Hey everyone! We are so excited to share with you SHAKE Africa’s very first blog post!!
We’ll try to keep it brief but we just wanted to take this opportunity to welcome you all to our website and to tell you a little bit about us. It’s Sexual Health Awareness Week in the UK so this is as good a time as any to introduce ourselves to you and get the conversation flowing! Now, let’s get down to business, let’s talk sex!
School and Sex Education
A while ago I asked a friend ‘How did you learn about sex?', his response - ‘friends, porn and well.. by doing it'. The more people I asked, the more I realised that this response was pretty consistent across the board. Most people learnt from their friends, no-one said their parents and very few mentioned school. Now if I narrow it down to my friends who grew up in Nigeria no-one mentioned school.
For those of us that have the privilege of attending school, it's instilled in us from a very young age that we go there to make good grades, so we can get good jobs and make good money but school should be about so much more than that.
In the words of Tara Westover 'education is not so much about making a living as making a person'. It’s where we grow as individuals, form relationships, learn about ourselves. It’s meant to prepare us for navigating the so-called ‘real world’ and provide us with a multi-faceted educational experience so why doesn’t comprehensive sex education make the cut?!
'education is not so much about making a living as making a person'.
Now, let me just clarify that when I say sex education, I'm not talking about learning the anatomy of the male and female genitalia (although important) or that sperm + egg = baby, but I mean teaching us the things that are applicable to our day to day lives. You know things like the ins and outs of sexual health. I mean, who tells us how or where to get tested for sexually transmitted infections, what happens if the condom splits, what are our different birth control options and what on earth this magical 'morning after pill' is?
Our parents dare not utter the word sex out of fear that they'll encourage us, whilst our teachers in Nigeria teach a very one-dimensional form of sex education - abstinence. I guess I'll take this opportunity to give a veryyy gentle reminder that we live in the real world and whilst abstinence is a choice that many make, it’s not the choice that the majority makes, and we need to accept that truth. ‘Stay away from boys or you will catch bele’ cannot and should not be our only form of sex education.
‘Stay away from boys or you will catch bele’ cannot and should not be our only form of sex education.
People are having sex!
Whaaattttt?!!!! Crazy, I know!
Our youth are having sex and that is not something we can shy away from. We must ensure that the youth of Nigeria are equipped with the tools and knowledge that enables them to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health (SRH). We need to educate them on their options. The basis of their knowledge shouldn't solely be '‘well my friend Ngozi said…’'.
Now don’t get me wrong, learning from our peers is an important part of our education and I firmly believe that peer education is real and useful education but if the people we’re learning from are misinformed, its just a case of the blind leading the blind. Poor sexual health awareness and misinformation can have grave consequences. Our youth should be empowered to take control of their (SRH) and have complete autonomy over their bodies. In a super conservative patriarchal society like Nigeria we need to remind our young women (and men), that sex should be fun, safe, consensual and that it is not just for the pleasure of a man…
Sex is not just for the pleasure of a man
Thats where SHAKE Africa comes in! We’re here to provide accurate, up-to-date information through our website, educational programmes and events. We’re here to empower young people to take control of their SRH, enable them to ask questions and share experiences and we're here to provide a non-judgmental space for them to do so. We are here to lobby the government to make comprehensive sexual health education a mandatory part of the curriculum now!
We’re here to SHAKE things up!
And on that note we want to wish you a very HAPPY SEXUAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK! No matter how you're celebrating, make sure you stay safe!
Until next time..
Your friends at SHAKE Africa