‘These true stories are beautifully
told, the pain and honesty and
hope and joy in these accounts is
strong like a song’ – Stella Duffy

PUB. DATE: 24th April 2018
Published by Cassava Republic
Press PRINT ISBN: 978-1911115595
FORMAT: C-format PB, 135 x 216
mm EXTENT: 360pp
GENRE: Non-Fiction PRICE: £12.

Cassava Republic Press is proud to reveal the cover for ‘She Called
Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer
Women Speak’, a ground-
breaking collection of 25 first-
hand narratives from a cross
section of queer Nigerian Women.
Edited by Azeenarh Mohammed,
Chitra Nagarajan, and Rafeeat
Aliyu, these narratives give the
reader access to the narrators’
innermost thoughts and explore
what it means to be a queer
woman within Nigeria’s often
deeply conservative communities.
Through their words, we learn
of first loves, heartbreaks and familial pressure; the struggle to
reconcile religion, sexuality and
culture; the battle to be
comfortable with one’s gender and
sexual identity within
communities that can be hostile
and intolerant; the socioeconomic
pressures and universal difficulties
faced by women in Nigeria.
She Called Me Woman restores
agency, presence and humanity to
Nigeria’s queer women by
providing a platform from which
they speak for themselves. Women
from a wide range of class, religion
and educational backgrounds take the reader on a sometimes

celebratory, sometimes troubled
but always insightful journey into
their everyday life. The book covers
the experience of queer women
from across Nigeria, with narrators
coming from Maiduguri, Zamfara,
Imo, Oyo, Abuja, Plateau, Lagos,
Ondo and more. It restores balance
in the discussion on sexuality and
gender, which can unfairly favour
queer men. It brings into
mainstream consciousness the
existence and issues of queer
women in Nigerian society,
ensuring that their stories are told and their voices heard.


Catcalls – Jumoke Verissimo

Each girl eats her own eyeballs,

floating heels,

confidence-padded into breasts,

kettle-mouth lips

blow off the steam of male gaze;

in a market world women are



Her designer labels with absolute names

the reason for her aching ankles

becomes the shame,

beauty the reason for the spare time

becomes the shame.


The horde’s hoot hang to her feet

as she flees from a body being stripped

of a dress that homes


When a girl discovers she’s dressed in disgrace—

wearing a blemish no foundation


can hide—she moves away from



The market stalls are no shelter for men,

trading in leers that rush after short skirts

teeth spaced for the

tongue to wag;

there’s no signpost to read their


Here are men who once

bargained with brains

now they trade their hearts

as ignorance wares.


And when tongues rip the cloth

off the girl

the shredding men’s eyes will go


to cover a sister, a mother, or a


shame them with another


a poor showman of his market


The Curious Case of D S Fapson and the Taxify Driver

On the 25th January, actress Dorcas Shola Fapson, accused, via some Snapchat posts, a Taxify driver of attempted kidnap and rape. Within 24 hours, the driver had posted a contrary account and Fapson had provided further details, including video footage of the incident – such is the power and urgency of social media these days.

I’ve found the public’s reaction to these accounts bewildering. Polarised opinions are the order of the day on social media but this case feels special. There have been disagreements on not just the story as a whole or who was right but also, the individual events which make up the story.

The only thing that everyone agrees on is that Fapson booked and entered a taxi, the trip ended badly and that pepper spray was involved. The driver says that the disagreement started when she refused to reveal her destination whereupon he stopped the trip, moved the car forward – an action which took him a few seconds – and tried to retrieve his car keys from her.

She says he tried to insist on an unregistered cash payment instead of a card payment with the company as booked, refused to take her to her destination or let her out of the car when she declined, drove her to unknown premises, tried to drag her into the building, threatened and assaulted her with a choke hold, closed the car door on her legs etc. Even stranger than the irreconcilable accounts is the focus on baying for Fapson’s blood (and anyone who tries to support her), without acknowledging these factual disparities.

While Fapson’s initial account was at first met with disgruntled silence and followed by demands for evidence, the driver’s post connected with Nigerian Twitter. Perhaps it was the perceived class differences between them but I think the real basis of the simmering rage and public outcry is the belief that this is yet another example of a woman weaponising the ability to accuse a man of rape for her own evil purposes.

The outcry fails to take into account of the fact that Fapson’s video evidence refutes some of the claims made by the driver. An example is the driver’s claim that he only drove a few yards down the road to take advantage of some security lighting. The video clearly shows him driving her to a set of gates, she stating that she doesn’t know where she is and he not counteracting that statement. He gets out of the car and hurried towards the gates, leaving his keys in the ignition (providing an answer to the stupid question ‘why would he leave his keys in the car if he meant to kidnap her?’).

The video also shows him trying to keep her in the car, rather than his account of repeatedly and politely asking her to alight and only engaging her physically to retrieve his car keys.
This is confusing because, while one could build a narrative that when she refused to get out of the car like he asked her to, he drove off to his house in frustration, reached the gates and then tried to chuck her out of the car, I can’t think of any reason he would want to keep her in the car. If he was so worried about his car, like he claimed, surely that would increase the chances of her driving off.

We do eventually hear him trying to drag her (but this is after she had asked him to let her out of the car – did he change his mind about keeping her in or was he trying to drag her on to the premises?) and we don’t see the choke hold of course. There are those better qualified than me to untangle the facts and perhaps they will get a chance to do so.

Instead of a discussion about the facts, the initial, and sustained, reaction has been one of massive outrage that Fapson dared to label this driver a rapist.

I believe this discussion sheds some light on two aspects of rape culture – the concerted effort to discredit rape and sexual assault victims for the purpose of silencing them and women who actually make false accusations that they have been raped.

In relation to the discrediting, rape is, of course, a difficult crime to prove and one way of the most effective methods for stopping victims from coming forward, is the threat that, should a conviction not occur or even before any charge is laid or prosecution carried out, the victims will be forever labelled ‘evil women’ willing to ruin lives for no justifiable reason.

If this fear affects conventional victims (raped by strangers after violence or the threat of violence), it becomes scarier when a victim has been raped by family members, close friends, relationship partners, dates or colleagues.

The silencing is perpetuated, not just by immediately assuming that the victim is lying, it includes dragging out past, unrelated sexual liaisons, slut shaming, purity culture (a woman is spoiled by sexual activity anyway – who cares whether it’s consensual or not?), spiritual blackmailing (if you don’t forgive that deacon for molesting you, aren’t you really as bad as him in Jesus’ eyes?) and questioning why she chose to drive a man to such a sexual peak that he could not help but attack her.

The culture of silencing victims is clearly traumatising and is the major reason so many victims keep quiet.

Some of these tools/weapons have already been deployed against Fapson. It is being claimed that she once begged a male singer to start a relationship with her to increase her celebrity status– information related to this incident…how?

Many people are very much aware of the above issues. While we know that too many sexual assaults go unreported because of silencing tactics, we also acknowledge that it is a terrible and devastating thing to falsely accuse a man of rape. Although it’s only fair to point out the inconsistency between Nigerians describing, on social media, the effects of rape and the effects of being accused of rape.

If a man is assumed to be falsely accused of rape, then it is a horrendous thing that will destroy his life, presumably because rape is such a terrible thing. If a man is actually proven to have raped someone then we should forgive him because everyone makes mistakes, do we want to kill him, did he kill someone, what was she wearing ……??

Anyway! False claims do happen and apart from tearing a hole through a man’s life, they drag the fight against rape and rape culture backwards. The next victim will always be prejudiced by a false rape claim.

Despite the fact that the movement for dismantling the rampant rape culture and addressing the high occurrence of sexual assaults in Nigeria is relatively new, it seems Nigerians have had enough of rape allegations already. No woman is allowed to utter the words ‘rape’ or ‘rapist’ – unless:-
(1) it has happened – I won’t bother adding ‘or is about to happen’ as, in this case, even if the attack had been in an advanced stage, some would still have insisted that Fapson could have avoided it by being polite, begged or time travelled to choose a better outfit;
(2) you have ample evidence of being raped and you are prepared to paste the evidence all over social media;
(3) you are prepared to attend a police station, even though numerous women have reported sexual assault carried out by Nigerian police officers and their reprehensible attitude towards rape victims;
(4) you never withdraw your complaint because, for the price of bringing a potentially good man down, you should be prepared to accept any and all threats to your being;
of course (5) you were the perfect rape victim – dressed modestly, not roaming the streets at night, polite and respectful to all involved, with a propensity for sprinting.

Even if you have been able to do all these and go on about it too much, Nigerian twitter will advise you to move on with your life and have some dignity for God’s sake!

There is clearly some panic about women wielding their power and privilege to cry rape at any every instance and this panic, I would suggest, is nothing new whenever there is a concerted effort to address sexual crimes. Hopefully it will pass but, when you compare the reaction to Fapson to the reaction to Kemen in BBNaija ( in April of last year, the real crime appears to be broadcasting a rape or rape attempt rather than committing one, according to Nigerian Social Media.

I hate to drag out the past but for those who don’t know the Kemen story, he was a Big Brother Nigeria contestant who was disqualified for sexually assaulting a sleeping female housemate . The real debate began after the programme concluded and Kemen was invited to join the housemates on various publicity tours and effectively resumed his status as a celebrity reality show contestant. I was grimly satisfied when the ‘woke’ people whom I follow recognised this as an outrageous endorsement of the lack of consequences for sexual assault in Nigeria. Imagine my horror and bitterness when I learned that the #freekemen contingent were not only in the majority but felt that the incident being brought to public knowledge was punishment enough and that Kemen should be allowed to flourish free from these Godless, unforgiving, judgmental people who insisted on dragging out issues that should be allowed to die down, after all ‘did he kill somebody?’ and also what was she wearing…?

Back to the recent incident, perhaps there are other ways in which Fapson could have made the incident known, if you ignore how shocking that night must have been for her. With the benefit of hindsight, maybe she could have started with a fuller account instead of short posts and labelling – but I can’t see anything wrong in her letting people know about this event, if only to stop other women from going through the same thing.

On a related subject, I notice, in addition to women who make false rape allegations, another group of women who have been condemned in this incident – women who have accused Fapson of making the whole thing up. Fapson dramatically said ‘I hope far worse happens to you, your mother and your unborn children’. Lord. Simi, in a deleted post echoing some of the sentiments that Adekunle Gold had expressed and also deleted due to the backlash from his followers (They said what to you on Twitter, Kunle? Hold my beer…..), also singled them out as being particularly reprehensible.

It is especially dispiriting when women defend sexism, rape culture and the like. It’s even worse when they take part in sexual attacks. It is surprising, as well, given that they could more readily be a victim of what they are undertaking in or failing to condemn. But I’ve always wondered (but never voiced aloud) about the claim that they are ‘worse than the men’?

It is bad for both women and men to fail to address or participate in rape culture. Men do it because of the obvious privileges of being able to act badly or not without many consequences; women do it to align with or identify with the conventional society, to cement their status as ‘good or sensible women’ and ‘not one of these crazy feminists’ and probably for other reasons, like protecting themselves against male (out) rage or even maybe because they genuinely believe what they are saying. Both have their reasons and both are equally bad, in my view.


How to join the Ya-Ya Sisterhood of Pick-Me’s!

It’s the New Year! Yipee! A New Us! A NEW EVERYTHING! YAY! (AIR KISSES!) Sorry we were yelling, but it’s so exciting to start the New Year with a brilliant new topic on how to join the Ya-Ya Sisterhood of Pick-Me’s.

Now we are so excited to lay our hands on this manual because it’s so exclusive, and so expensive and soo classy, (even if we are saying so ourselves). But this is a new 9jafeminista and we will do anything and everything to please you, (we are also hustling for more readers, but that’s by the way). As you well know we are feminist and intersectional and everything but we get all excited when we find new ways to help our fellow sisters.

There’s a whole movement on all social media platforms of the ‘pick-me’ sisters and they do the mostest to get the notice of all the men, (both hot and cold) on Social Media. And we totally understand and damn it the pick-me movement is VALID! (Damn we’re yelling again). This is due to the fact that finding a ‘man’ is so hard, harder than the unpaid labour women put in on the daily. But even harder than that KEEPING the man, phew! That’s close to an impossibility, like pushing a needle through a camel’s toe, or something like that.

Anyway, these special Ya-Ya Sisterhood of the Pick-Me’s have discovered something that has never been heard of before, FEMINISTS (spelt s-a-t-a-n) and these people are trying to ruin the market by demanding for absurdities like equity, and equality and educating men to stop raping and assaulting anyone they deem weaker than them, and better governance and bringing an end to domestic, mental and emotional violence… the list of demands goes on and on, but that’s not why we are here. To counter all these narratives that will alienate the better sex (spelt m-e-n) and protect a system(spelt p-a-t-r-i-a-r-c-h-y) the sisters have developed a strategy which we will share with you as soon as we finish jumping for joy.

Get a professionally taken profile picture: The struggle is real sisters, to join the Ya-Ya Sisterhood of Pick-Me’s you need a well taken photograph, by a professional, showing your best angles, because before you start creating a social media persona for yourself you need to ensure that your profile pic is popping. Who knows? That brother who will come and change your destiny might decide to zoom in and see the person behind all the brilliant shit you’ll soon be spouting.

Follow feminists: On all your social media handles make sure you follow as many feminists as you can find, because how do you pick their arguments apart if you don’t even see their tweets, facebook posts, Instagram protest photos, snapchat… umm… snapchats?

Make it clear that you are NOT a feminist: Now this here point is EXTREMELY important. From the get-go make it clear that you are NOT a feminist. Yes you are educated, and you might even have a job, and maybe, you even own a car (all of which feminists fought for so you can enjoy but that’s unimportant). Now don’t get it twisted, there are some women who although don’t like the feminist tag (which is totally valid) still believe in equality and equity and all those outrageous demands, you don’t want to get mixed up with those ones either… nah. Make it clear you do not believe in equality, or equity, tell them about your willingness to be a ‘traditional’ wife. Show them!

Display your dexterity at cooking: We all know that feminists don’t (also known as can’t) cook, so you need to display the beauty of your wife material by showing people on social media, that you can cook. Take pictures of yourself in the kitchen, or in the village blowing fire, or handwashing your clothes. In your updates add how hard working you are and how you wake up early in the morning to cook for yourself and all the men in your neighbourhood. We are emphasizing cooking and cleaning since it is a well-known fact that a lot of Nigerian men are looking for unpaid housemaids and they are always hungry.

Take sides with the right side: There are times that arguments will show up on your timeline about these ‘social media feminists’ that come online to advise women to leave their husbands while they are, in real life, cooking, cleaning and blah, blah, blah… make sure you go on that thread and support whoever made that post. Make snide remarks about ‘feminists’ and the fact that they are all bitter aunties and yahdahyah.

Honestly this is getting boring but we never give up do we?

Emphasize traditional values: Why should boys wear yellow? Why should girls wear blue? Boys are boys girls are girls, all these homo-woke people should just go and take several seats! Our mothers lived in the kitchen and see how well we have all turned out, see how Nigeria is the most well-adjusted, corruption free nation on the earth because we are all so perfect, all due to our ‘mothers’ who stayed in the kitchen!

Participate in campaigns: in order to show your ‘human’ side, anytime handles like STER (Stand to End Rape) starts online campaigns to end rape, please join in the thread, especially telling ‘sisters’ to stop clubbing and dancing and wearing short dresses. Give them examples of how women’s dressing can cause ‘temptation’. Make snide remarks about how ‘moral standards’ have been lowered and how ‘good girls get all the attention’.

This shit can go on and on, but it is boring. We hope the above has been useful though… yawn.


PEACE – Adeola Olagunju

I have lived a tortuous life
And since I made 30
I’ve finally found a glimpse of hope

My life has been plagued by various traumatizing experiences since “childhood”
No, I didn’t have any

Being left vulnerable as a child threw
me in the hands of the beasts
The beasts who abused me
The beasts who silenced me
The beasts who normalized danger

It was my fault
wasn’t it?
What was I looking for walking the
streets by myself?
But, wasn’t I just a child?

I have embodied this guilt all my life
I blamed myself for everything
For being abused
For my parent’s failed marriage
For being an “Olodo”

I live my life in perpetual fear
I carried this baggage of worthlessness everywhere I went
My life has been about self sacrificing
Over giving
Being a doormat
Taking responsibility for what is not my “issh”
Jumping into battles not my own
People pleasing
Playing Messiah
Getting busy
Fixing everything/everyone around
As it is easier to look at the other; rather than the self

Plenty toxic friendships and one sided relationships Abi…why shouldn’t I thank my maker when crumbs is thrown my way? after all love is work…

Biko, Who needs a doormat?

They took everything from me
Gave me this rage that consumes
me day and night…Anger became my only fortress

Fight, flight or freeze
Hiding and avoidant
I wanted to end this suffering by keeping my inner child in a deep place inside, and staying as far away as possible. But, running away doesn’t end this suffering; it only prolongs it.

So much weight my soul is weary

25 years after, 2 days ago
I took a cathartic journey back in time
to where I grew up in Ibadan
I went by every freaking house I was abused
To pick up the bits of me I buried there.
To reclaim my life
To find the cure for this disease
I’ve had to live with it

The hardest part; to forgive
To forgive all you “mofos”

So I can finally stop clinging to everything
that abuses, torture and drains me
So I can finally stop running
away from healthy love
( as I always find it strange)

I am breaking away!!!
Now I know I deserve better than a sick life
I am worthy
It was never my fault
And I am lovable 💚

Hey, Adéọlá, I am so so sorry.
I am coming back home to you.

It’s closure time.

26166793_10215062681904389_345533380904293351_nAdeola Olagunju is an artist and photographer. She lives and works in the universe.


Reproductive Health and Rights: A series of interview with women living in low-income communities(III)

After a lot of outcry, both on social media and in traditional news outlets, by feminists and human rights activists about the manner in which the proposed #GEO Bill was thrown off the floor of the National Assembly, the senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki, agreed to re-introduce the bill. It passed a second-reading, and was stalled pending a public hearing which was postponed due to the absence of the members of the senate committee in charge of the hearing.
It is important to note that on June 13,1985 Nigeria ratified, with no exceptions, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which is also considered the international bill of rights for women, but since its ratification, the convention has not been domesticated. The #GEO Bill actually incorporates a large part of the CEDAW.
In this interview, Jolomi* who trained as a ‘chemist’ (drug dispenser) discusses issues bordering on sexual autonomy, the high rate of abortions amongst women in her community, women’s lack of knowledge about their anatomy and inability to take reproductive health decisions due to this ignorance. She also discusses the state of primary health care facilities and the impact poor reproductive health decisions on the population.

Interview with Jolomi

My name is Jolomi, I went through primary school and got my SSCE before venturing into business. I sell medicine and run a chemist [patent medicine store]. It is common amongst women of my age that there’s a lot of ignorance about their bodies and how it works, particularly as it pertains to their reproductive health seeking behaviour. For example, most of the common cases women bring to me are about pregnancies. Like some of them they might be nursing a 2 months old baby and then they’ll come and tell me that they are pregnant. Meanwhile, this same woman might have had four or five children. This goes to show that we, women, need to know the period we should share intimacy with a man. So these women come to me asking me for a solution because they really don’t want to be pregnant yet, or some of them will say they are already pregnant and want to use something to terminate the pregnancy.

Audio excerpt 1

As you well know, prevention is better than cure, so its really important that we know our menstrual cycle so that we’ll know when we should have sex and when we shouldn’t.

I usually carry out a pregnancy test to confirm whether they are actually pregnant or not, it is important to first test for pregnancy. Because some women panic when they don’t see their period two months after delivery, so it’s important to carry out a test, if it’s positive, but if it’s negative then one will confirm that the person is not pregnant.

Usually after the first abortion and I’m able to tell them about their menstrual cycle, and their ‘safe period’, they are usually able to maintain the cycle and will stop making that kind of mistake. Once they learn about it and know it, they never return to me with the same error. And they even go ahead and teach other people about their bodies and their safe periods.

Men don’t experience the kinds of problems women have. It’s god that will have mercy on us women. It is only women that they tell about how to avoid getting pregnant, and the period they have to use condom. This is because its only women that can get pregnant, men don’t get pregnant. On the other hand, men don’t need any kind of warnings or education because they are free. For example when some women are pregnant they won’t feel like having sex again, because of this, such men knowing that if they ask their wives for sex they will get turned down, the man will prefer to have sex with other women.

Audio excerpt 2

What I’m trying to say is that a lot of men lack self-control when it comes to the matter of sex. Even medically it’s difficult for men to control themselves. When men abstain from sex it gives them stomach upset, and this is due to the way their anatomies are made. The stomach upset is caused by the fact that their semen is inside them and they need to release it, so that they’ll become lighter.

A lot of women don’t think about the impact having many children has on the population. For example, let’s say the government did a census last year and counted ten people, whatever plans they have in mind will be for those ten, but if on their return they find out that instead of let’s say 12 people they expected to see, they now find out that there are 2000 people, this causes a lot of difficulty for the government.

The government should make policies and laws that will mandate that female children must go to school up till a certain age, at least until they leave SS3. This will empower them to be able to join in moving the country forward and enable them contribute meaningfully to the society. Many people don’t believe in educating their female children. In some homes they’ll have four children, let’s say two boys and two girls, but they will educate only the boys in a meaningful way. This is because they believe that no matter how well-educated their daughter is, she will end up in the kitchen.

But it’s not supposed to be like that. It shouldn’t be like that. They should understand that women should participate in decision making, so that we women will have power too.

Children should be educated about their reproductive rights and health from the age of 11years. We are all civilized now, and things shouldn’t be covered up again. Sexual rights education should be part of the school’s curriculum, it is also important that parents should have knowledge about these things so that they can also teach their children.

I use family planning methods, the 2 months injection. My children are well spaced, and I don’t suffer from any side effects. Once I stop taking the injections, after six-months, I usually get pregnant. Although I use the services of the health centre in our neighbourhood, I really don’t like going there often. They are always complaining that they don’t have one thing or the other. Their services are never complete, so I prefer going to a private clinic.

To be continued.

  • The interviews were recorded in Yoruba, transcribed and translated to English.
  • The names of correspondents have been changed to protect the identities of the correspondents.
  • For our Yoruba speaking audience audio notes of the women’s interviews are embedded in the article.


Find previous interviews here and here.


Reproductive Rights and Health: A series of interviews with women living in low-income communities (II)

In 2016, Senator Biodun Christine Olujimi, proposed the incorporation and enforcement of certain provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, this bill came to be known as the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill (GEO Bill).

Of interest are items 5 and 7.

Item 5 seeks to modify socio-cultural practices within both public and private spaces that causes people to be fitted into stereotypes (classifying them as inferior or superior).

… every public or private educational institution shall ensure the adoption of appropriate teaching methods and curriculum including provision of facilities that emphasise the promotion of equality of all sexes in all circumstances and for all purposes, including choice of career, equal participation and inclusion of all persons in all activities of the school or institution. – GEO Bill 2016, Senator Biodun Christine Olujimi.

While item 7 directly addresses the issue of eliminating discrimination in education. The bill was thrown out of the senate.

This action shows that the Nigerian government, in spite of many studies and evidence, do not understand that the more educated a woman is, the better her understanding of her reproductive rights and eventual reproductive health seeking behaviour. When women are educated they are able to make informed choices about the kind of Family Planning Methods they would use. They can make the connection between high birth rates and population explosion and how it affects the economy and the family’s spending power.

There are several similarities between Ruth’s interview and the one granted to us by Kudirat.

Interview with *Ruth

My name is Ruth and I’m a trader, I sell everyday goods from my house. I finished my secondary school education (SS3) and I am going to be 40 years old soon. I have four children, three boys and one girl. I didn’t use any family planning methods until just before I had my daughter. And even at that I only used the contraceptive for about six months.

Audio excerpt from Ruth’s interview (in Yoruba)

I stopped using it because I was allergic to it. I went to a private hospital when I wanted to do family planning, but they didn’t carry out any test on me. They only asked me the type I wanted. They wanted to know if I would want to use the one inserted into the arm, or the one inserted into the vaginal tract [Intrauterine contraceptive Devices, IUCD], or the injections [injectable contraceptives]. I told them I would like the injection that lasts for about three months. But after I took the injection my period kept flowing, all the time, that’s why I stopped taking the injections.

It is possible that public hospitals and health care centres carry out tests to determine the type of contraceptives that will work with one’s body, but those ones [a private clinic], didn’t do any test for me they didn’t tell me about any kind of side-effect, they just said that whoever elects to do the one inserted into the arm[contraceptive implants] that it lasts for five years.

According to some people, the one inserted into the arm needs a surgery, they will first open up your arm and some other people claim that it is quite painful. This is why I didn’t go down that line. And the one that is inserted inside you also has one long rope that makes washing down there discomforting. These are the reasons I decided to take the injection, particularly since all my friends are using that same method.

Nobody told me about menstruation or reproductive health or how to take care of myself, because I never really lived with my mum. The person that raised me was an old woman and she’s not the type to discuss that kind of thing with you. But, you know, when one starts going to school, once you start getting to SS (senior secondary school) you start hearing about different things, and then the subjects we were taught, particularly if you take sciences, you know… and by then one is no longer a child…the older one gets, the wiser one becomes. It’s because the world has become so civilized. When we were at the age that these children who are getting pregnant are, nobody ever discussed sex with us, but as the world is becoming more advanced, a lot of children are growing up pretty fast. Until I left secondary school I didn’t have a boyfriend.

Audio excerpt 2 from our interview with Ruth (in Yoruba)

As far as I’m concerned as soon as a child turns fifteen, one should be telling them about sex, in fact one can tell them that if you have sex with a man you’ll get pregnant immediately. There’s this program that we watch, on Saturday evenings, that one man was accused of raping a 3year old child.

If a man can afford it nothing stops you from having as many children as possible. I have a friend whose husband loves children, a lot of children. But the man is very rich and can afford to take care of them, that man has 3 wives, but he has divorced one of them, the other two are still having children. The number of children one has depends on the man, you know some men love having children. But some people decide that they will only have the number of children they can afford. In that case both the man and the woman will discuss this. There are also some men who don’t take care of their children, once a woman knows the kind of man she’s married to, she can go ahead and do family planning.

But in some cases, the husband and wife decides to plan their families, the husband is the one who will even give his wife money to go to the hospital.

As for us, there’s no number of children that we can’t decide to have, my father-in-law has many children, and he’s always telling his own children to have many children. This is due to the fact that my father-in-law was his mother’s only child. But then everyone has to decide the number of children they want to have, depending on whether they can afford it.

Especially with how everybody is becoming educated and school fees are becoming higher. It’s not everyone who has a high number of children that’s not educated, it depends on individuals and their love for children. I once worked in Lagos with a couple, very rich couple, but they have only two children, if this couple decides to have ten children, they can afford it. Education has nothing to do with the number of children you have.

To be continued.

  • The interviews were recorded in Yoruba, transcribed and translated to English.
  • The names of correspondents have been changed to protect the identities of the correspondents.
  • For our Yoruba speaking audience audio notes of the women’s interviews are embedded in the article.

Reproductive Rights and Health: A series of interviews with women living in low-income communities (I)

Nigeria is in the midst of a population explosion, and this is in spite of the fact that maternal and neo-natal mortality figures are pretty high. Since 1992, several Nigerian governments have embarked on massive Family Planning campaigns and billions of naira has been poured into making available family planning tools in a bid to control population growth.

Nothing appears to be working.

In order to get a grasp of people’s knowledge of their reproductive rights and reproductive health seeking behaviour, we conducted a series of interviews with the most affected populace, women living in low income communities. Below are excerpts from the interview, also attached, for our Yoruba speaking audience, are some voice notes from the interview.


My name is Kudirat*, my education came to an end in JSS2, I learnt hairdressing but I’m no longer a hairdresser, because I don’t have money to set up a business. I have three children. After I had my first born I fainted and afterwards started having dizzy spells. My first born was delivered in Lagos by a nurse. I had the other two at home, here in Ibadan. When I was pregnant with my second child the nurse asked me to go for a blood test, when the results came back I was told that I don’t have enough blood. Then I was also asked to do a scan they also said that the child was not healthy, but I delivered the child in spite of it all. I attended antenatal clinic in Lagos when I was pregnant with my second child but delivered her at home in Ibadan. I don’t attend any clinic after delivering my children.

Audio 1

My first child did not take any vaccination, but the second one had a few shots, it seems that the third one had a few vaccinations too. The reason I don’t take vaccination for my children is because at the health centre, when we go to take vaccinations, they ask us to bring #200 naira and a bar-soap, afterwards you’ll have to pay #100 per visit. I don’t know whether the people that give the vaccinations are doctors, nurses or healthcare providers trained to give vaccinations, I just know that they are all from the government and they work at the clinic.

My husband and I did not discuss anything pertaining to the number of children we are going to have, there was no discussion of such between us. After I had our third child, my husband asked me to go to the family planning clinic and start taking contraceptives, that I should do the one for three years. I refused because I don’t know how I can cope with something I’ve never done before. He was very angry and started shouting about money, that where do I expect him to find #400 naira each time I have to go to the clinic. I don’t know why that is such a big deal, because as a lot of people know, that family planning has side-effects and anything can happen. Things go wrong all the time, and anybody who claims that there are no side effects and things don’t go wrong is lying, things go wrong! Even though some people claim that things don’t go wrong, they are lying, things go wrong!

Audio 2

Although I’ve never met anyone that has had a personal experience with the way things can go wrong, but I know because women are always talking about these side-effects, although some people say it’s a lie, things go wrong.

While some women claim that taking contraceptives did not work, and they got pregnant in spite of it, some women claims it makes them lose a lot of weight, while others says it makes their stomachs bigger.

When it seemed that I was pregnant I went to *Mummy T to collect some medicine, after doing a pregnancy test for me she confirmed that I was pregnant, so I asked her what to do, she told me about one medicine like that that she uses anytime she doesn’t want to have a baby, but she said it cost #1,200, me I had only #350 on me, so she said I should try another medicine, but when I got to the chemist they told me it costs #500 naira. So I told them my dilemma and they gave me some other medicine to use.

To be continued…

  • The interviews were recorded in Yoruba, transcribed and translated into English.
  • The names of correspondents have been changed to protect the identities of the correspondents.
  • For our Yoruba speaking audience an excerpt from the audio of the interview is embedded in the article.

The void until our mouths speak form

We are the echoes you hear in dark crannies, tormenting you to turn on the lights
We are angry storms causing blackouts
Just as the sun loses its glory at night, so can our words darken a reckless heart,

We are a starless night.

We are the ones who drink unapologetically from beer bottles, unladylike, for we make words and define what they mean
We don’t drink wine from champagne flutes, bourbon with chasers? That’s uncouth!
We are the ones who hear, we listen, we know, we are aware,
Well aware, our words can rend and tear,
Mend hearts with needs dire our words tend to, our words care

We are the angels who knock on doors looking like bums,
The ones you tell to get away with a cry
So we don’t taint your false pride
We are the ones too arrogant to dwell in your circle of ignorance
We were raised to know better than sit in the assembly of fools.

We are the ones your parents warned you about, telling you we are deviants and would amount to nothing for we are art birthing art
We are the Creator’s tools
We are whichever side the coin shows when it’s flipped.
We are heads, we are tails and every other side
We fail forward, we are daring always ready to take leaps

We are shame, we are pride
We are life, we are death
We are shallow, we are depth
We are royalty, we are the peasants, we are the ones who have decreed our loyalty to kings alone.
We occupy temples preaching peace, when we take a piss you find us in fighting rings
We are disasters named after beautiful women, we are beaches walking naked in the most beautiful cities filled with bare chested men.

We are one’s amounting to tens
We are nomads living in tents
We are the devils in r3d dresses we are bound to tempt
We are the saints, you call sinners
The failures who became winners
We are the the squares that fit into triangles
We are angels you call demons
We are walking oxymorons.
We are miracles, we are oracles
We bind fools and set the wise free
We are everything we pretend to be



Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: