18 March 2013


“I don’t want to hear of you making a fool of yourself with any boy in the neighborhood. If I hear anything, I’ll beat you up until you bleed.”

A mother and daughter were in a shouting match as I passed by their neighborhood. Apparently, the young lady, and soon to be woman, was receiving a reproach from her mother since the mother had heard the neighborhood trees whisper (I told you trees and walls have ears) that the daughter had decided to not only socialize, but also specialize. She had “fallen in love” with some young boy in the village.

I couldn’t help but wonder, is this today’s version of “the talk”. I mean that talk that your mother (or father, for the men) had with you when you came of age and adulthood knocked on your door? I for one, don’t remember my parents (sorry to say) sitting me down and having this talk with me.

To the African tradition, it was/is a taboo to have this “talk” anywhere in public; it could only be done in seclusion, with your age mates at a “seminar” somewhere in a remote village where you would pack your belongings one week beforehand. (Well I say “seminar” because that is what it was called, but it was not. It was just a gathering of girls who had to be kept away with the promise of being told some secrets about boys).  This seminar was all tiny girls who had just finished their Kenya Primary School Education could talk about in their last school days. In those days, if you were not attending the “seminar” after the exams (as the boys went for their lifetime ritual), you were not considered fit to graduate to Secondary school.

Now, this is the 21st century, and gone are the days when parents (especially mothers) would hide all Human Biology textbooks from their girls, speak in parables or scold girls if seen with young boys as this mother was doing. It is a century that a child looses their innocence at a tender age (younger than 10 years, unfortunately and saddening) and the earlier we take the responsibility of having “the talk” with them, the better.

Young boys and girls are getting sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy at a very young age and this is alarming. This should sound the alarm (if it has not yet dawned on us) that we need to have a talk about their sexuality. I say we because it is no longer the responsibility of the parents. You know they say, in Africa, it takes the whole village (or estate or housing blocks for those who reside in such) to raise a child.

So if you have a younger sibling or a neighbor’s child or a relative who is old enough to understand, let us have “the talk” with them instead of having heated shouting matches when you see him/her with that boy/girl. I know I will.


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