Popularly known as Hausa Chocolate, she sees herself as a kind of superhero, helping the world with what she does. A psychologist, sex therapist in training, and podcast host, Leema talks about her experience spreading the word about proper sexual wellness and literacy, a journey that started with selling sex toys and being the host of a sex podcast.
Who is Hausa Chocolate/Haram Chocolate/Halal Chocolate?
Hausa Chocolate was a nickname my friend gave me years ago. I used to call her Igbo Pudding as well. I made it all my social media handles, and everyone got used to it, and it stuck. The streets adopted it, and they didn’t let it go. Haram chocolate is me when I’m in my bad girl energy, the fun side, the sexy side, while halal chocolate is me when I’m basking in my innocence.
How did you get into sex education and sex therapy?
It was really just random, it wasn’t premeditated. It’s kind of how superheroes are born; they don’t mean to save the world, but they end up doing so when they see a need. It started with sex toys. I used to post them on my private story, and one of my friends used one I recommended. I posted what she said on my main story. Next thing, a bunch of women began to follow me and start asking me questions, and I helped them order. It wasn’t a business or anything at first, so I made no profit with my first few orders. It was just like, “You get an orgasm, you get an orgasm.” The more people ordered and gave reviews, the more I posted, and this led to more people requesting toys. This in turn led me to do more sex research because lots of women had questions. Things kept growing, I had started my psychology MSc at the time, then my podcast, and now my sex therapy certification.
How did the sex podcast come about?
For years, people had pestered me to start a YouTube channel, as far back as 10 years ago from my active Twitter days, but I was running away from it. My podcast is really my Instagram story coming to life because I talk about anything and everything on there. Before sex, there was heavy mental health and feminism content. I have always been a big advocate for women’s issues. I get a lot of interactions from my Instagram stories, so people would share so much. Apart from the fun stuff, I also used to hear things about abuse, slut-shaming, etc., and I generally spoke against those kinds of behaviors. I always used to go off on my stories so much that sometimes they would be like waist beads. People urged me to put all my thoughts or information into a podcast, and after a while, I decided to go for it. I got some offers, found the one that worked for me, and here we are now.
On episodes where you have guests how do you choose the guests to relate to each topic?
It’s really a mix; I usually have a list of things I want to talk about, so I match guests to the episode, for example, finding an asexual person for an episode on asexuality. I really try to make space for various experiences and not give my podcast a solely heteronormative voice. I try to avoid people personalizing my own experiences because different things work for different people, so it’s important to have various perspectives they might relate to. It makes people feel heard or seen. But sometimes, if I know someone who’s really interesting, I give them a list of things to pick from, and they tell me which one they feel most comfortable with. It’s basically a mix-and-match.
Do you have an episode guest that has shocked you so far?
I wouldn’t say I’ve been shocked, but I had a guest that basically called me out when I spoke about something concerning femmes and studs. I was told that my being attracted to femmes could be due to societal beauty standards and my perception of what is attractive. Even though my initial thoughts were that I would rather be with a man than a masculine-presenting woman, it was insightful because I never thought of it from that angle. Not really shocking, but it was lightbulb moment.
During your certification process in sexual therapy, what has surprised you the most?
I’m currently getting a certification in holistic sex therapy, which takes up to 2 years to finish, but I plan to be done in less than a year. It’s a holistic course, which means it’s not just talk therapy, it’s also about mind, body, and spirit connection. There are calming exercises, connection exercises, and other stuff like that. I love how the topics are so wide and vast that even if you think you know about sex, you’re proven wrong because we learn about sex and sexuality from very different perspectives. We learn about genders, trauma, kink, sex-tech, and other stuff. There’s this thing called SAR (Sexual Attitude Reassessment). It’s basically a three-day weekend of live classes, and we learn a lot. We watch sexually explicit material like shibari, masturbation videos, BDSM, learn about sex and people on the spectrum, neurodivergent people, older people, disabled people, etc. The idea is to prepare for anything sex-related. It’s really a blessing because it has opened my mind to thinking about things I normally wouldn’t think of because they don’t affect me directly. For example, how do you explain consent to a neurodivergent person because they can’t pick up social cues? It’s a very amazing experience, and I haven’t even brushed the surface.
Growing up in a Muslim background, does your field of study affect your family dynamic?
I’m half Muslim and half Christian, but I grew up in a Muslim home. I really didn’t face any challenges or issues, I’ve never been someone who has hidden who I am from my family, which makes it very easy for me. My family members sometimes help me dispatch my sex toys. My family members know what I do. I’m someone who can talk with anyone of any age because, all in all, I’m not doing anything wrong. I always say that, first of all, sex is biology, so why should anyone be bothered? It’s just research, if it were any other research or even HR, no one would have a problem, but because it’s sex, some people have an issue. Even during Ramadan, people asked me how I was able to record episodes, and I replied that first of all, it’s work; I’m not going there to play, so treat it as any other job.
Would you advise someone to pursue a career in sex therapy?
Of course. Sex therapy is a whole journey, I also have a psychology degree. I’ve really not seen any actual certified sex therapists in Nigeria. I would also like to work under or with someone before I start my own thing. I can do coaching, classes, and education, but one-on-one therapy is still in the works. A lot of people online are not certified, and they come out and spread misinformation. Sex education is also different because you don’t diagnose or give treatment plans; it’s more of an education regarding sex, pleasure, safety, etc. A sex educator might also end up referring their clients to therapists. If it’s something you want to do, you definitely should, because there are so many Nigerians that will benefit from it. Having another sex podcast won’t be bad either because we need to spread sexual literacy far and wide.
How do you handle controversial or sensitive topics on your show?
I have no reservations when it comes to picking topics for the show. For example, I want to bring on a trans person, there is one popular trans person in Lagos but I haven’t had her on because don’t want to make her the spokesperson for all trans people and she’s been on a few podcasts already. Also, no one can come and beat me, my first priority is the protection of my guests, I want them to be comfortable and there at their will and not under duress. Before the conversation starts I ask them what they’re comfortable sharing and what they’re not. Some people when the cameras are off their vibe is on 10, but once they come on, it’ll drop to like a 2, so it’s important for all my guests to be comfortable.
How do you balance entertainment with education in your podcast?
The goal is that as you’re enjoying the podcast episode, you’re learning. I didn’t want it to just be a casual ‘cock-tales’ podcast of how someone traveled and met this man and had the best sex of their lives, no, each episode has a point. Yes, there’s room for the fun stuff, but the major goal is also learning. How do you ensure that your podcast is inclusive and welcoming to all listeners, regardless of their gender, sexuality, or background? I’ve had openly bisexual, lesbian, and I have gay guys coming on, but I always have to make sure they’re comfortable being on. I just love having marginalized people speak about and share their experiences, especially in Nigeria. I realized I tend to speak from a heteronormative perspective sometimes, and not everyone relates to that. I’m trying to get to a point where I’m very inclusive and neutral in my language and even how I address people
Do you think the orgasm gap in women has reduced?
At the end of the day, I can only speculate. There’s a lot of buzz and noise about the orgasm gap. Videos and clips go viral every day about how to please women, and sometimes I see men talking about the gap reducing or how they listen to their women more, which is really good. Also, with the increased popularity and use of sex toys, more and more people are definitely getting orgasms. Gradually, we’re getting there, and people are becoming more aware that sex should be more pleasurable for both parties. Women are also taking more agency over their bodies and improving the general outcome of intercourse.
What are the challenges you’re currently facing on your sex education journey?
I wouldn't say there are serious challenges so far. It’s just that people are not as outspoken about sex because we are battling things like purity culture, religion, etc. as a society. We’re also in a place where some people cannot speak because of what they stand to lose. I’ve had interactions with different people and even celebrities that I know would be perfect for a topic, but because of their brand and fear of what might happen, they can’t openly share their thoughts and experiences. People are almost 40, and they’re still scared of what their parents will say when they find out what they do. It’s crazy.
You want to see more of Hausa Chocolate?
Follow her on Instagram, @hausachocolate, and watch her waist bead stories.
Looking for sex toys? Check out her page, @hurricanetoys on Instagram.