Two months of condomising

Mbabane, Swaziland | 10 September 2014
Bill Snaddon

I read in one of Swaziland’s daily newspapers last week that a two-month “no sex campaign” had been launched.

“Tomorrow marks the start of the ‘no sex’ campaign, which is promoted by NERCHA in collaboration with Lusweti,” said the media report.

It continues: “This means that members of the public would have to abstain from sex or at least use protection during such intercourse.”

Read that last sentence again.

Now this could just be a reporting mishap. It happens. That’s fine. But if not, the campaign is suggesting that you shouldn’t have sex for two monthsbut if you can’t control your primal urges then slap on a condom.

Well, when you really think about it, it seems reasonable enough. But, to be honest, I had to read that sentence a few times. I couldn’t help but get a mixed message. It twists my brain in two different directions, like a tug of war between two competing ideas.

Is it not like saying, Okay, don’t eat meat for two months but if you happen to feel the urge then make sure you only eat it with pap – no salad. Whatever you do, no salad with that tasty slab of beef.

Or maybe it’s like saying you won’t watch TV for two months, but if you do happen to turn it on then you’re only allowed to watch action movies. What kind of action movies, exactly, I will leave up to your own imagination.

Or perhaps you’re only allowed to watch Generations – if the actors have stopped striking. Actors deserve good pay, too.

The whole campaign reminds me a World Vision initiative from years ago. It was called the 40-Hour Famine. The aim of the campaign was to teach spoiled Westerners about hunger while raising a few dollars.

If you take part in the campaign you are not allowed to eat for 40 hours – only water and a few sweeties for the sugar. But of course this is very difficult for any human, particularly if you are a spoiled Westerner.

I remember this like it was yesterday. It was the weekend of the 40-Hour Famine and I had signed up. I must have been about 14. As was normal on a Saturday morning, I played a game of Australian football – which is like ice hockey on grass without the protective gear and sticks.

On the way home from the match, as was custom, I said, “Muuum, I’m a bit hungry”.

She said, “Jesus, Bill, you’re only 12 hours into the campaign, how do you expect to get to 40 hours? Think of those starving kids in Africa.”

(For the record, many people in the West often refer to “starving African children” as a way to guilt children into finishing the vegetables they don’t want to eat.)

I said: “No need to bring Jesus into this, Mum. This is about me and my stomach.”

Mum, needless to say, was none impressed with my back-chat.

Anyhow, after a bit more of my pestering and bit more of her defiance, she pulled into the petrol station.

This is my chance, I shrewdly thought.

I said I was going to the bathroom while she filled up the car. When she came into the shop to pay for the petrol she found me there at the counter with a meat pie with lots of tomato sauce, and one of those smiles that only a mother knows. The lady behind the counter had already swiped the meat pie through the register. Check mate, mum.

But on serious note, good luck to everyone taking part in the no sex campaign.

And remember: if you get a bit frisky, always condomise. 

This column was originally published in the Times of Swaziland on 10 September 2014

#38_Two months of condomising_10 Sept 2014

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