I recently met Nkolika face to face. She was a stern looking woman of slight built and she rarely wore a smile. She lived around my neighbourhood and I met her voice before I met her. She would usually scream at the top of her voice in her usual manner of attempting to parent two young girls that lived with her. With Nkolika, you had an extra layer of alarm clock as you are certain she will wake you up at exactly 5am each day with her daily screams at her girls.
I wondered if she ever found time to relax, have sex and powder her nose. One morning, I overslept and Nkolika was to be blamed. I had gotten accustomed to being woken up by her daily screams and it happened that the screams stopped. I was as worried as I was relieved. I had to find out what went wrong or what went right as I was quite uncertain at the time.
I went to Nkolika’s house, tapped lightly at the door quite unsure if my knock would be met by a loud scream. I waited for what seemed like forever and suddenly, the door swung open. Nkolika in her screaming majesty stood before me, a vision in red with a truly sad look. I instantly wanted to hug her to take away the look on her face but while I was still trying to wrap the thoughts in my head, she spoke in the softest voice ever, “hello, can I help you?”
I quickly introduced myself as the new neighbour whilst not expecting to be let into the house but Nkolika suddenly beamed with excitement as she told me to please come in. We made small chit-chat and I quickly took in the change in her demeanour and wondered if she ever had visitors. I asked about her girls and in an instant, the sad and forlorn look I had earlier glimpsed was back on her face. She told me that she had sent them back to their parents. Not attempting to invade her space, I was surprised when she went ahead to tell me the finer details of what had transpired.
She was quite angry when she got to the part about her teenage girls having boyfriends right under her nose. She wondered what the world was turning into. I allowed her to finish and in a rather soft voice, asked if she ever considered teaching them ‘abstinence plus’ as opposed to simply assuming that her girls will forever be perfect. She was a bit taken aback and asked me what I meant by abstinence plus.
That was the green light I was looking for and I went into full swing as I walked her through the entire concept. Nkolika kept quiet all through my talk but I could see the disapproval gleaming through her shiny wig. When I was done, she simply asked me that so I meant she should have called her girls, sat them down and encouraged them to be promiscuous and use condoms while at it?
Though her response seemed quite elementary but I believe that Nkolika is not alone in this line of reaction. I also had this reservation about the abstinence plus concept when I first heard about it in a tiny cold office in Mississippi. All my christian ideals and values came springing to the fore and defending my mind from what I then considered, evil.
I have a teenage son and a soon to be teenage daughter and being fully aware of the dangers of withholding information from children of today, I advocate that frank conversations about sex and sexuality be brought to the table. I encourage parents to please intentionally teach their teenage child both abstinence and abstinence plus. The saying, ‘If you no fit hold body, use condom’, is quite apt.
We should come to terms with current realities and understand that what our own parents told us about sex and sexuality are too silly to be embraced by a child of today with technology infused in his/her DNA. The fear factor is no longer a currency and no, when a boy calls a girl’s name, she will not suddenly find herself, pregnant. As we are a culture steeped in religion and fear, we can teach our children the right things and also pray that in our absence, God will direct them on the path that they should go.
Also of immense importance is the teaching of the actual name of body parts to the smallest children. We should come together as parents and guardians and arrive at a consensus to discard the usage of such terms as ‘wee-wee’ and ‘bom-bom’ as opposed to using the actual terms. It is also important that we teach children as early as possible who their uncles and aunties are as opposed to generalising such terms thereby expanding the family tree beyond reckoning.
Any other individual that is not qualified to be balled uncle and aunty should simply be respectfully referred to as either sir or ma, as the case may be.
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