Things I didn’t know

My first sex talk went a little like this:- my mother sat me down and told me that if I did ‘tabia mbaya’ with boys I would get pregnant, and then I would be on my own because she wouldn’t help me raise a bastard child. Boys were the enemy and were to be avoided at all cost.


I was 11 when I knew what a pad was. I’d heard it mentioned a few times and joined in the hushed, embarrassed laughter of my friends when they started talking about ‘those things’, but I still left with no idea of what I was talking about. The day I came home at lunchtime bleeding down there is also the day I saw a sanitary towel for the first time.


I was 12 when we were first taught about sex in school. By that time I had a lot of theoretical knowledge about it from the books I’d read and I knew of several classmates who had a more practical knowledge of it. What I remember most about the class is the girls teasing the boys, the boys teasing the girls, the teacher trying to silence us, and all of us blushing and looking at the floor. The teacher couldn’t get over that lesson fast enough.

At 13 puberty hit most of us like an out of-control freight train. Voices were breaking, breasts were growing and our skin was breaking out in pimples. Suddenly there were all these voices telling us that boys were little demons here on earth and we shouldn’t even hold hands with them, just when boys started to look really good. No reasons were given, but that seed of fear was planted and watered at every opportunity. It was a confusing time.

It was a simple time back then. Most of us took our parents words as gospel. Most of us feared our parents very much and would never in a million years have thought to rebel against them and that is how most of us grew up not exposed to so many ‘bad influences’.

It’s 2017 now and the world barely makes sense for people like us. I look at my siblings and sometimes I get scared. How does the world make sense for them now?




2 Replies to “Things I didn’t know”

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