In the Beginning
I remember those days so vividly like they were just a few days gone by, even though two decades have passed. They were the days when there were only two genders, or so we thought. The only third we joked about, hermaphrodite, remained a joke ― we never gave it a serious thought. Well, it is a thing now, as they call it intersex. And I hear there are over 50 other genders. I wish the world well.
So back to the days when you were either female or male: those were the times we desired to know what made us different. Since we, male children, didn`t have the guts to find out from the much older females who had more obvious differences, we resorted to the younger ones, the ones who were below age 10 like us, the ones who were curious also, to find out what it was that dangled between our laps. We were all curious. Well, our curiosity didn`t kill us like the proverbial cat ― it only got us more curious. We were daring.
No one has been able to tell me who came up with the game, Mummy and Daddy, and how it got so widespread; all I know is that the game was fun, and we played it for years. Some never stopped playing it as adults: the name only got changed. Mummy and Daddy was simply roleplay. It was a stage play that only had a spoken script. It went thus:
Ben: Let`s say I`m daddy, and Sola (the most attractive girl in the group) is mummy. Ngozi and Danladi are the children.
Danladi: No, I want to be daddy.
Ben: No, I`m daddy already. So children will be in school, and mummy and daddy will still be at home sleeping. [holds Sola, and tries to get her to lie beside him]
The ingenuity we displayed still baffles me. Who taught us such cleverness? How did desire to experiment with our bodies so early? Who told us that we were naked?
One thing strikes me now, two decades after I played mummy and daddy, at least, before I also changed the name and continued: we never tried to do a gender improvisation. If there was no female, then there was no mummy ― in fact, there was no game. There were never female daddies also, at least to the best of my knowledge. Could it be because that was our reality at the time? Could there have been gender improvisations in other parts of the world at the time? Oh, there definitely is now, I can imagine. Funnily, some of us who would never improvise then, grew up to become male mummies and female daddies. Did we not all agree that change is constant and inevitable?
At the time, the only obvious bodily difference between both genders was what existed between our laps. I now see female children of the age we played this game have other differences. Well, I would have said Mummy and Daddy entailed only cuddles, kisses, and fondling of genitals, but I grew to realise that there were more advanced versions of the game. Folks told me years after that they had intercourse. I was shocked. I`m not sure it ever crossed my mind.
The major drive behind the game was curiosity. It was the need to understand our differences which no one explained to us. We wanted to know why Jack had this, and Jill didn`t have. We wanted to explore our bodies. We found it interesting how certain things felt pleasurable. We wanted to know what the adults in those R18 movies did so passionately. We guessed it was the same things our parents did when they asked us to leave their rooms to go to ours on those cold nights when we wanted their cuddles. We sought some knowledge that was obviously hidden from us.
But of course, we couldn`t have pretended not to know that what we did was not right. Although we weren`t ashamed to let our parents know we played the game, we just didn`t play it in their presence, and we didn`t let them know about all the scenes, especially what happened between the main characters. And if we couldn`t play it elsewhere but their presence, we simply changed the script. Could it be that they only pretended not to know? Could they have played the game too? I can imagine my children, when I have, playing the game and trying to hide it from me. Would I pretend not to know?
Could it be that it was simply innate to seek this knowledge and know that the exploration wasn`t what our parent should hear of? Or could it be that our parents` obvious efforts to hide certain details from us aroused our curiosity? Whatever it was, we looked forward to playing Mummy and Daddy, and Mummy and Daddy alone did we play. In our part of the world, Nigeria, we never played Mummy and Mummy, Daddy and Daddy, nor did we have more than one character fit in any of the roles at a time. There were no threesomes or any of such acts. I think we simply imitated what we saw around us. In reality, we had mums and dads, and that was simply what we imitated.
The Mystery of Later Years
No one needed to tell us when to stop playing Mummy and Daddy, or at least, when to continue but give it other names. We just knew the roleplay had to stop. The females prompted us, perhaps. Their bodies were getting more obviously different from ours. There was this sense of self-consciousness they began to have. Their mothers were getting more protective of them. They also began to talk to them about their bodies ― what we thought they ought to have done much earlier, and not even with the females alone.
Some of us didn’t even see the extent of this mystery of more developed bodies and self-consciousness until we got into secondary school where it took a lot to touch the girls. These were same girls who probably played Mummy and Daddy a few years ago. Was this what adulthood was? We weren`t sure. For those of us in boarding school, there was a greater mystery to discover. The cousins and family friends whom we played the game with were no longer readily available as before. We were “caged” with people of the same sex. We saw the girls only during some supervised hours.
There was indeed more discovery to make…
You see, you may never know what`s going on in the world if all you`re exposed to is the goings-on of your immediate environment. Some of us only knew Mummy and Daddy that we willingly initiated ourselves, and the fun of it. We didn`t know of the many other experiences that some other children had, and wouldn`t share. There were some who, against their will, had sexual escapades with adults. There were some who saw movies that were more extreme than the R18s we saw. Because there are levels of R18. There were some who somehow had access to watch their parents and/or other adults do the adult Mummy and Daddy and other variations. Such were the people we were locked in with in boarding school.
At secondary school, our levels of involvement in whatever act was determined by a number of factors. For some, it was home training, for others, it was the fear of being caught, while others were just scared of Hell. A few had the fear of God. For some, it was the combination of all these. But there were some, such a different group, that were too inquisitive for any of these other factors to restrain them. I think I fell into this group. Well, some of those factors delayed when we got involved in whatever, however, we eventually did.
My first secondary school was one that had children of the society`s upper class. I wasn`t one of such children. I was only priviledged to be among them. I was on some form of scholarship. It was in this school I saw male children speak and do things like females, and vice versa. It was strange to me. It was there I first saw males sag their pants. These were probably things they picked from cable television and their trips overseas. These were exposures I didn`t have ― my family couldn`t afford them. Sagging of pants was particularly strange to me. I couldn`t bring myself to understand why anyone wouldn`t wear their pants correctly. That was a thing we learnt as early as age two. I remember being quiet whenever they discussed things like Cartoon Network and other television stations that they enjoyed. I only saw the Nigerian Television Authority and other local channels available for viewing without subscriptions. So while they discussed SpongeBob, I had Binta and Friends to discuss, which they weren`t interested in. They called it “raz” ― it wasn`t mainstream, it was Nigerian, hence substandard, so they thought ― they weren`t going to watch such. So while they discussed these things I knew nothing of, I was quiet. It was one of those things that hurt me, but I could do nothing about it. It was worse when we resumed after long holidays when everyone else had travelled somewhere for summer. The most visited places were America, London, and Canada. I remained in Nigeria and had nothing to talk about. At least, nothing that would be worth their attention. Thinking back now, those things were not anything that should have bothered me, but for our age bracket at the time. I didn`t have the capacity to avoid feeling left out, neither were they matured enough not to have taunted me about my silence when they discussed things I knew nothing about. One thing I`m glad I didn`t do was to pretend I knew what they talked about and tried to contribute. We all laughed at people who did that because they were caught. One question I will not forget in a long time is “Who do you prefer: Eminem or Slim Shady?” There were people who weren`t familiar with these names and tried to pretend they had a favourite. It was a good scene to watch. Eminem is Slim Shady. He is an American rapper.
So these were the people I began to do life with as I got into secondary school. And it was here that I knew there was a thing like Daddy and Daddy, although they didn`t call it that. They called it “fag,” “faggot,” and “busta yansh,” all of which I discovered years after were offensive terms to describe homosexuals. “Busta yansh” is an offensive Nigerian Pidgin expression for describing someone who has anal sex.
I was only about 12 years old then, however, I still remember their names ― first name and surname― only that it would be unethical of me to share such information here.
Who were they?
What did they do?
Find out in the next episode of Who Told you that you Were Naked?
Written by: Akinsiwaju Sanya