By Wandia Njoya via Facebook
For all my teenage years, I had been so frightened about sex, that boys looked like walking bombs to me. We girls were told over and over again that boys would use us and dump us, and leave us alone and pregnant with no future. We were told that the first time we had sex, we would immediately lose our self worth because we would become deflowered, cheap and useless.
That narrative made our sexual lives in the 20s and 30s literal torture. Some of my friends got completely traumatized the first time they had sex, and went the other extreme of sleeping with whoever. They said they were soiled and deflowered, so what the heck? My life in that decade was so tortured. I hated being sexual and didn’t know what to do with myself when I liked a guy. Immediately I would realize that I liked him, it would no longer be about friendship and love, but about fighting against myself. One time I remember breaking down in front of my girlfriends about liking this guy. It was such an irony.
For the few girls who managed to keep that purity promise, marriage wasn’t the paradise which the church had promised. Because sex was not discussed at all, they had no idea of seduction or foreplay. Some ladies ended up being physically hurt and emotionally traumatized on the first marriage night.
And we need to have a conversation about how some of the most sexually toxic men are born again Christians. That’s why they propose with Bible verses, kneel at the bedside before getting their grove on, and consume those toxic commercial sites on the internet. They bully Christian women because they know that the women are afraid that the church would rather shame the women than school the men back to humanity.
When I remember those days now, I ask myself: what kind of church would preach such a hateful message in the name of sex that is supposed to be an expression of love? The church was, and still is, about hate. Hatred for the body. Hatred for intimacy. Because if you control whom people love, you control them completely.
That trauma is why we fail to find it extremely odd, if not evil, when Magoha or Matiang’i talk badly about our children. For example, when we heard about the teenage pregnancies, we didn’t respond like parents with care. We responded like police with a lot of bile for our children. When 600,000 children failed in KCSE, we didn’t grieve and ask why we had failed our children. We praised Matiang’i for clean results and called the children cheats. And when I would try to tell people how fundamentally poisonous and insane that thinking is, they would ask me “do you support exam cheating?”
Now the church and reproductive health groups (some funded by eugenicists) fight it out over our children’s sexuality while we stand by and attack each other.
I was never taught about love until we hosted the Soul of Sex workshop with Curtis Reed in my 40s. My 40s, people. And by then, I had been mocked and ridiculed for not getting married, told that I look down on men because of my schooling. Actually, it was education (not school) that saved me. Thanks to a group of students led by Muoki Wa Mbunga and Kalo Muoki who insisted on us having a group called Ajenda Afrika, where we put love, beauty and sex in a politically African perspective.
That experience made me start to look at African/African diaspora and revolutionary affirmations of love and romance. The songs. The dances. The poems. And I couldn’t believe how little I had noticed before. These days I read our folk tales about handsome men and beautiful girls going to the dances, and I wonder “how did I not see the love and sensuality in those stories then?” I started seeing that I had been living surrounded by great men. I started looking at Sankara, Malcolm, Lumumba as men, not simply politicians. I started hearing what they said about their children and families. I read Lumumba’s letter to his wife as a love letter, to her and to all of us. I started hearing their stories, not just their speeches. How they struggled and were persecuted for being proud black men in a toxic racist society that devalues them.
And those men prepared me for Chris Lyimo, because by the time I read his story of his own struggle, my heart could hear it, even though I had resigned myself to healing in singlehood. It all worked in God’s perfect time, but I keep asking why Chris and I didn’t meet earlier. And he always replies: “we were not ready.” Which is true.
I wish for our children and our youth that they would be ready earlier than we were. The trauma we suffered was terrible. The evangelical, toxic theology of sexuality, which is a political theology supported by the state, needs to be exposed, uprooted and destroyed .
And we have to massage our souls to love again.