Being a student in an all-Girls federal government school in Nigeria gives you the choice of either being a “day student” (a student who comes to school from home every day) or a boarder (a student who lives in the school dormitory).
For me one of the perks of being a day student was having access to buying contrabands sold outside the school gate (like “Abacha” – a local African salad, Ice-creams, etc.), eating a good home cooked meal and most importantly the relief of knowing that none of my classmates would ever find out my secret, – that I was a bed-wetter.
As the universe will have it, my happiness was cut short after I returned home on a Thursday. Being my dad’s favorite, he was sad to break the news of how my mum had enrolled me into the boarding house; Oh my God! Apparently she was fed up of washing my bed sheet and taking out the mattress every morning.
I set off for boarding school on a Saturday after I had cried my eyes out at the thought of how I would become a senior student’s slave; since we (the junior students) had to do everything for them: wash their clothes, socks, carry their plates to the dining hall and wash it thereafter, do their house work, you can just name it; we were slaves!
Being a bed-wetter in school wasn’t something to be proud of and as such, was a huge secret to keep. Students regularly gossiped & disassociated from bed-wetters and no cool senior student would claim you as a bunk mate or a school daughter. I had no option but to keep a low profile though I was often picked on by a senior student, Nkoli. She made me do all sorts: copy her notes, draw her biology assignment, fetch water etc., she was so mean.
One of my favorite activities in school that made me forget my problems was attending the Morals & Etiquette Saturday evening class; where the most discussed subject was abstinence-only sex education. We were taught not to have sex outside marriage. The tutor always reiterated that men are devils and only want to pluck our ‘flower’, One of the teachings says, “once you see a man or guy on the same side of the road with you, crossover to the opposite side of the road because if he touches you, you will get pregnant!”. At the end of the class, we would all chorus #BeSharporDie…. What a phrase!
Because of my bedwetting secret, I usually set my alarm clock to 5:30 in the morning, an early enough time to take out my wet bed and blankets to avoid being seen by my dormitory mate or a familiar spirit. But on this faithful Tuesday morning on my way to take care of my morning business, I was bewildered at what I saw…blood stains on the floor! It led me to the hostel toilet where I caught a glimpse of Senior Nkoli assisting another student to walk better. She was crying and I could hear Senior Nkoli saying sorry, sorry… I discreetly ran back to my room and waited for the day to break.
By morning, there was a compulsory morning assembly, where the Vice Principal announced that a student from my hostel had done an abortion and anyone with useful information on it should come forward now or report it after the assembly.
I couldn’t dare to report because firstly, I would have to narrate that I was doing my morning business, secondly, I will be tagged as a “snitch” and thirdly, all senior students will pick on me for the rest of my life as a junior student… spoiler alert!
Long story short, senior Nkoli’s friend was found out but not by my hands; she was bleeding a lot and unable to bear the pain, she was rushed to the school clinic by her friends where she owned up to committing an abortion. To sum it up, the school authority unapologetically dismissed her and suspended her friend/accomplice, senior Nkoli.
Looking back, I have realize that abstinence-only sex education has not had enough impact on teenagers’ sexual behaviors because despite significant efforts from different quarters, teenagers are still engaging in sex and are at a high risk of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). While growing up, many adolescents will experiment with the opposite sex in their journey to sexual maturation; this concludes that teenagers should be aware of their body, how pregnancy occurs and how to prevent one; so this dedicated educative contraceptive site www.honeyandbanana.com is a good place that tells it all.
Guardians/counselors should offer comprehensive sex education counseling and they should present abstinence as a great choice for teenagers but also pass along information about contraceptives (like Postpill – an after-sex-pill, Levofem – a daily contraceptive pill & DMPA Sc. – a 3-months-pregnancy-prevention-injection etc.) and importantly the use of condoms (like Fiesta premium condoms & Kiss Quality condoms).
People should not keep this knowledge secret because such education will greatly help the youth to enhance the quality of their relationships and develop good decision-making skills that will prove valuable over their lifetime.
By Princess Udoh