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For centuries Northern Nigerian women have used herbs, spices and fruits, aphrodisiacs said to enhance sexual libido and bring sweetness to their marriage beds.
Kayan Mata meaning women’s things or property has been passed down for generations of women to newly wedded brides. Kayan Mata’s origin and use can be traced to the Northern states of Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara. The recipes of sweet kola, herbs and Honey are now in high demand from women all over Nigeria.
Kayan Mata in recent times has been associated with so much more than the simple aphrodisiac recipes older female relatives recite to new brides. Now Kayan Mata is seen as magic potions and charms used to trap men and make them spend a lot of money on the women who take them.
Vendors like the popular Instagram influencer who sells Kayan Mata and a collection of other items guaranteed to satisfy women’s lovers sexually and gain financial benefits contribute to this misconception of the aphrodisiac. Jaruma’s clientele no longer consists of Northern Nigerian brides, but young women all over the country.
Its open advertisement and sales are an innovation. One Ramadan, I attended an Iftar dinner at a friend’s place and it was sold next to Turn out. I had mistakenly picked up a piece of it to sniff and was told that it was Kayan Mata. That day, I learnt that in places like Sokoto, Kayan Mata wasn’t taken just by married women. Girls as young as 5 took them. I was shocked to learn that its very existence challenges Northern Nigeria’s Conservative culture. It is seen as a women’s secret.
Ironically, the rationale behind something named women’s property origins and use is male-centred. Even in modern times, the deviations and innovations in trade. The Tumin and Kunun Aya mixtures are not taken by women to enjoy sex, but rather to make their Husbands and lovers climax.
As is common in society, sex is only to be enjoyed by men and women are to do everything to please men. Reports on Kayan Mata’s use tells of women desperate enough to do anything to keep a man and stop him from cheating. A man’s sexual pleasure is placed in higher regard and concern than a woman’s, and this is
why women like Amra Mansur, who sells her products openly and has conversations with women about how their sex lives and Hauwa Sule Yaro, who sells her products online, have a clientele of women from different countries.
Women who are busting the myths and stereotypes of men as the principal receivers of sexual pleasure are crucial to reclaiming a culture designed for Northern Nigerian women to express their sexuality. Kayan Mata is now challenging norms and taboos used to police women’s bodies for centuries.