Help For Private Pains

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

Wale Oyetunji, 24, began to appreciate his manhood for the very first time this year. Nobody, seeing Oyetunji, well-built and dressed in a T-shirt and jeans could imagine that he had managed to carry on without an organ that served as both his urinary tool and an index of his manhood. When surgeons attempted to reconstruct the void that was his stunted private part, they discovered that the tiny muscular tissue that regulates the flow of urine from his bladder was not there. So they drilled a hole in his tummy for him to pee through for the rest of his life. Of the three surgeries he should have to restore a semblance of his manhood, Oyetunji has had only one. According to him, ‘’ I’ve started to feel something down there…’’.

But for Osetale Oboh, 10, life began on a wrong note. His mother Joan, 39, said she was filled with the kind of joy a woman felt at the birth of a male child. But her joy was short-lived when she discovered that Osetale had a deformed penis, and an opening that made him resemble a transvestite. Distraught, she said she sought help from the byways and thoroughfares, but none came, apparently. At a point, doctors at the university college hospital, UCH, Lagos, asked her to consider a sex change for Osetale. ’’What was most worrisome was that he was beginning to be stigmatized as someone with a taboo’’, Oboh said. Before long, Osetale dropped from school and ‘’just by a stroke of luck, I ran into Modarakin Tokunbo, a reconstructive surgeon, who assured me that my son’s condition could be corrected’’.

The success of that surgery was what galvanized Oboh to start a non-governmental organisation, NGO, Osetale Foundation International, OFI, in Lagos to focus on the kind of anomalies that confined Oyetunji to a life of a recluse. ‘’I realised that people do not get the right kind of information concerning their conditions’’, referring to cases of ‘external genitalia that are neither clearly male nor female’’.

Vitalis Ekemmiri, a reverend father who delivered a paper at a seminar organised by OFI, said that abnormalities having to do with sexual organs carry with them a stigma. ‘’The first approach towards sticking out stigma would be a survey of public attitudes towards others we view as different from us’’, he said. But Oboh regrets that corporate organisations are unwilling to support her work unless there is a ‘’proviso’’.

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