Though I am not from the sub-saharan group, I am happy to join this group and share my post and was enjoyed reading through each of the posts on the experiences of first 'period'.
Yes - no matter what - it is something that all females go through, regardless of race, colour, creed.
My first flow --
I was 12, at my final year of Primary school. An only child, having grown up with my 'aunty' and 'uncle' who raised me as their own. They were strict and at times difficult to speak to them about issues, especially personal ones.
I'm trying to recall back - and I think it was at the end of year class party when I had, and well prior to this, I am thankful that our school had started 'sex education' and 'girl talk' where the female teachers would talk to us during Personal Development classes, they even kept some available and told us to let them know, so since knowing that anytime it was due - my friends and I would also be conscious and nervous and panicky incase it 'flowed'.
I remember I didn't use a pad, it was rolled up toilet paper. I think I then built up courage a month or two later to tell my mum (aunty) that I was having my flow.
I remember at times, I'd run out of pads, or use a panty liner thinking it would be ok and end up staining my dress very badly. I hated going through it.
Fast foward the years and after having 3 kids, two of which are girls , one now in her teens and the other just about to hit the teens - I've had to prepare them for their time.
My teenager , we had the 'girl talk' when she was 8. They say kids these days are more mature than before. My daughter reads a lot and so I knew she would already kind of know these things, so when her time came, we were prepared for it and she's done well, though at times, we run out of stock but manage.
My 2nd daughter, (lol!) got an absolute shock when they had 'girl talk' at church and she looked all puzzled and confused. Though she is 9, I knew it wasn't time yet to discuss as her body development was at a slower pace than the older but since the topic had been brought up, we had to discuss.
She now shares with me her experiences about her friends in class, who are couple of years older and much bigger - how this girl stood up and had red stain on her uniform and then another...and the conversations that they have between girls about who will be next. I know it'll be a couple of years yet till she has hers.
In our village: I asked one of the mothers what they use - she said they used a piece of cloth but lately they have been using the 'Chux wipes' they find it convenient as you can go to the sea and wash it , hang it then reuse it again.
The last time we went to the village, we brought a whole roll of Chux wipes.
yes - it is still taboo and people find it awkward talking about it publicly and in a family setting...but slowly that taboo is phasing out, as tv advertisements and radio and more awareness being done.
I believe it comes back to parents, mothers/aunties to educate our young girls early, so that they can prepare well for the time and most importantly include the 'sex' talk that they must keep their bodies holy and pleasing and not encourage pre-marital sex.
A great issue for discussion and debate and one that touches the heart of every women (young and old).