Artist Health

Genevieve Nnaji Allegedly Speaks on Being a Teen Mom + What are Available Resources for Pregnant Teens in Nigeria?

Rumors about Genevieve Nnaji being pregnant have flooded the internet much the same way Beyonce’s did before she finally got pregnant for Jay-Z. One very silly rumor is that Nnaji was pregnant for D’Banj. It is one of the most hilarious and incredulous rumors I have ever read from the Nigerian media/soft-sell magazines online. Whether D’banj and Genevieve Nnaji are dating na who sabi? If D’banj give Genevieve Nnaji belle wetin you want the rest of us to do? Like we don’t have better things to do with our time? Is it D’banj or Genevieve, or “Genebanj” (my creation) belle that is putting food on the tables of the average Nigerian or anyone for that matter? Abeg carry go jare.

Recently,  I read a story that Nnaji has now discussed, for the first time, what it felt like to be pregnant at 17years old. I don’t know whether indeed the alleged reporting of her exclusive tell-it -ll interview is true. But, I do think if she is indeed discussing teen pregnancy, kudos to her because our young girls (and boys) need to hear this message. What better ambassador than a woman who understands what it is like to walk in those shoes? Nnaji is a single mom, she just clocked thirty two (32) years which means for 15years, she has been raising her child as a single parent, in Nigeria, a place where a woman should be married and certainly not have children out of wedlock.

It would be important to hear the message she has for our youths, especially young pregnant teens now wearing the same shoes she once wore.

Having said the above, I am a story teller. Trial lawyers must know how to tell stories, especially strong credible stories. So, let me tell you all a story. My  story is about my personal experience with teenage pregnancy in Nigeria and subsequently in the USA.

Just before I left for the USA, my last place of residence was in Ejigbo. To get there back in the days from Ikeja where I used to live and subsequently attended secondary school, I jumped on the molue with my siblings until I got to Isolo. At Isolo junction where I understand they still have that huge and horrible refuse dump that smelled so nasty across Isolo, right there, I caught a Danfo towards Ikotun Egbe. The Danfo would stop at Ejigbo and I would “trek” from the Ejigbo bus stop with my siblings from school, Command Day Secondary School Ikeja (CDSS folks reading this, make some noise!!!) straight all the way till I hit Falana street where I lived. I made a left, passed my road dawg’s home and then I was home!

I can’t remember the name of the cross street just a few blocks from my home. But, I remember that street was very significant. In fact, I ran a lot of errands for my mom on that street. I always had to go to Iya Bukky’s place on that street to buy groceries for my mom. I think at some point I might have even fetched water on that street when our water system did not work, which was almost all the time, welcome to Nigeria. I braided my hair off another street that I had to navigate this particular street to get to. At some point, I even lived on this particular street, two houses down from Iya Bukky’s.

Right next to the my home on Iya Bukky’s street when I lived there, was a duplex kind of home. It was owned by Gbemisola’s family. Gbemisola had two sisters and I think one or two brothers. All of them attended public schools. They were overall very personable and they liked talking to me and I too enjoyed talking to and teasing them.

Before I moved from the home next to Gbemisola’s to my new home on Falana street, Gbemisola and her two sisters got pregnant. They were in their early to  mid teens. First it was Gbemisola and then the other two. Their pregnancy was a scandulous affair but for me, somewhat expected. They just always talked about boys and always seemed to talk about “oyan” (boobs or the lack thereof) and what have you.

In any event, that was the only time I had heard or seen teens get pregnant in Nigeria. The parents took care of Gbemisola and her sisters and they quit school to take care of their babies.

In 1991, I returned to the USA. What was one of the first things I noticed when our plane landed in New York and we took a ride out of the airport to navigate towards our ultimate destination? Pregnant teens and teen moms err’where. I was just so shocked. But, it wasn’t as memorable until I enrolled as a Junior in high school.

On my high school campus, there were too many pregnant teens for my liking. “WOW! Is what I thought! These pregnant girls are allowed to attend school?!!!” The school made provisions for them! “You gotta be kidding me is what I thought, initially.” It was very weird. I don’t know why it is one of the most shocking cultural experiences, to date, that I remember but it was. But, I noticed the stigma was not as bad.Girls were encouraged that pregnancy was not a death sentence and there was still life after pregnancy, there was so much education, parenting classes and funding allocated for these pregnant teen moms.

So, back to Nigeria we go. Beyond Gbemisola and her sisters and Genevieve Nnaji who is a recognizable personality who was pregnant at 17, what are the statistics today in Nigeria and what provisions are made for persons like the Nnajis and Gbemisolas of the world in Nigeria?

In 2009, here is what BBC reported:

“Unplanned pregnancies among Nigerian teenagers and young women have risen despite improvements in educational levels, a report found.

In 2003, 16% of pregnancies among girls and women aged 15-24 had been unintended, compared with 10% in 1990.

The study from the New York-based Guttmacher Institute said low use of contraceptives was partially to blame.

The institute said Nigerian authorities had failed to promote sexual health information for young Nigerians.

It found the proportion of adolescent women with some secondary education had increased 16 percentage points (from 34% to 50%) between 1990 and 2003.

Time bomb

But over the same period the use of modern contraceptive methods among sexually active adolescent women in Nigeria had changed very little, from 4% to 8%.

Also in that time, the proportion of sexually active young women who knew where to access family planning services nearly halved, from 32% to 18%, found the report – which analysed health data from Nigerian authorities and non-governmental-organisations.

Nearly one-third of sexually active women aged 15-24 had had an unmet need for modern contraception in 2003, found the study.

“We are failing Nigerian adolescents when it comes to providing them with the information and services. They need to delay marriage and avoid unintended pregnancies,” said the report’s co-author, Professor Friday Okonofua.

She said this was leaving young women at risk from unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases, such as HIV.

The study also noted the population of Nigeria – Africa’s most-populous nation, with 150 million people – was growing by 2.2% annually, and at that rate would double every 32 years.” -BCC

What are your thoughts on this topic. My initial thoughts are that we will continue to see more rise in teen pregnancy, especially now that Nollywood movies show so much sex, uncensored. Also, our music industry emulating the USA, especially in how music videos are shot, are all about “Yansh police” and what have you. So I expect that Nigerian teens absorbing all of these in a country like Nigeria, without knowing it is not to be taken literally, will emulate.

Uduak

-Photocredit: Codewit

How weird that Nnaji says Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp are her two actors she digs. I think she copied my answer! 🙂 Johnny Depp and I go way back with 21 Jump Street and Angelina Jolie, where do I start? 🙂

 

Yansh Police by Timi Dablackone

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ABOUT THE FOUNDER

Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at https://msuduak.com.

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