Courtesy of Dr T

In Conversation: South Africa's Favorite Sex Doctor Launches a Pleasure Revolution

Dr T's new book 'A Guide to Sexual Health & Pleasure' is bringing real talk about sex and intimacy to women all over the world.

Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, or "Dr T" as many South Africans refer to her, is a strong Black woman on a mission to change how people talk about sexual health. She's taking what she's dubbed "the pleasure revolution" all over the country and more recently, New York City, with her new book, Dr T: A Guide to Sexual Health & Pleasure.

For close to a decade, this sex expert has written numerous columns and done numerous media interviews speaking on what everyone wants to talk about but doesn't know how. Recently elected as a Commissioner on South Africa's Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), Dr T is unafraid to take up space and speak up on topics she feels are important.

Overwhelmingly popular on social media, she's become a beacon of light in a country dealing with an unceasing war on women. In the midst of a femicide crisis and an alarming culture of gender-based violence, Dr T has been among the many women, Black women especially, throwing a huge middle finger to the dominant patriarchal system. The pleasure revolution, according to her, is not only about tackling the issue of pervasive violence but also reclaiming our power as women. "We can't let them steal all our joy," she says simply.

We caught up with her to talk about her new book, what she hopes the pleasure revolution will achieve and her important work in advocating for the decriminalization of sex work.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


Would you say that women are more willing to have constructive conversations about sex compared to men?

I think women are more judged for talking about sex. I think the problem is not so much that women don't know how to speak about it, we do. We do enjoy sex, we do know our bodies, we do enjoy them, but the problem is that we get shamed for speaking on the truth. It's not that women are less empowered, or anything, it's just that society in general shames us for being honest about our sexuality.

Do you think in light of what continues to happen in South Africa to women, is a matter of not understanding what consent is, fundamentally?

No. People understand consent, especially when the power dynamic is changed, and suddenly they [men] are the ones with less power, or less autonomy in that situation—suddenly they understand what rights are about, or what consent is about. It's not a lack of understanding really because consent is not just about sex which is what I stress in the book. It's about talking, and understanding consent for everything, including sex.

People do understand consent, and this is why when you talk about sexual violence, or harassment, we always stress the point that it's about power and people generally do things they know they can get away with. It's something that we need to continue to tell children and our women especially because even if we look at romantic movies, if you look at a lot of content around sex, and romance, you really never see consent being actively sought. So even the content that's being created and normalized, is missing a lot of key points around consent.

Dr. T on her book "A guide to sexual health and pleasure"www.youtube.com

Gender-based violence is widespread. What do you think contributes to South Africa's particular brand of gender-based violence and alarming rape statistics?

I think it's because there aren't any consequences. You live in a country where there aren't any consequences for any crime. Literally, anybody can get away with anything, and that speaks to a general problem of policing, of the justice system, and the fact that there isn't enough preventive measures.

Everyone is good at diagnosing the problem, everyone reacts to the statistics, but nobody is willing to put their money on prevention. Prevention encompasses comprehensive sex education in schools which is, however, being opposed by Christian political parties. This is despite research that shows that comprehensive sex education is actually a good life skill to have. You also live in a society where the default setting to solve anything, is violence. Equally, language is important. I always say if you're talking about rape, you must talk about rape. There's no "underage sex", there's nothing like that. It's rape. If you still use the word "sex" to describe rape, that's part of the problem.

Do you think that the government is really tackling this issue as aggressively as they should?

Nah, not if you look at the levels of rape, violence and everything that's happening in the country. It doesn't make sense how we are still carrying on as if life is normal. This is not the first we've had crime stats that suggest that rape is out of control. It's been decade after decade, year after year, month after month and day after day. There is no urgency at all.

"It's almost like someone needs to shake someone awake because there aren't even enough words left to explain the depth of the trauma that all of us have to live with every day."

We're just trying to get to work, get home, get to school, and get back home but you could be a victim at all of these places. Can you imagine the psychology of trying to be a person in South Africa, who could potentially be raped every single day regardless of where you are? The 1 billion Rand set aside by government is for this financial year. The financial year is coming to an end in March, and then what's going to happen?

What is your message to the men in South Africa?

They must just stop raping. That's what they must do. I think all of us are just exhausted from this whole thing, but I think at the end of the day, we also can't let them steal all our joy. Which I think for me is important about the book. We are going to have to re-normalize, and center women's pleasure, and show the power that women have over their own body again. Otherwise, the trap that we end up falling into is that we are going to speak about the violence as if that's the only experience that we've ever had. That's why again, I suppose it's a part of the pleasure revolution to say that, even in this crisis, even with all of that's going on, we do know what is good for our bodies. We do know what sexual expression is, we do know what healthy consensual relationships are. It's precisely because we know those things, that we are demanding better.

There's a section on sexual rights at the end of your book and I know you're a huge advocate in terms of sex work, and getting sex work decriminalized in South Africa. What's the best way to have society get around the idea?

We don't care how they get around it. We want human rights for sex workers. We don't have to understand every single aspect of a person's life for us to then be like, "Oh, now because we understand it, you can have human rights". Human rights don't work that way.

Decriminalization is about removing the penalty in the law. It's not about making sure that children don't get into sex work. It's not about making sure that women are not exploited. It's not about making sure that people are not having sex in the street. That's not sex work because even sex workers are against all of that. Sex workers are against exploitation, sex workers are against trafficking, sex workers are against drugs because that is not sex work.

Would you say there's still a sort of conservatism around speaking about sex in general?

Yeah there is. I think one of the things is that people who are more comfortable to talk about sex, talk about sex. For some reason, people tend to comment more about how outspoken you are as a person, just because you're talking about sex. People think it's inherently taboo, or it's inherently embarrassing, or it's inherently difficult. And I think that is telling, just in terms of the power dynamics around pleasure, for example. When it's women's pleasure that's being discussed, suddenly we have all these "morals" we want to be considered.

"But when it's the pleasure of men, suddenly it's all about freedom and power, in the fact that they must be sexual."

I think the topic of sex, and pleasure, and expression is one that demands that people really introspect in what they believe for themselves, but also what their responsibilities are, once they interact with other people.

You can purchase Dr T's book here or on Amazon.

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"My Time is Up:" Trevor Noah Talks About Leaving 'The Daily Show' After 7 Years

The South African comedian announced that he would be leaving the Comedy Central series after his seven-year tenure.

Trevor Noah announced that he will be leaving The Daily Show after seven years.

In his statement Noah described his experience hosting the show as "absolutely amazing."

“It’s been absolutely amazing. It’s something that I never expected,” Noah said. “I found myself thinking throughout the time of everything we’ve gone through. The Trump presidency, the pandemic, just the journey, more pandemic and I realize that after the seven years, my time is up.”

Following the departure of Jon Stewart from the show in 2015, the South African comedian became the show's host, and has since interviewed the likes of Barack Obama, Burna Boy, Davido and a host of other notable public figures. The 38-year-old has also used his platform to elevate African artistry and elevate the African experience. Noah alluded to the idea that his decision to leave the show was inspired partly by his interest in returning to stand up comedy and exploring his skillset that way. Noah also thanked his viewers for giving him an opportunity when he first came on the American scene as a comedian who very few knew about.

“I spent two years in my apartment, not on the road, and when I got back out there, I realized there’s another part of my life out there that I want to carry on exploring. I miss learning other languages. I miss going to other countries and putting on shows,” said Noah.

Noah also referred to the show as "one of the greatest joys" of his life, and has credited the show for helping him hone his creative muscle.

“I’ve loved hosting this show, it’s been one of my greatest challenges and one of my greatest joys,” Noah said. “I’ve loved trying to find a way to make people laugh, even when the stories are particularly shitty, even on the worst days. We’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together.”

Although he did not make any comments about his last day on the show, or exactly when he would exit, he did humorously say that he would not abruptly leave without prior warning.

“Don’t worry, I’m not disappearing,” said Noah. “If I owe you money, I’ll still pay you.”

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Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

Meet the Ghanaian Biker Community Led by Women

From riding motorcycles as a hobby to pushing charitable causes, Biker Girls Gh are always in motion.

In Ghana, there is a staunch stereotype that comes with riding a motorcycle. The notion persists that people who ride them are vagabonds, criminals, and social misfits. This mindset has slowly festered and is now deep-rooted in the typical Ghanaian society. Aside from the negatives, there is the fear for life when one mounts a motorcycle and, as such, many Ghanaian homes have been against motorbikes.

Enter Jessica Opare Saforo, who is redefining what this means with Biker Girls Gh, a women-led biker collective she founded in 2018. In a fairly conservative society like Ghana, to see women riding around freely attracted quite the attention.

However, be it one of indignance or admiration, Jessica didn’t really care about the conjecture people had about the group. “For me, creating this group wasn’t about what people thought," Saforo tells OkayAfrica. "OK, if you thought women weren’t supposed to ride. That was your headache, not mine.”

How it all began

motorcycle

Most bikes are manufactured with men’s physique in mind. Women might find it difficult to find the right fit for them.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

Biker Girls Gh was created after Saforo's mother passed away in February 2018. Losing someone she was extremely close to devastated her and she found solace on the wheels of a motorcycle.

“I lost my mother and I figured, you know, I had this passion that I wanted to pursue for the longest time. And I felt you only live once. Why don't you just embark on something that you have always wanted to do?," Saforo said. "Because time is not given. And, tomorrow's not guaranteed.”

She reached out to Rosina Fynn, the executive director of Biker Girls Gh and one of the very few women actively biking at the time. Fynn's husband, a member of Biker Girls, offered biking lessons and Jessica learned from there. Over time, Saforo found that being on bike helped alleviate her pain.

“On the motorcycle, you cannot multitask," she said. “So whenever I was on a motorcycle, I didn’t think about her and the pain too much. That helped me cope better. You just learn to live with the pain and hope they are in a better place.”

Biker Girls Gh riding in streets

“Before you officially join the group, we take you out on a fun ride to assess how you ride and also gel with the girls," Saforo said. "This is done like three times."

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

She decided then to form a community of women who simply loved riding like herself. Interestingly, she didn’t have to convince women to join. Representation really does matter. Women got the nudge they needed when they saw her — unapologetically being herself — on the motorcycle.

“You would see people on television or maybe on the internet who would ride and you'd think, 'Oh, that's such an interesting sport or an interesting hobby to have.' But you would think it was out of reach," Saforo said. "'Till you realize your next-door neighbor is a female rider and then you‘re like, 'Oh, wait, it's not so far out of reach.' And then you say to yourself, 'OK, this is something I can do, too.’”

Most bikes are manufactured with men’s physique in mind. Women might find it difficult to find the right fit for them. (Even though Saforo suggests the Kawasaki as ideal for women between 5’5 to 5’8.) And motorcycling is a relatively high-risk hobby; safety is non-negotiable. Biker Girls Gh is stern on safety precautions, which sounds intimidating to the average rider or new rider. But it is a policy they are unwilling to compromise on. Should a member ride without their full gear on three times in a row, the group exercises measures like suspension.

The group doesn’t offer bike lessons and new members must have their own motorcycles as a prerequisite. They must also be experienced riders or ideally be above beginner level. A motorcycling license is also a prerequisite.

“Before you officially join the group, we take you out on a fun ride to assess how you ride and also gel with the girls," Saforo said. "This is done like three times."

Charitable Ladies on the Bike

A group of women in bike group

Biker Girls Gh features bankers, content creators, electrical engineers, managing directors, and CEOs.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

A noticeable feature of the group is how most of the women come from different professional backgrounds. There are bankers, content creators, electrical engineers, managing directors, and CEOs. Targeting this peculiar bevy of ladies was deliberate for Saforo. She didn’t want to be like other groups, so standing out was imperative to the group.

“Being able to pull women from various spheres of life helps us and gives us the necessary leverage we need to move further,” she said.

The core objective of the group has always been about riding. But they have also embraced philanthropy. In 2019, they rode all the way from Accra to Prampram where they donated immensely to the Kinder Paradise Orphanage. In 2021, they paid the medical bills of women stuck in the hospital for owing medical fees and donated to prison inmates at Akuse who couldn’t afford healthy meals. They also collaborated with the “Kenkey for the Needy” project in 2022 to provide food for street kids in Accra.

Inspirational sisters spurring each other up

black women with mask

The core objective of Biker Girls Gh has always been about riding. But they have also embraced philanthropy.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

The camaraderie and sisterhood in the group is profound, which encapsulate a solid support system that inspire members to be the best versions of themselves.

“Ninety-five percent of the group are in leadership or mid-level roles in their respective careers,” Saforo said. “We have a WhatsApp group where we discuss socio-economic issues, sometimes issues concerning women just to stimulate the sisterhood. Once a month, we meet to have breakfast or lunch to catch up. We do acknowledge that times are hard in Ghana and everyone is struggling. Sometimes you don’t just want to text anything in a WhatsApp group but if you meet your sister you can tell her about it.”

Beyond that, personal friendships are also forming within the group which just firmly grounds the group the more. Biker Girls Gh are currently 17 women and Jessica iterates the fact that she doesn’t care about the number necessarily — all she strives for is quality in the group.

Idahams Wants to Soundtrack Life's Beauty & Battles

From the Island of Bonny to Lagos and now, the world, Idahams has a lot of stories to tell. We speak to him about his immersive and tender debut album, Truth, Love & Confessions.

The south got something to say. Actually, in the sprawling world of Nigerian pop, it has been speaking for a while now, with the likes of Rema, Omah Lay and Ajebo Hustlers riding on the region’s genre-fluid practices to popular acclaim. Another name in that conversation isIdahams, a producer and musician who recently released his debut album, Truth, Love & Confessions. It was a quiet Saturday when OkayAfrica recently spoke with him, discussing stories far broader than the thirteen songs which make up TLC.

“I wanted it to be a different one,” he says about his vision for the project. “Not like what we’ve heard before, you know, something people can always go back to when they want to be inspired, when they want to be emotional, something that can stand the test of time. I didn’t want the sound to be what we’ve heard in the past couple of years, so I took my time.”

Being a producer allows Idahams creative license, and he’s much involved in the sound of Trust, Love & Confessions, too. He usually sends sound frames of what he needs to his collaborating producers, and they work around that vision. “I’m always intentional when it comes to making a song,” he says, placing his potential listeners somewhere in that radar.

A shimmering emotional presence lies at the core of TLC. With its title preceding the ambition, the records are inspired by both true and fictional experiences, all rendered purposefully by Idahams’ fine knowledge of sound. From the glorious opener “Gratitude” which utilizes a church choir to the descriptions of a toxic relationship laden in “Hate That I Love,” the album’s themes follow a progressive path. The production is minimal and exquisite, carrying the personal convictions of Idahams with light, almost watery ease.

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