one. I didn’t want to tell my mum, for I felt like I had done something bad or now I was going to be looked at differently. I have an older sister so I first borrowed some of her pads and then went to buy some myself. My mom had been talking about it/alluding to it since I could remember and I was quite scarred. I guess I was squeamish about this ‘taboo’ topic, because it was definitely hyped up and all too serious.
Age when I first found out about sex: Hmmm…about 8. People would be doing stuff on TV and the atmosphere in the room would always get so awkward or the channel would be changed too quickly. When my mother first talked about it, it started with “stay away from uncles and stop jumping on them/climbing into their laps when they come over”. Then it was “don’t let any uncle put their hands ‘down there'”. Then it was periods and then the physiology of arousal. Then she made us watch all sorts of tragic movies of girls getting pregnant or raped and having to drop out of school. It was all so morose and scary!! I was somehow constantly at risk of getting pregnant and shaming my family yet I didn’t even know exactly how it could happen. It was much later that the act of sex and how exactly it happened came to light. Before then sex was as amorphous as a handshake and simply that could get one pregnant. I definitely went around for a long time trying to avoid all contact with boys lest I fell pregnant and shamed my family. I’m sure my mother didn’t necessarily have this curriculum in mind when she started out, but I guess she was just desperate for us to understand.
She eventually was very explicit, her rationale being that was she wanted us to hear it from her first so we wouldn’t be misinformed by our friends. But this explicitness was quite jarring and it really just made me scared of the topic. So by the time I heard it from friends, it didn’t really faze me. Maybe it was more detailed from friends, or maybe I was just too scarred to be verbalizing such taboo things that I really couldn’t consider anything they were saying. I managed to stay silent or walk away from such conversations — that is, until I grew older and could better manage my fears.
About talking to the next generation: I don’t know. I just know I need to make it as normal and comfortable a conversation as possible. There was always ‘something up’ that preceded/triggered these talks, that’s what got me so uncomfortable. Before it started I always felt like I was in trouble, like “What have I done this time?”
– ♀, 30, Nigeria
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Nilipovunja ungo sikumwambia mtu yeyote. Sikutaka kumwambia mama yangu; nilihisi kama vile nimefanya kitu kibaya au kuwa ningeanza kuonwa tofauti. Nina dada yangu kwa hiyo niliazima pedi kutoka kwake, kisha nikaenda kujinunulia za kwangu. Mama yangu alikuwa akizungumzia hedhi tangu kitambo sana, na ilinitisha sana. Ninadhani nilikuwa ninaonea kinyaa hili suala “mwiko”, kwa kuwa ilikuwa ikiongelewa kwa namna ya kupewa uzito mkubwa bila utani.
Umri niliposikia kuhusu ngono kwa mara ya kwanza kabisa: Hmmm…kama 8. Kulikuwaga na hewa ya aibu luninga ikionyesha watu wakifanya mambo, au kituo kingebadilishwa haraka. Mama alipokuja kuiongelea ilianza na “kaa mbali na wajomba na uache kuwaparamia/kupakatwa wakitutembelea”. Halafu ikawa “usiruhusu mjomba yeyote akuguse ‘huko chini’ “. Kisha ikawa mazungumzo kuhusu hedhi na hamu ya kujamiaana. Mama alitufanya tuangalie kanda mbalimbali za kusikitisha kuhusu wasichana walioshika mimba au kubakwa na kulazimika kuacha shule. Ilikuwa inatia huzuni na kuogopesha sana!! Ni kama vile wakati wowote ningeweza kunasa tu mimba, ingawa nilikuwa hata sifahamu inatokeaje. Ni baadaye sana nilipokuja kuelewa tendo la kujaamiana na jinsi inavyotokea. Kabla ya hapo, ngono nilikuwa nikiiona kama kupeana mkono tu na baada ya hapo ghafla mtu anakuwa mjamzito. Hakika kwa kipindi kirefu niljitahidi kutojihusisha na wavulana kwa namna yoyote ile nisije nikashika mimba na kuaibisha familia yangu. Nina uhakika mama yangu hakukusudia kutuelimisha kwa namna hii, lakini labda alikuwa anataka sana tuelewe kwa vyovyote vile.
Hatimaye akawa muwazi mno, akieleza kuwa anataka tuyasikie yote kutoka kwake ili tusipotoshwe na marafiki zetu. Lakini huu uwazi ulikuwa unashtua, na kwa kweli ilinifanya nizidi tu kuogopa haya masuala. Nilipokuja kuyasikia kutoka kwa marafiki, sikushangaa; labda ilikuwa kwa kuwa marafiki walieleza kwa kina zaidi. Labda nilikuwa ninaogopa hata kuyatamka hayo maneno mwiko kana kwamba sikuweza hata kutafakari waliyokuwa wakisema. Nilibakia kimya au kujiondoa kwenye maongezi ya namna hiyo — mpaka nilipokomaa na kuweza kumudu woga wangu.
Kuhusu kuongea na kizazi kijacho: Sijui. Ninachofahamu ni kwamba ninahitaji iwe jambo la kawaida na maongezi huru iwezekanavyo. Sisi tulipokuwa tukiitwa kuongea na mama ilikuwa ni kwa sababu kulikuwa ‘kuna jambo limetokea’, na hiyo ndio sababu ya kutojisikia amani wakati wa hayo maongezi. Kabla hata hajaanza kuongea nilikuwa nikijishuku na kujiuliza, “Nimefanya kosa gani?”
– ♀, 30, Nigeria
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