Monthly Archives: July 2011

NO SEX PLEASE! We’re Nigerian.

Over at Linda Ikeji’s blog, controversy is brewing. The topic of the day is anal sex, and the responses are so hilarious, that I thought I’d deviate from the theme of this blog to showcase it. Below is a typical response:

Anonymous said…

So Nigerians indulge in anal sex? why am I suprised? Bloody hypocrites! If you engage in anal sex as a heterosexual, you are a closeted GAY and a psychotic pervert. May those of you who engage in such dirty acts leak shit through your annuses [sic] and catch an STD that has no cure. God don’t like ugly!

And another:

Anonymous said…

I’ve not, I’ll neva try it. men can be wicked, wen u re down wit pie [sic], dey’ll move on,,,,,,,,,,, don’t be decieve guls [sic].

July 28, 2011 9:14 PM

The above words by the way are; Piles and Girls. Of course the people in question HAD to be anonymous.

This blog’s position on the issue of sex has already been clarified. Good Igbo girls don’t know the meaning of the word. What I will say is that every Igbo person knows that their father turned around and looked at their mother on the wedding night. There was a loud explosion (which happened for all your subsequent siblings and which you thought you heard that night when you were not really sleeping…yes, you know the one) and afterwards your mummy’s tummy started getting big because she ate too much garri. And then one morning, there was an annoying wailing baby who soon turned into an annoying trailing toddler and then they grew up and took  over half your chores and that was that.

Naturally if sex is incomprehensible, anal sex must be much more so.

However, this response takes the cake:

Anonymous said…

By the the way, my boyfriend, then my husband now mistakingly penetrated my anal, it was half way in and I cried hell that day. couldn’t walk well for the rest of the day.. anal sex is a no no.

Mistakes, huh. Pull the other one, guys!

When he is good, he is very very good…

There was a tap on the door. “Come in?” I wasn’t sure I should be telling him to enter in an authoritative voice, after all it was his house.

“I just wanted to find out if you needed a towel.”

“No thank you. I brought mine.” I placed a shower cap over my head and tucked my stray twists under it. “Thank you for giving me your bed again. I hope you won’t be too cold in the living room?”

“No, I have a pull out sofa, it’ll be fine.” He paused and adjusted his glasses. “Well, good night then. See you tomorrow.”

“Good night. Try not to sneak in while I’m sleeping.” He rolled his eyes.

Sleeping in the bed was strange. The sheets were fresh and clean but there was an under layer of…man that filled my nostrils each time I took a breath. It was not unpleasant. Reassuring somehow. And yet I could not relax. The moonlight from the French doors flooded the room and the shrubbery cast long shadows over the bed. I couldn’t see the mini gargoyle from earlier in the day but I knew it was there. I imagined it coming to life, crunching on the gravel in the narrow back garden of the basement flat. I hoped the French doors were locked properly. I turned my mind to my host.

He was kind. We knew we were going to be back late from a Young Nigerians event so he had offered me his place that I wouldn’t have the long, expensive journey back to my place in the early hours of a London winter. I had packed a small knapsack with my things but I still made sure not to have too much of a presence, to keep myself as small as possible. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I mean, he was my friend, but there was no need to draw attention to the fact that I was female. In my nightgown. In his bed. In his basement flat.  I had an idea and scrabbled out of bed.


The door had no lock.

With the gargoyle outside one door and my host behind the other, it was like I was in a nightmarish episode of Blind Date. There was a good chance I would either be mauled or shagged, which in the case of a lot of Nigerian – Igbo –  men, added up to the same thing. Savaged.

I burrowed deeper into the bed, cocooning myself tightly in the duvet. I was reminded of the story an ex-boyfriend had told me of the girl who had spent the night with his friend, an Igbo man who was ‘toasting’ her, on the condition that he not touch her during the night.

“Ooooh.” She complained when he reached over to run his hands over her body.

“Sorry….sorry.” He withdrew and turned over. Soon he was snoring again. She went back to sleep. It happened a second time. The third time she said ‘Ooooh’, he said “Sorry now. I can’t help myself, you’re so beautiful.”

“But you promised!” She wailed. She didn’t leave his room the same way she came in.

I consoled myself with the thought that at least my host and I weren’t in the same room or on the same bed. That was a start. Still, I couldn’t sleep. Every noise startled me. By the time his projector clock flashed five-thirty AM with its red beam, I was frazzled from imagining the worst. A lot of Igbo men didn’t believe men and women could just be friends after all; would he risk our friendship for one night of action? And what would I do? Was his friendship that important anyway?

It was eight o’clock when I finally woke up. The house was too quiet. I flashed my eyes around the room and tested my limbs to see if anything had changed…then I laughed at myself for being so stupid. He wasn’t a rapist after all.

There was another tap on the door. “I heard you moving around.” He looked at me and a frown creased his brow. “You look…did you sleep well?” he asked.

“No, not really.”

“Why not? Was the bed too hard for you?”

“No, it was fine…I just…you’re going to think this is silly but..” I told him my fears. I made light of my earlier issues by laughing. By the time I had finished, the sleep was no longer lurking around his eyes. He stood to his full six foot plus height, arms folded in front of his chest.

“I think that says more of you than it does of me.” He looked angry. “I will not take what I am not offered, that is called ‘maturity’. What the hell kind of men have you been dating?”

Thou shalt hold thine knees together at all times.

About ninety percent* of the rules concerning Igbo girls have to do with men. Specifically, what not to do with men. Or around men. Or for men. In order to be properly married to a man. Of those rules, the earliest concerns sitting.

“Sit like a woman,” my mother always said, hitting whatever part of you was nearest to her.

This meant that on the floor, a girl must always sit with her legs together, outstretched in front of her. That was relatively easy. Sitting in a chair was harder; one had to make sure that one’s knees were tightly pressed together, the resultant under-sag of skirt tucked in between thighs. This was important; holding your knees together when you were in a dress or skirt was simply not enough.

It goes without saying that boys were NOT ALLOWED to see above your knees. If a boy saw your pant, a bad thing was supposed to happen and your mother was supposed to know about it somehow. I didn’t know what this was, but I was afraid of it nonetheless.

Disobeying the sitting rule brought swift and harsh punishment which could come from anyone. Even the boys themselves.

“Hey! You girl, Don’t you know you shouldn’t be sitting like that?” I looked up from my snack, spread out over my thighs. A group of boys stood in front of me, their chequered blue shirts unbuttoned in break-time exertions. Their leader was a boy whose fair skin could only be described as ‘dirty yellow’. Like pus. He was younger than I was. I recognised them as the band of boys that tormented girls in school; pulling hair, throwing stones, spitting…I shivered. I wasn’t nearly old enough for them to be afraid of me at just eight, but I had to try anyway.

“Who are you talking to like that?”

“I am talking to you. Don’t you have home training? Didn’t your mother teach you how to sit?” In my effort to avoid the lunchtime melee, I had snuck a book into school. I was so lost in the book that I didn’t realise that the forbidden under-sag had happened. I was sitting on most of them, but a bit of my pants were on display. A solitary bead of sweat trickled down my back.

“Shut up, osiso. If you don’t get out of here now, I will go and tell Teacher that you people were trying to peep at me,” I bluffed. I saw the boys waver, looking at each other. A few of them at the back shuffled their feet. One of them scratched his head and turned around. “That’s right, go away or I will make sure you get flogged.”

I went too far. Their leader spat into the ground. I watched the dry spittle curl inwards, clothing itself in a layer of sand. “I will tell her that you showed us your pant. Your white pant. White and led.” I felt shame cut through me. The description of my underwear was a mark seared on my soul. Even before they started throwing sand into my thighs, I felt unclean. The sand flew everywhere, into my hair, my snacks, my book. I screamed and it went into my mouth. The boys laughed as they ran away.

I stood up and tried to dust myself down as best I could. The sand cut me like little knives in the softest parts of my body. I rinsed my mouth with water from my water bottle but I could still hear crunching when I spoke and goose pimples popped all over my skin.

“Why didn’t you run when you saw the car?” My mother asked at the end of the school day. She reached around and casually knocked me on the head. “I will flog you when we get home, I can see you are now too big to run.” I hung my head.

Mother was right. Boys had seen and now bad things were happening to me; I could barely walk from the discomfort in between my bum cheeks and I was still going to get a beating when I got home. Life was so unfair.

I always kept my legs closed after that.

* This figure (ninety percent) is a ‘Guess-timate’.

The fear of shame is the beginning of wisdom.

Igbo mothers love The Bogeyman. That’s a reason why a lot of Igbo folklore has to do with actions and consequences, mostly of people who have disobeyed their mothers with dire results. For the longest time, the shame of pregnancy was the major one. Many an Igbo girl crossed her legs for fear of rubbing poti (Putty; figuratively, shame) on her family’s face. It was all very Victorian.

Then HIV came along … and that was the end of the pregnancy lecture.

He may be pot-bellied and illiterate. In the diaspora, he is king.

I stood there watching this man thoroughly masticate his food. I knew it was very thorough because I witnessed the entire biological process unravel before my eyes. His teeth came down repeatedly on the food item – puff-puff or ‘kpof-kpof’ like an Igbo person would say it – mashing its crisp brown outside to it fluffy white insides. Saliva hung off his molars in silver threads. His tongue rolled the ball of mush over and over. I felt my stomach roll in sympathy. He swallowed and looked at me expectantly.

I blamed myself for agreeing to meet this man.

When an Igbo woman gets to a certain age – her mid-twenties to be exact – everybody around her tends to go crazy. All they can think about is marrying her off before she expires. It’s a lot worse if she has done more than a couple of degrees because according to those same ‘marriage experts’, most men might think she is getting too big for her boots.

And so that was how it came to be that my Uncle K arranged this meeting. Uncle K wasn’t my real relative, just an ‘Uncle’ in the way that your cousin’s husband’s church member’s colleague might be.

“Uncle, I’m not interested,” I said.

“Look, this is not one of those nonsense men you meet, he is interested in marrying tomorrow tomorrow. He is a very good friend of mine, in fact he is from my village sef. You will like him. Right now, you are young, you can ask for anything and he will give you. You don’t want to get to thirty and still be unmarried do you?

I looked up at him. He was a big man and flinging his hands about to convey a sense of urgency did him no favours. I could go into the familiar arguments; I didn’t want to marry someone who wanted to marry that quickly, I didn’t want someone who thought thirty was too old, heck, I didn’t want to marry at all.

“Well? Look you are wasting time. I will fix it with your aunty. He is just like me, a fine man.”

I frowned. “You will ask my aunty, what, do you think she will marry your friend for me?” I chose my words carefully. “This is the 21st century.”

“You think this is Beijing conference matter? All this book book you studied in university…” I tuned out. I didn’t want to say it to Uncle K but he wasn’t my ideal man, so using himself as an example was not a strong selling point. He was kind of…a bush man, London-dwelling or no. “Ok, Uncle.” I heard myself say. Anything to get away. Meeting the man might just save me the time and energy of arguing, I thought. Uncle K arranged for us to meet at his daughter’s baptism at the weekend.

“Eh-hen. This is the girl I was telling you about. Isn’t she a fine girl?” Uncle said by way of introductions. I expected at any moment to be told to open my mouth so they could check if I was healthy. I felt like a cow. Or a slave. A slave cow. “I’ll leave you two to discuss.” He winked at me. Watching him try to make his bulk unobtrusive as he sneaked away made me smile. I turned towards the man to whom I had been given.

That was when I became acquainted with his anatomy.

“So…” he began when he swallowed. He tugged at his shirt. The motion drew my eye towards the slight pot belly he was trying to hide.

“So…?” I raised an eyebrow.

“What did you say your name was?”

“I didn’t. I didn’t get the chance.” My comment went unnoticed.

“Well, my name is Liyonard. You can call me Liyo.”


“I said my name is LIYONARD.” His name was Leonard.

“Right. Pleased to meet you Leonard.” I pronounced his name properly. I knew I was being snobby but if the man couldn’t even pronounce his own name properly, what hope was there? “Enjoy your meal.”

I made my way back to my place on the sofa. From the corner of my eye, I could see Uncle K break away from the group he was talking to and come towards me.

“Have you people finished talking already?”

“Yes, Uncle. We have finished.” I looked him in the face.

“I see.” He went to find my aunty.