Makoko is a slum neighborhood located within the Lagos Metropolis, it has a population estimated well over 85,840.
That Makoko is a fishing village with much of its structures constructed on stilts above the Lagos Lagoon is not the news though, but the fact that the use of condoms is strange to men in this densely populated slum is.
The slum is predominantly dominated by Egun people, who research has shown do not like using condoms, due to their long held traditional belief in the old practice of coitus interruptus, also known as the withdrawal or pull-out method during s*xual intercourse.
Reports have it that for centuries, this has been used as a method of birth control worldwide.
The history is not lost on the Egun people whose forefathers migrated from neighbouring Francophone West African countries like Togo and Benin Republic, as well as from Badagry, Lagos.
This age old practice has been transferred to the current generation, where most of the people speak their local Egun dialect and sometimes French.
Their major occupations are fishing and farming, only a few understand English.
It is believed by the Ekun people that the use of condom means nothing. They rationalise the believe with the idea that they know their-selves, both women and men; they claim that no one cheats on his or her spouse.
According to Lowato Luke, one of the traditional chiefs in the area, “It’s those people who go outside sleeping with different people that contact such diseases like HIV.”
The chief who has two wives and 12 children, gleefully boasts that he has mastered the withdrawal method and understands his wives’ ovulation cycles.
Luke said: “I know the particular times to have s*x with my wives, even if they are breastfeeding and I want to have s*x with them, I know how to do it to prevent another pregnancy.”
He also claimed that his wives enjoy the s*x more than he does.
“But if you use condom, it won’t be that enjoyable. I have never used a condom,” he noted.
Another resident, Kirianko Goi, in his 40s, agrees with Luke.
He said “I don’t believe in the use of condom because I never heard that from my father. It’s not for me to say whether I will advise my children to use condom or not. If the young boys and girls want to have s*x, they won’t tell you. This generation is clearly different from that of my father and mine. But if I’m in a position to do so, I will advise them, it is my duty to advise them.”
It is stunning to know that many of the women in the community also have aversions to the use of condoms during s*xual intercourse.
Benedetta Sato, a 25-year old with two children, said she does not like condom.
“We don’t like using condom. But if we don’t want to get pregnant, we know how to do it by ourselves; it pays us more that way, because we don’t like using condom. I was told in a hospital in Cotonou, Benin Republic, where I gave birth to my first child, that people who don’t want to get pregnant can use condom.”
Adding; “Sometimes, I use a family planning drug before and after s*x with my husband to prevent pregnancy,” she said, noting that many of her friends also don’t like condoms, while some claimed it could bring about disease. “I don’t know the type of disease, but I just don’t like condóm during s*x.”
Another woman, Peace Olorunwa, who has been married for 12 years with six children, gave a deeper insight into the female view of the issue.
She said: “Although there is no official report that says condom is bad; personally, I don’t like it because God did not create it. Those who created it did so because of the level of immorality in the world today so that they can enjoy themselves. There are several methods to avoid pregnancy. A couple can have sex without the wife conceiving.
“I also don’t like the chemical and odour from condom because I believe the chemicals used in preserving the condóm could cause problems and is harmful to the body. Although I didn’t get the information from a medical expert, but everybody does according to their belief. I don’t use any drug either to prevent pregnancy. I just do it the natural way with my husband.”
Meanwhile, despite the lack of information, knowledge, and awareness about the consequences of unprotected s*x, there is a general low rate of STDs and HIV/AIDS in the Makoko communities.
Regarding the issue of STDs, Muniru Muroko, a herbal doctor said, “We have special herbs to cure STDs like gonorrhoea and other types of diseases.”
“It is an Egun-secret,” Muniru added.
Meantime, it was discovered that regardless the poor sense of hygiene within Makoko, most children were healthy and were breastfed for longer time, malnutrition was not a problem.
It is gathered that conservatism, illiteracy, lack of awareness, traditional beliefs, environmental factors, high risk s*xual behaviour and poverty may be some reasons for the widespread practice of unsafe s*x among people in the Makoko community, little wonder there is a high rate of teenage pregnancy there.
This is the more reason why people in communities such as Makoko need more enlightenment about the use of contraceptives such as condoms.
To many inhabitants of Makoko, the withdrawal or pull out method might seem a very effective way of preventing pregnancy, however, research has shown that of every 100 women whose partners use withdrawal, four will become pregnant each year if they always do it correctly.
Statistics have further shown that of every 100 women whose partners use withdrawal, 27 will become pregnant each year if they don’t always do it correctly.
Condoms as a method of birth control, have the advantages of being inexpensive, easy to use, having few side effects, and offering protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
Records prove that with proper knowledge and application technique and use at every act of intercourse, women whose partners use male condoms experience a 2% per-year pregnancy rate with perfect use and an 18% per-year pregnancy rate with typical use.
According to a 2000 report by the National Institute of health (NIH), consistent use of latex condoms reduces the risk of HIV/AIDS transmission by approximately 85% relative to risk when unprotected.
This puts the seroconversion rate (infection rate) at 0.9 per 100 person-years with condom, down from 6.7 per 100 person-years.