The title “Sex is a Nigger” is not the most shocking part of Naiwu Osahon’s 1971 erotica published by Di Nigro Press in Apapa, Lagos. Osahon, who blogs about African history and politics has since said that he wrote the novel partly to make a quick buck and partly to show that in spite of slavery and colonialism the black man has continued to take the lead in all things sexual. He would have us believe that like Achebe and Soyinka he fought the good fight against colonial discourse, though from the sexual front. Apparently, the story is based on Osahon’s experiences while holidaying in a Scandinavian country in the 1960s. Osahon said he has written children’s books—126 of them.
“Sex is a Nigger” reads like a literary montage—a series of sexual encounters stitched together with Henry’s mission to escape commitment as the loosely running thread. When the novel begins, Henry is leaving Liverpool by bus—something to do with wrecking havoc on the entire population of female “Liverpudlians.” His destination is Goteborg, Sweden where he plans to continue his work as the black sex-god he imagines himself to be.
The excerpt below is a scene that takes place early on in his relationship with Sonja, his first Swedish paramour. The second comes earlier in the story shortly after his arrival in London from Liverpool, en route to Sweden.
There are those who hail Osahon as “Nigeria’s pioneer pornographer.” Nigerian literary critic, Femi Osofisan, is a bit less impressed. He describes Osahon’s work as “hysterically vulgar,” “cheaply melodramatic,” and arising from “the low slums of artifice out of which no genuine perception can be reaped.”
Read the two excerpts below and let me know what you think.
Shaving only took a few minutes, that is if one can call what I do shaving really, since I grow a mustache and a neat little beard. Still, naked I opened the bathroom door and was going to the bedroom to get dressed when I noticed a female figure in the room. It was Sonja, gazing with awe at my nudity, and I did not waste anytime.
I pulled her close to my naked body and rocked, fondled, kissed, and moulded her, everything to put her in the mood I was in. Then, very gently, I started to undress her, beginning with the zip at the back. She helped to slip the gown down and stepped out of it. Then I undid the brazier (sic) to reveal the ripest bosom in history. It was rounded, fresh and fading as I established contact. I could feel a drag, but I tried to stand erect, watching her buckle her knees. It was clear I now had three hands including a strong short one that had just matured. She held on to this lovingly while my other pair of hands went to work on her. Soon we were reeling on the floor, our faces wet with kisses, my full finger pricking her like an injection. The needle was effective, but it was soon obvious she would rather have the bigger needle. She directed the operation herself, and we went on and on until exhausted.
It was some while before she recovered from her trance.
“Darling, darling, I love you, I love you!” she was saying faintly. “I must keep you for myself. Darling, darling promise you will never look at another woman.” She did not wait for my promise, for a quiver of excitement seized her as I began again and she asked shakingly, “I will never let you down, Henry, never, never, never.” The words died in her mouth as she concentrated on my climax.
“Darling, how do you feel?,” she asked presently.
“Fine,” I said, “a bit tired, though.”
“I am tired, too, very tired.” She kissed me. “I love you, I love you, I love you.”
“You need a bath, darling,” I said.
“And you too, darling,” she replied. “You need another one now.”
She said she had come into the room when I went to the bath, and that she had been hiding behind the door when I opened it.
“Clever girl,” I said. “It was nice you came in at that time, darling, you have made my mourning. Now let’s go to the bath.”
A lot more romancing went on in the bath, but she later reminded me that we were to visit the park that afternoon.
The door of the bus slid steadily to a close and the sudden jerk as it pulled off crushed me against a short, fat woman who shook her head and gave a weak smile that somehow concealed the freckles on her wide, oily face. For the rest of the journey, I could feel the highlands of her mountainous bosom rubbing hard against the upper part of my body. This gave me comfort, as it would to any other male who had escaped marriage during his long, exciting life. I was trapped close to her—too close in fact to turn in any direction, and during one of the periodic “listings” when we used one another for support, I felt myself harden against her. I wanted very much to raise my hands from where they were crushed against her legs to show that it was against my will. Instead, I found it easier to unbutton my fly with one hand while feeling under her skirt with the other. I kept expecting her to scream, until finally the bus stopped, lurched and found my rigid flesh in contact with her own. I closed my eyes as I rubbed gently against it. The bus swung again and again, and as our affair was reaching a peak I took a furtive glance around to note that no one was paying us the slightest attention. So I let my climax come, ruining her knickers, then leisurely we paled into a cosy trance, well content.
In the excitement, however, I had passed my stop and so had to alight at the next. Lonesome but thankful, she dished me a smile for services rendered.
Curious about this series? Check out these links:
How Keen are African Novelists on Sex?
Sex in African Novels Pt. 1: “Please, Ona, Don’t Wake the Whole Household.”
Sex in African Novels Pt. 2: “I Found Her Stretched Out Naked On The Bed”
COMMENTS ( 6 ) -
O Bolaji May 06, 2017 08:04
I read Osahon's novel as a kid and I found it exciting, moving, and informative. Too much hypocritical tosh is said about sex, even by perverts and pretenders! Well, Achebe wrote a lot about sex (eg Anthills of the Savanna) and Wole Soyinka too in his poetic, amusing manner (see The Interpreters). Mbella Sonne Dipoko, Cameroonian writer, wrote in detail about sex, and it was never vulgar (see Because of Women).
Samuel Okopi November 11, 2013 18:46
I think the second excerpt is very realistic and echoes the sort of fantasies and stuff that most will rather not talk about. The writing is also neat and vivid. The first I found to rely too much on hyperbole and yes, melodrama.
Sara November 02, 2013 09:58
Erotica is such a cultural matter. The author is right that blacks are still sexualized....and that the sexualization of Black bodies and humanity still sells quite well. I am not really mad at the other since he admitted that he did it for money! But at the same time by writing this he almost perpetuates the myth of the Black sex god. Lord hamercy! I feel like this kind of writing hurts Black sexuality since sort of mimics a seeminly Western way of imparting sex and erotica.
Victoria Nwogu October 30, 2013 15:40
Not sure about this one! Sounds like a heap of rubbish. Anyway, like cheap porn, the writer admits he did it for the money!
madam butterfly October 30, 2013 05:42
Did not do anything for me o!
Diane October 29, 2013 06:31
The second brief encounter is very erotic and yet there is something very intimate about the whole thing. It reads as though he got more out of it than she did! A very well written piece of erotica in my eyes.