Day 5 – Sex and Shit

Warning: this post is not for the lighthearted or weak-stomached. 

Sex

“So, have you ever-teehee-done it?” asks Emmanuel, his mouth blocked by his hand for the last two words of his question. I’m sitting in a teacher-less classroom (surprise, surprise), with all of the students’ attention directed at me. We’re talking about the Mystical Land of Canada.

I had fully expected this topic to be broached over the course of the week and I’d been dreading it. How do I talk about sex with a bunch of potentially very hormonal teenagers living in a puritanical society?

“You know,” I begin, ladling a thick sauce of diplomacy over my words, “in Canada, relationships are very different. Many people have pre-marital sex there.”

Some of the students are surprised by this information, while others nod their heads sagely (or gravely? I’m not sure).

“I’m not saying it’s right or wrong,” I continue, maintaining my level of neutrality, “because, you know, the Bible and Quran both say that it’s wrong. We just have a different culture there. A different context.” They seem to accept this explanation.

“It’s not so here,” says Daniel, “if you have pre-marital sex, they’ll beatchu!” Some of the guys laugh along with him. I sense that the main reasons behind remaining chaste have escaped them and wonder if it’s due to their lack of sex-ed.

“We have a saying at Tamasco,” explains Oliver, “that a girl should arrive and leave alone, never as part of a pair.” I’m immediately confused, as is often the case when I hear Ghanaian proverbs. He tells me that it means that girls shouldn’t leave the school pregnant. This disturbs me, but I wonder how far I can push them.

“It takes two to get pregnant, though,” I remind the group, “I think the expression should be: If a boy enters Tamasco, he should leave as a boy, and not a man.” The guys laugh, but when I probe them, they agree.

“And if you’re thinking of abandoning the values you grew up with,” I continue sternly, “you need to really consider if it’s worth abandoning everything you’ve known to be true since you could speak. Also, you should wear a condom.” I’m not sure if it’s my place to add the last part, but to give abstinence-only advice is diametrically opposed to many values I hold dear.

“Abstinence is the only method that’s 100%” Emmanuel reminds me smugly. Oliver nods and, pen in hand, says, “it’s like this. If I don’t remove the lid from this pen, then I can’t write with it.”

This kid is confusing. I ask him again what he means. He explains that if a girl keeps her legs closed, she can’t get pregnant. Once again, this man-centered view worries me. I tell them that God gave women and men self-control for many reasons and that unwanted pregnancy is one of them. They accept this and we move on to discuss Canadian weather after some closing remarks by the class prefect about the duties of Tamascans t0 stay pure.

Shit

When I first arrived at Wemah house, one of my initial questions was “Where’s the toilet?” The answer came from Jacob and was somehow cryptic. “Oh, you’ll find out about Morocco soon enough,” he told me with a grin. As far as I know, Morocco is a country in West Africa that I’d like to visit at some point in my life. I decided to put the question to rest and take a wait-and-see approach.

Un/Fortunately, the food at Tamasco is, in a word, disgusting. I was so backed up from it that I didn’t require a place to relieve myself until Friday. That’s right, I didn’t poop for almost 5 days. I’m fairly certain that that’s a new record for me, not that I’m keeping track. The last 2 of those 5 days were awful. My stomach hurt terribly and I was super nauseous at any strong scent.

This is why I can never eat garri again. We had garri and beans on Wednesday for dinner, so it was the last thing I ate before my horrid two-day, gut-busting experience. Even just writing about the meal now is literally making my dry-heave. It was bad.

Worse, though, was the fact that on Friday when things finally did loosen up, oh boy did they EVER loosen up. I think “release” is a better word. I had an immediate and absolute need to visit Morocco. I’d heard from Emmanuel that it was located “behind the headmaster’s house”. I found this hilariously ironic, but I also hoped that it would be enough information for me to find it on my own, for I was too embarrassed to ask anyone to direct me.

So, like an old elephant ready to die, I discreetly separated myself from the herd and went my own way. It turns out that Morocco was easy to find; I just had to search for the place infested with flies and littered with human turds and various butt-wiping implements. It was, in fact, behind the headmaster’s house.

I know I didn’t overtly mention it before, so I’ll do so now: Tamasco, the Shining Light of the North, doesn’t have any toilets for the students. They have to shit in the woods. That’s what Morocco is–their shitting place. I have to commend them for at the very least localizing their bowel movements. In some small way, I’m sure this is a way to prevent the spread of contamination.

Okay, so I arrived at Morocco and chose a place to do my business. In all honesty, this was the first time I’d ever shat in the woods. Sure, I’ve emptied my bowels in the bush before, but there was always an outhouse or at least one of those boxes that they build for campers. Yay for learning experiences!

I squatted, pushed, and promptly ruined my Tamasco uniform. I really tried to stay out of the splash radius, but no fluid mechanics class could help me predict the splatter pattern of liquid feces leaving my body at a seemingly very high flowrate. At least it was just a few drops that got on my shorts. After about 20 sweaty, thigh-busting minutes, I decided to call it quits. I wiped my butt, and my pride, and walked back to Wemah house.

The only thing is, having a BM didn’t make me feel any better. In fact it made me feel worse. My stomach went from a dull ache to feeling like it was about to explode within me. I lay down for an hour or two, but it was obvious that there was more to come and I just couldn’t stay in that environment, so I called it quits and ended my school stay early. The close proximity to Sagnarigu made it easy for me to get home to my VIP latrine quickly.

I spent Saturday resting and getting tested for Typhoid and Parasites. To be honest I think it was just the Tamasco food, but it’s never a bad idea to get tested in case treatment is required. By the time this post goes up, I will have found out what it was and will have taken the appropriate course of action.

Like I warned, this post was not written for the weak-stomached.

-C

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4 responses to “Day 5 – Sex and Shit

  1. Ohhh Chris. Up against two hard Ghanaian things–rampant socially-reinforced chauvinism and the nigh-insurmountable challenge of bowel regulation. And apparently handling both well. *sniff!* I’m so proud of you. 🙂

  2. OMG: LMAO.
    Poor Chris. Hope you`re feeling 100%!

    Stacey

  3. Very interesting, Christian. One cannot deny that abstinence is certainly the 100% method. What you wrote about cultural relevance, though, makes me think about the importance about cultural sensitivities and sensibilities. Perhaps promoting abstinence may actually work in cultures elsewhere, while abstinence would be an abysmal failure in a N. American setting, given the cultural differences out there.

    On the other hand, I did give it a bit more thought. Abstinence from both sides – both men and women – disciplines the body. Perhaps there’s some merit to that, no? And could not disciplining the body help train the mind as well?

    Perhaps on this issue, we all need more thoughtful discussion and less ideological debate. I think both the condom camp and the abstinence assembly have valid points to bring forth. As the pope did say in an off-church-record statement, that perhaps knowledge of a condom can bring an individual to think more deeply about matters of sexuality.

    Those are my one-cent worth on the matter of sexual behaviours.

    On another note, I do hope you recover soon my friend!

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Eric.

      I think that abstinence-only could be more effective in Ghana than in in N. America, but the fact remains that teenagers are having sex here and they need to be educated on how to do that responsibly, or at least about the immediate and Earthly consequences of their actions. My post for Monday highlights a story demonstrating this.

      However, in my opinion, abstinence MUST be promoted as an option. One cool campaign I’ve seen in Ghana is the “ABCs of Sexual Health: Abstinence, Be committed to your partner, Condom use every time.” In high school sex ed I wasn’t even taught about abstinence, so I think it’s great that this campaign highlights it as an option alongside condom use. I know that most of my classmates at Tamasco would prefer the abstinence route anyway, because they are very religious. There’s no problem with that and that route should be promoted!

      In the end, I think both the abstinence and safe-sex campaigns ought to look deeper at the values that drive their messages, because they’re essentially the same. Both arguments are out to protect young, irresponsible people from making decisions that could (most immediately) negatively impact the rest of their lives. That’s a more important message to promote and I see abstinence and safe sex as two different options which both do just that.

      -C

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