Sex Life is an anonymous Zikoko weekly series that explores the pleasures, frustrations and excitement of sex in the lives of Nigerians.
The subject of today’s Sex Life is a woman in her 40s who has been divorced three times. She talks about how not using protection and the lack of safe clinics for abortion in Nigeria affected her Sex Life.
When did you have sex for the first time?
Ah. That was a long time ago. Maybe when I was 16. I can’t remember. I had just finished secondary school and I didn’t know what came next. So I went to stay with my aunty in another state for a while. Then I met this guy in the neighborhood. Every day, after me and the other children finished our chores, we would hang around in the neighborhood. That’s how I started hanging out with him and before I knew it, I was pregnant.
Wow. Did you have sex with him more than once?
A LOT. In a day, maybe 3 times. We were having sex every day except maybe weekends. That one I’m sure of. That guy had a sweet mouth oh. He’d promise to buy me this and buy me that. I think the very first time, he promised to buy me biscuit* if I let him touch my breast. Me too, I asked myself, what’s the big deal? But from breast touching, it led to something else and we had sex for the first time inside one uncompleted building.
Wow. Lol. What did you think about sex before this experience?
Nothing much. I grew up with my father and his own was if you’re having sex, just don’t let him finish inside you. He told me and my brothers this — they weren’t to ‘finish’ inside anybody. That it’s not easy to raise a child. That he won’t have had us if he had sense.. Then I had an aunty that used to call it the forbidden fruit when gisting with her friends. But other than these, nobody was talking to me about sex.
So how did sex become regular between you and this guy?
Once I had sex that first time, walahi, I didn’t know how to stop. It was so sweet, I went to look for him at his house the next day. The only thing was that we had to be careful, so other people didn’t find out. It wasn’t good for a young woman to be seen with men anyhow back then. Everyone would just conclude that they’re having sex.
Did you continue to have sex in uncompleted buildings?
Hahaha. We found other places. One time in the night, it was inside an old car parked on the street. Then another time, we went for one programme and before we knew it, we were having sex at the back of the building, near the toilet. In fact there’s no place we didn’t have sex. Although we had sex in his house and my Aunty’s house a few times, those were once in a while. We didn’t want to get caught by our family.
When did you discover you were pregnant?
After about three weeks, I went back to Lagos and then I did not see my period. I started praying. That this period should better show its face. I had just started a job — I was so tired all the time. Somehow, my father found out and, well, he asked who the father was. I told him I didn’t know.
My brothers were ready to find him and beat him, so I had to protect him. My father asked if I wanted to keep it. I said yes. I didn’t think I had a choice. All the while, me and this guy had already started love. We would write letters to each other. He was going to move to Lagos. And when I told him I was pregnant, he was happy. He wanted to get married.
Did you get married?
Married? At a very young age. No oh. We were both young. He didn’t have a job, I didn’t have a good job. I said no, please. But I asked if he could support me and the baby.
For a few months after I had my child. Then he stopped when he heard I was with another man. And truth be told, I was just sleeping with this other man for money.
What was sex like with this other man?
It was okay. But you see, I didn’t like him like that, so I think it affected the sex with him. The only reason I kept doing it was the money. He would give me money to buy something for myself, but I would use it to buy something for my baby. My father and brothers were supportive, but there’s nothing like having your own money as a woman.
Did the guy know you were just sleeping with him for the money?
Yes. It’s not as if I told him but he knew that if money didn’t drop, there was no way I’d come to his house. And I didn’t feel bad. Why should I feel bad for something I will still do for free? Money is the principal thing in this life.
Can’t fault that. So how long did that go on for?
For about two years, off and on. In fact, he even got married at some point, but he would still come to me for sex. Then he even promised he would marry me so that I would be his second wife. I was about 20 or so then, but I still didn’t want to be married. Talkless of being a second wife. So I ended it. The mistake I made was that I still wasn’t using contraception or condoms.
Why weren’t you using contraception?
I didn’t know anything about them to be honest.
What happened next?
I got pregnant again. I found out after we ended it. I was going to abort, but an old classmate had just died from abortion. So I was very scared. And this time, my father said I should go and get married oh. That he doesn’t care if I’m the second or tenth wife.
I’m sure it wasn’t funny then.
It wasn’t. I didn’t want to get married, so my “forbidden fruit” aunty intervened. I started to live with her with my daughter. Because I was living with her, I started to learn more about sex and knew that I could use condoms. She would buy me a lot of condoms sometimes.
Did she tell you about birth control?
No. But I knew about them when I went to a clinic for a checkup. A nurse was talking about it and that’s how I knew. But when I came to get one, they didn’t give me. They said I had to come with my husband. Another clinic said the same thing — they didn’t even allow me to see the doctor. I told them I was not married and the woman, an old woman — I think she was a nurse — said that I should just stop sleeping around.
Yes and because I had two children without being married, people said all sorts of things about me. That I was a prostitute, and if they said it when I was passing, I would ask, “and so what?” They said I would never find a man to marry because no man wanted to marry someone with children from different men, and I carried face because who needs men? All they know how to do is sleep, eat and have sex — and they never want to use condom.
People don’t know how to mind their business.
People ehn. Eventually, I met a guy that I really liked, we dated for a long time because I didn’t want to rush to have sex and then get pregnant. But one day, I went to see him in his house and I couldn’t hold it anymore, so we had sex.
How was it?
It was sweet. He knew how to do things that the other men I had been with didn’t. I really enjoyed it. I was really blinded by this, so we ended up getting married. He was my first husband.
Hahahaha. Yes. First husband. We didn’t last. I’ve had the misfortune of being with men that are somehow. This one was a drunk. At least that’s better than husband number 2 that was a beater.
Wait. Two husbands.
I have a lot of questions.
Were you legally married to all of them?
Yes. Traditional wedding.
And divorced legally from all of them?
I carried my things and walked away
Haha. Energy. Did you have any children for them?
Two for the first and the second man respectively.
What about the third husband?
Having a baby just never worked out. I was so happy! He was the one that left me — said that my eggs have finished.
Still no birth control or condoms?
All the time I was married, I was begging them to use condoms, but they never agreed to it — that it was necessary for me to have children for them.
And that sex was better without condoms. I did not want children at all. I was tired.
In all this time, had your thoughts about sex changed?
Sex? I had even forgotten what sex was. Marrying was just so that I look respectable in society. So that nobody goes around insulting me or my children.
Did it work?
Somehow. But being divorced meant I still received the same insults. They don’t want to know why you left. As long as you don’t have a man around, you’re not a serious woman.
I wasn’t thinking about sex at all. The men I married, like most men, really liked sex. They wanted sex all the time and I would lie down there and let them do their thing. While thinking about other things like where is tomorrow’s food going to come from? When you don’t have plenty money like that, you won’t be thinking about sex as something to enjoy. The men too, they will just do their thing, four or five minutes and they’re done. No kissing, nothing.
How is your sex life nowadays?
It’s hard for a woman my age to meet good men. But I met one man recently and it has been nice. I forgot what sex could feel like. But now I remember. There are things we do that I’ve never tried before, even when I was younger. He really takes his time with me. I feel like a young girl again. Importantly, he knows that he’s supposed to use condoms.
I also have another man that is looking at me. This one has money and he buys me things. If he asks me to marry him, I probably will because I know he will take care of me. And I can take care of my children.
What about the first guy?
He’s nice for the sex but not as a husband or father.
If you had to score your sex life, what sccore will you give it over ten?
Wo, maybe 5. I don’t really know. Sex is nice oh. But it’s not the thing on my mind at all.
What’s on your mind?
Money. Going back to school to make something of myself.
If you could go back in time, what would you have done differently?
I would have been more careful with sex and made the men I slept with use condoms. I love my children but maybe I would have had abortions if there were safe clinics.
This interview took place in Yoruba and was edited and condensed for clarity.