How Family Planning Was Practiced In The Traditional African Society.



There are obvious indicators that contrary to the views of several foreign observers, including WHO, African societies truly practiced family planning methods.

Although, the method used was not mainly through contraception and sterilization but more biological and physical.

According to WHO family planning entails, the practice of controlling the number of children one has and the intervals between their births, particularly by means of contraception or voluntary sterilization.

Without the use of contraception, the Enuani people of Africa have maintained the practice of family planning.
Although, family size was usually large the natives maintain that the number of children that some families had was planned.
In an interaction with Arise Africa, 97yr old Mrs. Adaolie said:

"The number of children a family has May be large but the number is planned and when a family decides that a particular child is their last a name is given to that child to symbolise the status," she pointed out.
"Usually, a female last child is named Ujunwa. It means the children are complete."

She explained that the name is gradually becoming extinct and could also be confused as "Ọbianuju" (born in a time of plenty) but it has a unique meaning to the Enuani people.
Arise Africa was able to also find about 20 families in the region whose Female lastborn bear the name.
However, there is no name given to a male lastborn but once a family decides that a child is the last, the society takes it up to address him/her as "azụ-ngwele". It is a short form of the saying that the back of a lizard doesn't back a child. So, that child is not expected to have a Junior sibling.
It was also gathered that the name "Iloba" was reserved for male firstborns.

The nonagenarian explained that there are rules for child spacing that is known and traditionally followed to be 2yrs.
"Our women abstain from sexual activity that can lead to pregnancy during breast feeding. It is believed that the breast Milk will become toxic and affect the health of the child. Due to this, sexual activities are carried out carefully with withdrawal or better still during the free period," she said.

In the traditional society, a hut known as Ụnọ-ekwu is built outside the family where a woman stays during the 3 to 5 days of her "oge" (menses).
Upon completing her Oge, she has a thorough bath and engages in conjugal activities with her husband without fears of pregnancy.
According to Health experts, this period is free as no ova is yet released by the ovary.
The method was effectively utilised to practice child spacing and the fact that a man could have more than one wife helped the method to succeed to a greater extent.

Further, a newly married lady Isioma (names have been changed) explained that she is not using any modern contraceptive method for child spacing.
She cited lack of the husband's consent as the reason.

According to a 2018 publication by WHO,
214 million women of reproductive age in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy are not using a modern contraceptive method.


In a time when food security and production is a matter of international discussion, population growth should be checked using reliable family planning methods.
In most African societies where married men regard it as taboo to use condoms and other male contraception with their wives, education and orientation should be massively promoted to couples.
The attendant benefits of inclusive family planning as well as the suitable methods should be recommended by Health practitioners to reduce the fear and bias against modern methods.

By: Onwordi Ngozi Fortune.

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