#ICanWait: Are Young People Still Open to the Culture of Chastity?

To be candid, chastity or total abstinence from sexual activity before marriage is not a common trait among many young people today as many consider it “old-fashion”.

However, not many are swayed by this fad.

Using the hashtag, #ICanWait, a good number of young people have come out to declare their mantra on total sexual abstinence before marriage, an important cultural value in Africa’s passage to the marriage institution.

For about a month now, ‪#‎ICANWAIT has become the new cool on sexual reproductive right in Nigeria, reinforcing the value that young people should “wait” despite sexual pressure from their partners (boyfriend or girlfriend).

Today, the first phase of the campaign officially comes to an end. Interestingly, we had the pleasure of speaking with the by Stella Eyuruntela Ashe, the chief driver of the #ICanWait campaign which has enjoyed contributions and commitment from young people and married couples alike –both online and offline.

Here is an excerpt from our conversation:

 

Hi Stella! Please introduce yourself to our readers

My name is Stella Samantha Eyuruntela-Ashe (SSEA). I am a believer, a student, a writer, a singer, a minister of the Gospel — that makes me a speaker. I am a lady passionate about God and impacting her generation with the love of God, healing hurting hearts, bringing succor to destitute, restoring the broken. As much as I can, I want to bring God’s love to as many, and see souls saved into the Kingdom of God and living for the Father.

You recently launched #ICanWait project on social media. What’s the idea behind the project?

The #ICANWAIT campaign was birthed out of a certain brooding in my heart. I have had the privilege of working with and counseling teens and youths because of what I do and I have heard and seen things that have made my heart cry — that point where order is changed and it is all upside down and right-side wrong. What’s right seems wrong and ridiculing, what’s wrong has become the trend, the norm, the do. People are ashamed to stand for right because they would rather blend in with the crowd than be noticed as ‘jew’.

I had been standing out but quietly. I sensed it was time to come out. People needed to know that beyond what we hear and see, beyond the world’s trend, there was a right trend, though silent and shy, it still had a marching army with matching orders. I wanted to help young people see sex beyond what it’s known for. Sex is great, it’s beautiful, created by God for man but there is a right time for it. In MARRIAGE!

You see, chastity isn’t old school and outdated and for just guys who didn’t know how to rock and have fun. Chastity is ‘all time school’. Being chaste is far more than virginity. We have a lot of virgins who aren’t actually chaste. They have done things that shouldn’t be. Lust, Masturbation, Porn have become rulers in their minds. Some haven’t given up their virginity just because they haven’t had the kind of opportunities some have had. Chastity is about being pure even in your mind. It’s about sexual purity. That kind of purity goes beyond just an unbroken Hymen. I wanted to have people wait for sex, an exclusive waiting that doesn’t involve ‘side chicks’. No options. Waiting for sex and really waiting truly.

On this campaign, I wanted people to see the army waiting come out and tell how enticing it has been feeling like being entangled with the affairs of the opposing side. I wanted to see people, honest and real, down to earth, tell us how that they are waiting, how it hasn’t been easy, how they fell and were able to get up again and start over. There’s encouragement when you thought you were alone and God shows you aren’t the only one, there are ‘7000’ left. There’s strength in number. New resolves and resolutions are birthed when the right way is blown out into the open in the midst of a popular trend that’s wrong. I have always said “You want to bring down a trend? create another one.” That’s what we intend to do with this campaign.

An image from an animated film called “Sara: The Trap,” produced by UNICEF and designed to teach young girls in Africa about sexual exploitation by older men, or “sugar daddies.” Photo Credit: Courtesy UNICEF

So far, how many people has participated or shared their story via this campaign?

Wow! I can’t tell. Sincerely. At first, I could keep tabs, as days went by, I lost count. The shares from different posts, friends, friends of friends, third generation friends to the forth and the fifth. Blogs, blogs more… One blog post presently has over five hundred shares. We’ve had married and unmarried, shy and bold, states and countries, all well represented. Even those who were against the campaign helped to get others into the campaign. I promise, I don’t have that answer.

So, how can the public participate in this campaign?

It’s easy to be a part of the campaign. Just write a post speaking about waiting for sex till marriage, about chastity and sexual purity. Use the hashtags:
#Sexisbeautiful
#Sexisworthwaitingfor
#Godlyrelationshipstoo
#ICANWAIT
#YOUTOOCAN
And that’s it. The public is a part.

Why did you chose to launch the project (#ICanWait) on social media and what has been the feedback so far?

I have always been a social media person. I do a lot of work on Facebook. It’s a platform for me. I use it well. To reach out, as much as I can to as many as I can. Besides that, Social media, to me is a nation comprising of citizens from every nation, easily reachable, easily accessible, a big country yet a small village. It’s easy to make any cause trend on social media with the right management and I have the best brand manager ever. I intended to reach beyond my small network. I wanted to go over the bounds of people I can see. I wanted the world in on this and participating. It was the best decision we made for this campaign. The feedbacks have beats my imagination, they have exceeded my expectations. I’m amazed. I’m thrilled. I’m excited. I’m grateful.

So, what has been some of the major unprecedented accomplishment on the project so far?

The truth, Busayo, is this whole campaign is a success story. I don’t know where to start from, which to talk about, nor do I know where to end. We’ve had people make decisions against past experiences to stay chaste, some have had their resolves strengthened. New pathways have been mapped out, souls have been won to Christ, lives touched…. It’s a whole story and this story reeks of amazing success.

Nevertheless, I want to know what are some of the lessons you have learnt so far in trying to break the norm on sexual purity in this generation. What are the lesson(s) learned and is there in anyway, you would have done things differently in advocating on sexual purity?

That’s a long gist mehn! Lol! It’s not been an easy walk but it has been one extremely interesting and exciting. I started with the little I knew. Then we expanded, all thanks to my awesome fiancé, love and brand manager, my boss-babe, Adebowale Ibukun Tosin. Ideas met ideas, branding was extraordinary, quite different from a lot of campaigns I have seen and been a part of, it drew in the crowds. We had seminars, designs, celebrity couple weekends. It was a campaign that was just different. I didn’t expect the kind of turn out and support we got, but then, a good cause is a good cause and this is a good cause, one that we invested in, time, energy, money, sleep, we made sacrifices, great ones and they yielded great results.
I wouldn’t say I have learnt new lessons, but I’ve had old ones reiterated. Patience. Sacrifice. Impact. Love. Hope. Faith. Inspiration. Motivation. Men. Souls. Lives. God! I’ve had new ideas come and old ones have received wings. All that we tried worked. All. I might not have done anything differently as such. And SSEA started the campaign and she saw that it was good. I am blessed. That’s it. Next time, there would be a difference, no removals per-se, but additions… It would be better. This three things we are sure of. Heaven, Excellence, Impact.

Do you have any plan of launching the project offline?
Oh yes! We do. We have plans to do a lot of this offline. For now, it’s within the works. When it’s time, we’d let it go public.

Now, we will like you to share your thought with young people reading this, on why they should “wait” using the rationale behind the #ICanWait project.

Hmmn. I consider it a rare honor to be asked to give any form of advice. I’d like to draw out an excerpt from one of my posts in the course of the campaign.

“This campaign isn’t to promote virginity but chastity. If it gets to you while you are still a virgin, AWESOME! KEEP WAITING, UNBROKEN. That you’d wait, till he/she, the right one comes and receives all the saved up movie action. If it meets you after the virginity stage, GREAT! YOU CAN MAKE THE CHOICE TO WAIT NOW! You can decide that you’d keep yourself for the one, male or female, that you’d bless him/her with the gift of your waiting even when it’s hardest because you have already tasted it. All this within the confines of marriage. Not because virginity is dignity,  not because of some age long tradition, not because of some marriage title, or so one white cloth with blood can be presented to your family after the night of your wedding. But because, We choose to. We choose to because we Love God whom our bodies belong to, because we would rather have God glorified in our bodies. Because He says to, we choose to. This is our message. This also as we bring all to the knowledge of God’s love and grace received and at work in the believer.”
Don’t waste your youth. There’s more to you that you need to discover and fulfill. You can make that decision to wait exclusively for sex till marriage. For YOU! For God. FOR YOU again. There’s beauty in waiting. Chastity is the new cool. Get in on the real trending thing. You can wait! It won’t be easy, but you can. You are Stellar.”

 

Busayo Sotunde is a prolific writer with special focus on Business, Entrepreneurship, Reproductive Health and other development issues in Africa. Her articles have been published by different outlets including Investing Port and Ventures-Africa.com. She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde