Jonathan, India/UK await your condoms

 Published in THE PUNCH on 07 January 2007

Casmir Igbokwe

Condoms made to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men. This was one of the popular stories on the British Broadcasting Corporation last December. And it was based on a two-year study, carried out by Indian Council of Medical Research. The study reportedly noted that over 1,200 volunteers across the Asian country had their penises measured even down to the last millimetre. “The conclusion of all this scientific endeavour is that about 60 per cent of Indian men have penises which are between three and five centimetres shorter than international standards used in condom manufacture,” the BBC reported. 

Also last December, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s government in Bayelsa State was reported to have concluded plans to establish a N250m condom manufacturing firm in Yenagoa. According to media reports, Bayelsa intends to fight the dreaded HIV/AIDS scourge in the state with the condom factory. Samples of these condoms will reportedly be on display in March this year. And the government has pledged to give the Ohafia-hat-looking thing free to her citizens to encourage its usage.My initial reaction to this story was that of anger. How can Jonathan’s government, I fumed, be thinking of establishing a condoms company when Bayelsans are living in squalor amid plenty; when public infrastructure in the state are in a deplorable state; and when hostage taking, consequently, has become the most lucrative business in the state?

But, on a deeper reflection, I feel pity for Jonathan and his state. Among the major goodies decades of oil exploration and production brought to the state is sexual empowerment. Randy oil workers, swimming in petro-dollars, cool off after a hard day’s job with maidens in the Niger Delta. The result is unwanted pregnancies and distribution of HIV/AIDS. It is on that premise that I wish to make a few suggestions to the governor on how his state can maximise the benefits accruable from the raincoat company.

First, produce small-sized, custom-made condoms for Indian men. Then, partner with some companies in that Asian country to market the products there. The big profits that will follow will be unimaginable. Being the second most populous country in the world, India is like a good palm wine waiting to be tapped. Besides, being the country with one of the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world, this Hindu-dominated country desperately needs this product.

Second, target the United Kingdom and other Western countries. Although there are condoms manufacturing companies and condom vending machines in some public buildings in the UK, the rate of promiscuity in this Queen’s land will always make this product an attractive buy.

For students, especially undergraduates, the demand will even be higher. I usually go to the graduate centre, located on the third floor of the students’ union building of the Cardiff University to read every night. Most of these nights, I am often tempted to think that I am at Ojuelegba in Lagos. This is because the noise and music from party goers on the first floor make the building vibrate.

At the Cardiff City Centre, most streets host one form of party or the other almost every night. Festive periods such as Christmas, New Year and weekends are more bubbling. Midnight is just the starting point. Fun seekers only retire when the day breaks. Even before then, most of them, especially girls, soak themselves in alcohol. Some stagger home in please-see-my-pant skirts and jeans. Some vomit on the back of their friends who carry them home. Some others invariably end up in their boyfriends’ bedrooms.

On New Year day, the police in Cardiff declared a 20-year-old woman missing. According to them, Ms Joanne Duggan disappeared from Wish nightclub in Charles Street at about 2am penultimate Saturday and had not returned home. Some two days after, the security men announced that they had seen the woman. They did not tell us where she had been. But I suspect she might have been having some good time in her boyfriend’s house while the search for her lasted.

In a study carried out by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine last year, it was established that multiple sexual partners were more common in developed Western democracies than in the developing countries. According to the report, published by the BBC News website last November, the average age when men start their sexual activity in the UK is 16.5. For women, it is 17.5.

The researchers found it surprising that in spite of this promiscuity in the West, developing countries, especially Africa (where else) had higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases. This, the report’s author, Prof. Kaye Wellings, reportedly said, “Suggests social factors such as poverty, mobility and gender equality may be a stronger factor in sexual ill-health than promiscuity.”

Could this gender equality factor be the reason behind Bayelsa’s emphasis on the production of female condoms? Maybe. Or could it be poverty? Already, officials of the state are calculating the gains that will accrue to the youths of the state in terms of employment. Soon, the state will transform itself from being a major oil producing state in Nigeria to being the biggest condom manufacturing state in the whole of
West Africa.

By the time Jonathan assumes power as the vice president of Nigeria next May, insha Allah, he may introduce the company in all the states of the federation. Priority areas will be those states with high rate of HIV/AIDS such as Benue, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, and Bayelsa. At the rate Asari Dokubo and his militants are holding everybody hostage in the Niger Delta, this condom thing looks like an attractive alternative to oil as a source of revenue to Nigeria. Or what do you think?  

The other day, I teased my Indian housemate, Ravi Hadimani, about condoms being too big for their men. At first, the guy denied it. But when I proved the matter to him beyond reasonable doubt, he simply chuckled and said, “Well, our girls still love us in spite of that. They marry more of our men than non-Indians. And we have never disappointed them. Our population speaks volume about that.”

Similarly, if it so happens that Bayelsans love this condom factory more than the development of other infrastructure, well, good luck to you Jonathan. Otherwise, N250m can build something better and more rewarding for that state.

    

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3 Comments »

  1. 1

    Dear Cashmir,
    Your suggestions to Jonathan on maximising his profit by manufacturing small condoms and exporting to (“The Hindu dominate country which desperately needs this product”) India is very benign but at the same time very ignorant. The condom market is very well researched and saturated in India. Releasing a condom by a new company is not advisable especially if you are thinking of big profits. Most of the condoms in America, Europe and Africa come from India and China. When we discussed this topic I thought I did tell u this fact. To see some of the example of condom market maturity in India look at these sites

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6221540.stm
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6617007.stm
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6740373.stm
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/1329724.stm

    The survey conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research was only across India not whole Asia.

    More over, Its not the size that matters but, what you do with it that matters.

    Ravi.

  2. 2
    Leanne Clarke Says:

    I am appauled that you have used my friends name to try to raise a point in your story. Miss Joanne Duggan was not “at her boyfirends” doing whatever you suggested. I hope you realise she died 2 months after this as she was having a lot of difficulties in her life. You make me sick, using her name when you don’t even know anything about her

  3. 3

    Hehe am I honestly the first comment to your incredible read!


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