Feature Article of Friday, 10 December 2010
Columnist: Tawiah-Benjamin, Kwesi
Maybe we all need to punch-past our collective hypocrisy and talk sex when it least sounds sexy. Let’s face it: There has always been sex on our university campuses. University education is really about everything: from learning the modules of a not so exciting course in classical history and civilisation, to forming relationships that may involve sex. There was an unwritten rule on campus that enjoined roommates to vacate their rooms when one had a visitor of the opposite sex. University of Ghana students called it ‘narrowing.’ Even the MPU and PENSA members observed the rule and mostly played along by overstaying at prayer meetings, where they also did their thing. The Tartuffes among them often fooled everybody when their Christian sisters visited: They didn’t narrow their roommates, but they still enjoyed some privacy for prayer time. Often when they were done, they betrayed the signs of a spiritually drained messiah after a fight with spirits and principalities. But it sometimes looked as though they had fought against naked flesh, contradicting the Bible and making God look like a fictional hypothesis.
This was some 15 years ago when I was a first year student at the Commonwealth Hall of University of Ghana. It was not a fad to have a girlfriend on campus. However, the few who had amorous relationships enjoyed the much admired muncher status, which only meant that they were not chewers. Because these ‘kelewele-compliant’ relationships were often short-lived, the parties were not seen as couples. At best they were bachelors with attachments or spinsters with a fun mate. This was when the girl was a student on campus (inter). When you brought an ‘exter’ from Madina or Mempeasem, she didn’t quite count as a girlfriend. They were seen as victims that had been intimidated and overpowered by the Benneh Power (The University ID card, as it was then called). These were also those who were remote-controlled by their boyfriends when they visited them on campus. It was often strategic to remote-control them (leave a gap and pretend she is not yours) because their dressing, especially the Madina Old Road girls, betrayed a certain uncouthness that was not very appropriate for campus standards. For inexplicable reasons, girls from New Road wore new underpants, perhaps in keeping with the name.
Still, it was quite unusual to have a girlfriend on campus. Such that the president of a powerful Christian grouping (I was a prayer warrior, lol) had to publicly announce to the campus congregation during a Sunday service that he found a girlfriend. And the congregation praised God for that. I had gotten one already, a very big one. Immediately, news travelled to my colleagues in our colonised universities in Kumasi and Cape Coast that I was dating a plus-size girl on campus, and folks were quite concerned because of my petite frame. It didn’t matter much to us, because there was hardly a kiss. Well, there was actually a kiss - an apostolic kiss, where you didn’t feel much of her bosom and the lips did not quite moisten. Today, she works in a good banking institution. This was first year at university. By second year, I had lost my senses in the wonder of the beauty of a lady in my English class who moved in the company of other posh laydees with properly manicured skins. There was an unwritten code on campus that if you wanted a girl from Volta Hall or Legon Hall Annex B, you necessarily needed to dress good or must have had some international travelling experience. Otherwise, Akuafo Hall, both the main and the annexes, and Sarbah Main, were fine. I failed to win her even though I had super-international western exposure: Germany (Gyapekrom) and Swedru (Switzerland).
University of Ghana has changed much since then. There were no laptops and video recorders to tape steamy sex bouts. Most of us were seeing computers for the first time. The computer science department had only a few computers for its many students. One of them, now a professor in a Canadian institution, created my first email address. Today, the university is a much more sexually active and technologically vibrant community. A laptop is no more a luxury on campus and mobile phones have video recording devices. And students are trying hard to find creative uses for these modern gadgets: They are not recording the lectures in their auditoriums; they are making porn films and distributing them for global consumption via the internet. They have taken sex education into the stratosphere, replacing scholarship in the academic environment with pornography, making sex a very affordable commodity that need not be done beneath the sheets.
Yeah, that’s what’s up: sex 401 may not be a core or an elective course in any department, but the modern university student is taking it as a non credit course- for free. Not long ago, hot videos of KNUST Chrife students went round the Republic, and beyond. Since then, I have seen two lesbian porn clips involving university students. Then, last week, News One reported yet another porn video by some university students doing the rounds. In one of the two lesbian films I have seen on YouTube, the girls skilfully touch and play with each other’s bodies with jawbreaking dexterity, experimenting with positions that do not lend themselves to easy identification in Anne Hooper’s Sexopaedia. At a point, they spring their legs into the skies and form something like a sexual rainbow, while their melons dance to the staccato rhythm of the music at the background. In the other, three very young-looking girls are slugging it out, throwing what looks like javelins into destinations that are normally kept from public view. In obstinate deviance to the Heavens, all three pool their resources together in a suspended wheelbarrow position, laughing out their shame and dancing down their pride.
So, why do they put their shame on the internet for the world to see? In some of the reported cases, they were secretly recorded or their pendrives were stolen. In others, however, the videos were carefully done and planted on the web by the students themselves. Don’t they care being seen in those shameful acts? Who born dog? Not that their parents are dogs or even look like dogs; these are usually respectable-looking parents who may have tried to train their children to be anything but dogs. You can’t blame technology and social media for all that. Times may have changed but the change in sexual behaviour on campus these days is too dramatic for the changing times. In our time, students who patronised the serenity of Accra By Night, a romantic place behind the Legon registry, only managed with a few hugs and maybe a kiss. That was old school.
New School University is sex in the open. Laptops and phone recorders always stand ready to videotape sex acts. Do these freethinking students care about their future and the investment their families have put into them? They care about fun and believe in the unwritten rule: Those who take credits in sex 401 also get good careers and sometimes better marriages, while the good chewers end up playing saints for the Kingdom.
Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin writes stress-busters and opinion features. He is presently working on a book, Between Sickness And The Cure: Africa’s Naughtiest Professor, a humour–laden satirical treatment of hard subject matter and interesting personalities.
He lives in Ottawa, Canada