Archive for November, 2012


While many of us may have diverse views on sex education, it is a known fact that it is an important topic which has been repeatedly and intentionally swept under the carpet by our parents, experienced relatives and even our teachers. Many young individuals in our environment learnt about sex education from friends in beer parlours when the guys were too drunk to even locate their houses, in our rooms when the girls were engaging in their routine gossips and chats of how their guys swept them off their feet and in those moments when guys and girls sit and chat about the opposite sex. Our friends, who may be even more ignorant than us, are the experts and we assume that they have all the right answers simply because they tell us things we want to hear.

Our parents feel very uncomfortable talking about sex education. It should never be mentioned. It is a common but erroneous belief by our elders that such talks could lead to individuals having knowledge of topics they should ordinarily have no idea about. They feel it should be delayed until maybe when the girl is about to get married. Sometimes, they never mention it. One day, I thought to myself quietly. In about twenty years, I will have a son or daughter. I will need to teach him or her stuffs like this. Telling my children about their sexual anatomy and the various changes that will occur over time may not a problem. But, how do I balance telling them that sex is not necessary before marriage and also educate them on the use of a condom if they cannot resist the temptation? How do I tell my little boy that at some point he will have a girlfriend, that he may have the urge to touch her and she may even want him to because their hormones are constantly fluctuating? How do I teach him that you can love someone without having sex with her? How do I teach her that sex with her boyfriend will not prove that she loves him; that the pressure may be intense but is actually surmountable?

So what is Sex education? There are many definitions. But to put it simply, Sex Education is a broad term used to describe education about human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse and other aspects of human sexual behavior. From that definition, it is clear to see why parents don’t like discussing these issues. They erroneously feel that teaching their children about matters concerning their bodies and sex may lead to these children engaging in sex before marriage and hence, silence is the solution. Many mothers also fail to discuss matters concerning a daughter’s menstrual cycle when she reaches menarche. At this point, the young innocent girl is confused. Due to lack of knowledge, she may have no clue as regards this new development. They also do not want to discuss the fact that at some point in their children’s lives, there will be dramatic emotional changes, when one is attracted emotionally and possibly sexually to another person.

And because our parents are so scared to mention sex, we listen to that our friend who is a serial womanizer; we listen to that our friend who feels there is nothing wrong with having two or three boyfriends (calling them Mugu I and II depending on the number of men involved) and even having sexual relations with all of them. Information on sexual matters is gotten from friends and much of them are of doubtful value filled with falsehood. Even our teachers have become agents of deception and incomplete teachings focusing only on anatomy and biology while concealing the excitement and arousal aspect, which are the areas young individuals are bothered about. Consequently, we live in our confused world; we make false starts, errors and take numerous wrong steps many with varying degrees of adverse effects. A fundamental part of sex education is to reduce the risk of potentially negative outcomes from sexual behavior, such as unwanted pregnancies and infection with sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. The general religious teaching is to avoid sex before marriage. On no account should you have sex with anyone. It is an abomination. Many people who share this view keep out information pertaining to prevention of unwanted pregnancies and STDs away from any discussion about sexual education. They vehemently oppose talks that encourage use of condoms and birth pills. They are fervent disciples of the “abstinence bandwagon”. I may not be too religious. I may not read the bible as frequently as many of you do but I believe it is wrong to keep vital information concerning these two important issues away from these young individuals. Telling people to abstain will not stop them from having sexual intercourse. It has been shown that human beings are curious animals. We always want to do those things people say we shouldn’t do. We always want to feel the pulsation of our boyfriends or girlfriends next to ours. We put ourselves in positions where we can be tempted. The rate of premarital and teenage sexual intercourse is increasing daily and it has no plans of dropping regardless of what our pastors, imams or parents say. A girl may have numerous friends who are all sexually active and the temptation and pressure may be too much to resist. She jumps in and can even get pregnant at the first time of trying. She could also have the added “luxury” of a sexually transmitted disease simply because she did not have enough information.

Furthermore, we must remember that talking in a balanced manner regardless of your personal belief and opinion does not promote one set of views over another or mean that you agree with a particular view. It is therefore important that even if our parents feel that it is morally right not to have sex before marriage, this does not imply they should withhold important information about sex and contraception. Individuals should have adequate information so that they can choose whether or not to have a sexual relationship after making considerations regarding the potential risks of engaging in sexual activity. It is therefore unfair to deny young people such knowledge. They should be made to understand why people have sex, how it affects their emotions and feelings, to think about respect for one self and other people and how their decisions will affect their bodies. This will even help to correct mistaken beliefs. Knowledge on birth control will help to prevent the increasing rate of unwanted pregnancies and even abortion. A few months ago, I met a beautiful lady who was looking very sad. I was about to walk up to her when my friend broke the news. She was married and had a daughter. This girl was not even up to 19 years. She had gotten pregnant quite early. Her parents told her that her only option was to get married to the person responsible for the pregnancy. She is married now to a man who cannot even fend for himself. She got pregnant probably because she had been convinced that nothing would happen after having unprotected sex. She is currently on maintenance dose of a drug called poverty. There is no chance of her completing her secondary school education. Her life will never be the same and you never know what will become of her little girl. She needs help but her future is painfully bleak. It is not limited to her. I have been surprised by some of the things I have seen lately. Girls now get pregnant at very young ages and end up marrying whoever is responsible regardless of the hardship they will face.

However, we must understand that there are two sides to a coin. It has been so easy for me to blame our parents and teachers for all our mistakes and woes. They taught us nothing. Why on earth didn’t they tell me how to prevent unwanted pregnancies, STDs and even HIV/AIDS? Blah blah blah blah blah. But, we must also take part of the blame. We have learnt a lot about sex education either directly or indirectly from formal school programmes, seminars and public health campaigns. Many agencies now provide free tools for birth control to young individuals and even go further to teach them on how to use each of them. Come to think of it. What happened to self-control; what happened to choosing common sense over just few minutes of ecstasy, madness and irrationality? Many of us get carried away easily. We want to do those things our parents do behind closed doors regardless of the risk involved even though we are not ready to take responsibilities for our actions. We want to enjoy sex optimally without utilizing the available methods of keeping ourselves safe. And a friend of mine rightly pointed out earlier in the week, “We do not have any pride in ourselves anymore”. We have let ourselves down most times. Peer pressure has played a part as well. It is a known fact that we pick things easily from friends. Young people learn to consume alcohol, cigarettes and other illegal substances from their friends. A young individual is likely to engage in sexual activity if his or her friends are also doing same. The common sentences if you are not part of the group is “You no sabi wassup”, “you no dey tidy” and “you just dey there dey wash car wey another person go dey drive”.

Finally, our parents and teachers have a job to do. Proper sex education may help individuals delay intercourse until they are ready. They need to help us get the right and proper information on matters concerning sex education. Children are likely to tell their parents about their sexual challenges if their parents are open to discussion on such matters. There is no point being an Adolf Hitler or Margaret Thatcher. We should also be careful on the kind of advice we get from our friends.  Regardless of how experienced we may be, no one is an island. We must be willing to listen and learn and so that we can become knowledgeable enough to separate ridiculously wrong information from the correct ones. When you become a parent, talk to your child regardless of what your religious beliefs are.

Have a nice weekend.

 

About a month ago, I logged on to my twitter account and I was enraged by what I saw on my timeline. The topic was about four young men who had just had their lives cut short by some barbaric individuals in a town called Aluu in Rivers State. They were alleged to have stolen a laptop and a phone from someone in that community. Some members of the community decided to take laws into their hands with the full backing of the community’s village chief. The punishment had to be death, possibly because none of the boys were indigenes of Aluu. It is important to note that up till this date, I am yet to see any pictures of the materials they were said to have stolen. Even if there was evidence suggesting that the boys stole, how did we get to this point where we could kill people at will? How did that community lose every respect for humanity? This was an act that was celebrated by some people and they initially tried to justify their actions. At that moment, I got very scared. It meant someone could falsely accuse me of theft and I will be properly beaten and then killed. Various accounts also suggest that a police station is very close to the scene of these nefarious acts. They failed to carry out their duty and those four boys were left all alone to their fate. They needed help and a miracle but none was in sight. The authorities failed to act when those boys could have been saved. I realized that no one is exactly safe anymore regardless of how good you are. That there was no guarantee that if I was innocent, someone would step forward and insist that I got a fair shot at justice.

And I sat down in my room thinking of those boys who had been killed, I felt their pain, the torture and the horrifying ordeal they must passed through. Every second must have felt like an eternity to them. I was in shock and in a state of complete bewilderment. I thought of their parents and siblings who will miss them, families who had invested so much in them in the hope that things will get even better. A relative of Elkannah said “He was beaten beyond repair”. And I thought of a nation and her people who had lost touch with reality, wicked people who are transferring their frustration and anger at the wrong places. People who feel that the best way to voice their frustration and anger is to kill young vibrant individuals; the same young individuals we expect to be leaders of tomorrow. It is sad and I hate to think of it. And then I thought of a community who decided that the best way to deal with boys who stole was to beat them brutally to a pulp and then burn them alive. The events after that brutal act suggest that those boys were innocent. Even if they were guilty, Ugonna, Lloyd, Elkannah and Chidiaka didn’t deserve to die that way. Their lives have been cut short. I have refused to watch the video and I never will. Those who have watched it were shell-shocked and I am certain it will not be a pleasurable experience to go through it.

Last week, I watched another troubling video where a young girl was disgraced after stealing a blackberry handset. I was told it occurred at one of the big markets in Lagos. She was stripped naked and young men had a filled day touching parts of her body as much as they wished. The video found its way to the internet. She stole a handset. OK? So let’s strip her of her clothing. It sounds perfect. Four boys steal. Let’s beat them and burn them and post the video on youtube. Is that how barbaric we are? Is that how low we have descended? Many more people have lost their lives to this new trend, the inhumane act of jungle justice.

During elections, we collect money, foodstuffs from politicians who have milked you dry and prevented you from having all the amenities you deserve. We sing their praises and vote for them even when we know they are individuals of questionable character. They give us only a little fraction of what they have looted and yet we give them a ticket to loot even further. Those are the guys who have stolen billions of naira from the country’s coffers. These are men and women who have ensured that poverty remains at embarrassing and high levels; men who have ensured that our roads have remained bad for a long time. And yet, we celebrate them. That’s your money. That’s money that should have been used to make sure you get a better life, money that would have ensured that your children have a bright future. University students are easy prey of these politicians. Students line up in their hundreds and thousands waiting to collect their share usually from the students’ representatives. Those politicians are the criminals; they are the rogues whose sole purpose is to enrich their pockets. Their acts will ensure you don’t get the jobs your certificates say you deserve.

It is funny how we take laws into our hands when it comes to petty thieves. The real criminals walk around freely. We kiss their asses and even lick the floor they walk on. Think about this. Nigeria spends over 70% of her budget on recurrent expenditure and less than 30% on capital expenditure. A sane nation will never have less than 30% of her budget for capital expenditure. This smaller fraction is still subject to varying degree of embezzlement at different strata. Is there any robbery greater than the fact that your president spends over N3million daily on feeding himself and his household? Last year, the local travel budget was 724 million or N2million daily and international travel budget was N951million. Apparently, our President and VP will spend more time in the air than at Aso Rock. The President’s office also had N265million to buy computers alone, N150million to buy scanners and N1.8 billion to maintain existing furniture, office and residential quarters in 2012. The “presidential” public address system cost N150million. And the SGF wanted N65million for tree planting. It is important to note that planting a million trees was said to have cost the country less than N50million over 4 years ago. Don’t cry for Nigeria. You are free to have a laugh. Are they better than those who have been killed?

James Ibori is currently serving time in jail for corruption and money laundering. That’s your money. His birthday was celebrated in his absence at Asaba and he even had a massive billboard erected reminding us all of how “excellent” he was to Delta State in Asaba. Ibori pleaded guilty to multiply counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud after been accused of stealing US$250million from the Nigerian public purse. In a sane country, this would have been used to help the poorest people in the world. But because this is Nigeria, he will certainly be celebrated when he returns. He won’t be beaten or burnt. Infact, I can assure that when he returns he will have a say in how this country is governed. The citizens of this country will even bow at his feet and eat the crumbs that fall from his table. That’s a criminal. Not Lloyd, not Elkannah.

Bode George also got a hero’s reception when he returned from his 2 year sojourn at Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison following his conviction of fraud. Great celebration heralded his release and he even drove to the Cathedral Church of Christ at Marina for a thanksgiving service conducted by a priest who patted him on the back and told him to go and sin no more. Top politicians were on hand to receive him after his incarceration and they included Gbenga, Olusegun Obasanjo among others. This was a man who was alleged to have awarded illegal contracts while he was chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority. The list of corrupt officers walking freely is endless. It is a known fact that corruption has now been secretly legalized in Nigeria.

Finally, the same men who took the lives of those boys are the same people who will sing praises of those people who loot our funds. They are the same men who will ensure that politicians can rig their way to victory in polls. We are hypocrites. No doubt about that. If you think about it, you will realize that we have lost out way and that there is certainly no moral justification for the killing of those four boys and many others. They didn’t deserve to die. They deserved better. You will realize that those girls who have been disgraced deserved better. Dear friends, life is sacred. Never take anyone’s life because you do not have the power to create one.

Have a nice evening.