Growing Up Sexually

World Reference Atlas (Oct., 2002)

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Janssen, D. F. (Oct., 2002). Growing Up Sexually. Volume I: World Reference Atlas.

Interim report. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

 

 

Sub-Saharan Africa

[Janssen, D. F. (Oct., 2002). Growing Up Sexually in Sub-Saharan Africa. Interim Excerpt. Amsterdam, The Netherlands]


 

 

"Easy, easy, many women will weep if you err"

 

"Now unfold your scrotums and sleep in it"

 

"Nyina owe, nyina owe, mayo wandi fuma ingawile nyina owe,

nyina owe, nalete cisungu candi, nyina owe, nyina owe"[1]

 

 

 


 

Geographic Index[2]

 

Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rhodesia. See Zambia, Zimbabwe; Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Chad, Togo, Uganda, Upper Volta. See Burkina Faso; Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe

 

 



Ethnographic Index[3]

 

 !Kung, !Xo (!Ko),  ¹Auin, Ababoua, Abyssinia, Acholi, Adamaoua, Afar, Afikpo Igbo, Ahaggaren. See Taureg; Akan, Akela, Akwapim, Alur, Amhara, Amwimbe, Anaguta, Ariaal Rendille, Asaba Ibo, Ashanti. See Akan, Atonga, Azande. See Zande, Azimba, Baamba, Babunda, Bachiga, Bafia, Baganda, Bageshu, Bahemba, Bahima, Bahuana, Bahuma Bajoro, Baja, Bajok  (Badjok), Bakene, Bakongo, Bakulia, Bakuria, Bakwa-Luntu, Bala, Bali (Cameroon), Baluba, Bambala, Bambara, Banen. See Bafia, Bangala, Bangwa, Bankutu, Bantu Tribes, Barabaig, Baraguyu, Bari, Barue, Barundi, Basala, Basoko, Basonge. See Bala, Basuto, Baushi, Bayamwezi, Bechuana (Becwana). See Tswana, Beja, Bela, Bemba, Bena, Bergdama, Betchuans, Beti, Bini, Bisa, Boloki. See Bangala, Borroro Fulani, Bovale, Bubi, Bwamba, Bwela, Bwiti, Cewa, Chagga, Cheperon, Chewa. See Cewa, Chuka, Copts, Dahomey, Dakarkaki, Damara. See Bergdama, Darod, Didinga, Dinka, Dobe Ju/'Hoansi, Dogons, Edo, Efik, Etap, Eton. See Beti, Ewe, Fali, Fan, Fang, Fanti, Fingo, Fon. See Dahomey, Fulani / Fulbe, G/andakhoe, G/wi, Ga, Galas, Ganda, Gisu, Gogo, Guang, Guro, Gusii, Hambukushu, Hausa, Hehe, Herero, Hima, Hottentots, Hovas, Ibibio, Ibo, Igala, Igbira, Igbo. See Ibo, Ijaw, Ijo, Ik, Ila, Inggassana, Irigwe, Isala, Isoko, Iteso, Jaluo. See Luo; Jekri, Jie, Kabyles, Kadara, Kaffa (Kafa), Kafir, Kagoro, Kaguru, Kajji, Kamba, Kanuri, Kaonde, Karanga, Karogo, Nilotic Kavirondo. See Luo; Kgalagari, Kgatla, KhoeKhoe / Khoikhoin, Khoisan. See San; Kikui / Kikuyu, Kipsigis, Kiziba, Koalib, Kofjar, Kokomba, Kore, Kpelle, Krobo, Kua Bushmen, Kuba, Kuku, Kuranko, Kuria, Kwahu (Akan), Kwere, Kyiribra, Lake Nyasa, Lakka, Lala, Lalia-Ngolu, Lambas, Lango, Lega, Lemba, Lenda, Lobedu, Lozi, Luba. See Baluba, Lugbara/ Lugbwara/Lugwari, Luguru, Lugwari, Luimi, Lunda, Luo, Luvale, M'wemba, Majangir, Maka, Makonde, Mambwe, Mandari, Mangbetu, Manjak, Maragoli, Marghi, Marutze. See Lozi; Masai/ Maasai, Massawa, Matabele, Mbaise Igbo, Mbo, Mbum, Mbundu, Mbuti, Mende, Meru, Moroa, Mossi, Mouktélé, Mukete, Muyaka, Mvae, N'Jemp, Nama Hottentot, Nambyans, Nandi, Ndembu, Ngindo, Ngoni, Ngulu, Ngwana, Nharo, Nkole, Nkonde, Nkoya, Nkudu, Nkundo / Nkundo Mongo, Nso', Nuba, Nuer, Nupe, Nyakyusa, Nyamwezi, Okrika, Orri, Ovambos, Pangwe, Parakuyo, Pedi, Peul. See Fulani, Pokomo, Pondo, Poro, Qemant, Rega, Riffian, Rukuba, Sabey, Samburu, San, Sara, Sebei, Senoufo, Shambala, Shanti. See Akan, Shilluk, Shona, Shuwalbe Fulani, Sisala. See Isala, So, Somali, Sotho. See Pedi, Suba, Subiya, Sukuma, Suto, Swahili, Swasi, Tallensi, Tanala, Tebu, Teita, Tetela, Thonga, Tiriki, Tiv, Tofoke, Tonga, Toucouleur, Tshidi Barolong, Tshi-speaking people, Tswana, Tuareg, Tuken, Turu, Twi. See Ashanti, Udhuk, Urhobo, Vagla, Valave, Valenge, Venda, Wageia, Wagenia, Wahiwé, Wanguru, Warega. See Lega; Wa-Sania, Wolof, Xesibe, Xhosa / Urbanised Xhosa, Yakoe, Yao, Yombe, Yoruba, Zande, Zaramo. See Luguru; Zimba, Zulu; [uncovered SCCS]


 



 

Contents

 

Sub-Saharan Africa. 1

 

Introduction: Is There an "African" Sexual Socialisation?  4

Ratings and Tabularisation  7

Current Age of Consent  7

Contrasexual Genital Morphology Alterating Practices, Female Genitalia  8

Infant "Genital Parenting"  13

Masturbation and Self-Preparation  14

Childhood Sexual Behaviour: Ethnohistoric Impression  16

Curricular Aphodisiaca, Love Magic, etc.  16

Precolonial Coitarche : Ethnohistoric Impression  16

Early and Age-Stratified Betrothal  19

Early and Age-Stratified Marriage  20

Girl Meets Boy: Chronological Aspects  21

Animal Contacts  21

"Sexual" Initiation: Ceremonial and Pubertal License  22

Contemporary Coitarche  23

Age-Stratified Love of Boys; Prostitution  24

Sugar Daddies  26

Initiation and Instruction  28

The Instructrix/-Tor  28

 

Ethnographic Atlas  30

 

Additional Reading  131

 

Notes 131

 



 

Introduction: Is There an "African" Sexual Socialisation?  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Contemporary African sexual behaviour, particularly in adolescence, is exceedingly well studied. Previous material was collected by Barton (1991)[4], in a 2065 item review of works on African sexuality, particularly from a biomedical perspective. Other useful works include those presented by Standing and Kisekka (1989)[5] and Beck (1979)[6] and further by Molnos (1973, III)[7]. The present overview does not purport to present an analysis of "African sexuality" or its legitimacy. Some incidental authors have provided generals (consider Ayisi[8], Cudjoe[9]), but these accounts brush over most of the salience of African sexual socialisation patterns. Whereas Caldwell et al.'s[10] "distinct and internally coherent African system" (as characterized by the scene of decent and the maintenance of the lineage; lineal inheritance systems; female dominated agriculture; and fertility) left "a fair degree of permissiveness towards premarital relations", Le Blanc et al.[11], Ahlberg[12], Savage and Tchombe[13] as well as Taylor[14] opposed this view as generalist, selective and even moralistic. The minor controversy, originating from a discussion on HIV transmission patterns, has drawn some attention of historians.

In search of a regionalist view of sexual socialisation, Delius and Glaser[15] broadly argue that:

 

"Some commentators have suggested that a promiscuous and violent sexual culture is primordial in Africa. But if one turns to the literature on many pre-colonial and early colonial African societies in this region there is evidence which suggests high degrees of sexual education and regulation. These forms of control took place particularly through peer group forms of socialisation and the practice of male and female initiation which limited the form and incidence of pre-marital sex and the levels of sexual violence. There is of course the danger of notions of a lost golden age colouring this characterisation and the evidence for it needs to be critically assessed. The perception and practice of gender relations that reigned at this time also need further scrutiny. But even if this portrait is only partly true it does suggest that a more dynamic and periodised understanding is required of sexual culture. We believe that in order to achieve this it is necessary to examine the impact of Christianity, migrancy, urbanisation, and youth led popular revolt on forms of sexual socialisation".

 

Mcfadden[16] further believes that

 

"Africans foster heterosexuality through socialization from early childhood and discourage any sign of sexual stimulation in their children. After teaching that humans are "naturally" heterosexual, Africans teach their children that marriage is essential for the moral uprightness of society, although most Africans are, in fact, raised in many types of alternative families".

 

In Africa, the concept of "traditional" sexual socialisation is voiced in various ways, most arguments being based on a sense of loss and deficiency, particularly in facing HIV. It has been claimed, for instance, that "[t]he incidence of sexual activity before marriage provides an indication of the extent of erosion in traditional practices and in family control of young women's behavior in urban areas"[17]. Thus, "[i]n the light of civilization that has come to erode some of the sexual constraints in the traditional African society's opennes today toward sexuality and sexual expression, adolescents commence sexual activity at an increasing earlier age and the average marriage come much later. It is therefore not surprising that an increasing proportion of adolescents in Nigeria are engaging in teenage prostitution"[18]. Dossou-yovo[19] argues that "[i]n traditional Africa, sex education was diffuse and was implicit at the family and society levels; simply stated, there was no fooling around before marriage of any kind. When traditions collapsed after west African colonization and liberation, parents in francophone Africa turned to the school system for help. But, until the last decade, the schools have failed to coordinate a sex education program backed by a stable philosophy [which] is in great contrast to anglophone Africa". Others have more neutrally argued that "[a]s traditional cultural influences on adolescent sexuality in Africa have diminished, peer interaction and modern influences have gained importance"[20]. In this context, Renne[21] notes that for those educators, "[…] neither an unmitigated return to the "traditional," nor a wholehearted embrace of a "modern" way of life offers unambiguous answers for those who yearn to protect the younger generation from harm".

 

"In African cultures, the discussion of sexual issues is generally considered a sensitive subject. Parents cannot directly discuss sexual matters with their children. Studies found that rural and urban parents, and even the professional community, feel that sexuality can only be discussed through a third party, who might be an aunt, an uncle or a grandparent (Meursuing, 1993; Loewenson & Chikamba, 1994)[[22]]. Due to the breakdown of tradition and the extended family structures, effects of urbanization and migration of people from the rural to urban areas, the role taken by such family members in educating children about sex is diminishing. Uncles, aunts and grandparents now tend to live far away and this makes it impossible for them to provide sex education. Their role has been taken over by the teachers in schools and parents in the home. However, some children such as street children are neither at home nor in an institution such as the school in which they might receive education on sexuality. Even those children at home or attending school do not receive adequate and realistic information about sex, because it is viewed as embarrassing. As a result children get too little or no meaningful information at all about sexuality and tend to experiment with sex, based on the little sexual information they come across in books, on television and from their peers"[23].

 

General statements on African sexual development include the (overtly antioccidentalist) one of Guyon (1929)[24] where he notes that "[s]elon beaucoup de voyageurs, dans les pays chauds, à Madagascar, sur les rives de la Plata, en Afrique, etc…, les relations sexuelles commencent entre enfants à l'âge de 6 à 7 ans".  A further rough, antioccidentalist sketch of sexual development provided by Edwardes and Masters (1963)[25] agrees with that of De Rachewiltz (1963 [1964:ch.5])[26] in that children were raised in comparative liberty. Thus, authors have offered the generalising view that "[i]n traditional African culture, parents taught their children about sex starting from the age of six to eight […]" (Mungazi, 1996:p56)[27].

 

The "African" concept of childhood and the value of children being discussed in several writings[28], a distinct ethnohistroical juxtaposition of "African" versus "Western" sexual upbringing has not been forwarded. In the mean time, Knapen[29]'s early schematic cultural opposition of "Western" vs. "African" socialisation characteristics (p228-9) offers the tentative, and very global, portrayal of sexual socialisation as being (a, f) more of a social than an individual discourse, by stressing collectivism rather than independence and individualism; (b) more 'realistic' and applied; (c) appealing to communal duty rather than to personal inclination; (d) entailing the promotion of certainties "that nature looks after normal growth" rather than "encouragement of the wish to grow up"; and (e) encouraging the normal rather than managing and policing the exceptional.

 

Not covering sex behaviour socialisation, Welch[30] argued that "our knowledge of African socialization practices is rather limited and, therefore, much more research is needed before we will be able to understand these value transmission processes in any detailed way" (p15). Generally, authors agree on the traditional sexual liberty of children in Africa, but unusual restriction is also noted. To instil shame, for instance, boys could be apparently be punished by slaps on the penis with a twig[31]. African childhood sexual learning depends in crucial ways on the dripping down of data through adult folklore (Lallemand, 1985)[32], children incorporating the way of things by observation, but certainly by overhearing. [Some adolescent folklore (love declarations) were collected in Leopoldville by Raymaekers[33] who writes: "Il semble que les relations sexuelles ente jeunes gens débutent dès la plus tendre enfance sans pour autant, évidemment, que les jeunes réalisent pleinement la signification de l'acte qu'ils posent" (p8).]

 

[Additional refs.: Sonnabend, H. (1932) Note preliminari di demographia africana, Metron 10: 93-129; Hambly, W. D. (1961) Sex life of Africans, in Ellis, A. & Abarbanel, A. (Eds.) The Encyclopaedia of Sexual Behavior, Volume 1. London: W. Heinemann, p69-74; Staples, R. (1972) Research on Black Sexuality: Its Implications for Family Life, Sex Education, and Public Policy, Fam Coordinator 21,2:183-8; Dougall, J. W. C. (Ed., 1937) Christianity and the Sex-Education of the African. London: S.P.C.K]

 

 

Ratings and Tabularisation  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

As indicated in Table 1, forty-three African SCCS societies are coded by Barry III, Josephson et al. (1976)[34]. The Thonga, Bemba and Tiv remained entirely unrated for childhood, while three societies are only partially coded for childhood (Suku, Azande, Teda). One or both of adolescent ratings[35] are missing for SCCS Tiv, Ibo, Shilluk, Mao, Masai, and Bogo. Further ratings are indicated for SCCS tribes with initiations characterised by an apparent sexological relevance[36], Deleeuwe's abstract from Ford and Beach[37], etc.

 

 

Current Age of Consent[38]  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Graupner (2000)[39] is remarkably silent about consent ages, offering data only for South Africa. Legal matters pertaining to "Sexual Offenses Against Minors", and civil marriage ages, are collected by the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP)[40] and by ECPAT[41] (see further Smyth[42]).

 

The following ages are given by the ILGA (2000)[43]: in Burkina Faso it is 13 (het)/ 21 (hom). In South Africa, it is 16 (het)/ 19 (hom).

In Swaziland, the age of consent is currently 18. As in South-Africa[44], in Namibia, a girl under the age of twelve years can not legally consent to sexual intercourse. While the legal age of consent for a boy is seven and older (no child under the age of seven can be convicted of a crime under any circumstances), even if the girl has in fact given consent for sexual intercourse, the act is considered rape. If a girl aged between twelve and sixteen consents to sexual intercourse, the accused is not guilty of rape, but guilty of an offence described in Section 14. A recent draft rape statute proposed by the government would make the age of consent 12 for both boys and girls, provided that the perpetrator is at least three years older. This provision would be supplemented by the lesser offence of "statutory rape", which makes it illegal for males to engage in sexual activity with girls under the age of 16, regardless of consent.

Similarly, in Zimbabwe, the common-law age of consent for rape is 12, but is supplemented by "statutory rape" which covers persons under the age of 16.

In Botswana,"[a]ny person who unlawfully and carnally knows any girl under the age of sixteen (16) years is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for life, with or without corporal punishment"" (Defilement of girls under sixteen (16) years of age', Section 147, Penal Code). Meanwhile, "[a]ny person who unlawfully and indecently assaults a boy under the age of fourteen (14) is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years" (Section 166). According to the Ivory Coast Penal Code, a sexual exploiter; owner, operator, or proprietor of a place of prostitution; and anyone who traffics, seduces or leads another to prostitution is subject to loss of rights if the victim is under 15 years of age. In Kenya, "[a] male person under the age of twelve (12) years is presumed to be incapable of having carnal knowledge" (Section 14, Paragraph 3 of the Penal Code CAP. 63). Also, "[i]t shall be no defence to a charge for an indecent assault on a girl under the age of fourteen (14) years to prove that she consented to the act of indecency" (Section 144, 2). "Any person who unlawfully and carnally knows any girl under the age of fourteen (14) years is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment with hard labour for fourteen years together with corporal punishment" (Section 145, 1), unless the girl is his wife. "Any person who unlawfully and indecently assault a boy under the age of fourteen (14) years is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for seven years, with or without corporal punishment" (Section 164). In Liberia, penal law stipulates that sexual intercourse with a girl below 16 years is "statutory" rape. In Nigeria, where female coitarche occurs on average at 13 years, "[s]exual intercourse by a man with his own wife is not rape, if she has attained to puberty". In addition, the Criminal Code provides for life imprisonment for any person who has unlawful "carnal knowledge" of a girl under the age of 13".

 

 

Contrasexual Genital Morphology Alterating Practices, Female Genitalia[45]  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

 

Sunna, Female Circumcision[46]  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

On discussing early sexual behaviours, one cannot escape the practice of genital surgery of girls, often before or at pubescence. The matter is severely condemned by individualist and collective feminist projects under the terms "mutilation", regardless of its alleged "emic" significance.

Clitoral amputation is customarily done very early in age; the term, however, is applied to circumcision (Sunna), partial and total removal of clitoral tissue. A report[47] from Nigeria in 1983 indicated that from children under five years of age (96.5%), two in three had been clitoridectomised. By one month and three months of age 75.5 per cent and 89 per cent, respectively had been operated upon. (82% of the mothers believed that (later) promiscuity was less likely in the operated, although only 2.4% volunteered this as a reason for the surgery[48].)

Sunna (removal of the clitoral prepuce and the tip of the clitoris) was practiced in Egypt, Sudan and Somalia (Abdalla, 1982; Hosken, 1982; Koso-Thomas, 1987)[49]. Excision or clitoridectomy (removal of the entire clitoris, usually together with the adjacent parts of the labia minora and sometimes all of the external genitalia, except parts of the labia majora) is practiced widely in Somalia, Chad, Central Africa, Northern regions of Cameroon, and Zaire, Niger, Togo, Benin, Ghana[50], Sierra Leone, Guinea, Upper Volta, Senegal, the Gambia, Southern regions of Mauritania, and Northern parts of Nigeria (Abdalla, 1982; Hosken, 1982)[51]. Infibulation or Pharaonic circumcision is widely practiced in Somalia, Northern parts of Kenya, Djibouti, Eastern part of Ethiopia (Ogaden), Eritrea, Sudan, Mali, Upper Egypt and isolated areas of Nigeria (Hosken, 1982; Gallo Grassivaro, 1985)[52].

 

Female "circumcision" is frequently ascribed an anti-aphrodisiac intent. A study[53] of 859 rural women in 16 semipastoralist and semiagricultural villages in Southern Somalia reaffirmed the special significance of female circumcision as "a source of full womanhood and an instrument for the control of female sexuality" in Somalia. Bryk (1928:p55) remarks:

 

"Vom achten Jahre as ist des Mädchen Gemeingut. Jeder, der nur über wenig männliche Überredungskunst verfügt, kann es bekommen. Die ganz kleinen Mädchen schlafen mit gleichaltrigen Buben, die älteren etwa zwölfjährigen und darüber hinaus, werden selbst von verheirateten Kriegern nicht verschmäht. Die Eltern mischen sich in diese Liebeleien nicht ein; sie haben auch keine Gelegenheit, darüber etwas zu erfahren, da Mädchen wie Buben nicht zu Hause schlafen und bei der herrschenden Prüderie, die streng verbietet, in Gegenwart der Äleteren etwas Anstößiges oder Unanständiges nur anzudeuten, ihnen niemand etwas hierüber mitteilt. […] Die Beschneidung […] setzt dem tollen Treiben  der Mädchen Schranken. Aus Gemeingut wird es Privateigentum".

 

Clitoridectomy thus was argued to enable enforcement of monogamy, or rather, the production of a monogamous wife.

 

[Additional refs.: Duncan, B. & Hernlund, Y. (2000) Female Circumcision in Africa: Culture, Controversy and Change. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers]

 

 

Female Infibulation, With a Special Attention to Its Prepubertal Timing[54] (®Vol. II, §13.2.2)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Some African tribes took or take considerable measures to preserve chastity even before puberty. De Cardi (1899:p59-60)[55] mentions the practice of  "scraping the labia pudendi externa until a raw surface is formed; then the two parts are brought together and kept in that position until the labia grow together, thus completely closing up the opening into the vagina. When the female thus operated upon draws near the age of puberty, she […] undergoes a second operation which consists of this false hymen being perforated by one of the old women of the tribe by the insertion of an ivory probe about the thickness of a lead pencil, this being done to allow the free passage of the menses".

 

The most obvious case of contrasexual morphology alteration is female infibulation, which may include clitoral amputation. Buschan (1912:p235-6)[56] dates the practice at age 7 to 8, Widstrand (1964)[57] at ages 6-8. Worseley (1938)[58] indicates that infibulation was done eighth day after birth among the Abyssinia; a few weeks after birth in Arabia; at 3 to 8 years among the Copts; at 6 to 7 years in Sudan[59] and "modern" Egypt (though this may be much later[60]); at 8 to 10 years among the Somalis; at 9 to 10 years in Upper Egypt; and at age 10 years in Peru. Among the reasons listed were the reduction [prevention?] of sexual passion, and the prevention of labial hypertrophy said to be caused by prolonged masturbation. Another source[61] gives the following age estimates: 3 years (Senaar, South of Nubia; Danakil), 6 years (Sudan), 7 years (Harrar), 8 years (Malayan Mohammedans, Kordofan) and from 8 to 9 years (Massawa; Beja; Galas; Somalia). Concluding, it is said that 80-90% of Somalian and Sudanese girls are infibulated by age seven or eight (Hicks,1986, 1993; Hosken, 1982; Lightfoot-Klein, 1989; Van der Kwaak, 1992)[62]. Lowenfels and Pieters (1977)[63] state that in Somaliland and the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, "the procedure has been freely performed on prepubertal girls […]". According to data collected by Gallo and Abdisamed (1985)[64] Somalian infibulation was only carried out between the age of 2 and 15, and the mode was 7 years old; Melly (1935)[65] also noted an average of age 7. Many of the attenuated forms were carried out at birth (7.8 %) or in the first year (2.3 %).

 

Infibulation are frequently legitimised as prophylactic sexologically, as opposed to curative (e.g., Nubia).

 

 

Nonbloody Prosexual Morphology Alteration Practices: Cunnus  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Rarely addressed by anti-mutilationists, nonbloody techniques are noted occasionally in Africa, as reviewed in full elsewhere[66] (cf. for cunnus preparation, Growing Up Sexually, Vol. II, §13.1.2).Cosmetic of functional preparation in some way of another is practised in a large number of African (and Oceanic) societies[67]. The technique of preparing the nymphae is taught or performed by the mother (Nkundo, Luba, Hottentot,  Zimbabwe [vaRemba]), or by older comrades (Betchuans, Shona, Baushi), and attached to institutions such as puberty schools (Venda). There seems to be two major timing patterns: one in infancy (maternal), and one peripubertal, commonly peri-initiatory. In the latter case, the custom seems to be a social event, done in secret or semi-private congregations (Batetela, Nkundo, Betchuans, Luba), and also mutually ("Grand Lacs" [Great Lakes] peoples, Burundi, Bemba, Shona, Baushi, Dahomey).

 

The scene of labial elongation, traditionally typical for Southern African tribes, used to be one of mutuality, a joint venture for attractiveness and sexual identity, or at least a personal quest for future complementation. These practices were saturated with social significance, being colloquial, compulsory, and complementary[68].

 

The artificiality of the so-called tablier is widely disputed in the past, although many sources have argued for this explanation (e.g., in the Gisu, Ganda, Nandi, Venda, etc.). In Zimbabwe (Hansson, 1996:p101-2)[69], "[t]he mother soon after birth began to pull the labia minora of the little girl, to lengthen them to around two centimeters at the time of menarche. They should not be too long, it was said. The function aims at giving the husband a better feeling […]. This preparation was widespread among the women in Mberengwa, though the vaRemba women put more weight on its importance. During this early period some women said that they "milk" the clitoris of the little girl. This "milking" is necessary to prevent the girl as an adult woman from wanting excessive sex or becoming hyper active […]". In the sikuradzi rungombe ritual, a girl of two or three years is given the vagina of a cow to eat. "Among some women it is believed that it prepares the reproductive system of the girl […]". Bourgeois (1954, [I]:p67-70)[70] also speaks of "l'allongement des petites lèvres" (ugukuna) from early age until menses; the practice may be mutual.

 

Stephens (1971:p407)[71] mentions "special genital doctoring to enlarge [girls'] genitalia" as occurring among the Dahomey[72], Ila, and Thonga[73]. Childhood elongation of the labia majora was also practised among the Nyakyusa (Wilson, 1957:p87)[74], and the Nama (Schapera, 1930:p243)[75]. The Betchuans (South Africa) were known to elongate the labia minora (Ploß and Bartels, [1905, I:p240-1, 244][76]; Merensky, 1875:[p22][77]; Stoll, 1908:p546[78]) almost from birth on, a chore[79] done by older girls on the younger, "[…] whenever they are alone, which is often the case when they collect wood or search for fruit. The mentioned parts [labia minora] are pulled and rolled on pieces of wood". De Rachewiltz (1963[1964:p152]) further adds that "[a]mong the Luba and Nkundo, mothers instruct their daughters, while still very young, in the methods of extending the labia and enlarging the vagina, preparatory to marriage. The girls meet in the forest and perform the necessary acts on one another. The Zimba girls use spikes, corn cobs, or animal horns wrapped in cloth. Hottentot mothers tell their daughters, before their first menstruation, to "Go and make yourself a mfuli [artificially extended labia] […]". Speaking of the Lenda, a female Canadian anthropologist, writing under the name of Manda Cesara, writes in a letter dated July 20, 1973, to her mother: "From the age of three, girls lengthen their labia minora. They are very proud of it" (Cesara, 1982:p147)[80].

 

According to an Azande informant for Evans-Pritchard (1937:p457)[81]:

 

"Another medicine is a riverside shrub called nganza. They dig it up and dry it in the sun. They then take it and make a paste from it and pinch the eleusine with it in the early morning. They take a little girl and rub the paste on her vulva and then pinch the eleusine with it, saying: "You are medicine of eleusine. Eleusine, you expand like a woman's vulva which, be it ever so small, is sufficient for any man. Eleusine, you expand in the granary like a woman's vulva. Eleusine, you expand like susu. May not eleusine lessen. Let it be sufficient". The spell is finished".

 

Blacking[82] observed that the among the Venda of the Sibasa district of the Northern Transvaal (South Africa) a woman's labia minora must be lengthened by manipulation. "This operation is begun often long before puberty, its importance is emphasised at vhusha [puberty school], and it must be stopped after a girl has attended tshikanda [intermediary initiation school between vhusha and pre-marital schools]".

A nonsexual motive for testicular elevation was reported by Johnston et al. (1913:p373n2)[83]: "The practice of pushing up the testicles when the child was young, so that the growth of a pendant scrotum might be avoided as much as possible, least it impeded flight, was not peculiar to the Bushmen and Hottentots, but was recorded by Greek geographers as among the practices of the Hamatic tribes of the Red Sea littoral".

 

 

Infant "Genital Parenting"  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

As ventured elsewhere (Vol.II, ch. 9), it was assumed that the parental reference to infant genitalia provides an early yet significant index to sexual cultures.  The African case was specifically tied to a concern for fecundity.

 

In Dahomey (Kossodo, 1978:p113)[84], Fan mothers practice clitoral masturbation, pull labia, stroke the anus and use water beams for then minutes on the vulva. This continues until age four. The practice is said to induce frigidity and cause childlessness. Ashton (1952 [1955:p38])[85]: "Some [Basuto] mothers try to promote the development of his sex organs by fondling the child's penis and encouraging him to do so himself, though others disapprove of this, saying it makes the child too interested in sex". According to Schenkel (1971:p322-7)[86] Senegalese mothers are "obsessed with the virile potency of her infant", and eager to watch his erection. Male but not female stimulation occurred among the Kpelle (Gibbs, 1965:p209)[87]. Among the Zaire Baushi, the maternal task of manual preputial adhaesiolysis in infants is institutional, since the condition of permanent fixation is considered kameme, a defect. However, when the prepuce is so forcefully retracted that it it gets stuck permanently under the corona glandis [?], the boy is lufunu (boy with nude glans), and might not get married or have satisfactory sexual relations. As in the Senegalese, erections are provoked, and medicines are used to combat assumed impotence when the penis remains flaccid (Kokonge and Erny, 1976:p7-27)[88]. In Zaire, Bakwa-Luntu and Bakongo boy infants' virility greatly pleases his mother (Enry, 1971:p92). !Ko parents try to enlarge the boy's penis by pulling and sucking it (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1972:p59, 63; p58, ill.)[89]. Similar to the Basuto case,

 

"Tanten küssen oft die Scham weiblicher und den Penis männlicher Säuglinge, wenn sie diese erheitern wollen […]. Man lutscht und saugt an der Haut des Säuglings und mitunter auch an seinen Geschlechtsteilen […]. Babies erheitert man durch streicheln der Geschlechtsteile und durch Kitzeln. Ich filmte, wie ein Mann oftmals den Penis eines etwa 8 Monate alten Säuglings berührte. Als das Kind dann selbst danach griff, nahm er achtsam dessen Hand und führte sie weg, dann spielte er weiter, und zwar in Gegenwart vieler anderer Buschleute, mit der gleichen Selbstverständlichkeit, mit der Buschleute vor allen anderen die Geschlechtsteile eines Säuglings küssen".

 

A boy may be punished in this way (Sbrzesny, [1975] 1976:p237)[90]. When the boy infant touches his member himself, he is prevented to do so (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, p153; 158, ill.). Konner (1972:p292)[91] observed that among the north-western Botswana !Kung (Zhun/ tsasi) , infants are kissed on "faces, bellies, genitals". Wembah-Rashid (1994)[92] states that Tanzanian mothers were encouraged to carry babies on their back to feel its erection when he needed to urinate.

 

"As boys and girls develop and manifest sexual growth, parents and society show appreciation of such developments because they point to sexual potency, hence fertility. Grandparents often examine boys' and girls' sexual parts without necessarily directly showing that they are ascertaining fertility characteristics. A grandparent can handle a boy's genitals pretending "to seek snuff" from the phallus or wanting to use the whole apparatus as "bellows" (the testicles) and "tuyere" (the phallus). If fact, he or she want to establish the reaction of the boy: whether the testicles are developing, whether pubic hair is growing, or whether the grandparent can trigger an erection. Grandparents would do the same for girls. When a grandmother would go so far as to check on the genitals, a grandfather would only play with breasts. He would teasingly demand to suckle from the girl" (p51-2).

 

In Zimbabwe, the custom of "Chiramu" or "Sibale" was described as "aimed at socialising children that induced touching young girls, leading to touching of young girls private parts" (Loewenson et al., 1997:p11)[93]. In Ghana, (Kaye, 1960:p381, 388; 1962:p116-22)[94], mothers stimulated infants' genitalia[95]. Regarding the people of Ruanda and Burundi, Vincent (1954)[96] describes maternal genital pacification as a first stage of sexual development.

On the Mossi, it is stated (Erny, 1988:p179-80) that: "Les mères prennent […] l'habitude de surveiller très tôt les érections de leurs garçons. On caresse les organes génitaux surtout pour apaiser l'enfant. Des ablutions à l'eau froide visent parfois à rendre le futur homme sexuellement plus puissant. Au Katanga, "les parents se soucient très tôt de la bonne formation des organes génitaux chez leurs enfants. Il suffit de féliciter une mère pour son dernier-né en disant qu'il est muzima (plein de vie) pour qu'elle fasse constater aussitôt le bon état de ses organes génitaux, surtout s'il s'agit d'un garçon [Leblanc, 1960:p44][97]".

 

 

Masturbation and Self-Preparation (®Vol. II, §13.1.4.2/13.1.5)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Childhood masturbation would have been frequent among the African "primitives" (e.g., Van der Burgt, 1903:p381 and 1904:p90)[98]. Bryk (1928:p117-9)[99] noted that in some tribe, female practice is followed by coitus when stumbled upon by boys ("Werden sie von den Jungen überrascht, so werden sie ohne weiteres koitiert"). De Rachewiltz (1963 [1964:p151]) stated that "[a]mong the Barue, Gisu, Nandi and Sabey, boys become addicted to masturbation, either solitary or collective, when they are about nine years old". Masturbation would be prohibited by the Ashanti, Chagga and Dahomey. Specifically, a taboo on sexual manifestations is cancelled after circumcision in the Masai, Pedi, Swazi, Chagga, Thonga and Wolof[100]. Tolerance is said to characterise the Bena, Ila, Lango, Mbundu, Venda, Zande and Zulu tribes. "The Luba, Nkudu and Zimba girls […] are given to early masturbation with maize cobs, which automatically leads to a loss of virginity" (p258).

 

A factor also noted in the Pacifics, masturbation may have been used in preparation of the prepuce. Bryk (1928:p117-9[101]; recited in Bryk (1931 [1934:p200])[102], noted that genital manipulation occurred as a means of self-directed preparation:

 

"Among the Semi-hamites it (masturbation) occurs more from the desire to have the foreskin drawn back as early as possible, in order thus to resemble the older folks more, than to satisfy awakening desires. It is common practice among the Nandi for the boys to smear sticky, milky juice of the euphorbiaceous plant yeptiringuet on the glans and to masturbate (lat pertit)with it. The juice of this plant is quite caustic and causes the glans to swell up strongly, so that the foreskin can easily be drawn back; which is what is wanted. During the process the boys call out, "Suren suren, ce kwamon pek a metet" (Become big and I'll give you something to eat). The blossoms of this plant are usually stuck into the hair, the separated milk serving as the agglutinant. Now the little fellow can go to a girl and try it".

 

Bryk (1931 [1934:p201]) adds (but also refutes this observation) that an equivalent of this attitude was the case among the Masai:

 

"Merker (p345) writes the following on "ol jogi", (Euphorbia spec.): "In order to appear circumcised, the children smear the juice of the Euphorbia on the glans, which then swells up and holds back the prepuce". P. 63 (note) tells us the same thing in Latin: "Ut decisi (circumcisi videantur pueri interdum glandem succu herbae Euphorbiae genere, nomine "ol jogi", oblinunt. Glans tumescens prohibet, ne praeputium prolabatur""[103].

 

[Hargraves (1978)[104] relays Bryk's statement of this use of plant.] Luo boys are said to practice a preputial conditioning at the age of 10 to 12 (Parkin). Shona boys perform the same operation with a bull's hair to "free the foreskin" to win urination games, and because of "its association with the passage of semen in adulthood" (Shire). The act of circumcision, "a ritual preparation for its legitimate use in reproductive activities", was anticipated by Zulu herdboys who cut the frenum (Raum). Thomas (1899:p254)[105] assumed that circumcision "[…] is sometimes preformed by the boy himself, sometimes by a friend […]". Subincision is performed by Samburu herdboys around age seven to ten (Margetts). The boys operate on themselves, and sometimes on their peers. The operation is attributed to custom, to efforts to differentiate the male urine stream from the female (both sexes squat during micturation), and, according to five informants, to make ejaculation faster.

 

 

Childhood Sexual Behaviour: Ethnohistoric Impression  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Older sources unanimously lament on the precocity of the African child, (e.g., early observations on Madagascar). Ploß[106] has offered an early "lateral" impression of sex per exemplum, from which it appears that, as is childhood concerned, tolerance discourses as encountered in the 20th century may have characterised at least some of the societies in premodern eras. In the 18th century Antilles, for instance,

 

"[…] übten sich Sklavenkinder spielend auf das Eheleben ein, und als Labat sie dafür durchprügeln ließ, warf sich ein alter Neger als Verteidiger auf. Die Kinder seien nicht strafbar, meinte er, man müsse doch in der Kindheit lernen, was man in der Ehe als Pflicht zu vollziehen habe" (Ploß / Renz, 1912:p543).

 

Potentially koitomimic games of childhood have specific names in several societies[107]. One variety is especially well described as being played by Bantu speaking children (e.g., Venda, Bemba)[108].

 

 

Curricular Aphrodisiaca, Love Magic, etc.  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Love magic is not commonly employed in association with puberty, but where it is, it happens typically in Africa[109]. Among the Zaire Baushi (Kokonge and Erny) boys use love cosmetics. Aphrodisiacs are used among Batetela and Mongo boys. According to Schapera, the Kgatla employed magic is to facilitate artificial labial extension as in the Venda, the powder of a bat's wings is used. "In this way the labia will grow long like the wings of the bat". The purpose is aphrodisacal: "To excite the bull". Chaga girls "use wish-magic to make their breasts grow" (Raum). Among the Luvale of Zambia, pubertal preparations include the administration of aphrodisiac herbs, intravaginal medicines, steaming of the vagina, and love potions. Shona boys "learnt about a masculinity whose discourse centered on giving pleasure to women", including knowledge about "medicinal plants" and "ideas about sexual prowess" (Shire). Among the Jekri of the Niger Delta, "[…] juju [medicines, charms] is made to keep [a girl] virtuous, but as a rule women are not chaste until married" (Granville and Roth). Among the Plateau Thonga, children use beautifying medicines, as do adults, and with their silent approval (Colson).

 

 

Precolonial Coitarche : Ethnohistoric Impression  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Coitarche among traditional Africans is commonly surveyed as being timed before puberty. De Rachewiltz (1963 [1964:p152]):

 

"Among the Rega, Ababua, Kuku, and various Bantu peoples, sexual relationships regularly take place before puberty. The Fan of Gabon practise coition as soon as they are physically capable of it [[110]]. The [Mangbetu] children meet in a hut at night and, if they are not yet able to have intercourse, they imitate the act with each other. One should remember that in Africa, before puberty, especially before circumcision, the individual is sexually insignificant; he, or she, is incapable of fecundation, and consequently without effect either magically or socially. This explains children's freedom together, and the liberty an adult is allowed with a pre-adolescent child, or a woman with an uncircumcised boy. Many of the girls conceal their first menstruation, so as to enjoy their liberty a little longer".

 

Speaking of child betrothal, Mair (1953:p87)[111] states: "The cohabitation of young girls with their future husbands occurs in a number of other tribes beside the Bemba, including Bisa, Lala, and Lunda". Pedrals (1950:p16-8)[112] mentions a dozen observations of early coitarche in "Dark" Africa. Margold (1926:p644-5)[113] sums up [orig. footnotes]:

 

"Among [aforementioned African] tribes children for the most part begin their sexual practices long before puberty[114], girls and boys being encouraged in their mwaygini kwayta as the Melanesians call their "copulation amusement"[115], from the earliest age. Among the Pangwe negroes north and west of the Ivindo River, West Africa, children only five and six years old, without any condemnation whatsoever, already imitate the sexual life of their parents and play "intercourse"[116]. Among the Boloki "it is impossible to find a virgin above five years of age"[117]. Azimba Land children play "keeping house" before puberty[118]. Lake Nyasa boys and girls play at being man and wife before puberty[119]. Bakongo parents encourage their girls and boys in their sex play long before puberty, "as it shows that they had proper desires, and later in life they would bear children"[120], and Ila-speaking natives regard their children's very early sexual practices "as preparation and training for what is man's and woman's chief business in life"[121].

 

Sex life for a multitude of tribes commenced before pubescence, as examples demonstrate.

 

Hustaert (1938)[122] noted games of "mari et femmes" "d'une façon qui les dispose bien souvent à des embrassements sans innocence". Among the Yahgan, little girls are betrothed to adult men; sometimes parents agree to unions between little boys and girls[123]. Girls of ten to twelve are found to be no longer virgin[124]. Culwick (1939:p425)[125] observed that Bantu girls had practiced the procreative act seven years before their puberty. Trézenem (1936)[126] on the Fan (Gabon) speaks of coitus from the age of capacity. Prepubertal coitus was common among the Ababoua (Périn, 1991)[127]. Precocity was also noted in the Bayamwezi (Bösch, 1930)[128]. Abbadie[129] found that men bought Nuba girls and sleep with them "long before menstruation". The Urhobo and Isoko of the Niger Delta begin sexual intercourse "very early in life"[130]. Colle (1913, I:p279)[131] on the Baluba: "Même avant la puberté, garçons et filles se fixent des rendez-vous secrets, dans les herbes ou sur le bord de la rivière". Vanden Plas (1910:p215)[132], on the Kuku: "Les enfants de sexe différente, se recherchent très jeunes et s'essayent à mettre en pratique les enseignements que leur a procurés leur promiscuité sur un même lit avec leurs parents". Bruneel (Van Overbergh, 1909:p309)[133]: "J'ai constaté souvent que des enfants se réunissaient la nuit; et s'ils ne pouvaient consommer l'acte charnel, tout au moins en faissaient-ils le simulacre". Hanolet (ibid.) agrees: "Comme, chez les filles, l'âge de la puberté n'est même pas atteint, les moeurs indigènes ne s'opposent à ces practiques [relations sexuelles]; ces relations restent cachées toutefois". Schmitz (Van Overbergh, 1908:p253)[134], on the Basonge: "Bien avant leur puberté, tout gosses encore, négrillons et négrillonnes se roulent dans les coins, en quête de voluptés. "Ils ne peuvent pas encore, mais ils essayent"." Delhaise (1909:p167)[135], on the Warega: "Les rapports sexuels se pratiquent entre gens de sexe différent nonmariés, même avant l'âge de puberté".Schultze (1907:p298, 309)[136] noted the precocity of the Hottentots. "Bei der sinnlichen Frühreife des Volkes haben Knaben oft schon Geschlechtsverkehr, ehe sie den Kinderspielen entwachsen sind" (Karsch-Haack, 1911:p132). According to Freimark (1911:p163)[137], it was not uncommon among the Senegalese Wolof to find premenarchal coitus[138].

 

As further ventured in Vol. II, ch. 6 (esp. §6.1.3.1), African coitarche age may be estimated higher because of respondents misinterpreting questions on first sexual intercourse and reporting their age at the onset of intercourse with either their first or current husband rather than their age at intromission (cf. Meekers, 1995)[139].

 

Pseudo-Coitarchal and Pseudo-Coital Forms  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Before marriage, in general, adolescents were permitted varied sexual experiences, although completion of the sex act was to be avoided and was often condemned"[140]. Ericksen (1989)[141] found 24 out of 115 African societies where tests were present in some form[142]. It seems to have survived modernity at least in South Africa[143]. A number of African societies[144] practice nonpenetrative coitus as a means of preserving premarital virginity, customs at times acquiring a (semi-)institutional status, and a specific name[145].

 

 

Early and Age-Stratified Betrothal  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Both horizontal and age stratified betrothal was extremely common in pre- and early colonial Africa. Rohlfs reported mothers of ten or twelve at fesan (cited by Sumner, 1906:p382)[146]. The Akan custom of "Asiwa"[147] (infant betrothal) had almost become the principal form of getting married until it was abolished, in 1918, by the Okyeman Council[148]. ("A few child betrothals and maternal cross-cousin marriages are still made but they are increasingly difficult to enforce among the younger generation which prefers more freedom in the selection of a mate" (Warren, 1975:p33)[149]).

 

Among the Fanti, children could be betrothed before they were mature. The Masai practiced fetal and infant betrothal. Infant betrothal was further said to be practiced by the Azande, and Mbuti. Childhood betrothal was practised among the Dogon. Yao girls would be betrothed as infants or small children. Betrothal before birth or in early infancy was usual among the Kuranko. Among the Ewe, children would be betrothed in childhood or before birth. Among the Tshi-speaking people, a girl was publicly advertised for marriage at puberty (age 11-12) by being paraded through the streets decked out in ornaments. Lateral betrothals frequently took place before puberty and sometimes before birth. Among the Yoruba-speaking peoples, girls of better class were almost always betrothed when children, frequently when infants, the husband in futuro being sometimes an adult, sometimes a boy. Among the Konkomba, a girl was betrothed to a man of more than twenty years of age, sometimes to an elder who may give her away for marriage. Among the Ethiopean Galla, marriages were often arranged by betrothal at a very young age. In the Uganda protectorate, "[a]t any stage of its infant life a child may be betrothed to some other infant or to one many years older than itself". Among the Somali, infant betrothal may have been common in the past. Among the Mambwe / Amambwe (Zambia), betrothal was common in childhood. Among the Yahgan, little girls were betrothed to adult men; sometimes parents agree to unions between little boys and girls. The Ila child was sometimes betrothed at age four, or even earlier. Among the Mouktélé (Northern Cameroon), children were betrothed in infancy, somewhere around age six. Among the Bangwa (Western Cameroon), a baby was betrothed at birth, or in infancy. Among the Bali (Western Cameroon), betrothal, but not marriage, of children could take place before menarche or puberty. The Fang were sometimes married before birth. Koalib girls were betrothed at eight or nine years of age, and at twelve or thirteen the marriage was consummated. Nuba men begin courting at age twenty and generally get betrothed to a girl child. Among the Azande, infant betrothal was the rule. As for the Tshidi Barolong (South Africa), infant betrothal is practiced. Among the nomadic Fulani children were betrothed at ages seven to ten in the case of girls, and from three to ten in the case of boys. The Shuwalbe Fulani practiced infant betrothal between boy and girl. Infant betrothal and adoption marriage among the Mbaise Igbo. Traditionally, betrothal in infancy or childhood was customary in Benin Kingdom and among the Northern Edo. In case of the Igbira of Northern Nigeria, betrothal often took place in childhood. Among the Igala, betrothal could occur at age four to five. Among the Utonkon-Effium Orri, betrothal of girls occurred at birth. Among the Luo, child betrothal or marriage could take place. Childhood betrothal was noted for the Shambala. The Nkundo girl could be betrothed in infancy. In Tanzania, immature girls could also be betrothed, but infant betrothal occurred only in mock fashion.

 

 

Early and Age-Stratified Marriage  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Child marriage" in Africa has been widespread in pre-colonial Africa. As Westermarck ([1901:p213-4)[150] surveyed (orig. footnotes):

 

"Among the African Marutze, the children "are often affianced at an early age, and the marriage is consummated as soon as the girl arrives at maturity[151]. The Negroes of the Gold Coast, according to Bosman, often arranged for the marriage of infants directly after birth[152]; whilst among the Bushmans, Bechuanas, and Ashantees, children are engaged when they are still in the womb, in the event of their proving to be girls[153]".

 

In the Sahel, where the Islamic pattern of marriage shortly after menarche is traditional, the custom of early marriage is still observed (Zabin and Kiragu, 1998:p213)[154].In Oman, marriage at age 11 ranged from 9% (Soher community) to 27% (Nizwa community)[155].

 

In Ethiopia, marriage occurs between age 12 and 15. Hausa women were married just before puberty (villages) or after (rural dwellers), to adolescents some seven years older. A Tuareg girl may have been married by age seven or eight. Fang children were sometimes married before birth. In pre-1900 Nubia, girls were married at the age of from eight to ten years. G/wi girls were married at age 7-9, boys at about 14-15. Among the !Kung, eight and nine-year-old brides would be married to teenaged husbands. Bela would have been married before puberty. Among the Kabyles, a father could marry his daughter before she has reached puberty. Among the Igala (Northern Nigeria), the marriageable age was eight to ten for girls, and sixteen to eighteen for boys. A very rare custom, the marriage of an immature boy (barely ten) to a grown woman was considered as a sign of prosperity, and occurred not seldom- especially in former days.

 

Today[156], "very little country data exist about marriages under the age of 14, even less about those below age 10". In Ethiopia and in parts of West Africa, marriage at age seven or eight is not uncommon. In Kebbi State, Northern Nigeria, the average age of marriage for girls is just over 11 years, against a national average of 17[157]. A 1991 UN Population Cart indicates legal ages of marriage of 9 in Morocco (males, with parental consent, compared to 21 for females) and 6 for Ghana (both sexes, with or without consent)[158].

 

[Additional refs.: Neyn, P. de (1697) Lusthof der Huwelyken […]. Amsterdam: Lamsveldt. Fasc.repr. 1966. Leiden [Holland]: A. W. Sijthoff, p171-230]

 

 

Girl Meets Boy: Chronological Aspects  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

A reflection on the variety of courtship scenes may be appreciated by a selection of examples:

 

"Play courtship" in childhood (Bantu, Zulu); "Courtship often commences long before a marriageable age is reached. Headmen of quite advanced age frequently train young girls, generally maidens in their employ, in their habits and ways with a view to ultimately marrying them" (Ambo, Rhodesia); In later childhood girls "will probably have a lover or two, as erotic play and courtship behaviour begins at a relatively early age, often prior to puberty / After the menarchal rites are "eligible for serious courtship or marriage" (Nharo, Botswana); Courtship seems to begin in "youth" (Dinga, Sudan); A specific courting hut (lomore) allows a free atmosphere for adolescent [the exact age at which it is entered is not given] girls to meet boys (Mandari, Sudan); Courtship and marriage takes place "at an early age", allegedly because no payment or gifts are given or expected (Udhuk, Ethiopia); "Girls are courted beginning at ages twelve to thirteen, and will have a series of lovers by age fifteen to sixteen" (Nuer, Ethiopia); Around puberty (Somali); Adolescents are permitted to play husband and wife (suka-sehil) which is regarded as immature courtship or flirtation and does not lead to consummation or marriage (Toucouleur,Senegal); More or less formal courtship starts after puberty (Fali, North-Cameroon);Boys of thirteen to fifteen looked around for a bride among the eight to twelve years old girls / Men begin courting at age twenty and generally get betrothed to a girl child, in which case sexual intercourse awaits puberty (Otoro Nuba); Washing in cold water once on an early morning without shivering is the only test a young man is given by his father or guardian to ascertain whether he is now grown up and fit to court girls and eventually marry (Thonga); Boys of about 15 (after initiation)  and girls of 12 will be preoccupied with seeking a mate (Kipsigis, Kenya). "Children start having "sweethearts", "boy-friends" or "girl-friends", "cherries" (girls), or iintokazi (lit., female things) from 10 or 11 years onwards" (urbanised Xhosa).

 

 

 

Animal Contacts (®Vol. II, §8.2.3)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In a few societies, copulation with animals is reported for African boys, among the Tswana, Riffian, and Masai (Ford and Beach, 1951:p147, 148). Particularly herding boys may be more intimate with cattle than with the opposite sex. Nomad and Nuer herdboys are seen to drink milk straight from camel's udders (e.g., Pavitt, 1997:p147, ill.; Akalu, 1985:p46, ill.)[159]. Young boys are seen performing cunnilingus on cattle to stimulate the motivation to mate (e.g., Nomachi, 1989 [1990:p45, ill.])[160]. "The shepherd-boys of the Tswana frequently have intercourse with their flocks, but are punished if caught in the act" (De Rachewiltz (1963 [1964:p283]). "Riffian youths who have not yet attained the age of puberty have intercourse with she-asses in order to get sexual capacity and to make the penis grow (Ford, 1945 [1964:p20]).

 

 

"Sexual" Initiation: Ceremonial and Pubertal License  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Reviews of circumcision and initiation rites are provided in three German works: Jensen[161], Zeller[162] and Ploß[163]. Most pre-industrial African societies were clearly age graded, usually into three distinct phases[164]. It is commonly known that African sexual license is organised by ceremonial grant, which in turn is, although often loosely, connected to pubertal stigmata. It is also commonly known that Christian morality ended sex teachings essential in traditional initiation trajectories (e.g., Read, 1955 [1970:p275])[165]. "Obscenity" would be a part of initiation activities among many tribes, including the Ila, Thonga, Kamba, Lango, Didinga, Lugbwara, and Inggassana (Bertling, 1934:p97-8)[166]. Crawley (1929:p17-8) relates: "In certain central African tribes both boys and girls after initiation must as soon as possible have intercourse, the belief being that, if they do not, they will die[167]. […] After the seclusion of a Kafir girl at puberty she is allowed to cohabit with anyone during the festivals which follow[168]; Kafir boys after being circumcised may have connexion with any unmarried females they can persuade[169]. Similar practices are found on the Senegal[170] and Congo[171]". Seligman and Seligman (1928:p447)[172] mentioned a pubertal requirement for intercourse among the Bari. Ford and Beach (1951:p182)[173] stated that intercourse before puberty ceremonies are strictly forbidden in "most of the African societies" in their sample (Chagga, Masai, Pedi, Swazi, Thonga [inferred] and Wolof). "African Chagga, Thonga, Kikui, Wolof are strictly forbidden copulation before circumcision"[174].

 

Sexual license of circumcision is also noted for many tribes, for instance the Amwimbe (Browne, 1913:p140)[175] and Tiriki (Sangree, 1966; Kertzer, 1978:p1092)[176]. The male Mochuana (Becwana tribes) "is warned that sexual intercourse among the uncircumcised has the same connecting effect as when dogs indulge in it- that the internal organs of the woman are drawn out of her and many similar things too disgusting to mention" (Brown, 1921:p421)[177]. Among the Tiv (Bohannan, 1954:p2)[178], women "say that the idea of sexual relations with an uncircumcised man is repugnant", expressing their distaste in terms of cleanliness and, mostly, fastidiousness" (Circumcision was said to take place at age 7 to pubescence). The Bakuria, who practice a form of preteen-preteen going-steady [Kisassi], also shy for the precircumcision taboo. "Kisassi companions do not indulge in intercourse which is forbidden to both sexes before circumcision. This rule is seldom broken, for it is believed that were a girl to indulge in sexual intercourse before she was circumcised, or were she to receive an uncircumcised man after she was circumcised, she would become sterile" (Baker, 1927:p223)[179]. The puberty rite may take on itself overt references to sexual practices. Among the Basala (Bantu, Northern Rhodesia), the Chingande represents a dance performed by youths and young girls at the beginning and end of the ceremony. "Lewd sexual actions are performed, the youth usually clasping the girl from behind" (Brelsford, 1935:p215)[180].

 

African woman-pubescenta initiation systems, known for their "practical and theoretical instruction in sexual life" (Róheim, 1929:p189[181])[182], are often characterised by secrecy, resulting in the ethnologists' apology of his/her ignorance on the practice.

The custom of Kyiribra[183], the nonperformance of puberty rites on a girl who is already pregnant, is a traditional means of negative, but definite social control in some communities of West Africa. Kyiribra is indicative not merely of a crime but also a sacrilege[184].

 

 

Contemporary Coitarche  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The norms regarding premarital sexual activity in African societies very strongly in different societies[185]. Contrary to the belief that teenage premarital sexual activity is a new phenomenon caused by socio-economic development in Africa, particularly Western education, data[186] show that sexual activity among unmarried adolescents was also common in the past, and that increases across cohorts have occurred mostly in countries where the prevalence was already high. Surveys[187] further suggest that median female coitarche ages in Africa of the late 1980s/begin 1990s lie between 14.9 (Niger, 1992, women 45-49y) and 20.1 (Namibia, 1992, women 45-49y).

 

In an adolescent clinic population in Ethiopia, premenarche sexual initiation [coitarche] was noted to occur in 40% of the girls (Duncan et al., 1994)[188]. In rural Tanzania, coitarche occurs at 13.8 among 15-19-year-olds (Stewart, 1995)[189]. [Varkevisser (1969:p74-5)[190] noted that the freedom associated with the traditional rural house-keeping game mbuliya, wherein "[e]ven the more intimate aspects of married life were not forgotten" [191] was almost vanished, an influence attributable at least in part to Christianity.]

 

 

Age-Stratified Love of Boys; Prostitution[192]  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Describing explicitly a sexual encounter between a young boy and his significantly older choirmaster, Behr[193]said to have "juxtaposed homosexual pedophilia with brutalities in the text, which, I hope, raised the question of our society's obsession with childhood sexuality". While such claims have been posed for other continents, boy prostitution was said to have been very common (Drew and Drake, 1969:p54-69). In Northern Africa, this seemed to be influenced by Arab and Turkish rule, and pederasty would have been "virtually pandemic"[194]. In Algeria, the youngest boys cost 10 cents an hour, the price declining with age. In Morocco, a boy might be had right on the sidewalk but more frequently a cafe was visited. "Nearly every traveller and writer on Morocco in the last century reported on the near universal practice of Greek Love and boy prostitution". For sub-Saharan Africa, they are less precise: "[a]ll sorts of sex play among children and adults seem perfectly natural in many situations". A scene of boy prostitution seemed to have existed in early 20th century Johannesburg, including (a few) little boys up to men in their twenties (Junod, I, p492-5); the natives "speak of it with laughter".

 

A boy–wife system seems to have been customary among the Azande (®Azande). Another report of boy-wife system comes from Moodie et al. (1988, 1989; 1994; etc.)[195], and apparently independently, from Harries (1990)[196].  Among South African male immigrant miners there was a well-established system known as "wives of the mines", (or bukhontxana, mariage entre mineurs), young boys providing domestic and sexual services (intercrural intercourse, alike Xhosa ukumetsha), one to each man, in return for remuneration.

 

Among the Muslim Mombasa Swahili, boys beginning at the age of twelve as they start to move into all-male social contexts have age-stratified sexual relationships with older men (Shepherd, 1987)[197]. The junior is called shoga, the senior is known as pasha. Anal intercourse appears to be the accepted practice (Standing and Kisekka, 1989:p107-8).

 

Age-stratified homosexuality would be common among the Herero and Hottentots. Among the Wawihé (Angola), boys are loved from age 12 to 18. Falk (1925/6 [1998:p188])[198] noted that among the Ovambos, "kitchen boys" aged 10-12 were given by their wives or their betrothed for pederastic purposes "to keep the men faithful" during their service at the minefields. Among the Hereros, apparently prepubertal boys form an oupanga (mutual bond?) in a homosexual relation until after marriage "at quite an early age" ([1998:p191-2]), yet it may continue after circumcision. The boys might also be used by men, as is indicated by the term okutunduka vanena ("mounts boys"). The adults regard it as child's play, and deny its later continuation. The practice is allowed but not to be spoken of. Among the Hottentots, also, two boys "often unite themselves and watch each other jealously" (p193).

Among the Mossi (Moose) royal court in what is now Bukina Faso, pages of ages 7-15 were selected for their beauty in the early 20th century. These soronés were to play female roles and serve men on Fridays when sexual intercourse with women was prohibited (Tauxier, 1912:p569-70)[199]. The boys were given a wife when reaching sexual maturity; their sons would become soronés. Annual tests were to certify their heterosexual virginity. Further age stratified homosexual patterns are noted for the Nkundo (Hulstaert, 1938:p86-7), Bangala / Mbangala (Soyaux, 1879, II:p59)[200], and Zulu (Krige, 1965:p276-7; Morris, 1965:p36, 52; Van Onselen, 1984:p15)[201].

 

Some case material points to incidental "paedosexual" practices. Anyi informants in the Ivory Coast (Akan), told Parin that "in every village there are some men who, for neurotic reasons, do not have sexual relations with women. A number of them are known to practice occasional reciprocal masturbation with boys" (Parin et al., 1980:p204)[202]. Among the Pangwe, Tessmann (1904 [I]:p131)[203] noted that boys "who as is well known "have neither understanding nor shame" " have sexual acquintesses with older men, who "are excused with the [...] assertion: a bele nnem e bango= "he has the heart (that is, the aspirations) of boys".

 

Falk (1923 [1998:p168])[204] states that "[s]ame-sex activity today is today practiced mostly by the younger generation: by boys from seven until eighteen years and by girls of the same age". Boys deny their share. An eighteen-year-old youth may sleep alternately with a twelve-year-old boy katakuma (lover, girl) and with his wife.

 

African female boarding school life was typified by an age-stratified homoeroticism (see Vol. II, §III.3.1 for refs). Omari (1963:p152-3)[205] relates the following:

 

"In some of the more established girls' secondary schools in Ghana, as even in Nigeria and in other West African countries, it is an internally accepted practice for a senior girl to have a "my dear". The junior "my dear" is supposed to (and generally does) provide the senior one with the services of a lover short of the sex act itself. These include washing of clothing, making of the bed, running errands, making "love" to and sharing beds with her when the senior partner wants the junior one to do so. If this practice is not to be called homosexualism it is only because this is essentially an adolescent subculture of the boarding school which is most often done in fun. Affection for the girl "lover" is easily and readily transferred to men when school is in recess and at the end of boarding school days".

 

The comprehensive overview offered by Murray and Roscoe[206] was criticised by Brockman[207] who argues for an interpretation within the context of African age classifications.

 

 

Sugar Daddies (=Vol. II, §14.2.1.1)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Typical of Sub-Saharan Africa (Uganda, Malawi, Kenya, Ethiopia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Tanzania[208], South Africa) and the Caribbean (Jamaica), the "sugar daddy"[209] syndrome, refers to older, relatively wealthy men who engage adolescents in sexual relationships. Schoolgirls find sugar daddies to pay school fees, etc. (Van Haren, 1999[210]; Sellix, 1996[211]; Bledsoe 1990[212]; Meekers and Calvès, 1997[213] and refs.).

 

Authors[214] have argued against an essentialist concept of "sugared" relationships as unilateral and coercive. Silberschmidt and Rasch (2001)[215] observed that older adolescent girls are normally seen as victims and easy preys of older and married men's sexual exploitation. However, the article was to suggest that these girls are "not only victims but also willing preys and active social agents engaging in high-risk sexual behaviour" with old males (relationships called mpenzi). Discussing these abusive patterns within the "more diffuse forms of sexual economic exchange", Johnson[216] recently argued that

 

"[t]here are thus many situations in which both adults and children are legally and socially considered capable of giving meaningful sexual consent despite being massively disadvantaged in relation to their sexual partner in terms of socio-economic power. It follows, then, that the Sugar Daddy does not usually need to distort social agreed ideas about childhood or sexual consent in order to rationalise a sexual relationship with a teenage girl. Nor can his motivations necessarily be described as aberrant. In many cultures, youthful female bodies are considered sexually desirable, and men are expected to demonstrate their masculinity through their capacity to command sexual access to 'desirable' female bodies".

 

Ba (1981)[217] suggests that early sexual experience is common among urbanised youth, using data from French West Africa. Sexual games played in childhood rapidly change into monetarised relationships, which would be tacitly accepted by society.

 

 

Virgin Cleasing Myth

 

This myth would be encountered in Zimbabwe and South Africa; unconfirmed sources suggest the virgin myth exists in Botswana, Swaziland and other countries. The South African case (e.g., Hinfelaar, 1994), tipped to be the place of origin[218] was recently denied by Jewkes et al.[219] who could cite only one possible case.

 

[Additional refs.: Epprecht, M. (1998) The "Unsaying" of Indigenous Homosexualities in Zimbabwe: Mapping a Blindspot in an African Masculinity, J Southern Afr Stud 24,4:631-51, at p647; Millner, C. (2002) South Africa's Shame, Essence 33,4:114-7; Maxwell, J. (2000) Africa's lost generation, CNN.com; Keeton, C. (2001) Infant's gang rape spurs outrage across South Africa, Nando Times, Nov. 10th; In South Africa: Girl Babies Raped, Women's Int Network News, Winter 2002; 28,1:56; Groenink, E. (1995) Seks met kinderen als medicijn tegen AIDS, Opzij [Dutch] 23,9:41; Jewkes, R., Matubatuba, C., Metsing, D. et al. (Jan., 2000) Stepping Stones: Feedback from the Field. Online article, http://www.actionaid.org/stratshope/ssjewkes.html]

 

 

Initiation and Instruction  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

As Beidelman (1997:p265, n1) points out, beside Ottenberg (1989), who adopts a psychodynamic narrative, few authors have considered the transmission of sexual information before initiation. This leaves the impression that, with the ritualisation of sex instructions, a tight social and legal stratification could be effected. This fits well the observation that tribal education measures were generally prosexual in a narrow sense of promarital[220]. It is the decay of this system that most critically announces Westernisation curricula, leaving matters to the (incompetent, it is said) authority of schooling environments. As can be further anticipated, the sexological implications of initiations (®Table, column "I") could be detailed only in selected cases.

 

 

The Instructrix/-Tor (cf. GUS Vol. II, §7.2.5)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

African woman-pubescenta initiation systems, known for their "practical and theoretical instruction in sexual life" (Róheim, 1929:p189[221]), are often characterised by secrecy, resulting in the ethnologists' apology of his/her ignorance on the practice. Outside of Africa, this pattern is less stereotypical.African girlhood sex instruction may be provided by mothers[222], older sisters[223], an instructress[224] or "some older woman"[225], grandmothers[226], and aunts[227]. Sexual instruction may also be a part of quasi-formal pubescenta-prepubescenta alliances as seen in Lesotho, Ghana and Nigeria and among the Venda/Bemba.

The detail of African sex education is unparalleled in other continents, except perhaps in parts of Oceania. The technique of coitus is covered in detail in the sexual education curricula of a number of African societies[228]. Sometimes, coitus is graphically demonstrated, using models or animals[229]. That most traditional African instruction has been technically explicit needs no reserve. In many cases, details of coital techniques are part of the agenda[230]. Girls, particularly, are instructed with songs of an explicit character[231], the transmission of data being regarded as a most central part of the rite, both the identity of the teacher and the curriculum being formalised. It includes such techniques as cunnilingus, orgasm timing, culturally prescribed coital positions, etc.

 

Although perhaps unnecessary, Northern ZambiaBemba matrilinear instructions on how to please a future husband were said to be given "in such detail that many men who intend to marry a lady from another tribe set great store in her being taught by the Bemba grannies in the rural areas". As Richards notes, running counter Christian teachings, the Bemba socialise sex and prepare the young of both sexes for the satisfaction of the sex impulse "as soon as possible" and "to an extend unknown in modern society". A female journalist was quoted by Hinfelaar as complaining:

 

"The rise in promiscuity which the nation is experiencing can be squarely attributed to the initiation ceremonies on which women spend much of their time teaching small girls how to become professional love-makers. Is this what initiation is all about, a tradition that turns daughters of the soil into prostitutes who later bring unnecessary problems like unplanned babies and diseases?[232]".

 

This type of education is largely abandoned today[233].


 

 

 


Ethnographic Atlas  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

 


Mauritania  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

[no data available]

 

 

 


Mali (Bambara, Dogons)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Miner (1953:p176)[234] stated: "Sex play begins well before [adolescence] but it is said that immature girls can rarely be sufficiently aroused to submit to intercourse". Weddings are postponed until adolescence. Thus (p182), Songhoi girls married shortly after puberty and Bela may be married before puberty, as coitus is delayed until sexual maturity.

 

[Additional refs: CRLP (2000) Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives: Francophone Africa. Progress Report, p133-54]

 

 

Bambara (Mali) (2,2,3-,3+,2,2;8,8;D1)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

At the end of girl's initiation, girls are told by the initiators about types of husbands, how to behave with their husband's friends, how to secure marriage, and how to resist advances of men who might court them[235]. Zahan (1960:p48)[236] [?] relates about the institution called "woman-friend". Being liaisons hidden from adults, the boy watches her virginity, and she prepares the meals of the initiates.

 

[Additional refs.: Couloubaly (1984-5)[237]].

 

 

Dogons (Mali)  (eHRAF) (®Dogons of Sudan)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Calame-Griaule (1986:p359)[238] noted a reverse circumcision license in the Dogons (Mali):

 

"During early childhood, the engaged children play together. They know nothing of the bond which unites them; moreover, society looks upon them as "fish", beings of no social consequence. Small children do sometimes play sexual games; they are beaten for it if they are caught, but very little attention is actually paid to the misdemeanor. It is after circumcision and excision that the children, who will thereafter wear loincloths covering their sexual parts, must cease these diversions".

 

Another significant idea on puberty is noted when "the only case in which the young girl has the right, indeed the obligation, to lose her virginity to a man other than her fiancé [[239]] is if her fiancé is absent at the time when she passes into sexual maturity. This is so that her first menstrual period will not precede the breaking of the hymen. […]. The husband has no right to complain of the situation, since he brought it about by allowing himself to be absent at the critical moment" (p363-4)[240]. As the author points out, "[t]he Dogon express the idea of sexual maturity in two ways: [...] "he who knows speech" and [...] "he who knows shame". Mastery of speech and decent behaviour are prerequisites to marriage according to Dogon rules. This is why the child's acquisition of language, particularly that of the little girl, is supervised so carefully".

 

On the instruction of girls, the following is noted:

 

"Women and girls spinning cotton will whisper tales to one another about men or masks and secrets they have come upon unexpectedly. This is why it is especially important for men not to hear. A mother, again while spinning or perhaps cooking, will teach her daughter what she must know about marriage and sexual relations. Here, too, are private matters that should not be overheard; A little girl learns everything from her mother. From the time she can walk she follows her everywhere. First she receives a practical education about housekeeping and women's farming. At the approach of puberty and marriage this is followed by more secret information concerning female physiology, marriage, and childbearing. The name given to this education is "hidden speech" […] or "speech of the bedroom" […]. The father does not involve himself in any way in her upbringing. Later, when she goes to the "house of the old woman", the girl receives another education called "outside speech" […], which concentrates on the proper behavior she must show her husband and in-laws. The old woman also offers practical advice about the initial period of marriage, but she does not bring up such subjects as menstruation or personal hygiene except with her own daughter's daughter".

 

Parin et al. (1963:p46)[241]:

 

"Mothers are not concerned about the sexual parts of their children and do not prevent them from playing with these. One often sees a boy holding his sexual part in his hand. This offends no one. When children among themselves carry on all kinds of sexual play openly, adults will tell them that this is not done in public. Between children of the same age or a little older, talk about sex will be quite open; in front of adults it is considered unseemly. It is not regarded as fitting for children to be present when parents are having sexual intercourse, because they would be disturbing. However, nothing is concealed. Children six or seven years old know all about sex[242] and will answer without embarrassment if they are asked about it. When they grow older they will know that one should talk about it only with one's age group, and they will be somewhat more self-conscious".

 

"Sexual intercourse is tried out even in childhood. People say that this really does not matter because, of course, there can be no offspring" (p34). About the sexual identity of circumcision (p52-3):

 

"Among the Dogon, circumcision means the end of childhood. Yet it is only one of the steps that must be taken to achieve the dignity of the adult. For their entrance into social and religious life the Dogon seem to place more stress on the health and physical development of the young than do other peoples. Here, further circumstances decrease the importance of circumcision: Most children return to their parents' house after the ceremony and will not move to the boys' or girls' house until a few years later. Here they will only sleep and will return to their parents' house for meals. The sexual importance of the initiation is lessened by the fact that boys and girls are circumcised a few years before sexual maturity, that even before, children already play sexually with one another, and that sexual activity is taken seriously only when it can lead to propagation".

 

Although reserved for initiated adolescents, "boys and girls sleep in their respective duñe very often before having been initiated. […] It is likewise to be noted that though initiation marks the moment when the adolescent is able to carry on sexual relations with a young partner of the opposite sex, one very often finds young boys not yet circumcised who have not waited for this time to carry on sexual relations with young girls not yet excised themselves" (Palau Martí, 1957)[243].

 

 


Niger  (®Tebu)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 


Chad (Sara; ®Teda, ®Tebu)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Most marriages in Chad are customary, and the primary objective of these marriages is to have children. In practice, the age at the time of customary marriage for girls varies between 10 and 12 years old. Generally, the girl's consent is not required; she is educated to submit to her parent's decisions and those her future husband. […] Marital rape is punished only in cases of girls under the age of 13[244]"[245].

 

 

Sara (Chad)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Most women are being circumcised between ages 8 and 12[246] (ref. p256) or 10-15 (results, p260). "The relative focus on sexuality, whether on a conscious or symbolic level, during the initiation period and via the circumcision ritual remains unclear and merits further investigation. […] [c]ircumcision is not solely about preserving women's chastity or regulating their sexual behavior" (p262).

 

 

 


Sudan (Nuba, Shilluk, Bari, Dinka, Baja, Dogons, Yoruba, Mandari; ®Zande)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In Sudan off the late sixties, most children overheard and saw parental intercourse by the nature of the small dwellings in which they reside (Elsarrag, 1968)[247]. Formerly, twelve was considered a suitable age for marriage (Zenkovsky, 1945)[248], two years after circumcision.

Pfeiffer (1963:p310)[249]: "Knaben und Mädchen haben, solange sie noch wirklich Kinder sind, freien Umgang, und es kommt häufig zu sexuellen Spielereien".

Though not mentioned in the Qur'an, and outlawed by both Islamic and Sudanese law, Pharaonic type circumcision is said to be practised, sometimes at an age of seven days, for the Islamic argument of "protecting female modesty and chastity" (e.g., House, 1988:p299)[250]. It should nevertheless be observed that medieval Muslims who practised female excision "perceived the custom as one that had religious sanction" (Berkey, 1996)[251].

 

[Additional refs.: Otor, S. C. J. & Pandey, A. (1999) Adolescent transition to coitus and premarital childbearing in Sudan: a biosocial context, J Biosoc Sci 31,3:361-74]

 

 

Nuba (Otoro Nuba: 2+,2+,3,3,2+,3;4,2;D2) (Sudan)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Abbadie[252] found that men bought Nuba girls and sleep with them "long before menstruation". According to Nadel (1947)[253], Koalib girls were betrothed at eight or nine years of age, and at twelve or thirteen the marriage was consummated. It was said that they slept together without having intercourse. She removed her bangles and necklaces before sleeping, but did not remove her pubic bracelets. Her fiancée was content with petting. This sleeping together and platonic petting of the betrothed lasted for several years until the bridegroom, without consulting either his or her parents, decided that his girl was sufficiently mature for consummation. There was no waiting for first menstruation or other signs of sexual maturity but many brides refused intercourse to her future husband until he paid the bride price in full.

 

Among Otoro and Heiben communities, girls at the age of puberty (and before, should they wish so) went to a girl's hut (kur, luru). Nadel (ibid.): "The prospect of receiving these visits and indulging in sexual play which forms part of courtship is indeed the acknowledged reason for this segregation of girls. Shame forbade them to receive their lovers in the parents' house, while in the kur they were free from all supervision". Boys of thirteen to fifteen looked around for a bride among the eight to twelve years old girls. They got to know one another out on the fields or at the various dances and ceremonies that united people of different communities. When the couple found one another they kept the arrangement private for a couple of months. The boy visited his girl at night in the girls' hut where she slept for chatting and sex play. The conventional petting included squeezing the breasts, even when undeveloped, of the girl, and what the Otoro call "petting of the pubic apron".

Hawkesworth (1932)[254] stated that the various groups of Nuba were divided by their attitude on intercourse before circumcision. Men begin courting at age twenty and generally get betrothed to a girl child[255], in which case sexual intercourse awaits puberty.

 

"As regards the institution of the parallel age-grades its practical value seems to be that it prepares the ground for the first experiences of sex relations. Or rather, it aims at circumventing, and dulling, this unsettling first experience. Enabling the sexes to meet in the critical age, between 13 and 16, as it were on neutral ground, openly and respectably, it tends to remove some of the secrecy and unhealthy curiosity that is part of the mental transition from the self-contained experience of early youth to the new awareness of the new polarity of sex" (Nadel, 1942 [1970:p204])[256].

 

 

Shilluk (Sudan) (2,2,2,2,-,-;-,-)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Only small boys herd the cattle and milk them, for once a boy has reached maturity there is the danger that he may have had sexual contact […]" (Seligman and Seligman, 1932:p73)[257]. In childhood, "[t]here is no segregation of the sexes [or kin]".

 

 

Bari (Southern Sudan)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Seligman and Seligman (1928:p447)[258]: "A man will sometimes engage to marry a child unborn if it should be a girl. If the girl dies another girl-child may be substituted […]". "When the bride price has been paid […] the man can have intercourse with his future wife, but only in the father's house which the young man visits daily; this is not allowed unless the girl has passed the age of puberty".

 

 

Kuku (Bari-Speaking) (Sudan/Uganda?) [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Vanden Plas (1910:p215)[259], on the Kuku: "Les enfants de sexe différente, se recherchent très jeunes et s'essayent à mettre en pratique les enseignements que leur a procurés leur promiscuité sur un même lit avec leurs parents". Seligman and Seligman (1932:p299)[260] cite Capt. Yunis (1924) in that among the Kuku "lower incisors and canines are removed from both sexes for "the purpose of mutual sex attraction", this being done at ten to twelve years of age.

 

 

Dinka (Sudan)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Play at marriage does not involve "any physical relationship" (Deng, 1972:p64)[261]. Children's socialisation is segregated after weaning, although "[t]here are many things they do together, with or without significance attached to sex". No claims are made on sexual behaviour socialisation. Courtship seems to begin in "youth" (p86-92). The Dinka strongly object to premarital pregnancy.

 

 

Baja (Sudan)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Tessmann (1934b, I:p204)[262] did not note the "Mann-und-Frau-Spiel" in Baja children. Instead, they play in separation and boys are noticed, when the sexes do meet, to haunt and trash the girls. The Baja tend to regard children as innocent (ignorant), probably much contrary to facts (1937, II:p112)[263].

 

 

Dogons (Sudan)  (eHRAF) (®Dogons of Mali)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

According to Paulme (1940:p439-40)[264], the Sudanese Dogon

 

"child will be present at long conversations between men, some seated on the ground against the posts of the toguna, others stretched out in the shade of the thick layers of millet stalks which form the roof of the shelter. The children remain very quiet there; some of them as early as the age of four or five even seem to follow the conversation with interest and sometimes ask their elders questions which the latter gravely answer. There is no subject of conversation among adults which the presence of children puts a stop to approaching freely; no one would dream of controlling his language upon seeing at his side a little boy or little girl whom he might regard as too young to listen to certain information. Thus the children very early acquire precise sexual knowledge -- boys and girls of six or eight seem perfectly familiar with these questions -- without their ever having been given any enlightenment in this matter. The children asked about this subject all replied "that they have always known this".

 

 

Yoruba (Sudan)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Yoruba-speaking peoples, girls of better class were almost always betrothed when children, frequently when infants, the husband in futuro being sometimes an adult, sometimes a boy[265]. Virginity in the bride is only of paramount importance when the girl has been betrothed in childhood; but many girls have lovers in secret[266]. Girls were often betrothed from infancy or birth (Caldwell et al., 1991:p239, 242-3)[267], "often at five years of age" (Bascom, 1969:p61)[268]. Marriage was often delayed until two or three years after puberty (Bascom, 1969:p64). Sources on premarital sexuality (Caldwell et al., 1991:p243-4; Le Blanc et al., 1991:p502)[269] are ambiguous. One 1993 study[270] found that for 3.6 per cent of school students, coitus was experienced at "about ten years old" and for 36.4 per cent not until the age of 15 and 16 years. For the majority of those who had had sexual relations, love and fun were the most frequently provided reasons for involvement. In another study on unmarried female trade apprentices in Ikorodu, however, the lowest age would be 11[271].

 

Yoruba mothers who would kiss her infant below the umbiculus, would be committing incest (Staewen and Schönberg, 1970:p222)[272]. Traditionally, sexual education came from selected same-gender elders, often the oldest of such persons in the village, offered at the puberty rites (Demehin, 1983-4)[273]. With colonisation, Victorian repression condemned sex education, which was found to be rare in association with the absence of puberty rituals (Dehemin, 1983)[274]. Female excision was explained in terms of reducing sexual enjoyment. Virginity was prized; elders generally married off their children soon after puberty to avoid problems. Male children are not punished for public masturbation (LeVine, 1963)[275].

 

"Up to the age of six the children of both sexes are allowed by the parents to mix freely and to play their little games. But from six onward there is a tendency for a girl to go with the group of girls and for the boy to go with his. After puberty there is definite taboo, which is rigorously enforced by the parents, against the mingling of the sexes in public or private"[276].

 

 

Mandari (Sudan)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

As described by Buxton (1963)[277], a specific courting hut (lomore) allows a free atmosphere for adolescent [the exact age at which it is entered is not given] girls to meet boys, ten in one hut, where "parents as a whole do not interfere with the flirtations of their daughters. […] There may be affectionate petting- stroking and caressing- but sexual intercourse does not take place. […] huts are not places for affairs or sexual licence".

 

 


Ethiopia (Kaffa, Udhuk, Nuer, Majangir, Afar, Amhara, Qemant)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"[…] the Civil Code prohibits marriage of men under the age of 18 years and women under the age of 15 years[278].Early marriage, however, is pervasive in Ethiopia, with girls often marrying at the age of 14 or younger[279].These marriages, generally arranged by a couple's parents in conformity with tradition, are motivated in part by the need to ensure a girl's virginity at the time of marriage[280]"[281].

Among the Ethiopian Galla, marriages are arranged, often with betrothal at a very young age (Holcomb, 1973)[282]. In Ethiopia, the marriage age for females is 12-15, to prevent pre-marital pregnancy (Beddada)[283]. Among the [Abessinier], clitoridectomy and male circumcision are performed seven days after puberty (Bieber, 1908:p49-99)[284]. Girls may be married from age ten upward, in which case consummation is delayed (p54). Among the Islamic Galla, infibulation is performed at age eight to ten (p76). Marriage of girls may be as early as age ten, boys marry at 15 (p77). Among the [Kaffitscho], the girl's clitoris is extirpated at the age of 4 months to 1 year (p84). After menarche, as early as age nine or ten, she is ready for marriage (p85); a premarital sex life is not considered possible. Among the Ometi, girls marry at age 13-15, "before menarche" [although this commonly occurs at age 12], and boys at age 14-16; circumcision and clitoral extirpation take place before marriage (p95-6). Among the Amhara, sex education of boys is not commonplace; girls are instructed by the mother before menarche / marriage (Bieber, 1911:p189-90)[285]. Among the Galla and [Kaffitscho], mutual masturbation of boys and girls, as well as bestiality with horses and donkeys among herd boys is common (p192, 193).

According to a study on rural adolescent girls in the Fitche district of Ethiopia[286], it was found that, although girls learned how to do domestic tasks from their mothers, they had little knowledge of menses or proper hygiene during menstruation. Parents expressed little interest in educating their girls about puberty, menses, or sexuality. Virginity is of prime importance in this community, and girls are often circumcised. However, because girls are strictly isolated from boys, kidnapping and rape are not uncommon.

 

Data suggest that ethnic groups "Adere and the Oromo used FGM [female genital mutilation] on women aged from 4 years to puberty, and the Amhara on the 8th day of birth. […] Women believed the practice to be fully supported by men. Men preferred marrying women subjected to FGM, because the women would then not be sexually overactive and unfaithful"[287].

 

 

Kaffa / Kafa (2+,3,3,54,4;4,4) (Ethiopia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

According to Bieber (1920, I:p269)[288], boys masturbate et se ipsi et inter se. Girls practice tribadism. Bestiality is practised by older and younger boys (horses, donkeys).

 

 

Udhuk (Ethiopia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

According to Cerulli (1956:p23[289]; Mbiti, [1990:p133])[290] courtship and marriage takes place "at an early age" since no payment or gifts are given or expected. This possibly begins when children leave the parents home and village at puberty to go to the village of the maternal uncle, to safeguard them from a polygamous system (Cerulli, p22, 23-4).

 

 

Nuer (Ethiopia) (eHRAF)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Evans-Pritchard (1951:p56)[291], along with Huffman (1931:p36)[292] observed that children grow up within a marital paradigm.

 

"Sexual activities are from their earliest manifestations given the stamp of cultural values. They are from the first associated with marriage, which is the final goal of the sex life of men and women. Even the very poor and the disabled form domestic establishments of some kind and talk proudly of 'my father-in-law' and 'my mother-in-law'. It is the chief ambition of a youth to marry and have a home (gol) of his own, for when Nuer speak of marriage they speak of a home. They say of a youth: 'He is married -- he has a gol.' Even in childhood it is clear to Nuer that marriage and the birth of children are the ultimate purpose of the sexual functions to which all earlier activities of a sexual kind-play, love-making, and courtship-are a prelude, a preparation, and a means.

So long as there is no erotic behaviour in public, no inhibitions attach to sexual interests and their expression, and no one tries to hide from children the facts of sexual life, which they can learn by observing their elders and the flocks and herds among which childhood is spent. A boy who is seen by his elders in sexual play with a girl of his own age will merely be told not to act as though be had been initiated -- he can do what he likes then -- and at the most might receive a cut with a grass switch. No one considers his conduct immoral, and the older people will joke about such things among themselves.

Children start playing at marriage from the time they begin to walk, at first as uncomprehending observers of the games of older children and then as participants in them. They make cattle byres and huts of sand, and mud oxen and cows, and with these conduct bridewealth negotiations and perform marriage ceremonies, and they play at domestic and conjugal life, including sometimes in the game, I was told, imitation of coitus. In its earliest expression, therefore, sex is associated with marriage, and the first sexual play occurs in imitation of one of the domestic routines of married life. It occurs in response to a cultural, and not to an instinctive, urge.

Girls and boys, the girls rather earlier than the boys, begin to perform the simpler and lighter tasks of household and kraal from about the age of seven. From then onwards till they are about fourteen, marriage games continue when the children are by themselves, and though within them sexual play begins to be indulged in for its own sake and not merely in imitation of adult behaviour, it is subordinate to the whole make-believe relationship of conjugality of which it forms a part. During the rainy months the girls visit the boys in the grazing grounds, bringing them balls of porridge as presents, which each gives to the boy she has chosen as her 'husband'. She also milks the goats for her 'husband' and may even bring him a gourdful of cow's milk from the kraal. The boys cut millet stalks in the gardens and after roasting and eating the immature grain send the sweet stalks with their outer husks removed to their 'brides'. Older boys also send their juniors with mud oxen and cows to one of the senior girls, who plays the part of mother-in-law. I was told that in these games sexual intercourse may take place, but is neither a usual nor a prominent feature.

Girls witness serious love-making and courtship earlier than boys. At dances small girls follow their more experienced sisters and cousins, imitating their movements during the dancing and afterwards sitting with them while the young men pay them compliments and try to persuade them to retire with them into the long grass. When a girl is about twelve or thirteen initiated boys begin to court her, and when she is about fifteen or sixteen she has at least one lover and probably one in each of the villages neighbouring her own. She passes through a succession of love affairs, besides more casual affairs. I doubt whether any girl in Nuerland goes to her husband a virgin".

 

The same was observed by MacDermott (1972:p101)[293]: "Children may be strictly controlled in some ways but they have a freedom in their games that might shock the modern world. One day I saw a boy and girl aged about seven or eight playing at marriage in front of her elders. They disappeared to the grass where they attempted to make love; seeing my surprise, the elders asked: "What harm can they do? No babies will result!" ". Seligman and Seligman (1932:p223)[294]:

 

"Boys and girls play at marriage together, choosing partners and mimicking all activities, even sending clay oxen as bride-wealth. The sexual act has its place in this play, although it is by no means the only interest. It is, however, at this age that children are taught the meaning of incest, and that play marriages with relatives are not permitted, though it is not until puberty that they will learn from the parents the full range of their relatives".

 

"There is a considerable amount of pre-marital freedom. […] An unmarried girl should never have a child […]. It is only after initiation that courtship is socially recognized as a serious matter. A girl may be courted by several boys at the same time as long as they do not come from the same hamlet; likewise, a lad may pay court to two or three girls" (p226).

Evans-Pritchard (1947)[295] stated that children sleep in the same room as their parents until age five to six, with no efforts to hide parental sexuality. Children may be observed playing at marriage including mock coitus. Girls are courted beginning at ages twelve to thirteen, and will have a series of lovers by age fifteen to sixteen. Males are said to practice penile self-mutilation beginning at age twelve, which appears to be a gradual autocircumcision by causing atrophy of the subcutaneous tissue. Contrary to Evans-Pritchard, Akalu (1989:p27)[296] stated that there are no observations on parents' sex life, and no questions asked. "They seem to carry with them so many questions until they reach the age of around 10 to 12 when they take up discussion about their interests in their age-group". Sexual intercourse may, however, be observed in the forest or savannah. "From their early years [children] are treated as responsible beings. No instructions and no reprimands are given to them. The children simply and without being told imitate the conduct of the adults. [...] imitating without request and without approval or disapproval" (Akalu, 1985:p56)[297].

Boys are initiated (ages 9-15) by horizontal incisions on the forehead, girls are not. Youths have considerable sexual freedom. The girl is nude until marriage (Beidelman, 1968)[298].

Hutchinson (1996:p291)[299] stated that the age range of initiation was lowered for a number of reasons.

 

"Due to this decline in age of the average initiate, it was not uncommon during the early 1980s for boys to be scarified before reaching "puberty" (juel). The fact that many newly scarified "men" had to wait for years before enjoying the sexual privileges ritually conferred upon them at initiation while more and more bull-boys were actively engaging in courtship and marriage further complicated this situation. "Manhood" was increasingly considered a matter of degree rather than a definitive status. There were numerous occasions, for instance, in which I heard older men publicly ridicule and belittle these pubescent wuuni as no better than "boys" since they "still know nothing of girls". I also heard such "men" derogatorily referred to by older men as wuuni g[.]ri (sing., wut g[.]ri), an expression that suggested that they were men only in the sense of bearing the marks of gaar. Similarly, a young man could praise himself in song by declaring "I'm not [merely] a wut g[.]ri," thereby implying that he was, rather, a fully grown warrior, capable of assuming all the social privileges and responsibilities appropriate to "manhood" ".

 

Evans-Pritchard comes to

 

"[…] two conclusions: that there is wide sexual freedom before marriage, and that sex life is from the beginning stamped by cultural interests. Apart from rules of incest, adultery, and good form, there are no checks placed on the expression of sex from its earliest manifestations. Nevertheless, even at the outset the compass is set towards marriage and children. Simulated coitus between children is part of a game of domestic and marital relationships. After initiation, young men make love to girls as much as they can, but though there is much casual intercourse it is considered rather gross, and the aim of both youths and girls is to form attachments of the lover-sweetheart kind, in which coitus, when it takes place at all, is only part of a more complex relationship. The lover-sweetheart relationship has within it the purpose or pretence of marriage. […] So strong is the cultural idea of marriage that, though devoid of irksome restraint and inhibitions, the path of sex life runs from childhood towards that of union and, though circuitous, leads always to marriage, home, and family. Marriage is the end of a full sex life".

 

"Parents teach their sons at an early age the rules of sex: to avoid the wives of others and those who teke mar, have kinship"[300]. However, "[…] it is not thought that children will fall sick if they have incestuous relations in their play 'because the children are ignorant of having done wrong'. They know no better"[301].

 

 

Majangir (Ethiopia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Stauder (1971:p77, 86-7)[302] observed that little children are considered "stupid" and unobservant in observing marital liberties, whereas older children are made to go sleep outside.

 

 

Afar (Ethiopia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Afar girls used to be eligible for marriage from their tenth year (Licata, 1885:p254)[303].

 

 

Amhara (Ethiopia) (2,2,3+, 4-2,2;6,1) (eHRAF)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Around 1950, Messing and Bender ([1985:p208])[304] note on the Amhara: 

 

"When sex differentiation becomes more emphasized in the culture, at about seven[305], sex talk and sex play goes on primarily within the peer group of the same sex. The invitation to do this is […] (lit. take this-insult). They play hide and seek, whisper, reenact what they have observed their parents do at night in the hut, and fantasize experimenting with sexual possibilities. Children observe much in the quiet of the night in the hut, but are careful not to be seen watching. They misunderstand and are greatly puzzled, since no elder will explain "impolite matters" to them. It is impolite even to mention the names of genitals and reproductive organs, such as k'ula for penis, and […] for vulva, so they are merely whispered about. In church school, boys are puzzled by overt references to "Mary's wom" and "God's seed", but questions are rejected as "rudeness". Youngsters in town have broader information, because there they hear "rude" talk more often among adults".

 

The authors ([1985:p264, 439]) further note: "When no adults are present, boys play games imitating the sex life of animals, sometimes highly imaginary, e.g. the "coitus of baboons[306]" […]: seated and facing each other with their feet and rock back and forth. This is largely their own mental projection of human activities, for they have all seen actual sexual intercourse among domestic animals".

 

"Their powers of observation, active, free and relatively unstructured prior to later discipline, imitate in their play activities the social relations, including the family and sexual-social relationships of their elders. When about five years old, boys and girls - for the sexes are not yet separated up to that time - play "house" with considerable sophistication. For example, when they play "marriage", the "father" of the "bride" goes to the "elders" to inquire about the character of the "groom", after the groom's father has initiated the negotiations on the groom's request. They build a "marriage hut", and play at heavy drinking of barley-beer and honey-mead. The "bride" demands a gift from her new "husband", and enters into his "residence". After they have been in there a while, the two best-men […], who had been duly sworn to protect her even against her husband, go off to the bride's parents to announce loudly and joyfully that the girl had proven a virgin! Whereupon the mize [vide infra] are feted".

 

Opposing the Sinhalese, who ritualise menarche, "[…] the Amhara female's rite of passage (which may be formalized and public or casual and secret) is her introduction to adult heterosexual intercourse". Sex and marriage are closely related in idiom, premarital virginity renders marriage legitimate, and the nuptial defloration is ceremonial (Reminick)[307]. Levine (1965)[308]:

 

"The experience of the wedding night cannot be very pleasant for the bride. For the first time in her life she is far from the familiar setting of her parental home. She has had little or no sexual instruction, other than the knowledge that sexual matters are "rude" and that she is supposed to resist her husband's advances as fiercely as possible. The groom, on the other hand, has been taught to regard the nuptial night as a battle in which the bride must be forcibly overcome. If somewhat anxious himself, he at least has the moral, and sometimes the physical, support of his two or three mize. If he is unable to accomplish the defloration, he may call in the first mize—usually a married relative or friend with some experience—who will perform the task. When at last the bride has been conquered, the mize take the bloodstained cloth as proof of the girl's virginity. Their triumphant chant—ber ambar sabara-lewo, "he has broken the silver bracelet for you" (for the bride's parents)—is the signal for further rejoicing and revelry among the wedding guests. On the morrow groom and friends discuss the conquest with masculine glee, and the bride remains embarrassed and cowed".

 

"Still another type of marriage is that known as […]("ten beds") in which the boy goes to live with the girl's family while both are quite young. In this case the boy has his work apprenticeship under the girl's father. After several years, when the girl reaches puberty, a second wedding ceremony will take place—this time at the home of the groom's parents—and the union will be consummated. This type of arrangement tends to be made when the boy's family is too poor to provide enough to get him started on his own, or if the girl's father has no son to help him with the work".

 

 

Qemant (Ethiopia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Gamst (1969:p103)[309]: "Young boys are not segregated. Tadassa [a 4-y-old] plays and fights with girls as well as boys, but sexual play between them is not permitted; in older children it is punished. After puberty, boys and girls no longer sleep together. Boys usually gain sexual knowledge gradually from listening to conversations of young men. Talking about sex in the house or at mixed gatherings is considered improper".

 

 

Djibouti, Republic of Djibouti  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

[no data available]

 

 

 


Somalia (Somali, Darod[up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In Somalia urban areas, child marriage (sometimes at age 12) was rare; in agricultural areas, it was about age 15 (Warsame, Ismail)[310]. A law passed on January 11th, 1975, forbids marriage of females below age 16, and of males below 18.

Puccioni (1936:p90)[311]:

 

"Infibulation is regularly practiced on young girls. Ferrandi tells us that at Lugh the operation is performed at the age of seven or eight ([312]), while Zoli reports that it is done at the age of twelve or thirteen by the natives of the area beyond the Juba ([313])".

 

 

Somali (3,3+,3,4,4,4;1,1) (Somalia) (eHRAF)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"There is some indication that infant betrothal may have been common in the past, but whether this is true or not, it is certainly not the general practice now (Lewis, 1962:p16[314]; Lewis, 1994:p33[315]). According to Grassivaro and Abdisamed (1985)[316], the practice of female circumcision was universal in Somalia; the percentage of circumcised women was 99.3%. Infibulation is the commonest type of circumcision used (75.7%). The age of circumcision varies from birth to 15; the average being 7.5. The type of circumcision does not seem to be influenced by some environmental variables (e.g. birth place of parents or place of circumcision), it is primarily determined by the population of the individual region. Infibulation is accepted to the greatest extent by the pastoral populations of the middle/northern regions, principally in Ogaden and in the 4 Somalian regions on which it borders: Togdheer, Nugal, Muddug, Galgadud. In the southern regions (Upper, Middle, Lower Giuba) amongst rural populations or populations with a cattle/cultivation economy, there are also attenuated types of circumcision: sunna and clitoridectomy (20 to 30%).

In precapitalist northern pastoral Somali, the following was noted:

 

"As soon as she learned to walk and talk, [a girl] was to acquire the skills of women's work and to imitate, even in play, the child care, matweaving, buttermaking and cooking tasks of the women of her household and camp. From such a young age too a young girl was learned about the central value of her sexual organs and the need to hide and protect them; the genital operation which she underwent before she was nine or ten years drove these points home. By the time a girl reached puberty and became nubile, she had mastered all women's work skills. While north Islamic and customary law prescribed that she continue to guard her virginity, she was at this age allowed to participate in customary courtship practices, or attract a husband and thus find her niche as a wife in a new productive and reproductive unit: the household" (Kapteijns, 1995:p249)[317].

 

 

Darod (Somalia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The majority of girls between the ages of 6 and 12 undergo infibulation (Abdalla, 1982:p12). Islam requires virginity before marriage, fidelity after marriage, and seclusion of the women from the men (p30), but since seclusion is not possible in a nomadic society, female circumcision is seen as way of protecting women's chastity in the presence of any man and of reducing a woman's sexual desires (p35-6).

 

 


The Gambia, Republic of the Gambia (®Wolof)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among all ever sexually active single men, 33% reported that they were aged 14 or younger at first sexual intercourse, and among all ever sexually active women, 20% did so (Kane et al., 1993)[318].

 

 


Senegal (Toucouleur, Wolof)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Senegalese Serer, marriage takes place usually shortly after puberty (Cantrelle and Leridon, 1971)[319]. "Chez les femmes Oucloves du Sénégal, […] [l]a cohabitation avant la venue des règles [age 11 or 12] est un acte fréquent chez les jeunes filles, on n'y voit aucun scandale, dans la majorité des cas […]"[320].

 

[Additional refs.: Delaunay (1994)[321];CRLP (2000) Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives: Francophone Africa. Progress Report, p155-75]

 

 

Toucouleur (Senegal)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Sans doute, durant la période pré-pubertaire, les enfants toucouleur sont généralement tenus pour asexués" (Wane, 1971:p223)[322]. Children observe parental intercourse and animals but might they imitate any act they are immediately given a memorable correction. There is a strict obedience to Islamic teachings. Adolescents are permitted to play husband and wife (suka-sehil) which is regarded as immature courtship or flirtation and does not lead to consummation or marriage (p225).

Schenkel (1971:p322-7)[323] has some notes on Senegalese sexuality in childhood. Mothers are "obsessed with the virile potency of her infant", and eager to watch his erection. Childhood "impotence" is though by the Serer to be caused by the spilling of milk on the boy's penis[324]. Enuresis is thought to be associated with impotence. Automanipulation of the penis is discouraged by threats of castration and circumcision. If anything, people say it "resembles the sexual act". "Numerous informants" declared that during boy's circumcision the first sexual interactions are had.

Generally,

 

"[l]'enfant est très vite en contact avec la vie sexuelle de l'adulte, la promiscuité étant très grande. On considère ici que l'enfant de 5 ans a pris connaissance de l'acte sexuele, et qu'il essaye d'imiter les grands en invitant une petite amie. Situation que nous avons pu d'ailleurs observer plusieurs fois. De nombreux billets circulent entre élèves de 8 à 12 ans, invitant à accomplir l'acte sexuel, dessins très précis à l'appui".

 

17.6% of men and 7.4% of women had their first sexual experience between ages five and ten (p360). 19.6% of men and none of females would have learned about impotence between ages five to ten (p346f), generally from age mates. A strict rule forbids sexual communication between age segments.

 

 

Wolof (3,3,3,3+,4,4;2,2;C) (Senegal) (eHRAF)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Data are somewhat contradictory. Ford and Beach (1951:p182)[325] stated that intercourse before puberty ceremonies are strictly forbidden to boys. However, according to Freimark (1911:p163)[326], it was not uncommon among the Senegalese Wolof to find premenarchal coitus[327].  Ames (1953:p140): "Young people, including the boys who attend the bush circumcision school, are given no instruction in sexual techniques. They learn by experimentation beginning in childhood". However, Faladé ([1960] 1963:p220)[328] observed that girls entering marriage (at 16 or after, but certainly after menarche) are "quite ignorant" of sexual matters. A marriage has to be annulled on account of the impotence of the husband. "This causes a good deal of anxiety among mothers on account of their boys, and it often happens that they will want to see that their little boys are capable of having an erection" (Faladé, 1963:p222; also p220).

 

Diop (1982:p190-8)[329] found that only 29 in 100 Dakar girls had been sexually educated before puberty, another 56 after. Senghor and Sow (1975:p237)[330] argue that "[…] l'éducation sexuelle est à peu près inexistente chez les Sérères, Walaf et Lébou car elle est réduite au comportement que la fillette devra plus tard adopter en tant qu'épouse".

 

Chabas ([c1960]:p11-2)[331]:

 

"Today [ca 1960, DJ] this age is set by the decree of June 15, 1939, at 14 years for women and at 16 years for men. Previously, Ouolof custom set the age of the girl at 14 years, but some exemptions were admitted with the precaution that the marriage would not be consummated until the girl was nubile. The age of the man was generally set at more than 16 years with a range between 18 and 22 years. Since the rule is legally established today, it no longer gives rise to discussion. Nevertheless, practices which run contrary to the provisions of the public order of the decree continue to be followed".

 

In one case the marriage of a fourteen year old girl was be annulled by the application of the provisions of the decree of June 15, 1939, but in order to sustain the validity of the marriage, the defence invoked the fact that the marriage had not yet been consummated and would not be until the girl reached the age of puberty. The Court of Dakar nevertheless annulled the marriage by citing verbatim the provisions of the 1939 decree which prescribes the annulment of any matrimonial agreement concerning a girl who has not reached puberty, whether she consents or not. It concludes: "Consequently, the marriage of a girl who has not reached puberty is declared null in the full legal sense". Faladé, however, stated that premenarchal consummation was infrequently present.

 

 


Guinea Bissau (Manjak)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

 

Manjak (Guinea Bissau)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Marriage was contracted before or very early after birth (Diop, 1984:p12)[332].

 

 


Guinea  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Hanry (1970)[333] found that Guinea sexarche generally took place between ages 12 and 17. "On note cependant un assez grand nombre d'expériences enfantines: 12% de jeunes gens avaient, à leur première expérience, moins de 12 ans [[334]] et 11% de leurs partenaires" (p88). Three in 24 had coitus between ages eight and ten. Masturbation was said to be followed by threats to psychic and physical health (p84), and nearly half of boys did not answer the question.

Reporting on a 1995 survey (Gorgen et al., 1998)[335], the average age of first sexual intercourse was 16.3 for young women and 15.6 for males. The sexual partner is typically a peer.

For another report on adolescent sexuality, see [[336]].

Social status is established through an informally consensus relative to life phases (kare)[337]:

 

"Although the kare can be defined relatively easily using biological markers such as puberty and fertility, in practice the definitions become more difficult and less precise. Identifying the moment of puberty, for example, is complicated, because it can be at the time of menarche, or when a girl's breasts begin to develop. Although some families marry off their daughters at the first sign of maturation, others prefer to wait until several years after menarche, when a pregnancy is more likely to be successful".

 

 


Sierra Leone (Kuranko, Mende, Poro)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

 

Kuranko (Sierra Leone)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

According to Jackson (1977:p95)[338], betrothal before birth or in early infancy was usual. The girls wear a red thread around their waist to signify this status. Marriage follows immediately after initiation after puberty (Jackson, 1975:p395)[339]. During the seclusion after girls' initiation ceremony (dimusu biriye), the end of childhood, they receive instruction on "domestic, sexual and moral matters" from older women while waiting for their clitoridectomy scars to heal (Jackson, 1983:p330)[340].

 

 

Mende (Sierra Leone) (3,3,3,3,2,4-;5,2;D4,1)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The Humui, or medicine society, forbids sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of puberty (Little, 1951 [1967:p147]; 1954:p131)[341]. Sex matters are taught to initiates in the privacy of the kpanguima, or Sande [women's society] initiation enclosure (Boone, 1986:p52)[342]. In older days, children would be severely chastised for the most innocent curiosity or questioning (p78, n2). Girls are instructed during the Sande society ceremony, which is to transform her from child into adult (Jedrej, 1980)[343]. During this, "[t]hey are subject of [sic] lewd speculation by the men and there is no doubt about their sexuality" (p136).

 

 

Poro (Sierra Leone, Liberia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

On the West Coast, Poro [secret society associated with the Kpelle and Mende, Mano, Gola] schools, four years of duration, were to instruct the boy on matters related to "the traditional rules which govern religious, intellectual, social, economic and sexual life" (Torday, 1931:p111)[344].

According to Brongersma's resources (1987:p115) Poro children have sexual intercourse from an early age. Initiation requires abstinence; ejaculation may be arrived at by whipping, thus, without using the hand. Liberia Poro novices eat each the other sex's genital parts after circumcision and clitoridectomy (Bettelheim, 1962:p94)[345].

 

 

[Additional refs.: Gervis (1957 :p90, 101, 112, 252)[346]]

 

 

 

Liberia (Kpelle; ®Poro)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

 

Kpelle (Liberia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Gibbs (1965:p209)[347] found that Kpelle parents fondle the genitals of their infants.

 

 


Côte d'Ivoire, Ivory Coast (Senoufo, Guro)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The mother generally takes care of sexual instructions at girl's puberty rites (Aka-Anghui et al., 1972)[348]. One study examined the sexual behaviour of pre-adolescents (aged 9 to 14) in schools in Abidjan (Aonon, 1993)[349]. In a concurrent study on their parents[350], the following was observed:

 

"There is a strong influence of what we might call the "traditional model" (mimicry and things left unsaid) on the parents' conception of sexuality. They have lived in a context where there was a family taboo on the subject of sexuality, hence it was never spoken of. Even when sex could be alluded to indirectly, in terms that the children might be able to understand, they were always left in ignorance by the parents, and by the extended family too (by all the preceding generation, in fact). The parents realize that they must speak to the children about sex, but do not know how to bring the subject up. They believe that sex education is the responsibility of the family (93%) but they do not talk much about sexuality with their children, and leave it to the school to teach them (54%), giving priority to the "moral" aspects of the question (they hope that the children will be taught a code of good conduct and that teachers will speak about fidelity or abstinence, rather than contraception)".

 

Clitoridectomy "includes sexual education by means of sensuous dances and songs [in which] sexual liberty is accorded the youth of both sexes"[351].

In a recent study[352] on students, the average age of the first sex was 14.3 and 15.6 years in males and females, respectively. According to another study: "En Côte d'Ivoire, la moyenne d'âge d'entrée en activité sexuelle est de 15,48 ans dans la population adolescente. Cependant, les filles entrent en activité sexuelle en moyenne beaucoup plus tôt que les garçons (15,38 ans contre 15,91 ans). Par ailleurs, tandis qu'à 16,47 ans la moitié des filles a déjà eu un premier rapport sexuel, cet âge se situe à 17,19 ans pour les garçons"[353].

 

[Additional refs: CRLP (2000) Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives: Francophone Africa. Progress Report, p111-32; Holas, B. (1957) L'Evolution du Schéma Initiatique Chez les Femmes Oubi (Région de Tai, Côte d'Ivoire), Africa 27,3: 241-50] Adams, M. J. (1991) Celebrating Women: Girls' Initiation in Canton Boo, Wè/Guéré Region, Côte d'Ivoire, L'Ethnographie 86,2:81-115]

 

 

Senoufo (Ivory Coast)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

One of the main acts of male initiation ceremonies to the Poro is a ritual intercourse between the neophytes and their symbolic mother who has just given birth to them. This rite "materializes the initiatic axiom: Senoufo men reproduce themselves by incest" (Zempleni, 1990)[354].

 

 

Guro (Ivory Coast)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The Kne initiation is to prepare girls for sexual life (Deluz, 1987)[355], taking place at puberty, and rather before than after (p123). Clitoridectomy is part of the rite.

 

 


Burkina Faso [formerly Republic of Upper Volta] (Bobo, Mossi)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

[Additional refs: CRLP (2000) Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives: Francophone Africa. Progress Report, p44-65]

 

 

Bobo (Upper Volta)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Montjoie et al. (1967:p85)[356]noted: "Les jeux sexuels des enfants sont très fréquents à cet âge [until puberty], mais se font la plupart du temps dans des endroits cachés et inconnus des parents". From puberty to marriage (p88), "[l]es relations sexuelles sont assez difficiles à décrire. Certains affirment que, comme l'âge du mariage est précoce, il y a peu de relations sexuelles avent ce dernier. Ils ajoutent que l'acte sexuel entre les petits enfants n'est qu'un acte mimé et qu'ils l'abandonnent très vite. D'autres sources donnent des avis très différents".

 

 

Mossi (Burkina Faso)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Mossi of Burkina Faso, girls are married shortly after puberty (Hammond, 1966)[357]. Some adolescent bestiality occurs, also because of the late circumcision, which is necessary for access to women.

On the Mossi, it is stated (Erny, 1988:p179-80)[358] that: "Les mères prennent […] l'habitude de surveiller très tôt les érections de leurs garçons. On caresse les organes génitaux surtout pour apaiser l'enfant. Des ablutions à l'eau froide visent parfois à rendre le futur homme sexuellement plus puissant. Au Katanga, "les parents se soucient très tôt de la bonne formation des organes génitaux chez leurs enfants. Il suffit de féliciter une mère pour son dernier-né en disant qu'il est muzima (plein de vie) pour qu'elle fasse constater aussitôt le bon état de ses organes génitaux, surtout s'il s'agit d'un garçon" [Leblanc, 1960:p44][359].

 

 


Ghana (Thsi-Speakers, Tallensi, Akan, / Ashanti, Fanti, Kokomba, (S)Isala, Ga, Ewe, Vagla, Krobo)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index] [IES]

 

A most detailed poly-ethnography of childhood sexual socialisation is offered by Kaye (1960:p374-408; 1962:p116-29)[360], who collected attitudes, behaviour and counterbehaviours on 21 sites in Ghana, and on different linguistic groups; numeric data were collected by means of questionnaires. Parents fondled infants' genitalia. Kaye (1960:p388-94; 1962:p125) found that children were punished harshly for masturbation (14 of 21 sites), notably with red pepper or ginger applied on several orifices (penis, vagina, anus, nostrils, eyes). Masturbation was nevertheless practised almost universally (1962:p124) in several Akan towns. Heterosexual games (1960:p94-7) where on the whole common, including prepubertal sexual intercourse[361], but punished frequently. Attitudes toward children's nakedness vary considerably according to the degree of urbanisation.

Bleek (1976:p36-51)[362] also gives a detailed account of Ghana childhood by interviewing adolescents in schools, did not find much punishment mentioned. "Children start experimenting with sex at an early age. One secondary school boy claims that he made his first attempt at the age of four, another boy when he was seven. From eight onwards it becomes more frequent". Coitarche occurred at age 12.1 (M) and 14.2 (F), but was as low as 11.7 for a Kwahu secondary school. Still later, "[s]ex games in which children play the role of mothers and fathers are commonly practiced in Ghana. The games are not forbidden, but sexual exploration in the form of mutual examination of genitals may not go unpunished. Until puberty, boys and girls play together freely, and in towns and villages, especially in moonlit nights, clandestine affairs are sometimes reported" (Ankomah, 1997)[363].

 

"In practice few schools have a comprehensive program on family life education".

 

"Rapid urbanization, increased mobility, education, and other agents of change have together undermined the traditional channels of sex education. With very limited access to sex education both at home and in the schools, coupled with long periods of schooling in an unmarried state, the gap between sexual and social adulthood has widened, and the modern Ghanaian adolescent faces a sexual dilemma. When in 1991, students in two secondary schools in Accra were asked to state their sources of knowledge on reproduction, the most frequently mentioned source was teachers - apparently as part of biology lessons. On the broad issue of sexual knowledge, students most frequently get their first information on sex from friends, and further from their teachers and relatives. According to Bleek's study in 1976 [[364]], girls more than boys tend to rely on relatives, especially their mothers, for their first knowledge on sex education. Boys generally receive this information from male friends. The role of teachers appears to be equal for both sexes. In the urban centers, students also report magazines and books as an important source of sex information".

 

In Ahafo, girls must not get pregnant before menarche is formally announced, a practice that may be delayed for years after its actual manifestation (Vervoorn, 1958)[365]. Anarfi and Awusabo-Asare (1993:p8[366]; cf. Arnafi, 1993:p9[367]):

 

"There seem to be no traditions, customs or beliefs prohibiting premarital sex in the societies studied. Over half of the sample, of both sexes and in rural and urban areas, were unaware of any prohibition on premarital sex: what was consistently mentioned was prohibition of sex before a girl underwent puberty rites. For girls, reaching physical maturity, signalled by menarche, was marked with extensive rituals: it symbolized a woman's ability to become a wife and mother. Sexual activity before puberty rites were performed was considered a criminal offence: punishments ranged from ritual cleansing to ostracism of the couple, particularly if the girl became pregnant before the ceremony was performed (Banuako, 1975)[[368]]".

 

Age at first marriage among the sample population was very low, with some marrying as early as 14. Age at first sexual relations ranged between 13 and 26 years for males and 10 and 26 years for females in the rural areas, giving median ages of 19 and 18 years respectively.

An ethnogeographic account of female circumcision was offered by Knudsen (1994)[369]. Today, with the ban on female circumcision, "parents and older people in the Kassena-Nankana District tend to trace changes in their children's sexual behavior to invasive forces- money, media, "white men's values", and family planning" (Mensch et al., 1999)[370].

Field (1970)[371] remarked: "Young girls are usually married and become pregnant within a month or two of their first menstruation […]".

Recent studies[372] have argued that "[…] the expansion of formal education for females, urbanization and migration, have changed the traditional system of social and sexual maturity. Girls no longer marry at puberty, at least in urban areas, a situation that increases the gap between physical maturity and age at first marriage. This gap creates conditions for premarital sex". According to one study[373], subjects became sexually experienced at a mean age of 15.5 years for males and 16.2 years for females. Among street children the mean age of sexarche is 14.5 for both sexes[374]; between 4 and 5 per cent of the children had experienced sexual intercourse for the first time below age ten and another 39 per cent by age 14.

Anti[375]:

 

"In Ghana, the most well-preserved female puberty rites are the Dipo of the Krobo, and the Bragoro of the Asante. So important were the ideals of these rites that its violation in former times constituted a crime.  A girl who became pregnant before the performance of the puberty rites was banished together with the man who was responsible for it.    Purification rites were performed to rid the society of its evil consequences.  It must be noted that not only did the puberty rites prepare the young for marriage, it also prepared them for procreation without which marriage was incomplete. The ceremonies therefore, marked the entry of young girls into adulthood. During the period of their ritual seclusion the young girls are taught the secrets of the society and also brought closely to the supernatural forces which are supposed to ensure their protection, blessing and fertility during their period of motherhood.  Mothers of such concerned girls usually pray that their daughters grow to full maturity and bear children".

 

[Additional refs: CRLP (2001) Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives: Anglophone Africa. Progress Report, p30-52]

 

 

Tshi-Speaking People (Gold Coast; Ghana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Tshi-speaking people, a girl was publicly advertised for marriage at puberty (age 11-12) by being paraded through the streets decked out in ornaments. Lateral betrothals frequently take place before puberty and sometimes before birth[376].

According to Ellis (1887:p128)[377], the violation of children by men is only too common on the Gold Coast. Family tutelary deities are the special protectors of chastity of girls before puberty (beginning at age 11 or 12). A family deity appoints a spirit to walk behind each girl. At puberty its duties end. Barrenness is commonly thought to be due to prepubertal sexual intercourse (ibid.).

 

Tallensi (2,2,2+,2+,2,3-;8,8) (Northern Ghana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Fortes (1938:p36, 56; 1970:p251)[378]:

 

"Children of opposite sexes play at husband and wife and sleep together on the same mat. When children are caught at such practices, the male child is given a good beating and never allowed to remain with the females alone anywhere in the compound. The female child is rather treated cruelly by the mother. She grinds pepper and applies it to the child's vagina. The other children in the family ridicule the unfortunate pair and the treatment becomes a warning to the other boys and girls against similar practices. […] It is said […] that housekeeping play sometimes branches into sexual play, little boys pretending to be husband and wife and trying to copulate. Detailed inquiry shows that this is not uncommon. The usual method of sexual experimentation at this stage of development follows the pattern of adolescence. Small boys "woo sweet-hearts" with little gifts, and sexual experiments occur in connexion with dancing or by chance opportunities"[379].

 

Masturbation is "overt until puberty in boys". Parents take it for granted that children will indulge in sexual play (Fortes, 1949:p100)[380]. Fortes added that the Tallensi "are not surprised at the comprehensive and accurate sexual knowledge of a six-year-old, though direct instruction in these matters is never given" ([1970:p223, 239-40]).

 

 

Fanti, Fante (Ghana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

According to Fanti customs, "[s]ometimes it happened, for personal reasons, that children were betrothed before they were mature; in such cases the boy's parent maintained the girl in her father's house and watched her, and was entitled to satisfaction if she were tampered with. When both had reached puberty the marriage was completed by cohabitation"(Ffoulkes, 1909)[381]. Christensen (1954:p99)[382] says that among the Fanti, the boy is censured for masturbation. Possibly as a result, in Apam, "masturbation among children is thought to be very rare, and believed to have no effect". Girls are initiated at menarche[383], afterwards, the girl is "sold" into marriage, with no love involved.

 

 

Ewe (Ghana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Ewe-speaking peoples, children may be betrothed in childhood or before birth[384]. In Dahomi, girls aged ten to twelve, in every town, are married to Gods. They remain three years in religion institutions prostituting themselves to priests and inmates of male seminaries, at the end becoming "secular" prostitutes[385]. Among the Anlo Ewe, sex before the puberty rites was considered not only immoral but also an affront to the spiritual powers, particularly the ancestors. Sexual intercourse was reserved for procreation, the family regarded as a sacred unit (Dovlo, 1995)[386]. "These prohibitions were traditionally taught from childhood on, though not always in a formal manner". "Children were severely punished for such acts as masturbation and sodomy and childhood play activities that [may] lead to sexual contact". Sexual instruction was carried out by the same-sex parent, for girls formalised in the premarital seclusion (p32). In a more recent study[387] (data gathered 1971-3), first sexual experiences were found to occur at age 18-19 (boys) and 17-18 (girls). Though a changing pattern, girls could be betrothed before puberty, and are paraded around the village to announce their nuptial status at pubescence (Nukunya, 1969:p77-9)[388].

 

In Goviefe, "masturbation in children is recognized as being common. Masturbation will make the child grow into a highly-sexed personality and it will lead to the development of premature, or precocious, sex appetites and, therefore, immorality" (Kaye). In Vakpo, "it is thought that no children masturbate over the age of three". In Gblede, "mother-and-father make-believe games are not encouraged but are viewed with suspicion by parents who think that they might lead to sexual play".

 

 

Akan (Ashanti, Shanti, Asante; Twi; Ghana) (2,2+,3,3+,3+,4-;2,2;G3;AB) (eHRAF)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The practice of early betrothal has been mentioned. In precolonial Ghana, Akan and Ewe girls were not to become sexually active and get pregnant before the celebration of puberty rites, which were held soon after menarche so as to reduce the possibility of an unsanctioned birth (Smock, 1997). These nubility rites "are considered as preliminary to marriage; indeed many Ashanti girls are betrothed before they enter them" (Sarpong, 1977)[389]. Nubility chants "make blunt, almost obscene, allusions to sex and love". To asses a nubile girl's moral integrity "no factor is taken into account more than the condition of her breasts: loose dropping breasts are, rightly or wrongly, taken as symptomatic of pre-nubility sexual intercourse (p30-1). After the rites, a girl "has now access to the sexual life which previously was absolutely forbidden her"[390]. Sexual intercourse under the age of puberty "[…] is an abominable crime. Girls must refrain from it at all costs" (p82).

Boys are refrained from masturbation and sex play by paternal prohibition (Rattray, 1927:p69[391]; Rattray, 1929:p13[392]; Ford and Beach, 1951:p180[393]). However, infant's buttocks and penises are tickled (Kaye). Rattray (1932:p137)[394] quoted a Gurensi informant as saying that, formerly, there was much rivalry between lads who acted as cattle herds, who competed in wrestling and archery, and "youths who attempted early sexual intercourse or masturbation, lost their prowess and skill, and were derided". Lystad (1958:p57)[395] states that girls and boys approaching their teens "are kept pretty well separated in their play, so as to avoid both the temptation and the appearance of wrong […]" (see also Fortes, 1949:p251). Akan boys would think that salt, milk, coffee and spirits increased penile size (Bleek, 1976)[396]. Children use everyday terms for genitalia (Kaye). In Benim, "small boys who hold or play with their genitals are often threatened with castration". In Bompata, "only a few parents were aware that their children masturbate. […] Parents believe that masturbation in children leads to a bad life, and boys are punished by being beaten, girls by having pepper rubbed in their genitals and sometimes in their eyes". In Jakabo, "masturbation, by boys and girls, is said to be common". In Bosofo, "children often play such games [fathers and mothers] when they are left alone, involving mutual masturbation and actual sexual intercourse. The investigator cites a case of a girl of seven who had sexual intercourse with a boy of two and a half years of age by directing his actions". In Jaisi, " "sex games are common and frequent among children", involving mutual examination of genitals".

The Shanti practised prenatal/ infant betrothal (McCaskie, 1981:p491-2)[397]. The betrothal was normally solemnised following the nubility rites that marked the girl's passage through menarche. Puberty was awaited for the consummation of a betrothal.

 

"The actual ceremonies on the day prior to the consummation of marriage seem few, simple, and unostentatious. The following is an account of a wedding of a girl to a man to whom she had been betrothed since infancy. On the sixth day after she has menstruated for the second time, the bride, dressed in her best clothes and gold ornaments, is led by her mother to the bridegroom's hut, where he is sitting ready to receive them. The bride and her mother thank him for all his gifts; after which she and her mother again return home. After dark the bride is again escorted by her mother to the man's house. They all sit on a mat and converse, and the man gives his mother-in-law some tobacco. Then the mother-in-law departs, leaving the young couple alone together" (Rattray).

 

"The Asante believe that by the time of puberty men and women, but especially the latter, should ideally develop a neck with a series of rings or folds running around it. These are a mark of beauty and sexually exciting" (McLeod, 1981:p173)[398].

 

"If a girl is not already betrothed she is expected to become so after this ceremony. If she has been "married", i.e. is a "child wife", the husband is immediately informed. In times not so very remote, any laxity of morals prior to reaching puberty was commonly punished by death or expulsion from the clan of both the guilty parties; if a man had sexual intercourse with a young girl prior to the appearance of her first period it was considered as an offence for which the whole community would suffer" (Rattray).

 

"Quite little girls are married and go to live with their husbands, cooking and engaging in the household work, though the man does not usually have sexual intercourse till she "grows up" (Rattray, 1916)[399]. Sexual connection with a girl before she had reached puberty would fall under the category of "murder"[400].

 

Debrunner (1961)[401] speaks of "[…] the fact that the impact of Western culture, far from imposing asceticism, has gone a good way towards breaking down the still existing rules of partial sex-restraint and control through tribal religion, e.g. the customs of puberty rites, before which a girl had to be chaste, are no longer considered of such importance".

 

 

Kokomba (Northern Ghana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

According to Tait (1961)[402], a girl is betrothed to a man of more than twenty years of age (p108), sometimes to an elder who may give her away for marriage (p84). Boys carry on love affairs from adolescence onward, girls have full sexual freedom until marriage (p96).

 

 

Sisala, Isala (Northern Ghana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Children play husband and wife but when six to ten years old, "if this activity leads to sex play, corporal punishment is severe since any kind of sexual expression among "siblings" of the minor lineage is regarded as incestuous", and only the "purely economic aspects of these roles" as rehearsed (Grindal, 1972:p25)[403]. Among the Isalas, "masturbation in children is recognized as exceptional. Parents are of the opinion that their children do not practice it" (Kaye).

 

 

Ga (Ghana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Ga in Accra, Jahoda (1956:p126)[404] "occasionally observed sex-play among small children; adults who discover it happening will discourage this, not without any obvious signs of disgust and moral indignation". During the seclusion associated with female puberty rite, "some" families would take the opportunity to provide sex education (Otoo, 1973)[405]. In Tema, boy infant's penises are fondled, allegedly to produce a smile (Kaye). In Teshie, "the attitude of parents towards young children who masturbate is one of indifference, though if the child is a boy he may be told that his penis will be cut off if he holds it again. Some parents may scold or slap their children for masturbating". Also, "make-believe games of husband and wife often lead to attempts at sexual intercourse. "More often than not, parents take a serious view of such actions". They are punished in many cases with red pepper on the genitals. While such organised games are not common, boys of eight, nine and above sometimes have sexual intercourse with the girls in the room during the night. When children sleep in the same room, boys on one side, girls on the other, "this usually leads to sexual activities during the night". In Christiansborg, "children play sex games which are severely disapproved of by their parents. If they are caught doing so, red pepper is put in their genitals. "It usually happens that there is always a very old woman in every house whose official duty is to deal with such cases".

 

 

Krobo (Ghana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In Agomanya, it is said of masturbation that "the freedom enjoyed in the love life of the young makes the practice of it unnecessary" (Kaye). Steegstra (1996, 2002)[406] studied the interplay of Christian values and Krobo female initiations called dipo. "In female initiation ceremonies the sexual attractiveness and health of initiates are key themes (e.g. Lutkehaus 1995: 20), and dipo is no exception. That after dipo a girl is allowed to enter into sexual relationships goes against Christian morality, which situates such relationships within marriage. Therefore, many Christian Krobo see the rites as the catalyst of teenage pregnancies, prostitution, and further 'immoral behaviour" (2002:p201). In 1873, Schönfeld marks:

 

"The five-year-old girl is aware of all the mess of the sins and shame of the mother. Living in the same rooms of immorality with the adults, she hears everything, imitates the mother. My report would become filthy in its expressions if I were to go into details. When the child with an already spoilt mind, and most of the time an already defiled body, enters the twelfth year, then it is taken to the Mountain. There it is carefully instructed into all the filthy sexual secrets (as we would say in Europe; here people don't know secrets in this respect), initiated, seduced, shown how to disturb the fruit of the sin, and above all the Krobo woman there becomes the bearer of the fetish veneration and corrupt customs. When the girl, who has grown up in the meantime, comes from the Mountain, she is fully uncommitted in all her movements" (translated by Steegstra, 2002:p212)

 

"A fiancé was allowed to visit his future wife from time to time when she was still 'under custom'. Sexual play between them was condoned, but full intercourse was strictly forbidden" (Huber 1993 [1963]:98-100, as cited by Steegstra, 2002:p212).

 

 

 

Cheperon (Ghana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In Apirede, "it is though that a child who masturbates will be spoiled, and it is beaten and red pepper is applied to its genitals and anus and sometimes rubbed on its face" (Kaye).

 

 

Guang (Ghana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In Larteh Kubeasi, "masturbation is said to be rare among girls. Boys are "gently rebuked" for handling their penises in public. This rebuke is never addressed directly to the boy but is made to a third person: "Why does he finger his penis in that way?" (Kaye).

 

 

Akwapim (Ghana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

A child is warned and, if ineffective, beaten if it mentions genital terminology (Kaye). In Tutu,

 

"[…] masturbation "is very common among infants and toddlers, and more among children between the ages of two and six years. Children beyond six years of age and under sixteen do secretly practice masturbation in pairs, usually at night, when two friends of the same sex sleep together; it is practised more often by girls than boys. It is believed that if masturbation is practised in excess the inevitable result is sterility and madness". Young children who masturbate are scolded or slapped; older children are beaten, or have red pepper smeared on their genitals".

 

Further, "make-believe games are approved by parents, but sexual activities are forbidden".

 

 

Vagla (Ghana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Betrothal to a big man (naboma) or a great hunter can involve baby girls as young as three or four. The naboma thus becomes the sponsor of the girl's growth". The girl is "declared ready" after the (quite late) first menstruations; then she is "claimed as a wife" or "given" away (Poppi, 1986:p40)[407].

 

 


Togo  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

[Additional refs.: Froelich, J. C. (1949) Les Sociétés d'Initiation Chez les Moba et les Gourma du Nord-Togo, J Soc Africanistes 19,2:99-141; Akoto E. M., Tambashe B. O., Amouzou J. A. & Ntsame O. N. (Sept., 2000) Sexualité, Contraception et Fécondité des Adolescents au Togo. Projet Régional Santé Familiale et Prévention du Sida (SFPS), p4-7]

 

 


Benin (formerly Dahomey) (Dahomey /Fon; ® Urhobo and Isoko)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

[Additional refs: CRLP (2000) Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives: Francophone Africa. Progress Report, p24-43]

 

 

Fon, Dahomey (2,2,3-,3,4,4;5,5)  (Benin[up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Formal sex instruction" may precede puberty initiation (Stephens, 1971:p407)[408]. Herskovitz (1938)[409] describes genital doctoring. Homosexuality is seen as an adolescent phase (ibid., p289)[410]. Dahomey adolescents enlarge their labia pudenda and occasional mutual masturbation would occur (Carrier, 1980)[411]. In Dahomey (Kossodo, 1978:p113)[412], Fan mothers practice clitoral masturbation, pull labia, stroke the anus and use water beams for then minutes on the vulva. This continues until age four. The practice is said to induce frigidity and cause childlessness[413]. Sexual education is given to the girls in their period of seclusion, who later pass on their knowledge to the boys (Herskovits, 1932)[414]. Coitus is not supposed to start until the passage of 48 menstrual cycles. Boys have homosexual liaisons in early adolescence when girls are unavailable. In Dahomey, "[…] the fact that in early puberty groups of boys build and live in houses of their own, electing their own leaders and carrying on much in the fashion of adults, is […] regarded by Dahomeans as educational. Especially important are the recognized mechanism of sexual experimentation, while perhaps not less significant is the withdrawal of nubile girls from contact with boys who might cause them to become pregnant. This creates a situation which leads either to further training of young men in sex through illicit relations with older women, or to indulgence in homosexual experience, which is sanctioned for this period" (Herskovits, 1943:p743-4)[415].

 

 

 


Nigeria (Nupe, Hausa, Kadara, Karogo, Efik, Tiv, Kanuri, Ijaw/ Ijo, Bini, Marghi, Jekri, Lala, Kofjar, Ibibio, Woodabe Fulani, Borroro Fulani, Ibo [ Afikpo Igbo, Asaba Ibo], Rukuba, Irigwe, Yakoe, Igbira, Igala, Orri, Dakarkaki)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"The average age at first marriage in Nigeria is 16[416]Child marriage is particularly common in the north, where the majority of girls are married between the ages of 12 and 15[417].The National Policy on Population discourages early marriage and states that parents should not arrange marriages for girls below the age of 18[418]"[419]. "Child marriage is practiced with the belief that it reduces promiscuity among young girls and because of the importance attached to virginity"[420].

Traditional requirements for premarital virginity vary across tribal communities (Feyisetan and Pebley, 1989)[421]. The demise of arranged marriage is evidenced by the present-day disregard for premarital virginity (Renne 1993, 1996a, 1996b:p178-81)[422]. This change is related to beliefs about the relationship between virginity and fertility, which in turn reflect ideas about paternal control of women's bodies and marriage. In traditional Southern Nigeria, "[b]etrothal takes place at all ages, even from before conception in the womb-on the chance of the infant being a female- until the girl has reached marriageable age; it usually, however, occurs when the child is a few years old (Talbot, 1969 [III]:p425)[423]. This is noted for the Edo, Sobo (p437), Ijaw (p438), eastern Ika (p442), at Awka (p445), Degama Division (ibid.), Owerri Division (p447), and further at least among the Abadja, Amarisi, Iji, Ezza, Aro, Ihe, Ututu, semi-Bantu, Ibibio, Orri, Yachi, Ukelle, Ekuri Akunakuna, Mbembe, Ekoi, Etung, Olulumaw, Nde, Afitopp, and northern Nkumm. Later (childhood, pubescence) betrothals are noted for the Iyala, Atamm, and southern Nkumm. Age stratified betrothals of at least a generation are the rule.

In 1950, the legalised age of marriage was 13, while menarche occurred past age 14 (Ellis, 1950)[424]. In Ibadan, Nigeria, a local myth would state that STDs are cured by intercourse with young virgins (Sogbetun et al., 1977)[425]. Adegoke (1993)[426] revealed that the Nigerian experience of spermarche was not particularly negative, and that the level of anticipation was not associated with attitudinal negativism.

Children would not be allowed to mention the names of sex organs (Uka, 1966:p79)[427]. Only 7.6%, more among urban, schoolgirls were told about menarche and pre-marital pregnancy (Osujih, 1986)[428], and parents were not involved with issues of sexuality in cases of adolescent pregnancy, unlike friends (Oronsaye et al., 1982)[429]. According to a 1990 survey (Turner, 1992)[430], median age of first sexual intercourse was just above 16 years for females, three-quarters of a year earlier than the median age at first marriage. Among senior secondary school girls from Port Harcourt (mean age 16.32 years), the mean, modal and youngest ages of initiation into sexual activity were 15.04, 15 and 12 years respectively (Okpani and Okpani, 2000)[431].

Demehin (1983)[432] observed that colonisation has removed the traditional forms of sex education through initiation ritesand pre-marital counselling by the elders so that young people nowadays rely mostly on peer information or erotic movies and publications. It seems to the author that the only avenue left open is to teach sex education through the school systems. A systematic review of the provisions for sex education in primary and secondary schools as well as teacher's training colleges bring the author to the conclusion that although the sex education curriculum seems comprehensive on paper, they are mere copies of similar American or Canadian programmes with very little attempt at indigenising them.

Hake (1972:p53-8)[433] stated that it was rare to find villages where puberty rites were still celebrated. This may have caused the following situation:

 

"Sex training is almost non-existent in many Northern Nigerian families. It is considered to be sinful or "corrupting" to speak about such matters candidly between parents and children. Adolescent boys especially are given little or no information about the sexual changes taking place in their bodies. Nearly 80 per cent of the male respondents stated that no one in their family told them about sex and its proper use in their lives. However, only about 50 per cent of the female subjects said they were not given proper sex information. Those male subjects who were told about sexual matters, were given this informat[io]n primarily by older brothers, rather than by their mothers or fathers. In these case of the females, their mothers were listed as the main informants in sexual matters. Older sister, aunts, house-mothers in boarding schools, female principals and grandmothers also helped some of the female subjects in this matter".

 

In a large scale study between 1993 and 1995, Obisesan and Adeymo (1999)[434] found that 5% of respondents admitted sexual intercourse between ages 6 and 10. The finding was not associated with gender or tribe (5.4% Yorubas, 4.9% Hausa, 3.7% Igbos, 3.3% other tribes). This compares well to findings by Oloko and Omoboye (1993)[435] that 3.6% of Yoruba adolescent school students had their first sexual intercourse around age 10.

 

[Additional refs:]

-- Akinboye (1984)[436]

-- Araoye and Adegoke (1996)[437]

-- Esiet, U. E. et al. (2001) Nigeria, in Francoeur, R. T. (Ed.in chief) The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. Vol. IV. New York: Continuum. Online ed.

 

 

 

Nupe (West-Central Nigeria) [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Nupe, betrothal may have been "as early as five to seven years for girls, and ten to twelve for a boy, but this is not usual", the usual age for girls being fifteen to seventeen (Temple and Temple, 1919:p322)[438].

 

Nadel's (1954:p57)[439] informants denied boyhood masturbation; however, "[…] when confronted with incontrovertible evidence they admitted that parents did sometimes observe this kind of "play" and would warn their boys that it was a "bad thing" ". At the initiation festival adolescents have ritualised sexual licence, and children are allowed to sing obscene songs, and discuss ribald matters (Nadel, 1949)[440]. Nadel (1952)[441] noted that Gwari (Nupe) children are familiar with cohabitation from earliest age, taking place in the wife's hut. This contrasts with the attitude of the Nupe wife leaving her children behind when going to the men's hut. The first sexual experiences occurred at ages thirteen to sixteen; later men claim that sexual activities are weakening and should be more restrained.

 

 

Hausa (2,2,2+,3-,4+,4+;4,4) (eHRAF) (Northern Nigeria, northwestern Niger)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Dry (1956)[442] only refers to modesty codes. Faulkingham ([1972:p163])[443]: "Boys and girls freely play with one another; sexual experimentation is condoned".

 

""As a yaaròo [child] begins to purchase his own clothes with money he has earned and when he works in earnest on his father's farms, he comes to be considered a sarmàyi. He comes under the charge of the Sarkin Sàamàarii (pl. of sarmàyi) who may recruit the youth's labor at the command of the Sarkin Noomaa. The youth generally builds his own sleeping hut near the entrance to his father's gida . Throughout this period until the birth of his second child, the youth is expected to engage in courtship and sexual play with many girls younger than he; this does not cease at marriage"(p163).

 

Prepubertal girls flirted with and accepted gifts from young men as they wandered around the villages and markets hawking goods for their secluded mothers. Hausa women are married just before puberty (villages) or after (rural dwellers), to adolescents some seven years older (Barkow, 1972)[444]. "Youngsters" may have "inconclusive" [nonpenetrative] sexual interactions. In some area, Hausa boys and girls may be married as early as age 12-13 (Rehan and Abashiya, 1981)[445]. As Baba of Karo[446] points out, "A girl's first marriage is established by a rite de passage, and this is also carried out for a man's first marriage. By means of this rite, an individual exchanges the status of a youth or girl for that of an adult. To be an adult, it is therefore necessary to have been married". Smith (1955)[447] stated that "[m]arriages between pre-adolescent children [.] are permitted, but the marriage of a pre-adolescent girl to an [.] is, in theory, regarded as undesirable. In the past, and to some [.] still, these marriages were frequent among the important aristocracy, [.] family providing her with an elderly chaperone until her first [.]".

Thus, Hausa girls were traditionally expected to marry at puberty, and thereafter were considered adults. The widespread introduction of western schooling in 1976, especially universal primary education, began to postpone marriage for girls (Callaway, 1984:p438)[448].

"In most parts of Hausaland, child marriage is the rule; both boys and girls are married by age 12 or 13 years in the large towns, and at even younger ages in the villages[449]. Girls may be married before they reach puberty[450] […]" (Rehan and Abashiya, 1981:p233)[451]. Despite this betrothal in Muslim Hausa, "[…] the lengthening of the period of social adolescence as a result of the increasing number of years young women spend in formal schooling creates amply opportunity for sexual experimentation among the relatively better educated and Christian Yoruba and Igbo youths in Southern Nigeria (Makinwa-Adebusoye, 1992:p68)[452]. In the early fifties Hassan (1952) reported on this degeneration of the betrothal system, and the emergence of a sexually free adolescence[453].

 

Kleiner-Bossaller (1992)[454] states that marriage occurred preferably before menarche, to a man not uncommonly 20 years older than she.

 

"No sex-education is provided to girls. Sex-related subjects are tabu and are not touched upon in discussions between parents and children. Young girls marry and are brought to their husband's house often before they have reached the menarche and they are therefore unprepared for marriage both with regard to their own physical development and to the knowledge of the sexual expectations of their husbands".

 

"Although it is said that full cohabitation between the husband and the minor should not take place until the girl has reached puberty, it does not happen in practice and quite often children under thirteen years of age and scarcely developed are subjected to intercourse with their husbands long before they attain maturity" (Uzedike, 1990:p88)[455]. This intercourse may be forced, and aided with a so-called gishiri cut. Callaway (1987:p35)[456] speaks of "forced sexual cohabitation at puberty regardless of mental and emotional development".

One author (Holthouse, 1969:p111, 117)[457] states that the apparent lack of sexual inhibition in Hausa may partially result from the practice of tsarance, group visits of children to other wards than their own. "During these visits, the boys and girls sleep together. They stroke each other, talk and tell stories; rarely do they have sexual intercourse even after they reach puberty. Tsarance is continued until the girl marries, at puberty or "almost always by the age of 14". Girls do not marry their tsarance partners, and couples whose marriages have been arranged from their infancy do not practise tsarance together [a footnote here in the original text was not printed]. "Also, children wear little clothing for their first few years and have ample opportunity to satisfy their curiosity about sexual differences. This permissive attitude toward childhood sexual experiences continues into adulthood and into marriage". The Hausas "almost eliminate adolescence" by early marriage.

 

Salamone (1974)[458]:

 

"The Hausa permitted a form of sex play they called tsarance, which stopped short of full intercourse. Furthermore, tsarance partners were forbidden to marry. Occasionally, partners broke the rule regarding sexual intercourse but only at the risk of tremendous shame. A pregnant girl brought a small bride-price. However, it seems likely that some tsarance partners who wished to marry attempted to do so through having children (Hassan and Shuaibu 1962).[…] There is a very strong double standard explicit in the Islamic view regarding non-marital coitus. While both young men and women are encouraged to have premarital sexual knowledge, young women are culturally expected to be virgins at marriage. The tsarance relationship was a socially sanctioned means of obtaining sexual knowledge while safeguarding a girl's virginity […]. Barkow (1971) writes that the relationship is called tada or hira among the Hausa of Zaria, and that premarital sex is often a part of the relationship. In Yauri, the premarital petting between a boy and girl follows the more traditional tsarance relationship. Where tada or hira (literally, chatting) is supposed to end in marriage, tsarance was not. The tsarance relationship prevails in Yauri, and a young boy and the girl of his choice have little to do with one another until they are ready to make marriage arrangements".

 

Authors, however, blur the terminological difference between Tsarance—"sleeping together, cuddling, etc., of unmarried youths and girls" and Tsaranci—sexual intercourse between them.

 

Concluding, unmarried girls are courted privately and at public ceremonial give-aways, over which certain praise-singers and drummers preside, both with a view to marriage and the institutionalised premarital love-making known as tsarance. Girls are married between the ages of thirteen and fourteen, and probably re-marry two or three times, on average, afterwards.

 

 

Kadara (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Infant betrothal is one of three marriage forms (Smith, 1953 [1968:p112])[459]. Premarital chastity is not valued, and out-of-betrothal impregnation would be common.

 

 

Kagoro (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In the case of primary marriage, it is usually preceded by betrothal arrangements during the infancy or early childhood of the spouses by their parents through intermediaries (Smith, 1953 [1968:p120])[460].

 

 

Efik (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Simmons (1960)[461] states that, apart from neonatal circumcision on boys, the Efik practice hymenectomy and clitoridectomy on seclusion, or in later days, at age 3-6. Girls are secluded at age 9, in former days even 3 years. During this period, she is to refrain from sexual intercourse with her intended spouse, or else bear the title ebua, "dog". At the time of writing, marriage was taken over by European style.

 

 

Tiv (Nigeria) (-,-,-,-,-,-;-,-) (eHRAF)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Formerly, a Tiv boy had his first experiences with a women who would have secretly "initiated him into the secrets and techniques of sexual relations" after circumcision at puberty; the occasion would be a secret between the boy and his mother, who pressures to boy into it. Bohannan (1954:p2)[462] states that women "say that the idea of sexual relations with an uncircumcised man is repugnant", expressing their distaste in terms of cleanliness and, mostly, fastidiousness" (Circumcision was said to take place at age 7 to pubescence). At circumcision, an eight-year-old boy would ague: "Easy, easy, many women will weep if you err". In the past mothers would tie a shell threaded onto a piece of cotton around the girl's neck to insure she would come to full puberty without any boy touching her (East, 1939 [1965:p309])[463]. Puberty does not seem to be associated with transition rites, and proved altogether inconspicuous (Bohannan, 1958:p382-3)[464]. "When a girl first reaches puberty she will menstruate. The blood of the first menstruation is called iyoukyon. Some girls will go hide so that the other women will not know, though sometimes her mother knows. But there is little blood. Another girl will sleep with a man before the iyoukyon has occurred, and if her luck (ikôr) has not closed she will become pregnant. Other girls don't sleep with men until they have passed blood" (Bohannan, 1969[465]:[p71]).

 

 

Kanuri (Nigeria) (eHRAF)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The Kanuri share Islamic conceptions on sex. On male formal sexarche, Cohen (1967:p160)[466] remarks: "Young boys generally obtain their first sexual experience in their mid to late teenage period from divorced women who are often older than themselves". However, considerable protosexuality is noted:

 

"Sometimes play takes in both sexes and is more complex than simple imitation […]. Thus for several days a large group of young children from the age of five through ten may organize a "wedding". The "bride" and "groom" are chosen as are the various kindred, the best man, the leading woman, etc. Care is taken to practice as many of the details of the adult virgin wedding ceremony as they can manage including even a mock impregnation, in this case with a small doll. Wedding foods in miniature are passed around to the adults who accept the mock food with a show of seriousness although they may comment on or question some detail of the ceremony carried out mistakenly or omitted by the children. Adults expressed satisfaction with this type of play and remarked on its instructive value for the children. Such play is related to an even more complex form called mai-mai, which is no longer practiced in Bornu. In playing mai-mai the young children in a village put on a pageant. They chose a king, nobles, servants, slaves, wives, gave titles to everyone, and behaved for several days in the guise of these socio-political roles. Mock battles were fought, slaves taken and justice meted out in a mock court. Seniority was established by age and consent. The organization was temporary like the "wedding" and disbanded after a few days. During periods when adults are out of the compound, away at a market, or working in the fields during the growing season, children often play house. The group gets together and appoints "fathers", "wives", and "children". The little children may actually cook for their "husbands" on such occasions and the couples go into a hut in the compound where sexual play is carried on. They are, however, soon called back to the larger group where it has been declared "morning" by another child who has announced the "morning prayers" signifying that night has passed. Boys are aware that such play should stop when they can ejaculate. From then on they are men; sex is a serious affair and unmarried girls are illegitimate objects of sexual intercourse. However such prepubescent sex derived from playing "house" is widespread, or to paraphrase one young informant, "Everyone does such things when they are young" "[467].

 

"The typical adolescent male has his first sexual experiences with a woman older than himself. However, when he decides to marry he usually tries to find a woman of roughly his own or of a junior age group" (Cohen, 1960)[468]. Cohen also speaks of the following:

 

"Several upper class informants spoke of the traditional practice of giving young concubines to upper class boys at their circumcision, so that they might have a female of their own in order to learn about sexual intercourse. Because of the waning of the slave population numerically this practice seems to be dying out, (only one case of a male who had been raised in this way of the younger, 20 to 30 years ago, generation was recorded)".

 

On marriage, Cohen (p161-2) states:

 

"By the end of childhood, as the Kanuri define it (which means somewhere between the ages of nine to thirteen), the sex roles and many of their accompanying behaviours have been established. From this period onward the development towards adult status is sharply differentiated for males and females. Somewhere around puberty a young girl is given in virgin marriage by her father or the person who has been designated as having the power of marriage dispensation over her. Male informants feel that it is better if a girl is married before she menstruates and claim that religion prescribes this as the best kind of first marriage for a girl. Exceptions are, of course, quite common and not regarded as very bad as long as the girl is a "virgin" (i.e. proven so on her wedding night). When she marries for the first time a girl does not automatically change her status. She is still considered a fero gana (a small girl) just as she was before marriage, and for some little time continues to wear her hair in the young girl style. As one informant put it: She knows nothing, she copulates yes, but takes no interest in such things, there is no pleasure in it for her. When she bleeds, then she is kamu kura (a mature woman) and she knows everything and will take pleasure from sexual intercourse. When the first blood comes the girl will feel shame and tell no one, only her close friends, who will tell her mother. Her mother will come and gather together her friends and relatives (female) and cook food and give sada'a (offerings to the poor)".

 

"Some informants believe it is proper for a girl to marry before her first menstruation so she may learn to become a woman in the household of her husband. Certainly there is general agreement that all girls should be married as soon after the onset of puberty as possible" (Cohen, 1971)[469].

 

 

Cross River Natives  (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

According to Partridge (1905:p254)[470], "[g]irls are betrothed by her parents to her future husband when she is only a few years old. […] Until she reach [sic] the age of puberty, a girl is permitted by her parents and by her betrothed to go about freely and have as many lovers as she pleases. She may not, however, bring a lover into her father's compound.

 

 

Ijaw (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Betrothal takes place at age 3-4 (Talbot (1969 [III]:p438). Three days after "Genital Painting Day" (Kunju Mie Ene), the girls are free to take a lover, but to have intercourse before the Iria ceremony is considered a disgrace never quite wiped out (Talbot (1969 [II]:p402). Before menarche, girls are not allowed to wear anything until a short loin-cloth.

 

Elam (1998)[471] remarks on Iria:

 

"For the Okrika tribe, who lives on the island of Ogoloma in the river district of southern Nigeria, the Iria is the traditional coming- of-age ceremony for pubescent girls. This ceremony contains all four of the factors found in ritual coming-of-age ceremonies; isolation, instruction, transition, and celebration. However, two interesting factors distinguish this ceremony from many others: it is performed when a girl has reached a relatively mature age (about seventeen), not at the onset of menarche [sic], and it is a group initiation. Years ago, girls were expected to marry immediately after completing Iria, but today finishing an education and starting a career is considered acceptable. Basically, Iria is a way of proclaiming a girl's womanhood, beauty, and marriageability".

 

During the ceremony, wise women inspect their breasts mammae, in order to detect pregnancy, and therefore unchastity (Gardner, 1993)[472]. To fail this chastity test would bring great dishonour and shame on their families and the offending girl would be seen as both loose and a prostitute.

 

Ijo (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Hollis and Leis (1989:p117[-26])[473]: "There is no prohibition of sexual play in this age group [4-6y], and informants recount tales of games in which little boys compare penis lengths and examine the anatomical difference in little girls". Adult sex is not to be observed, but nonetheless, "when a four-year-old imitates the movements he saw his father performing the night before, adults shriek with laughter. Sex for the Ijo does not appear to be hedged with guilt and sin, compared to the dictates of the Judaeo-Christian heritage". Parents, however, do not approve of adolescents' petting, which appear to arise at age 15 or 16 for both sexes, since they fear pregnancy (cf. Hollos and Leis, 1986)[474]. Leis (1972:p55-6)[475]: "Parents say they regard five- to eight-year-old children as relatively sexless. Yet boys play with their penises in public with impunity while girls would be severely chastised if they touch their own genitals". Later, the children are placed in separate beds out of fear for intercourse.

 

 

Bini (Edo; Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"There appear to be two kinds of marriages among the Bini. Among the upper classes the children are betrothed by their parents from infancy. The present may be a nominal one, such as four kolas, three cowries, and some palm wine, or it may be more. The man is supposed to keep on giving the child betrothed to him presents until she is grown up; he also makes her parents gifts. The seduction of such a betrothed girl is heavily punished. On the other hand, among the poor the girl is not necessarily betrothed, and a man may seduce her without legal punishment. […] The girl may not refuse to marry the man to whom she is betrothed, or his chosen representative; but the father may at any time refuse to give his daughter to her betrothed, when he has to refund to him all the presents the would-be husband has given to her and her parents" [476].

 

"A Bini girl is sometimes affianced when she is a few years old" (Talbot (1969 [III]:p433). Onibere (1984:p103)[477] states that among the Bini, lacking a puberty rite, "[...] sex is sacred and mysterious and it is taboo for parents and children to discuss it". Unmarried boys are less well off than girls, since they spend more time with the same-gender older generation  (Mbiti, 1969:p135 / 1989:p132)[478]. Thus,

 

"Much of the sex information is gathered from a mixture of truth, myth, ignorance, guesswork and jokes. Formal schools and universities in modern Africa are often the centres of even greater ignorance of these matters, so that young people go through them knowing, perhaps, how to dissect a frog but nothing about either their own procreation system and mechanism, or how to establish family life. In this respect, surely traditional methods of preparing young people for marriage and procreation are obviously superior to what schools and universities are doing for our young people".

 

 

 

Marghi (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the southern Marghi (e.g., Womdi) the bride is barely pubescent, and the groom will not have sexual  intercourse with her, though he has general licence to have relations with older girls in the neighbourhood […]. When the bride becomes old enough to have sexual relations the groom may come to her compound and spend the night with her", but she, too, may have relations with village boys at that time (Vaughan, 1962:p51-2)[479].

 

 

Jekri (Niger Delta, Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"The sexes fall in love with one another just as Europeans do, and there is the same intrigue, squeezing and cuddling and loving embraces, but there is no kissing. Free girls are not given in marriage until arrived at the age of nominal puberty, i.e., when the pubic hair begins to grow [[480]]. […] A girl child can be kept for a man to be his wife when grown up; juju [[481]] is made to keep her virtuous, but as a rule women are not chaste until married" (Granville and Roth, 1899:p107)[482].

 

 

Lala (Eastern Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

With the zane, or incision of the final tribal markings, the girl is considered eligible for marriage, one year after the second, pubertal scarification rite (Kirk-Greene, 1957)[483]. She does not marry a boy until he has undergone his Hono initiation rites (which includes endurance, but not circumcision).

 

 

Karogo, Moroa, Kajji (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"The Karogo and Moroa girls marry later than the Kajji, whose brides can hardly average ten years of age. There is, however, no age limit, for no one counts the number of years he or she has lived, and even seasons are not noted for the purpose of reckoning ages […]. With the Kagoro or Moroa the first menstruation [age 11 or 12] appears and the mammae develop, and after that the marriage will be soon or late according to the needs of the girl's father. With a boy, the test seems to be whether he can get an erection or not, but, of course, he must also produce the necessary presents […]; he would be sixteen to eighteen years of age (Tremearne, 1912:p169)[484].

 

 

Anaguta (Jos Plateau, Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"An Anaguta couple were [sic] betrothed in childhood; the marriage was solemnized when the woman was pregnant" (Isichei, 1991:p523)[485].

 

 

Kofjar (Jos Plateau, Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Men are married in their early 20s, women after menarche (Netting, 1969)[486]. Divorce and adultery regulations are rather loose.

 

 

Ibibio (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Pre-initiation (female circumcision, age 17, or after puberty) sex is common, but supposed to be reserved for the premarital pair (Jeffreys, 1956)[487]. Infant marriage was not uncommon, the bride taken to her husband's home; at least betrothal took place when girls were 2 to six years of age (Talbot, 1969 [III]:p451). Intercourse before maturity is forbidden: if its occurrence was proved, the family could claim her back without returning the dowry (Talbot, 1915:p88)[488].

 

"The first great event in the life of an Ibibio girl is her entrance into the "Fatting-house", on the occasion of Mbobi--i.e. "The Coming of Small Breasts" (p76). "Among the Efiks, and those Ibibios rich enough to bear the expense, free-born girls of good family go twice, and sometimes even thrice, into the Fatting-house before the full marriage ceremony is performed. As already mentioned, the first occasion is called Mbobi, "The Coming of Small Breasts". This usually lasts for three months, during which time the girl undergoes circumcision" (p82-3). "According to Ibibio ideas the actual marriage tie is entered upon after the payment by the groom to the bride's parents of the major portion of the so-called "dowry money". The first instalment of this constitutes betrothal, and is often paid when the little maid is still very young. Infant betrothal and marriage are not uncommon. In the latter case the baby bride usually lives with her husband's family; but, save in very rare instances, her youth is respected by him. Should the contrary be proved against a man his conduct is regarded as reprehensible, and the girl's family can claim her back without returning the dowry. In many cases child betrothal and marriage inflict undoubted hardships upon the unfortunate bride, who thus has no word to say as to her own fate. At the present day many such youthful spouses, on reaching years of discretion, claim the protection of Government to free them from an arrangement in which they had no choice" (p88).

 

 

Schwalbe / Schuwable Pastoral Fulani / Peul / Fulbe (Woodabe F.: 1,1,3-,3,2-,2-;8,8)  (Nigeria) [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The ratings for earliest childhood suggest the most permissive attitude regarding sex in the SCCS. The Shuwalbe Fulani practice infant betrothal between boy and girl (Wilson-Haffenden, 1927:p281-2; 1930:p129)[489]; the timing of consummation, does not become apparent, although there is "no subsequent ceremony". Webster[490] argues:

 

"It is true that marriages are often arranged between cousins in infancy, or even before birth, and cousin marriages are preferred among many clans for reasons connected to property. […] On attainment of puberty, however, the girl can make her own choice- preferably among cousins, or at least within the clan. […] The consummation of marriages previously arranged usually takes place after the annual sharo or test of manhood, but marriages may take place at any time. Girls marry late, usually between eighteen and twenty-two".

 

For the Schwalbe, "moral" instruction of boys is effected by the father (in contrast to the Keffi Yegomawa (settled) Fulani, were it is by the paternal uncle), and that of girls by mother (resp., paternal aunt). Stenning (1959:p148-9)[491] assumes a menarchal age of 16, the ideal age of marriage of 16, and the ideal age of first pregnancy of 17. Boys, who play freely with girls, leave their childhood behind at circumcision, scheduled at ages 9-10 (p156). After puberty (age 14) he learns about the flirtations of girls, and enters the gerewol courtship dance, in which his participation is "the index of his virility". Eguchi (1973:69)[492] states that girls are usually married at ages 12 to 14; preparations, including instructions, take place at the soro initiation. For the Schwalbe, "moral" instruction of boys is effected by the father (in contrast to the Keffi Yegomawa (settled) Fulani, were it is by the paternal uncle), and that of girls by mother (resp., paternal aunt). Riesman (1974)[493] sketched the principles of Fulani freedom but is hardly specific about sexual liberties for children. Dupire (1962:p184)[494]: "Frères et soeurs donnent libre course dans leurs amusements aux parodies et aux moqueries, mais vers l'âge de six ans ils apprennent que les jeux sexuels autorisé avec d'autres enfants sont "honteux" entre eux". Dupire (1960:p58)[495] further notes that social morality is instilled in girls from age four to five, including incest taboo in sex play. Hopen (1958:p71)[496] indicated that, although girls and women expected to adhere to a stricter code of sexual morality than men and boys, case histories make it clear that "a girl is permitted, without loss of status, to engage in sexual play in which she hopes to maintain technical virginity", perhaps in contrast to earlier days. Even boys of 5 and 6 are "quite aware, owing to the influence of youths and adults", that they will one day marry"; they also build camps and play marriage.

 

 

Borroro Fulani (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Wilson-Haffenden on the Shuwalbe group of the Borroro Fulani, in Northern Nigeria (1927:p287)[497]: "Adulterous intercourse with a married woman, other than a fellow age-mate still within the years of childhood, is usually not condoned […]. Sexual relations between age-mates (married or not), however, are condoned provided the parties are still within the years of childhood, which are regarded as terminated in the case of a girl about one year from the date of reaching marriageable age, or, roughly, from the date on which members of her age-class start to give birth". Wilson-Haffenden (1930:p114, 116)[498]: "[a] custom of permitting an element of sexual laxity, or in other words condoning sexual "play" or intercourse, between age-mates still within the years of childhood-whether betrothed or not- at certain festivals exists at the present day among the pagan Borroros, but not among the Muslim Fulani". Among the nomadic Fulani children are betrothed at ages seven to ten in the case of girls, and from three to ten in the case of boys (De Sainte Croix, 1945/1972:p38-9)[499], a practice named koggal. Marriage follows at ages fourteen, or at puberty (girls), and seventeen (boys), with a preferred age differences of three years.

 

 

Ibo / Igbo (Nigeria) (2,2,2,3,-,4;-,2)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

O'Donnell[500]: "There is no particular sex instruction [at the Okolobia, where "the young man comes" "seemingly no moral instruction if given"], but also there is no particular hiding. The facts are learned by the young just naturally. […] Among the unmarried pagan young, sex conditions seem to be fairly good [?], though by no means ideal. Among the Christianized youth of both sexes, conditions are quite good" (p58). Thomas (1913 [1969, I:p70])[501] stated that for the unmarried, whether betrothed or not, "regular relations begin at the age of 13 or 14; if her suitor has paid the whole of the bride price, she may go to his house earlier. A girl begins her sexual life with a boy of 15 or 16, who takes two shillings to her mother and says he wants to be friends with her […]". "Girls are generally married soon after their first menstruation, but if they are not fully or well developed it is postponed" (Talbot (1969 [III]:p441). Basden (1921 [1966:p67])[502] states that Ibo laxity in child discipline "does not improve their morals, and there are incidents of child life which are said to contemplate". Thus, little attempt is made to correct the children and it is quite a new experience for them to come under school discipline. Nzimiro (1962:p254-5)[503] noted separation at puberty, and sexual knowledge being acquired informally.

 

 

Afikpo Igbo (Nigeria) (2,2,2,3)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The first sexual experience for Igbo girls is generally after menarche (Ogbalu, 1979)[504]. According to Ottenberg (1989)[505], who presents a most detailed study of gender role development, Afikpo boys are prohibited to have intercourse before circumcision, a reason to perform the operation early (p38). When violating the rule, boys are thought to be weakened by the act. Most of the sexual behaviour, which would be surprisingly modest, seem to occur in a sort of unsupervised annual children's orgy called egwu [mirrored c]nwa (Moonlight Dancing, p109-12). It does not involve more than a petting courtship. In the adult equivalent, this type of bonding is omitted. It does not involve more than a petting courtship. It was said to provide "experience in exercising sexual [self-]restraint", for boys  rather to protect the female partner from sexually aggressive advances performed by other boys.

A recent update on sexual socialisation by Ogbu (1996)[506] found that authority has shifted to Afikpo mothers who are unprepared to assume the responsibility. "In traditional Afikpo culture mothers were not responsible and did not function as the principal agents of sexual socialization. Hence, with the shift of responsibility they are unable to function as agents of sexual socialization. Traditionally, sexual socialization was managed through socially orchestrated rituals, such as initiation".

Agbasiere (2000:p97-101)[507] relates that Igbo girls' coming-of-age begins at age seven, with the teachings of household, proceeding until the menarchal nubility ritual, at about age 14. During the seclusion, the girl is introduced to the "female secrets" of married life, including "formal lessons in the major vales associated with successful conjugal relationships". This entails wifely subjection and restriction on sexuality, including pre-marital chastity and fidelity within marriage.

Anyanwu (1973)[508] speaks of infant betrothal and adoption marriage among the Mbaise Igbo.

 

 

Asaba Ibo (Southern Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Isichei (1970; 1973:p682-5)[509] dwells at length on Asaba childhood sexuality. In theory the child before puberty was not to know anything about sex. Questions were answered by fables, not answered, or avoided. Children were segregated in tasks by pressure of parents, so that it was "almost impossible for children of different sexes to meet". This would lead to "stupendous ignorance about the facts of sex", although some data were gathered through knowledgeable age-mates (one boy claimed to be initiated by a widow at age ten). Boys of certain age are given riddles to solve, but for children "to pry into sex would have been an unpardonable crime"; however, some would offer their share of fish for satisfaction of their curiosity. "A few of them even tried to use this knowledge to imitate the sexual act. But as often as they were caught in this imitation, the punishment inflicted on them knew hardly any limits". Parents "preferred to think that children under eight years could not know any undesirable significance of their sexual differences, and for them, they did not consider it necessary to insist on their being segregated […]. For those above eight years old segregation was the rule until after puberty".

 

 

[Additonal refs: Smith, D. J. (2000) "These Girls Today Na War-O": Premarital Sexuality and Modern Identity in Southeastern Nigeria, Africa Today 47,3-4:99-120]

 

 

Tuareg / Ahaggaren (2,2,2+,2+,2,2;5,5) (Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Nicolaisen and Nicolaisen (1997, II)[510] state:

 

"There is considerable individual variation as to when young Tuareg first engage in sexual activities. From the age of seven to ten years children may sometimes copulate, though this is not typical. We noticed among the Kel Tahabanat, however, that some children were apparently sexually active or at least allowed to publicly fantasize about sex. A girl of about eleven years told us that she slept with boys of about her own age, and nobody reacted against this. Ida [Nicolaisen] observed two adult men laughing heartily at the five year old son of one of them, as he demonstrated how he copulated at night with a somewhat older girl. It may also happen that a girl of no more than seven or eight gets married, in which case she will have intercourse with her husband though she is not yet sexually mature. This, however, seems to be quite rare. In general, Tuareg do not have sexual intercourse until they are physically grown up, which is marked by initiation rites".

 

An institutional periodic meeting of teenage sexes (ahal) provides occasion for nose-rubbing and further liberties (Patai, 1962:p123). "As a result of this institution, pre-Islamic in its origin, both girls and young men begin their sex life as soon as they reach maturity, and no value whatsoever is placed on virginity".

 

 

 

Urhobo and Isoko (Niger Delta)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The Urhobo and Isoko of the Niger Delta begin sexual intercourse "very early in life"[511]. Traditionally, betrothal in infancy or childhood was customary in Benin Kingdom (p48) and among the Northern Edo (p121). Among the Isoko, ritual sexuality is expected of the girl with her husband within one week of her circumcision, practised generally at menarche or within one year of that event (Welch, 1934)[512].

 

 

Rukuba (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Nigerian Rukuba, one type of marriage consists of ritual marriage of males before initiation, sometimes before puberty. The boy spends a night with a married, pregnant woman, who instructs him in sexual behaviour, and whom he is to avoid sexually in the future (Muller, 1972:p293-4)[513]. The experience may be awkward:

 

"The ritual marriage teaches a boy what he can and cannot do although being so small at the time of the initiation, many Rukuba men later recall with laughter the one night spent with the pregnant woman. They insist on their bewilderment and inability to cope with the situation, the initiative resting with the woman who, apparently, means business however small the initiand might be".

 

 

 

Irigwe (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Education about proper marital behaviour is part of the initiation rites for pubescent boys; a ritual sexual experience with a pregnant woman is also art of the initiation period (Muller & Sangree, 1973)[514].

 

 

 

Yakoe (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Forde (1941 [1951:p13])[515] states that the night party, attended from ages 11 to 12 is a recognised setting for a "first phase" of sexual experience. States Forde (1940:p57)[516], "[a] period of sexual play begins early in adolescence, for girls sometimes before menstruation begins, and occurs in parties of girls and boys, usually differing little in age. Parents exert little overt influence on the selection of partners by their sons and daughters. Between the ages of 14 and 16 most girls have established a stable relation with one lover, who at harvest time undertakes to make the customary gifts and services […] to her and her parents during the ensuing year. These, if acceptable to the parents, signify betrothal'. Clitoridectomy is arranged at this or the next harvest, if she has not yet become pregnant.

 

 

 

Igbira (Northern Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Betrothal often took place in childhood (Brown, 1955:p67)[517].

 

 

Igala (Northern Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The marriageable age was eight to ten for girls, and sixteen to eighteen for boys (Seton, 1930)[518]. Betrothal may occur at age four to five.

 

 

 

Orri (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Utonkon-Effium Orri (Armstrong, 1955:p151[519]; Talbot (1969 [III]:p452), betrothal of girls occurred at birth. She joins her fiancée freely although "too early intercourse" is thought to "cause her breasts to dry up and may render her sterile".

 

 

 

Dakarkaki (Nigeria)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Betrothed girls and boys (for boys between ages 10-16), youth are "definitely encouraged" to practice an equivalent of the Hausa tsaranchi, " "cuddling", or sexual freedom stopping just short of penetration". "Some girls may have as many as ten lovers in this way before marriage or cohabitation with their betrothed husband, and a young woman who was popular with the opposite sex before marriage wares, after marriage, a cock's womb of white metal in her hair in commemoration of her pre-marital success" (Harris, 1938:p137-8)[520].

"Girls are married both before and after puberty […]. They have strict sexual taboos and the boys and unmarried men sleep together in a Bachelor's hall […]"[521].

 

 


Cameroon (Nso', Beti, Maka, Etap, Pangwe / Fan, Banen / Bafia, Fali, Mouktélé, Bangwa, Bali)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Almeida (1987)[522] found that 5% of teachers taught sex, and most comes from parents who thought it normal that sexual activity began at age 17 or 18 before marriage. The mean age of sexual relations, however, was 14. In another study on pregnant teenagers (Gwan, 1987)[523], many girls started sex at age ten, stating it was an imitation of their mothers or sisters. By age 16, 69% was regularly sexually active. According to a 1995 survey (Rwenge, 2000)[524], 3/5 of young people stated they had discussed sexual matters with peers, while fewer than 2/5 did so in a family setting. According to these respondents, the ideal age of starting sex education was 13.8 years for girls and 15.0 for boys. Age of first sexual intercourse was slightly lower for males than for females (15.6 vs 15.8); the ideal age was perceived to be 18. However, 28.0% of males and 18.7% of females indicated have had coitus at or before age 14. A 1987 Catholic Health Service program started sex education "among 9- and 10-year-olds, before sexual activities begin"[525].

 

"[…] health educators in Nigeria and Cameroon, as elsewhere, report that many girls find out about menstruation only after discovering with horror that they are bleeding. Parents' discomfort is communicated very early in life and discourages children from asking questions. The implicit messages children are given about sexuality are often negative, distorted by myths, and harmful. When adolescent sexuality becomes undeniable, parents typically resort to vague threats or warnings, such as "stay away from boys." Those who recognize their children's need for accurate information often lack such knowledge themselves. Thus the cycle of ignorance and embarrassment continues" (Irvine, 2000:p3)[526].

 

"In Cameroon, very early marriage still occurs in certain tribes (in Adamaoua and the Northwest, and in the Extreme-North between eight and nine years of age)[527].Some customs call for pre-pubescent girls to leave their homes and live with their husbands. Most of the time, the husband is a friend of the girl's father, and the marriage has been arranged without her being consulted[528].It is in the house of this "stranger-husband" that she will experience her entire sexual and domestic life"[529].

 

[Additional refs: Abega and Tamba (1995)[530]; Akoto, E. M., Tambashe, B. O., Amouzou, J. A. & Tameko, D. T. (Sept., 2000) Sexualité, Contraception et Fécondité des Adolescents au Cameroun. Projet Régional Santé Familiale et Prévention du Sida (SFPS), p4-7]

 

 

Nso' (Cameroon)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

A woman is regarded sexually mature after menarche, but a usual delay of two to three years until marriage is customary (Paul, 1996:p43)[531]. "Pre-puberty marriages for girls were common, but when such did take place, the future husband was regarded as a liiwan or guardian of the child until maturity when the girl was taken back to her parents who then formally handed her back as a jin (bride) to the husband. Until this was done, the marriage could not be consummated even when all outstanding premarital issues had been settled and all obligations discharged".

 

 

Beti, Eton (Cameroon)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Ombolo (1990)[532] has offered a detailed psychoanalytic account of beti sexuality, the prime tribe analysed was Eton (South central Cameroon). In infancy, the labia are stretched and the vaginal canal is conditioned (p190), leading to the artificial rupture of the hymen. The infant's life is free of trauma in a sense that he "prend connaissance en douceur, progressivement et naturellement, des réalités génitales et il ne nous semble pas par conséquent possible de définir, par rapport aux Beti, un stade phallique spécifique pendant lequel l'enfant investit dans l'érotisme génital par la masturbation infantile". The latter would not be punished. Parental nudity is observed by infants. Until their separate socialisation from age 5, the sexes live together "dans la promiscuité"; thereafter, they might still meet for play. At puberty, a complete course in Beti sociology is to ensure a successful integration in adult society (see also Ngoa, 1975)[533]. This includes a preparation for sexual life during various rites (Ombolo, p218-25).

It seems remarkable that this almost 400-page psychoanalytic discussion on African sexuality has no arguments, outside a general lecture in Freudian theory, on sexual expressions in the "latent" child.

 

 

Maka (Cameroon)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

A "very old woman", also a circumciser, would "instruct the girls as soon as they see their first menstruation cycle about the mystery of procreation, the duties and sanctity of motherhood" (Nkwi, 1981:p850)[534].

 

 

Etap (Cameroon) [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Premarital chastity was strictly enforced for girls between puberty and marriage; if caught, lovers were flogged (Malcolm, 1923)[535]. This did not last long, usually a few months (age of "puberty" seemed to occur at about age 11-15 in girls, and 13 for boys).

 

 

Pangwe / Fan (Cameroon)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Pangwe children (Tessmann, 1911:p250[536]; Tessmann, 1913, II:p252-3)[537] begin to imitate parental life with ages 5 and 6, and "mit 8-9 Jahren ist das "Elternspielen" schon nichts weiter als ein zielbewußter Geschlechtsverkehr, bleibt aber in der allgemeinen Auffassung ein Spiel, das mir unter [zwei Namen] direckt unter "Kinderspielen" aufgeführt wurde, und das meistens am Vormittag in den Wohnhäusern vor sich geht, wenn die Eltern auf den Pflanzugen oder sonsts abwesend sind. Die Partner sind dabei nicht bloß Knaben und Mädchen, sondern auch Knaben unter sich". This boyhood homosexual variant becomes customary in ages 8 to 10. Pangwe children played a coital puppet game (Tessmann, 1911:p265)[538].

 

 

Banen / Bafia (Cameroon) (2-,2-,2+,2+,3+,4;4,1)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Tessmann (1921 [1998:p151-2][539]; 1934a, [I]:p226-7)[540] observed that Baifa boyhood sexual life develops in two stages: one, as in the Pangwe) of general promiscuity ("Bei den Baifa heißen diese geschlechtlichen Vorübungen tepampam te b[o]bte"), and one of passive homosexuality with older brothers, at age 5 or 6 onwards. When puberty approaches, the father would warn the daughter: "Jetzt ist das "tepampam" zu Ende!" "Abgesehen von den […] Vermischungen der Knaben mit Knaben im frühesten Alter spielt der Bafia-Knabe von fünf, sechs Jahren an die passive Rolle bei einem älteren Brüder, um dann selbst durch den dadurch auf seinen Geschlechtstrieb ausgeübten Reiz zur aktiven Ausübung an seinem Bruder oder Genossen überzugehen" (1921). Bafia children also played a coital puppet game (1934a, [I]:p164).

 

Other tribes in East-Cameroon were covered by Tessmann (1928)[541] on his 1913/1914 field work. Among the Mbaka-Limba (p319), masturbation was said to be common; sexual intercourse among boys and young people occurs, though infrequently; the boys beaten with a stick by their fathers might they find out, and pepper in applied per anum. Among the Mbum (p336), "zwischen Kindern beiderlei Geschlechts bis etwa zu sieben Jahren kommen mehr spielerische Versuche zum Geschlechtsverkehr vor und zwar wie bei den Pangwe [®Pangwe] und anderen Negern auch, beim "Familienspiel", und zwar im Busch oder, während der Abwesentheit der Eltern, in den Häusern". At puberty, there is an increase of maternal surveillance. Among the Mbum and Lakka (p350) sexual acts among boys and youths, "who sleep in very small huts", are common.

 

 

Fali (North Cameroon)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Gauthier (1969:p130)[542] stated that in childhood, "[i]ls sont très vite intéressés par leurs dissemblances physiques et ne tardent guère à en réaliser l'utilisation possible en des jeux hétérosexuels. Quoique jugeant ces derniers nécessaires, les parents les considérent avec une indulgence mitigée, reprochant au garçon de se livrer à la fillette les graves conséquences que de tels actes peuvent avoir sur sa conduite future". More or less formal courtship starts after puberty (p139-40) .

 

 

Mouktélé (Nord-Cameroon)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Children are betrothed in infancy, somewhere around age six (Juillerat, 1971:p175-6)[543].

 

 

Bangwa (Western Cameroon)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

A baby is betrothed at birth, or in infancy (Brain, 1972:p114-8)[544], a custom "fast changing today". She invites her fiancée from early age on, and lives with him permanently at the approach of marriage. The age difference is sometimes fifteen to twenty years. A strong taboo is placed on pre-nubile, or pre-adult, sexual intercourse, with both boys and girls. The criterion for this lies in the concepts of "social" instead of "sexual" puberty, so that a youth of twenty may be regarded as a "child", id est, unfit for sexual intercourse.

 

 

Bali (Western Cameroon)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Betrothal, but not marriage, of children could take place before menarche or puberty (Rubin, 1970:p71)[545].

 

 

Mvae (Betu-Fang; Cameroon)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Mvae, prepubescents engaging in sexual behaviour will meet less the physical rebuttal attributed to the practice than in their seniors (for example, abdominal pains); instead they might experience somnolence (De Lesdain, 1998:p141)[546].

 

 

 


Equatorial Guinea (Bubi)   [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

 

Bubi (Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Tessmann (1923:p166-7)[547] noted that the Bubi regarded the child as innocent until age 7. Later, the children would be separated at play, and the girls are chaperoned.

 

 


Gabon (Fang, ®Mvae)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

 

Fang (Gabon)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The Fang are sometimes married before birth. Complete sexual licence exists before and after betrothal (Balandier, 1955 [1970:p123])[548]. Trézenem (1936)[549] on the Fan (Gabon) speaks of coitus from the age of capacity. "Before marriage a girl can do nearly as she pleases. It is absolutely safe to state that it would be almost impossible to find a maiden in a Fang village over sixteen years of age", according to Bennett[550].

 

 

Bwiti (religious movement among the Fang of Gabon)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Fernandez (1982:p145-6)[551] noted coital doll play (bidzang) in the Bwiti. Another game called shale (p628n8) works as follows: "[The] children sit around spread-legged. A bystander- usually a man- then comes forward with a piece of wood or a stone in his fist. He thrusts his fist up between the legs of each in turn, leaving it under one. There is much giggling. He sings: "Trapdoor spider, trapdoor spider", [salé] you are very foolish! Hide this for me". Now another player comes out from a hut and attempts to guess where the object is hidden. As he reaches up between the legs, the seated player attempts to grab him".

 

 

 


Colonial Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo (®Zaire) (Mangbetu, Lalia-Ngolu, Bahuana, Batetela, Nkundo Mongo, Mbuti, Bala, Lele, Bangala)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Investigations of adolescent sexuality in Congo in the last ten years "do not exist"[552]. Marriage in some Congolese tribes has been early, ranging from puberty (Balebi), or "au moment du seins qui poussent" (Bashila), ages 10-12 (Mangbetu), or ages 12-13 (Bahutu) to later ages (Sohier, 1943:p103-7)[553].

 

Lega (Balega, Warega) (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zaire)[up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Delhaise (1909:p167)[554]: "Les rapports sexuels se pratiquent entre gens de sexe différent nonmariés, même avant l'âge de puberté" (cf. Rachewiltz).

 

 

Mangbetu (Northern Congo; Zaire)

 

"The [Mangbetu] children meet in a hut at night and, if they are not yet able to have intercourse, they imitate the act with each other". Marriage around age 10-12 (Sohier).

 

 

Bambala, etc. (Congo)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Torday and Joyce (1922:p269)[555] speak of two marriage forms: between children and adults. The same pattern is seen for the Bankutu (p172). Among the Tofoke, "[l]es relations sexuelles avant l'époque de la menstruation sont absolument interdits. Elles sont sanctionnées par une amende payable par l'homme au père de la jeune fille. Les mères qui suspectent leurs filles vérifient leurs soupçins par l'introduction de leur doigt ou d'une tige de bananier" (Torday and Joyce, 1922:p205).

 

Torday and Joyce (1910:p110, 113)[556] remark: "Les relations entre les sexes ont lieu de très bonne heure, à quatorze ans environ pour les garçons et à dix ans pour les filles. […] Après que la menstruation a commencé, une fille est supposée ne plus avoir de relations sexuelles jusqu'à l'époque de son marriage; cependant la réalité il arrive bien rarement qu'il en soit ainsi, bien qu'un homme ayant séduit une fille dans de telles conditions soit passible d'une amende. […] La masturbation est très fréquente à partir d'un âge très tendre, elle a été observé sur des enfants de trois ans; elle est personelle ou mutuelle dans l'ouest, et plutôt personelle dans l'est. On ne trouve aucune forme d'inversion sexuelle".

 

 

Lalia-Ngolu (Congo)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

De Ryck (1937:p48-9)[557] noted: "Les filles sont précoces; pour hâter leurs rapports avec les hommes, elles se dilatent le vagin avec le fruit "ndeke" de la plante besomboko ou avec les racines d'une plante appelée "mokombe" ou encore avec un morceau de anioc. La plus grande liberé est laissée aux jeunes filles. Avec ou sans l'autorisation de leurs parents, elles ont de nombreux amants. L'Accord des parents est très souvent tacite, car ils n'hésitent pas à profiter des libéralités de ces derniers".  In the case of prepubertal or even neonatal "marriage", the girl is to live with the husband from age 3-6 onward, "[…] mais celui-ci n'en use que lorsqu'elle est devenue nubile" (p50).

 

 

Bahuana (Congo)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Torday and Joyce  (1922:p270)[558] remark: "La morale sexuelle des Bahuana est inexsistante. Des individus non mariés des deux sexes se livrent au plaisir dès le plus jeune âge, les filles même, avant d'avoir atteint l'âge de la puberté". Parents do nothing to prevent this. The same is said of the Akela (p185-6).

 

 

Nkundo Mongo (2,2,2,2,3-,2;8,8) (Congo)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Hulstaert (1937:p232-3)[559] stated: "Aucune date, aucun âge n'est fixé pour le commencement de la cohabitation. Cela s'arrange entre le mari et ses beaux parents. Ceux-ci n'ont pas le droit d'en retarder le moment, même si leur grande influence sur le gendre. La géneration moderne n'est pas choquée par les relations entre un adultère et une impubère. D'ailleurs, du point de vue juridique, tout est régulier". The fact that his wife is prepubertal "ne met pas obstacle à la cohabitation". The girl was betrothed in infancy, would live in her future husband's house at age seven or eight to be taught be ways of life by a co-wife, or pays regular visits until age 12 or 15. The majority of girls would be married "avant la nubilité physique. Mais elles n'étaient pas molestées par leurs maris avant qu'elles atteint le développement normal" (p81).

In the past, the Nkundo would teach children that sexual activity by immature persons caused them to contract the fatal disease called ndota believed to visit many forms of sexual transgression ([1937:p80-2]). Hulstaert (p80, 95)[560] noted games of "mari et femmes" "d'une façon qui les dispose bien souvent à des embrassements sans innocence". Beside this game there are ioto ("kitchen") played primarily by girls, and yembankongo, boyhood imitation of monkeys done to give occasion for « des scènes répréhensibles ». Girls operate on themselves in order to "ouvrir la voie", practices in the woods, and without exceptions (p64-6). This practice is anticipated by the mother : "Pendant la toute première jeunesse, dès la période consacrée à l'allaitement, la mère prévoyante travaille à donner aux organes de sa fillette le plus de perfection possible. Par des pressions réitérées et longtemps continuées, elle en modèle-pour ainsi dire- la face externe, afin d'en obtenir le rétrécissement, qualité fort prisée pat nos gens". The mother prepares the girl for married life, which may be anticipated by a "playful" intergenerational quasi-marriage (p65-6) between men and girls, and between women and little boys, which might include " [des] caresses intimes".

 

 

Mbuti, BaMbuti (2,2,2,2,2,2;8,8) (eHRAF) (Eastern Congo)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Specific prohibitions on prepubertal coitus are noted by Schebesta (II, p345)[561] in his study on the Bambuti Pygmies: "Magutu, die geweckte Mombutin vom Oruendu, sagte aus, dass den Mädchen der Geschlechtsverkehr vor der ersten Menstruation verboten sei, doch kümmerten sich die Kinder wenig darum, wenn nicht die Mütter auf die Töchter achten würden". He communicated this before (1936:p97)[562]: "Magutu versicherte, daß das "Urobo" [free premarital intercourse] under Kindern (vor den Pubertät) verpönt wäre, und geandet were, leider trieben auch solche Kinder ohne Wissen der Mutter Unzug".

 

Turnbull (1965:p134)[563] on the West Central African Mbuti:

 

"[…] the bamelima spend most of their time either inside the hut or else off with an instructress, in the forest. Inside the hut they are taught the songs of the elima by any older women who care to take part in the instruction. In the forest, I was told by a number of women, young and old, the girls are instructed in the arts of motherhood. This presumably includes such aspects of sexual life as are still unknown to them, which are probably few, but also use of the various herbs and treatments that a woman must know to insure fertility, an abundance of milk, easy childbirth, and abortion if necessary".

 

Mbuti children play house, wherein "[…] the young couple lie [sic] down together and pretend to make love". In the bopi (children's territory) (Turnbull, [1961] 1962:p128-30)[564], Mbuti children explore every possibility of adult social organisation. "Adult activities are learned from an early age by observation and imitation, for the Pygmies live an open life. Their life is as open inside their tiny one-room leaf huts as it is in the middle of a forest clearing, and so the children have no need of the sex instruction which forms so large a part of the teaching given to village boys during the nkumbi" (p226). "They do not merely confine themselves, dutifully, to building miniature endu and "playing house", nor does imitating adult activities such as the hunt or the gathering of nuts and roots and berries, or the making of bark-cloth, or even copulation, interest them long. These are mere techniques […]. More fascinating, as pastimes, are imitations of how the wide diversity of territorial, kinship, age, and sex roles are played" (Turnbull, 1978:p185)[565]. Thus, "[a]lready in the bopi they will be aware of the nature of sexual relationships between boys and girls and will have imitated and ridiculed an extraordinary number of variations on this theme, working their way through every kind of interhuman relationship […]" (p189). At menarche the girl may have intercourse in the elima or Alima hut (1965:p132-40; 1957:p208; for a specific note on the elima, see Turnbull, 1960)[566]. "Sexual experimentation is certainly a major element in the elima, but it is combined with a very definite move to widen the social horizons of the girls, and to redirect their attentions into what the parental and grandparental generations consider proper horizons. There are also certain rules about intercourse in the elima hut. The senior girls, or instructors, and the "mother" guide the bamelima in all this".

 

"Parents were constantly complaining of the noise their children made while engaged upon amorous expeditions; they preferred being able to turn a deaf ear. One youth went too far when he called out from inside his girl friend's hut to the group outside (which included her parents), and begged them to continue singing because "it is so sweet to [make love] to song, just like in the elima hut". His phrase for lovemaking was somewhat intimately descriptive, and brought eries of protest and his immediate ejection from the hut. […] By and large all that the parents can complain about in the sexual life of their children is the noise. If the noise becomes too much, however, it then becomes a matter for the band" (W.S., p203, 204).

 

To legitimise adolescent freedom, "[…] the Mbuti simply denied the fact and said that although youths could have sex whenever they wanted (within minimal bounds of privacy and respect for others) children would never be born until the youths were married" (1983:p43)[567]. According to Putnam, this would actually be true.

During boy's initiation rites (nkumbi), "[s]ex instruction takes place spasmodically, but at no time is it either given or taken seriously" (Turnbull, 1957:p199)[568]. Boys aged two to eight play nkumbi, coached by their theoretically ignorant mothers (p202). Mbuti practised infant betrothal[569].

 

[Additional refs.:

¨Hallet, J.P. & Relle, A. (1973) Pygmy Kitabu. New York: Random House;

¨Heymer, A (1979) [Bayaka-Pygmies (central Africa) - hetero-sexual social grooming (delousing) between adolescent girls and boys], Homo 30,3:202-11]

 

 

Bala / Basonge / Basongo (Congo)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Schmitz (Van Overbergh, 1908:p253)[570], on the Basonge: "Bien avant leur puberté, tout gosses encore, négrillons et négrillonnes se roulent dans les coins, en quête de voluptés. "Ils ne peuvent pas encore, mais ils essayent"." Further, "[a]s to crimes against nature, instances are few and far between, exclusively among young boys". Merriam (1971:p78)[571] states:

 

"For the Bala, autoeroticism among children is considered normal although continuation of it is thought to lead to difficulty. Boys play with their genitals "from the time they are very young", but they cannot ejaculate "until they are 10 years old". During the evening, when boys get together, they may masturbate (kwasa, "play"), and there is also group masturbation. Adults consider the latter shameful and break it up whenever possible. It is said that the result of persistent masturbation, whether individually or in a group, will be subsequent lack of interest in women. Little girls also masturbate, first with their fingers, and later with a dildo (kankondenkonde, pl. tunkondekkonde) made of manioc root. […] In addition to this preadolescent sex play, all young boys, it is said, spy on women when they are bathing. As a result they know something of female anatomy and the sexually connected keloid markings at an early age".

 

Boys and girls may sing obscene songs (p99). Girls and boys play love games (Torday, Joyce and Hardy, 1922:p21), choosing lovers and ridiculing those not chosen. Further, Torday and Joyce (1910:p272) note that "Il est permis à ceux qui ne sont pas mariés d'avoir des relations sexuelles et ils en ont dès un très jeune âge". Merriam (1974:p226)[572] stated: "Young men and women engage in heterosexual activities before marriage, and in the case of girls, often before puberty". Intercourse is freely practised during more or less informal arrangements referred to as engagements. Boys are ready for marriage when he stops "fooling around" like a youngster, when pimples start breaking out on his forehead ("someone with pimples can't be trusted around women"), and when his axillary hair, pubes and beard (least important) begin to grow. For girls, it would be thelarche, and not menarche [age 12]; girls are ready earlier because "girls mature faster than boys". Marriages can be arranged at age 13-15 (girls) and 15-17 (boys). Children may also be affianced at an age as early as eight years, but this is not considered special or different from ordinary betrothal (p233). Girls of 13-15 are said to seek badumiyanami [heterosexual friendships] among boys of their own age, and adults accept the notion that one of the purposes of these friendships is sex relations (p263). "Girls of the same age may also have a badumiyanami who is an older married man, and one of his primary obligations in this role is to instruct the girl in matters pertaining to marriage. Such instruction may be in sexual intercourse as well as in other matters, and sex relations may continue after the girls has married; in either case, the affair is carried on in secret. Similarly, teen-aged boy may have an older married woman as his badumiyanami". Beaucorps (1941:p106)[573] would argue that among the Songo of the past, a man who consented to live maritally with an immature girl would have been despised. "This vice has only been introduced to the Basongo by civilization".

 

 

Lele (Congo)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Betrothal from birth was observed (Douglas, 1960:p17)[574].

 

 

Bangala, Boloki (Congo)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Weeks (1910:p416)[575] in Upper Congo: "Boys and girls from an early age until puberty have free intercourse with each other, and I believe that later there is no public condemnation if the girls are not betrothed. […] Premenstrual connection is desired by men because they like it, and also because they can indulge freely and there is no palaver, and it is not until the beginning of the periods that girls are guarded from promiscuous intercourse". After puberty, restrictions were placed on the girl, and the act was regarded as adultery. Weeks (1909:p442)[576] claimed there were no virgins beyond the age of five years, and after puberty. Among the Boloki "it is impossible to find a virgin above five years of age" (Weeks, 1911:p127)[577].

 

 

 


Zaire (®Colonial Congo) (Mbo, Bwela, Ngwana, Mukete, Basoko, Bahemba, Azande,Bakongo, Bakwa-Luntu, Tetela, Muyaka, Alur, Baluba, Baushi, Wagenia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Ethnic group and religion are also significant influences on the timing of early life course transitions. As the magnitudes of the estimated coefficients in the different tables indicate, there are substantial differences by ethnic group in age at entry into sexual activity and motherhood, and somewhat smaller differences in age at entry into marriage. The differences by religion tend to be smaller than those by ethnic group for initiation of sexual activity and childbearing, but they are as large or larger for entry into marriage. These results indicate that cultural and religious differences among women in Kinshasa are important determinants of differences in the timing of these life course transitions"[578].

 

Among the Kongo kanda, marriages were arranged by parents. This arrangement was most usual when a man sought to secure a right to an infant. He would then co-habit with her when she reached the age of thirteen or fourteen" (Hilton, 1983:p192)[579].

Based on autobiographical material, Erny (1971; 1977:p331-65)[580] dwells at length about childhood and adolescent sexual development, giving a poly-ethnic survey including data on the Batetela, Bapende, Bakwa-Luntu, Bakongo, Mongo, Bapende, Babembe, Baluba, Lulua, Bayombe, Mbanza, Bambala, Bayanzi, Basuku, Bahungana, Bayansi, Luntu, Muyaka, Zande, and Alur. Preparation of the female genital (vaginal and hymenal distension, elongation of labia majora) are noted for the Bapende (in groups, with the use of herbs), Babembe, Batetela, and Baluba. Andropoetica (phallopoetica, aphrodisiacs) are used among Batetela and Mongo boys. Questions about sexuality are generally met with evasion among the Baluba, Bambala, Bayanzi, Basuku (particularly true for father-son conversations); some parental sex education is noted for the Mongo, as well as grandparental education among the Mongo, Baluba and Bahungana.

 

In a 1988 study (Rind, 1991)[581], mean age of first sexual intercourse was 17 for men and 16 for women. In a later study, mean age at first sexual intercourse was 17.1 for males, and 16.8 for females (Magnani et al., 1995)[582]. In a further study[583] among 1198 students from six rural and two urban schools in Zaire in 1990, the average age at first sexual intercourse was 11 years for boys, 13 years for girls.

 

 

Mbo (Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The major initiation rite is called nkumbi (cf. ®Mbuti) as described by Towles (1993)[584].

 

Bwela (Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Sexual education takes place within the context of the initiation rite called enjáni, carried out by the njáni, when girls have had, or are about to have, their menarche (Monongo and Akanga, 1987)[585].

 

 

Ngwana (Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The sexual instruction of the girl takes place within the institution of the Unwali (Ngozi, 1976)[586].

 

 

Basoko (Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In the bush school associated with circumcision, matrimonial issues are raised, including the technique of the act of procreation (Erny (1972 [1981:p82-3])[587].

 

 

Kuba (Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

According to Bitota (1987-9)[588] prenatal and prepubertal betrothal are in regression.

 

 

Bahemba (Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

According to Katahwa (1978)[589], pubertal girls practise elongation of the labia minora and hymenal distension (p243-6). The mother never takes part in sexual education, which is reserved for the age class (p236). The girl is informed on sexual hygiene and habits before and after matrimonial acts (p246).

 

 

Azande, Zande (Zaire, Sudan, Congo) (2,-,2+,3+,2-,2-;7,7;B?) (eHRAF)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Intercourse takes place before the girl's first menstruation, because the Azande believe that early intercourse accelerates the beginning of puberty" (Czekanowski, 1924). Infant betrothal is the rule (Seligman, 1932:p511-2) [590]. "After circumcision a boy is recognised as a person old enough to have sexual intercourse […]" (Baxter and Butt, 1953:p74)[591]; this, however, occurs at an age variable from early postnatally to age 18. "Zande children were taught that, properly, sexual intercourse should take place only between married couples, but extra-marital intercourse was not regarded as an offence if indulged in discreetly" (B&B, p71). Communications on behaviour are sparse. "In Africa, according to information communicated by Professor Evans-Pritchard[592], quite young children among the Azande or Nuer begin to play at house-keeping and marriage, and it is then that they receive their first lesson in social morality, the adults interfering to impress upon them that these games must not be played between brothers and sisters" (Seligman, 1932:p213)[593].  Thus, "[c]hildren are not taught that sexual indulgence is wrong, but that its only legitimate place is within marriage" (Seligman and Seligman, 1932:p514).

 

"As children grow up into boys and girls they will never miss a dance. To both sexes it is a means of display which becomes intensified at puberty. The dance is one of those cultural milieux in which sexual display takes place and selection is encouraged. The sexual situations of the dance are not very obvious to the observer. Boys and girls come to the dance to flirt, and flirtation often leads to sexual connexion, but society insists that neither the one nor the other shall be indulged in blatantly. At the same time society permits these sexual incidents so long as they occur with discretion and moderate concealment. A boy who openly approached a girl would be reprimanded and abused, but if he catches her attention whilst she is dancing with her friends, gives her a little nudge perhaps, and when he sees that his advances are reciprocated says mu je gude (come on kid!) no one will interfere. They go quietly into the bush or into a neighbouring hut and have intercourse (Evans-Pritchard, 1928:p457-8)[594]".

 

According to an oral history (Evans-Pritchard) there was copulatory "play". Thus, "[…] small boys for their part- one will take hold of another to press on him in boys' play, but this is what he has seen his father doing, his father copulating with his mother – so he goes after little girls whom he knows to try to copulate with them. So when a little boy mounts a little girl the grown-ups just laugh, just laugh quietly and then pretend to be angry, saying to him 'eh child, from whom did you get that idea? Who told you to do that sort of thing in front of people. It is just a child's behavior".

 

According to Enry (1971:p11-2; 1977:p339-41)[595], no formal sex education is given to either child or adolescent. "At nine or ten, he will help in the crops, collect firewood, and generally change from a child into a boy. He will no longer be sleeping with his parents, but in a little hut built apart, either by himself or with his brothers if he has any, but never with his sisters, for to do so would be considered very shameful, as in Zande eyes to sleep in a house with a woman is tantamount to lying with her" (Larken, 1926-7])[596].

 

Evans-Pritchard's[597] account of Azande ejacularche:

 

"Azande say that in the early stages of male puberty the seminal fluid (nzira) does not contain souls of children (mbisimo gude) and it is only when a boy blossoms into manhood that his semen becomes fertile. That the souls of children are connected by a simple inference with the presence of spermatozoa in the seminal fluid is shown by the statement that the fluid becomes fertile when it ceases to have the appearance of water and becomes thick and slimy like the yolk of an egg […]. Semen is thought to cause a boy's first ejaculation by collecting at the root of the penis and forcing its way out. This first ejaculation of semen is somewhat painful since the semen `burns like fire' but afterwards the boy ejaculates without difficulty though for a long time his seminal fluid is like water. A boy of about 12-14 years of age is said to have orgasms without emissions; from about 14 to 16 his emissions are 'merely like urine' and contain no mbisimo gude; at about 17 years of age they contain mbisimo gude[598].  A man considers himself capable of procreating children so long as he is able to ejaculate sperm" (1932). "The first time a boy gets an erection with sperm in clearing a way in his penis it may trouble him while it makes a way. When it happens and he for the first time ejaculates sperm it is hot for him like fire. After that he begins to ejaculate coolly. The first sperm just comes like water for a long time, for about three months, then real sperm begins to come […]" (1974).

 

 

Azande Boy-Wives and Princelings  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

A now defunct homosexual boy-wife system was practised by unmarried Azande, as described by the Seligmans (1932:p506-7)[599]:

 

"Part of the male population between the ages of 20 and 35 was organized into vura, called aparanga for the unmarried and abakumba for the married. While the members of the vura were at court they lived in large houses outside the chief's enclosures, and near them, in smaller isolated huts, lived the chiefs' sons or near male relatives. The aparanga worked on the chiefs' cultivation in time of peace, organized under leaders, in units ready for military service when required. Some of these young men brought with them boys. These boys were sometimes spoken of as women, and were even addressed as such: the seniors might in jest call a particular boy diare, "my wife", and be addressed by him as "husband". The young men paid spears for their boy "wives", and the bond between the two was publicly acknowledged. The boys behaved as women in that they ate out of sight of their "husbands" and performed numerous minor duties for them, though they did not cook for them but fetched them cooked food. At night they slept beside them, and with these youths the elders satisfied their sexual desires. The custom was definitely recognized as a substitute for normal heterosexual union. Now that military service has been discontinued the practice is no longer necessary, nor does there exist any desire to continue it; it might be said that homosexuality is no longer fashionable, indeed homosexual practices between men seem non-existent at the present day, though when referring to the subject the Azande generally express no shame or disgust. It should, however, be noted that penetration was never practised".

 

The custom was also described by Evans-Pritchard (1957, 1970, 1971)[600].Evans-Pritchard (1957:p379-80; 1971:p182, 183) also comments on Azande Princelings. "All Zande princes were (and still are) accompanied by a number of these small boys to attend them wherever they went. […] Azande do not regard it as at all improper, indeed as very sensible, for a man to sleep with boys when women are not available or are taboo, and, as we shall see later, in the past this was a regular practice at court. Some princes may even have preferred boys to women, when both were available. This is not a question I can enter into further here beyond saying I was told that some princes sleep with boys before consulting the poison oracle, women being then taboo, and also that they sometimes do so on other occasions, just because they like them".

 

Further, "Many of the young warriors married boys, and a commander might have more than one boy-wife. […] The two slept together at nights, the husband satisfying his desires between the boy's thighs (p199-200). Evans-Pritchard (1970:p170 [1992:p170]), although too late to observe the practice himself, notes that the word "boy" (kumba gunde) "must, it would appear, be interpreted liberally, for as far as I could judge from what I was told the lads might have been anywhere between about twelve and twenty years of age".

 

 

Bakongo (Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Weeks (1914:p172)[601] stated: "The unbetrothed girls from an early age up to puberty had free ingress to these houses [adolescent bachelor's clubs] at night, and their parents encouraged them to go, as it "showed they had proper desires, and later in life they would bear children" ". Access to the bachelor's huts is customary for boys aged 12. Boy infants' potency is greatly valued by his mother (Enry, 1971:p92). Van Wing (1959:p29)[602] relates how pubescents discover that one day he has to become a mbuta, an elder, a man capable of procreating. This makes him happy and proud, and the novum is rapidly spread among his comrades.

 

 

Bakwa-Luntu (Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Boy infants' virility greatly pleases his mother (Enry, 1971:p92).

 

 

Batetela, Tetela, Atetela  (Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Regarding the Batetela, "[i]nfant betrothal is found among the various sections of the tribe, but the habit of engaging a new-born female child to a small boy by throwing an iron bracelet into the water in which the baby has been first washed is only practiced by Sungu mothers" (Torday, 1921:p375)[603].

Milk must not fall on the infant's penis or vagina, for it will cause impotence or hypersecretion[604] (Enry, 1971:p92; 1977:p341-55). Girls of five or six go to the forest and pull the labia majora and the clitoris "afin de les faire grandir et d'attirer ainsi les garçons" (cf., Torday, Joyce and Hardy, 1922:p71). Girls touch each other's mammellae to ensure its future ability to produce milk. The vaginal canal is dilated digitally, or with a manioc dildoe. Boys of this age apply manioc powder of the penis to prepare the organ for circumcision (ibid., p93-4). A multitude of sexual taboos exists (1971:p96-7; 1977:p349-50), including genital automanipulation, on the threat of impotence. Children observe parental nudity, and "hear every anecdote". A certain amount of sexual education is given to the girl by her mother and certain women of the village (sexual hygiene, coital techniques). The boy is merely told to be potent, and to satisfy the girl (p101-2).  Both children (about 8-9) and adolescents practice house/marriage play (by one informant named Asanga), including coital play (p105-6)[605]. Children are sometimes betrothed by parents (p106). Children married at age 10-12, boys at 15 (Torday, Joyce and Hardy, 1922:p68).

 

 

Muyaka (Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Information is provided by Enry (1971:p108-11; 1977:p336-9). No systematic sexual education until two or three months before marriage. Heterosexual play is reprimanded. Despite all precautions, "[...] on trouve des petits de six ou sept ans qui simulent les relations sexuelles ou cherchent à se séduire mutuellement". Children are not noted to play homosexually, but hut/marriage play in mixed groups includes sex play: "Les premiers se livrent à des jeux sexuels tandis que les seconds "ronflent" dans leur coin. On interdit sévèrement aux petits de raconter au village ce qui s'est passé". One boy is to play the rooster and wakes the couple. The games continue until boys enter the circumcision camp and girls are engaged.

 

 

Alur (North-East Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Two-versions of Alur sexual development are provided by Enry (1971:p112-7; 1977:p355-61). Sexuality should serve procreation, and discussion of sexual matters is considered a sign of bad education. Children and adolescents are not to know anything, and are to grow up "dans une innocence absolute". Sexual games are at least feared by parents who shield pubertal children from younger ones, lest they partake in outlawed amusements called tuko cung'kol, so to speak, "le jeu dans les déchets de millet". Sex education is not offered, and libidinous or obscene tendencies are not tolerated. Some clues to marital life are finally offered by the paternal aunt (to girls) past the age of twenty, and to boys. Genital touching is forbidden from infancy on. Children might join the bachelor's hut (od ubire) from age 6-7.

 

 

Baluba, Luba  (Kasaï, Zaire; South-Central Congo)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Colle (1913, I:p279)[606] on the Baluba: "Même avant la puberté, garçons et filles se fixent des rendez-vous secrets, dans les herbes ou sur le bord de la rivière". Potions may be used in the intention of altering the course of a slow or accelerated puberty (Enry, 1971:p94). Boys organise masturbation contests to prove their virility.

Burton (1930)[607] notes that marriage is enacted at age ten to eleven for girls, compared to later ages in the past. The genitals of little girls (seven to eight onward) are rubbed internally and externally by themselves with a pepper called kiulamulundu, the juice of which makes the flesh swell. Pieces of wood were inserted and occasionally the girls resort also to bleeding and cupping. For this, they would be sent out in the forests by parents for secret rendezvous known by the term kwikana.

 

 

Mukete (Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Sex is a matter only shared between members of the same gender (Erny, 1977:p331-3). Many games with a sexual character exist between young and old children.

 

 

Baushi (Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Kokonge and Erny (1976:7-27)[608] discuss at length the development of sexual behaviour. The maternal task of manual preputial adhaesiolysis in infants is institutional, since the condition of permanent fixation is considered kameme, a defect. When the prepuce is so forcefully retracted that it gets stuck permanently under the corona glandis [?], the boy is lufunu (boy with nude glans), and might not get married or have satisfactory sexual relations. As in the Senegalese (®Senegal) , erections are provoked, and medicines are used to combat assumed impotence when the penis remains flaccid. Children sleep with parents, but "à partir du moment où il osera se tenir éveillé au moment où Vénus couvre ses parent de son étreinte, on l'estimera devenu trop grand pour rester avec eux"; the child is then to sleep with his grandparents. Genitals are involved in verbal play with adults. From age five or six until age 11 or 12, children play "kitchen" with coitus: "Parfois on les surprend, derrière la maison, imitant innocement la copulation adulte... En règle générale, les parents s'amusent de ces jeux enfantins. [...] L'attitude des parents est tolérante, permissive. Bien plus, ils n'hésiteront pas à y inciter, le moment venu, ceux de leurs enfants qui sembleraient manifester peu d'anthousiasme ou une certaine inhibition" (p9, 24). Various games include sexual elements: Nambushi (Mother of Goats), Mwingilo wa nsenshi, and Sale sale kinkamba (Everone is to Choose whom he Pleases). The classic marital game, in the form of play villages, is called mansansa (p26); there they may "[...] imitent la vie conjungale sous le regard lointain, mais amusé des parents".

 

At puberty, boys use numerous plants to prepare genitals to insure glandular function, provocation of spermarche, penile enlargement, and erectile potency. Implicitly, masturbation is involved, and contests are held. Boys also use love cosmetics, practice voyeuristic acts, and "attack girls" whom they are not to deflower. Girls practice artificial elongation of the minor labia (kukuna), and enlargement of the aditus vaginae to the size of a normal penis, sometimes using a dildoe. Mutual masturbation may be involved, and practices are done en groupe. She must not overdo this, for else she will experience marital difficulties. During the Kisungu ritual, further pharmacology is practised to ensure fertility. In the early forties, 12 to 15-year-olds invented a secret language to exchange vulgarities and to practice coprolalia.

 

 

Yombe, BaYombe (Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Anecdotal material was collected by (Erny, 1977:p333-6).

 

 

Wagenia (Zaire)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Drooges (1974:p60)[609] observed boys aged 5 to 7 performing coitus with girls, demonstrating a wealth of experience:

 

"Van de jongens boven de tien kan men zeggen dat zij steeds minder met meisjes speelden, maar op andere wijze contact zochten. De eerste vrijages en homakerij, waarvan sommigen hoog opgaven, vonden plaats of deze leeftijd. Al veel eerder waren jongens op de hoogte van de betekenis van hun sexe. Zij wisten feilloos waarvoor de sexeverschillen bedoeld waren en toonden zich geheel vertrouwd met hun toekkomstige rol. Twee novieten van vijf en zeven jaar gaven eens een demonstratie van geslachtsgemeenschap die een grondige kennis verrried. Een jongen van drie jaar riep bij het aanschouwen van de ronde vormen van een speelgoedzwaan van onze zoon: "Kijk eens, zij is zwanger!"[610].

 

 

 


Uganda (Ik, Gisu, Acholi, Sebei, Bahima/Bahuma [Hima, Bahuma Bajoro], Bachiga, Lango, Nkole, Ganda, Kiziba, Lugbara, Jie, Iteso, Bwamba, Baamba, So, Guang)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In the Uganda protectorate, "[a]t any stage of its infant life a child may be betrothed to some other infant or to one many years older than itself" (Kitching, 1912:p173)[611].

In one study, coitarche occurred at age seven to nine in 23% of boys and 8% of girls; by age twelve, 64% of boys and 76% of girls had had intercourse. Another study[612] among school students found that "[a]mong girls, the earliest reported age for initiation of sexual intercourse was eight years, but the mean age for first sexual intercourse was 16.1 years for boys and 16.6 years for girls".

Fifteen percent practised labial elongation, while about a quarter indicated they had not heard about it at all (Kisekka, 1976)[613]. In one study (Turyasingura, 1989)[614], coitarche occurred at age 15. In another (Kahazura, 1991)[615], coitarche occurred at age 13.6 (non-school group), and 14.4 (students); the lowest age encountered was nine. A 1988/9 survey among 15-24-year-old Ugandans found that the mean age of first coitus was 15.1 among males and 15.5 among females (Agyei and Epema, 1992)[616].

In one study of 86 patients with acute PID (Grech et al., 1973)[617], 48% claimed to have begun sexual intercourse at age fourteen or earlier. In a study reported by Arya and Bennett (1968)[618], the first sexual experience occurred before age ten in 8% of Uganda college students. In a recent study (Stewart, 2000)[619], first penetrative coitus was to occur at ages 15.4 (girls) and 15.0 (boys).

Among the Uganda Bamba (Bundibugyo district), a boy is not allowed to engage in sex before circumcision (Standing and Kisekka, 1989:p218).

Parikh[620] notes:

 

"The effect of the mass-mediated technologies is a breakdown and rearrangement of social categories, or as Lawrence Birken (1988)[[621]] observes a "democratization of sexual information", in which a genderless and ageless public consumes an abundance of images. In Uganda, this has meant that sexual learning, which was provided by the paternal aunt and uncle, shifted from the kin networks to the public sphere, causing further stain on an already fading system of sex education of youth".

 

In a study (Bohmer and Kirumira, 2000)[622] among out of school 12-19 year olds, it was found that sexual information may be derived from a multitude of sources, including overhearing adult conversation or activities.

 

"Older females (14-16 years) and males (17-19 years) said that sexual activity begins between ages 12-16, males (17-19 years) reported that younger boys these days start earlier (i.e., age 12) than they themselves did (average of 14.5). Younger boys (12-13) expressed the view that sexual activity begins much earlier (ages ranged from 4 to 18), although they often spoke about both sexual play that occurs among children in addition to full sexual intercourse. Some boys believe that sexual intercourse takes place as early as 6-10 years, while others said that mature sexual relationships for males occur between 15-17 years when one is capable of sexually satisfying his partner. Thus, some males make a distinction between full sexual intercourse and less mature relationships where a boy is not yet capable of satisfying his partner […]. With regard to ages of sexual initiation for females, a third of boys in the 12-13 year group believed that females begin having sex as young as 4-6 years, although they felt that waiting until 13 years would be more appropriate. Males from both older and younger age groups felt that partnerships with younger girls are best as one does not need to worry about satisfying them sexually and as an older female may "lure them into sex" ".

 

"Girls in the 12-13 year group said that most often money or clothes entice girls to have sex with "big men". A married woman would argue: "And once the breasts come, she catches a boss. She does not go in for her age mates". Boys were ambivalent to age disparate contacts with adult females. The actual incidence does not become apparent.

 

[Additional refs.: Nyanzi, S., Pool, R. & Kinsman, J. (2001) The negotiation of sexual relationships among school pupils in south-western Uganda, AIDS-Care 13,1:83-98]

 

 

Ik (Uganda)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Usually marriage negotiations are entered into only when all the parents concerned have indicated their approval. Already when she is between seven and ten years a girl may be given a bracelet as a sign of engagement. From then onwards she is watched by her future husband, e.g., to prevent her from meeting other boys" (Heine, 1985:p11)[623].

 

 

Gisu (Uganda)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"The sexual activities of members of proximate generations, particularly kin and affines, must not be brought into contact. Household arrangements bring this out clearly; there is no extended domestic group. No Gisu may sleep in the paternal hut after puberty"[624].

 

 

Acholi (Uganda)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Acholi (Gulu district, Uganda), "[i]mpotence is attributed to violation of a taboo which forbids mothers to touch a baby's penis within the first three days of its life (Standing and Kisekka, 1989:p213).

P'Bitek (1964/1997)[625] provides a discussion of the love trajectories of Acholi youth consisting of boys "shooting" or selecting previously unacquainted girls, girls initially (as a rule, incessantly) declining proposals, the start of a "love debate" that may take months. Regardless of age, unmarried men and spinsters had no social status. After a ring token has been "given to" (won by) the male, he might introduce her to the bachelor's hut, to which she may be pressured by her mother, to find out whether he is "alive": "If for some reason boy cannot or does not sleep with girl, then boy is not sexually fit. […] and that is the end of the affair between the two". Pre-pregnancy congress was severely (lethally, physically) punished.

 

 

Sebei (Uganda)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Girls of about eight cut scars on their bodies in rows extending from just below the ribs to the abdomen and raise keloids, which are considered sexually exciting to their lovers later on (Goldschmidt, 1976:p264)[626]. Fantasy play of children indicates the early adaptation of sex-related social roles; "they also indulge in sex play" (p265). After 1930, sex was a "major occupation" for adolescents, although pregnancy before circumcision is still considered very bad (p204).

 

 

Bahima, Hima (Hamites, Uganda)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

According to Roscoe (1907:p104)[627], both sexes of the Bahima tribe are betrothed "whilst they are quite young; the mother has the care of the girls and keeps strict watch over them so that they may grow up pure. Girls are therefore in constant attendance upon their mother; is she goes away from home to visit relations, the daughter goes too". Consummation occurs three days after marriage, the date of which is not elaborated upon (p105).

"Hima girls are kept very strictly chaste until marriage […]", although until age six the sexes are free to mix (Elam, 1973:p54, 84-7)[628], and "[…] from her first infant steps a Hima girl is oriented toward marriage".

 

 

Bahuma Banjoro (Uganda Protectorate)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Frazer (1920)[629]: "Among the ordinary Bahuma or pastoral people children are usually betrothed in infancy. They may be neighbours and play together without any knowledge of their future relation to each other until they are old enough to marry". At marriage, the date of which is not elaborated upon, the girl "is accompanied by a paternal aunt, who stays with the newly-married couple any time from two days to a month and shares their bed; may, if the bride is young and timid, it is their aunt's duty to supply her place in the arms of the bridegroom. […] Among the agricultural people the practice of betrothal in infancy appears not to be in vogue".  The bride's sister remains with her for a month after marriage "and often sleeps on the same bed' (p184-5).

 

 

Bachiga (Uganda)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"No specific training or instruction is given children, except in manners. A little girl is taught how to sit modestly […]. A girl's sex attitudes are developed quite early. Her first lesson is in sitting modestly. She is forced to change many of her ways with the approach of puberty. […] Her father and brothers chaperon her rigidly. All this in preparation for marriage to a total stranger, involving a disagreeable, lengthy, and very trying ceremony culminating in institutionalized rape. The boys' introduction to sex is quite different. It is casual and gradual" (Edel, 1937:p148, 151)[630]. However, children's play activities are not interfered with.

 

 

Lango (Uganda)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Mean age of marriage is 18 for men, after puberty for women. Pregnancy is expected within one year of the marriage ceremony (Okello, 1951)[631].

 

 

 

Nkole (Uganda)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Mushanga (1973:p181)[632]: "Mothers are very anxious to observe penile erections of their sons to assure themselves that the little ones are potent. Should erections be absent on several mornings, not only the mother but also the father will begin to search for a remedy. […] Young boys of twelve begin to acquire sexual experiences as they begin to associate with their older siblings or friends. Play begins with imitating marriage arrangements when boys are out in the bush herding goats or cows with girls".

 

 

Bwamba  (Uganda)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Bwamba boys were not allowed to engage in sex before circumcision (Kissekka, 1973)[633].

 

 

Baamba  (Uganda)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Wayland[634] observes that "[…] wives are usually obtained by exchanging the girls of three or four years of age of one family for those of another" (p522). The girl is chosen, but effects some influence in mate selection.  When married, "[f]ree sexual intercourse is a very common occurrence" ("men seize young girls and drag them off to their huts where they stay for three or four days, after which they return" as "temporary wives") provided that the female is willing. "It is said that fathers urge their girls to seek intercourse with men when a proper opportunity presents itself. If as a result of such intercourse a child is born, the man must make a present to the girl's father, thus buying the child, and the girl must return to her father as soon as the child can be left" (p523).

 

 

So (Uganda)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Laughlin and Laughlin (1973:p353)[635] state: "Children engage in sex play from an early age". Girls learn about menarche from peers, or from their mothers (only one in five).

 

 

Ganda (Baganda, Kiganda, Buganda; Uganda) (3-,3-,3-,3-,2,3;5,5;F)  (eHRAF)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Ganda mothers discourage infantile masturbation, if indeed they notice it and acknowledge its occurrence. All the mothers of babies who were reported to have masturbated took action to stop it, although only two "beat" the baby" (see Ainsworth, 1967:p113-4)[636]. This was also noted in case studies (Juko, Muhamidi). 14/21 mothers denied even mere genital touching in their infants. The child, however young, should not witness sexual relations between his parents.

 

"The small Uganda boys display their sexual curiosity in a popular song they sing at passing girls: "I'd like your vagina, A shilling for a vagina!" (De Rachewiltz (1963 [1964:p230]).

 

Southwold (1973:p165)[637]: "People said that many girls start having sexual relations as soon as they are capable". Also, "[b]oys are not explicitly allowed to have sexual intercourse at any particular age […]. So far as I know all […] boys [other than the very devout Christians] try to have sexual relations as soon as they are physically able, and to judge from what most people say, most of them succeed". There is no male initiation or circumcision. Premarital chastity (marriage for girls at age 15) was becoming less common at the time of writing, found Nsimbi (1956)[638]. Male youths dwell in separate residences, and girls receive sexual instruction from the father's sister (Weeks, 1973)[639]. In a study of 177 school boys aged 14-17, 43% of Baganda boys had had sexual intercourse[640]. "The age of [Baganda] girls and young women is told by the size of the breasts; after attaining their full growth they begin to hang down; this is considered most becoming by young women, and to attain this end they often tie them down to hasten natural development" (Roscoe, 1902:p72)[641].

Kinsman et al. (2000)[642] provided an interview based study of Baganda adolescent sexual socialisation. In rural Masaka, parental coitus is observed by children due to the narrow living confinements. Weddings, commonly  identified as sexarchic events, provide another opportunity; apart from hide-and-seek and "mother and father", weddings games are played where the children "smooch or fondle each other". A boy:

 

"If you look at it critically, this thing is in the blood. God created it in us. For example you might watch a young kid that only crawls touching funny areas and covering them shyly. That thing is in the blood".

 

Sex, however, is rarely discussed by parents, and peers provide the main source of intelligence. The paternal aunt (ssenga, senga) traditionally provided information on female hygiene and sexual submission (cf. Kisekka, 1973:p45[643]; Davis, 2000:p35-6, 49-50[644]; also Muyindaet al., 2001[645]; and others[646]). The ssenga oversaw labial elongation (okusika enfuli) in "early adolescence", aimed to enhance attractiveness and coital pleasure[647]. A woman not "elongated" (kiwowongole; kifufunkuli, funkuli muwompogoma) was sent back to her parents with disgrace, when about to be married. Ssenga's instruction is declining and would come too late nowadays, according to girls. A positive attitude towards nonvirgins opposes a negative attitude towards virgins. Illustratively, a girl's magazine is called Ssenga. Older men or teachers have previously been noted to initiate some adolescent girls in "early" sexual activity" (Twa-Twa[a], 1997:p68, Kinsman et al., 1999:p598)[648].

 

[Additional refs. : Roscoe (1911)[649]].

 

 

Kiziba (Uganda)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Rehse (1910:p114)[650] stated that family, and sexual, matters were dealt with naturally, so that the children became acquainted with these phenomena at an early age. "Fünfjährige Jungen haben mir die Inhaltreichsten Märchen geschriben- leider folgt auf diese vorzeitige Entwicklung im zwölften oder dreizehnten Lebensjahre ein volkommener Stillstand, herbeigeführt durch Genuss geistiger Getränke und frühe Ausübung geschlechtliche Verkehres".

 

 

Lugbara (Lugbari, Lugwari, Laccara, Logbwari, Lugbwara, Louagonare, Lubare, Lugori, Lugwaret) (Uganda)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Middleton (1973:p292, 294-5)[651]: "Groups of sisters begin to accept lovers from about the age of 10 until their marriages three or four years later. They sleep at night in a special girls' hut under the care of an old widow and receive boys for whom they "place their arms" ". Intercourse is formally forbidden.

"Boys marry, if rich, at puberty; if poor, later. Girls may be pledged (betrothed before puberty in respect of a debt which the father has contracted, in which case if she is willing, on reaching a marriageable age he gives her to the creditor's son". Before marriage, "[…] there is some looseness amongst themselves, though there is a fine of a goat or a hen for any lapse discovered" (McConnell, 1925)[652].

 

 

Jie (Uganda)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Jie boys seem to begin having sexual relations in their teens" (Lamphear, 1973:p370)[653]. No data on childhood.

 

 

Iteso (Uganda/Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"At present, a boy's heterosexual activities begin at the age of 12 to 15 when he builds a bachelor hut […]. Until this time, sexual activities will consist primarily of masturbation, practised either singly or in groups, but we have no information on its frequency" (Karp and Karp, 1973:p392-3)[654]. The hut is shared with younger brothers and sisters, which "may very well constitute a learning experience for them".

 

 

 


Kenya (Pokomo, Amwimbe, Kore, Kuria, Masai, N'Jemp, Ariaal Rendille, Kamba, Tiriki, Chuka, Maragoli, Kikuyu, Kipsigis, Gusii, Luo, Meru, Samburu, Tuken, Nandi; ®Iteso)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index] [IES]

 

Kenya: "The degree to which an older boy may "play sex," as youth slang puts it, depends upon social custom. An uncircumcized Nandi boy rarely has an opportunity for intercourse, due to the strict controls of the warrior age set. Maragoli girls often participate in sex play with boys, although intercourse does not take place until after puberty. The Kisii tolerate extensive sex play among smaller children, although shame taboos require that after about age 7, such activities are not to be seen by parents" (Brockman, 1997)[655]. "Western influences have rendered many of these customs invalid". Also, "[c]ertain types of same-sex activity were tolerated in tribal tradition, but only as childish behaviors unworthy of an initiate".

 

In Kenya (Ajayi et al., 1991)[656], the mean age of coitarche for student males aged 12-15 is 12.1; for female students, it is 11.6. According to a 1989 study[657], mean age of first "sex" was 13 years among sexually experienced males, compared with almost 16 years among females[658]. Another study found that a majority sexually experienced girls (some quarter of secondary school girls aged 12 to 19) had started coitus within one to two years of attaining menarche or having a boyfriend.[659]

Female circumcision is still practised among the Kuria, Suba, Meru and Abagusii (Gwako, 1995)[660]. Administrators in the politically peripheral area of Meru vitiated the policy of criminalising clitoridectomy by enforcing initiation at an earlier age in order to combat abortion. European officers believed that in transforming the prenuptial process of female initiation into a prepubescent rite, they could eradicate unwanted pregnancies and abortions by eliminating the period when sexually mature (but unexcised) girls were "customarily" prohibited from conceiving and giving birth (Thomas, 1998)[661]. In April 1956 the Njuri Ncheke, a council of male elders officially recognised by the colonial administrators in the Meru district of Kenya, banned clitoridectomy. In response to "this novel intrusion of men into female initiation ceremonies" customarily in women's hands, Meru girls participated in Ngaitana, self-circumcision groups (Thomas, 1996)[662]. Based on oral interviews, it was determined that as late as 1972 60% of the girls in one area had undergone circumcision (Murray, 1976)[663]. "Many communities also believe that circumcision helps girls to remain virgins. Often men who support the idea say the practice represses, the sexual desire of women and is a way of curbing promiscuity. […] Research carried out by the Programs for Appropriate Technology in Health says the practice gives some Kenyan girls the courage to have early sex as a test of their womanhood"[664].

Among the Abagusii, the 19th century scheduling of the operation at age 10-11 has been revised, presumably in regard to the (rare) practice of pubescent marriage; it is now practised at age 6-8.

 

For an overview of boy's initiation ceremonies, see De Wolf (1973)[665].

 

"None of the customary laws in Kenya specify a minimum age at which persons become legally capable of entering into marriage. In general, however, female genital mutilation is a prerequisite to marriage, although many ethnic groups no longer apply this requirement. Certain ethnic groups, including the Kikuyu, also require women to have passed their first menstrual period before marriage"[666].

 

Kiragu and Zabin (1993)[667] found mean ages for sexual intercourse of 11.9 (Ms) and 12.5 (Fs) among [sexually experienced] primary school students (mean ages 14.6/F to 15.0/M). In Nairobi, the median age at first intercourse was 15 years for slum residents and 18 years for non-slum residents[668]. "Cramped living quarters in slums expose children to the sexual behavior of their parents at an early age. Many people in focus groups identified this early sexual socialization as a cause for relatively early sexual initiation. A female service provider stated, "You see, these houses of ours are small and children see a lot of wonders. That is why you see a child of 13 years pregnant. It is because the parent [had sex]. She saw, and went and tried it with a boy" ". According to Mbevi[669], child marriage was once customary in Kenya, though dying out at the time of writing.

Polyethnic data on the sexual education of girls in Kenya were collected by Wamahiu et al. (1992)[670] using unstructured interviews with boys and girls aged 12-18. In Mombasa, "[k]nowledge about physical maturity, sex and cleanliness are generally picked up from older siblings and friends"; in school, the subject would be too academically approached.

Brockman (1997)[671] observes that

 

"[…] there is no [school-based] curriculum for sex education. […] Sex instruction does not often come from parents. In the presence of their children, they are expected to avoid any words, acts, or gestures of a sexual nature. The rules of shame might allow openness about sexual matters with a grandparent, however, and among the Kisii a grandmother could be the confidant of her grandchildren on their sexual experiences. A small child will remain with its mother until about age 7. At this point, in some tribes, boys move in with their father or older boys. In other groups (Maragoli and Luo) both boys and girls go into separate huts with older children or into the homes of an elderly couple. These village dormitories provide socialization, sex education, and opportunities for sexual experimentation. The last is conducted in secret, although girls often "fail to notice" a youth visiting in the girls' dormitory. Two lovers might also go into the bush. A father and older sons might build a private hut for a son who reached puberty, especially since initiation ceremonies might be held only every few years. Under these circumstances, young men have free rein to engage in sexual activities. In slang, these huts are sometimes referred to as "the office," and "going to the office" means having a girl over for sex.

These patterns of sex education have continued into present-day society, where studies show that parents are a negligible source of information, while 31 percent of girls and 38 percent of boys indicate teachers as the most important source. This does not reflect organized sex education in the schools, but the influence of proctors and teachers in boarding-school settings".

 

Two 1987 studies reported age at first sexual intercourse to be 14 in the cities, and 13.7 for boys and 14.8 for girls in the rural areas. About homosexuality, it is stated:

 

"Certain types of same-sex activity were tolerated in tribal tradition, but only as childish behaviors unworthy of an initiate. In tribes where initiation involves long periods of separation from female contact along with powerful emphasis on male group bonding (Maasai), situational homosexuality is not uncommon. When limited to mutual self-pleasuring, it is regarded as merely unmanly. Oral or anal intercourse can, however, result in expulsion from the age set, severe beatings, and disgrace. One finds some nonpenetrative homosexual behavior among Maasai askaris (guards) who have migrated to Nairobi or the coast. Urban poverty has created an underclass of abandoned street youth, almost all male, ranging in age from 7 to late teens. These "parking boys" survive by protecting parking spots, begging, petty crime, and scrounging for garbage. Though the older protect the younger, situational homosexuality is normative".

 

 

Girls children of Islamic or customary marriages in Kenya can be legally married off by their guardian before puberty (Mucai-Kattambo, et al., 1995)[672]. The girl then has the right to repudiate the marriage upon reaching puberty; the practice is diminishing.

 

[Additional refs.: Mensch, B. S. & Lloyd, C. B. (1998) Gender Differences in the Schooling Experiences of Adolescents in Low-Income Countries: The Case of Kenya, Stud Fam Plann 29,2:167-84; Toroitich-Ruto, C. (1997) The Determinants of Teenage Sexuality and their Understanding of STDs/HIV/AIDS in Kenya, UAPS J 12,2 at http://www.uaps.org/journal/journal12v2/The_Determinants_of_Teenage_Sexuality.htm]

 

 

Pokomo (Bantu, Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Betrothal takes place in childhood, marriage is to await puberty and initiation (Prins, 1952:p23[673]). Sexual relations are sanctioned before payment, but apparently not between future spouses. "Promiscuous intercourse of the sexes while immature is said to be disapproved of" (ibid., referring to Fischer, 1878-9:p27)[674]. Bunger (1973:p87)[675] speaks of the decline of the rigi initiation for males (average 14/15, with a wide range), including "basic sexual lore", and courting of girls according to a set of rigid rules, including coital taboo. A woman would be married within a year or two of her reaching puberty, lest "her blood may dry"; virginity was valued (p102).

 

 

Amwimbe  (Kenya District, British East Africa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The age of sexual operations varied considerably, but usually occurred between 12 and 16 for boys, a little later for girls (Browne, 1913:p137)[676]. "Considerable, if not complete, sexual licence" is allowed after circumcision and labiectomy (p140). Before the operation a charm protected girls from pregnancy, which after the ceremony is replaced by a fertility charm.

 

 

Kore, etc. (Lamu Island, Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"In Lamu, marriages among the Afro-Arabs, Hadrami, Bohra Indians, and ex-slaves are arranged by their parents. Afro-Arab, Hadrami, and Indian girls are kept in seclusion after they reach puberty, and when they go out they wear a builbui (chador-like black garment that covers their entire body and includes a veil which they hold over their faces" (Curtin, 1985:p463)[677]. The Kore were not veiled, and courtship was a matter of the lovers. "The Kore perform clitoridectomy on their girls at an early age- between one and three years" (p467).

 

 

Kuria, Bakuria (Kenya, Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Today, no sexual instruction is given to girls prior to marriage[678].

 

"Girls learn details of what happens between a man and a woman from a classmate who is already married and experiencing the range of marital relations. Though I have not been personally privy to these conversations, as adolescents respected me, I am told that this is often the most detailed and graphic description of sexual activity girls are given. From any other quarter (e.g., grandparents, sisters-in-law, brother's wives, and so on) the discussion of sexual activity happens after a girl is married and sexually active, rather than before, in preparation. For boys, the most frequent mentors regarding sexual behavior are peers, and reportedly, their interaction regarding these matters is primarily based on hearsay, as is the sex talk among adolescents everywhere. But as Kuria adolescents are increasingly exposed to information about sexual activity from authorities such as radio, newspapers, and political and civic leaders, sex talk increasingly involves the hazards of promiscuous sexuality and the spread of disease, particularly of HIV-AIDS, although other sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea, are significant ingredients of the local sexual scene".

 

"Parents have their daughters circumcised when they are still premenstrual because they fear their daughters becoming pregnant before circumcision, an unhappy circumstance that led in the past to the girl's lifelong expulsion from the community. Though no one interviewed remembered this actually happening, the reason was given repeatedly, maybe because parents know that young people are sexually active before they marry" […] An interesting caveat to the information regarding sexual practices is that, though most women say they were not sexually active until their marriage and that their marriage took place at the age of eighteen, when asked at what age young women begin to have sex these days, the modal answer was at twelve years (20% gave this age, 17% each gave fourteen and fifteen each, with thirteen being the fourth most frequently given response at 15%)".

 

 

Masai/ Maasai (2,2,2,2,-,-;-,-;B5;CE) (eHRAF)  (Kenya, Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Though not an obvious inclusion, Ford and Beach (1951:p188) listed the Masai as "permissive". They (p182) state also that intercourse is forbidden until puberty ceremonies. As excepted from Saitoti[679]:

 

" "Are you orkirekenyi?" one of my brothers asked. I quickly replied no, and there was laughter. Orkirekeryi is a person who has transgressed sexually. For you must not have sexual intercourse with any circumcised woman before you yourself are circumcised. You must wait until you are circumcised. If you have not waited, you will be fined. Your father, mother, and the circumciser will take a cow from you as punishment".

 

Jacobs (1973:p402, 404)[680] agrees that, as for boys, "female children are prohibited from engaging in sexual intercourse, and it is not until a girl completes her tribal initiation ceremony (clitoris sub-incision) ceremony that she can marry and have intercourse with her husband or his age mates".  However, the Tanzania Parakuyo are said to believe that the breasts of a girl can only develop when a man has had sex with her (Von Mitzlaff, 1988 [1994:p80])[681].

 

The exception seemed to have confirmed the rule. Also, Hollis (1910:p479)[682] referred to "the sexual intercourse of warriors with immature girls [ditos]", in which the rules of consanguinity and affinity that regulate marriage are equally observed. This is also noted by Hinde and Hinde (1901:p68, 73)[683]. A warrior chooses a dito he fancies, and makes her mother a great many presents, but since it is not a marriage he gives neither cattle or goats. Equally, Johnston (1902, II:p824)[684] wrote that Masai girls aged 8 to 13 are picked out by young warriors, after which they have intercourse, "which is considered in no way to be immoral [[685]], because the girls are under age, and therefore cannot conceive". A contemporary source similarly relates that

 

"[t]he entito, between approximately 10-12 years and puberty associates and lives with the ilmurran [warriors, from circumcision to well beyond marriageable age of 20-25] in their settlements. She lives a rather free life sexually, living with the warriors as sweethearts. Virginity is neither socially or culturally valued. A Maasai girl's sexual activity begins long before she is clitoridectomized; nevertheless she should not become pregnant prior to the operation. Usually girls are operated on before their first menstruation. Maasai women are then ready to marry after their clitoridectomy, but the ilmurran are debarred from access to these women who are their contemporaries. These young women are married off to men who are in the "elder" age group"[686].

 

Also, "[g]irls are often promised in marriage at a young age, even before their birth!". Leakey (1930:p197-8)[687] writes that Kenyan Masai girls of brothers living in manyattas sleep "from a very early age- long before puberty- on the same beds as couples indulging in sexual intercourse; and even those girls who live in the home villages learn all about such matters at a very early age owing to the fact that they always sleep in their mother's bed. As soon as ever the first signs of puberty are noticeable, girls may be asked by the warriors to sleep with them, and the question of whether there is complete intercourse or not rests then entirely with the girls. Moreover, the uninitiated boys, and especially those who tour the villages as candidates for initiation, expect any young girls who are not already attached to the warriors to sleep with them. In fact, we may say that for the girls sex life starts before puberty and continues (with no such period of sexual prohibition as the boys have during the novice stage) until they are initiated". Thus, Masai coitarche seems to be early[688]. Merker ([1910:p65, n])[689] briefly states: "Boys and girls already begin to practice cohabitation at the age of eight to ten".

Whereas Fosbrooke (1948)[690] noted that "prior to circumcision no youth may have intercourse with a circumcised woman. This is a rule most strictly adhered to", Fox (1930:p448)[691] notes that the harsh punishment of sexual intercourse with a girl of any sort "is no longer the case, probably because the warriors are afraid of Government interference should they ill-treat the boys". Bagge (1904:p169)[692] confirms what is suspected: "No circumcised youth is permitted to have connection with a circumcised woman, but no objection exists to his having connection with any uncircumcised girl".

Huntingford (1953:p113)[693] noted: "A man's sex-life begins when he has been circumcised; a girl's when she reaches puberty". However, "[i]nitiation is often delayed until some little time after puberty, and it is not considered in any way wrong for these boys to begin indulging sexually as soon as they like, provided that they observe certain restrictions. They may do as they like with the younger girls in the neighbouring villages, provided, of course, that they observe the law forbidding sexual relations with any member of their own sub-clan, and also provided they avoid such young girls as are attached to men in the warrior classes. That these young uninitiated lads even try to have intercourse with married women is certain, as there is a special penalty provided for women who so debase themselves" (Leakey, 1930:p187-8). Uncircumcised boys are not permitted to have sexual relationships with the opposite sex in spite of the fact that many of them reach sexual maturity well ahead of their circumcision. But uncircumcised girls of similar ages are at the disposal of warriors who associate sexually with premature girls from ten years upwards (Talle, 1983)[694]. It is believed that the semen of the warrior helps and "is in fact almost a prerequisite for the development of a girl's breasts" (ibid.). Mann et al. (1966)[695] also state that pre-initiation intercourse was not allowed, the ceremonies being held at age 8-12 (girls) and 12-15 (boys). In the former report, the age of marriage for girls was given at 10-14, but males do not get married until age 30 (cf. Weiß, op.cit., p382).

Thus, an extreme stratification by age dominated Masai sexarche. The Masai practiced foetal and infant betrothal[696].

 

[Additional refs.: Bergsjo (1994)[697]; Morley, D. (1991) Kenya: Maasai warriors and their sexual partners, Lancet, 3/16/91; 337(8742):667; Kenya: Boarding School Offers New Life for Masai Child Brides, Women's International Network News, Winter 2001; 27,1:64].

 

 

N'Jemp (Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

An "off-shoot" of the Masai, among the N'Jemp, as observed by Denis (1967 [1966:p166-71][698]), children "lead an almost idyllic life", "free to play whatever sexual games they please among themselves, and it is not until the age of twelve of thereabouts that life starts in earnest", at which age he is made a moran, junior warrior. As the Masai, these warriors sleep in a communal hut, manyatta, and have restricted sexual intercourse, ombani na ngweko, or "platonic love and fondling", heavy petting. The practice "is something that develops naturally out of the permissive behaviour between the sexes in late childhood", and is considered " "the foundation stone of morality since it produces a race free from nervous and psychic maladjustments" ". The permissiveness only applies within the same age group, married women being taboo for the juniors.

 

 

Ariaal Rendille (Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Ariaal culture is regulated by an elaborate age-set system (Roth et al., 2001)[699]. Marriage occurs after an 11-year period of warriorhood, which starts with circumcision. Warriors and "beaded" (unmarried) girls engage in long-term sexual relationships (nkeryi), marriage does not usually follow, procreation is severely discouraged, but full intercourse is expected. "In Ariaal culture, sexual imbalances begin with the nkeryi tradition, as very young girls (our survey includes girls as young as 10-12) are beaded to and begin sexual relationships with much older warriors. In addition, informants stated that warriors frequently have sex with their age-mates' nkeryi, and that such sexual sharing is culturally condoned" (p39). The age of being beaded was lower for uneducated as opposed to educated girls. Peers, and not parents, were sources of sexological knowledge.

 

 

Kamba, Akamba, Wakamba (Bantu; Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Lindblom (1920:p419)[700]: "The boys and girls play "father, mother and children" together. They build small huts of grass and imitate grown-ups, an imitation which is sometimes so carefully done that not even the sexual part of marriage is omitted. As is well known, such things cease to be a mystery to children of primitive people at a very early age". Ndeti (1973:p109)[701] adds that the "period before puberty is characterized by very little sex education and sexual differentiation. Perhaps there is no need for this because sex roles are defined fairly early in life". Girls are instructed at menarche by the mother or, in most cases, the grandmother. At this time, they may be ritually deflowered by a stick, while boys receive additional genital surgery beyond the circumcision they had at a younger age (Nida, 1962)[702]. Muthiani (1973:p55)[703] notes that "[s]ex education was the responsibility of the parents and, [in the case of girls,] the mothers. Girls had to be brought up to know not only what kind of people they should refrain from on the basis of sexual relations, but also when and where not to have sexual contact. With their little biological knowledge, they managed to train their girls to the best of their limited ability; thereby training them for avoidance (breaking of sexual mores). As a result, cases of incest and premarital births or even pregnancies were very, very rare". The same could be true for boys. A girl was not desirable in marriage until she has conceived (Eloit, 1:p125)[704]. During the second of puberty rites (age 15 or so), boys perform symbolic sexual acts on girls with special sticks (Mbiti, [1990:p121]). Marriage does not take place after circumcision or menarche (Kyewalyanga, 1977:p42). Clitoridectomy is practiced at ages unassociated with puberty, sometimes at age 4 or 5 (Middleton and Kershaw, 1965:p80)[705]. A man is not punished if he fornicates with a girl past puberty, even if part of the bride price has been paid, provided no pregnancy results; if she is prepubertal, he pays a goat. If he commits "unnatural" behaviour with a boy, a rare thing among the Kamba, he pays a goat and a bull (Penwill, 1951:p73, 74, 76)[706].

 

 

Tiriki (Bantu, Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Sexual intercourse before circumcision is prohibited (Wagner, 1949;[707] Sangree, 1966; Kertzer, 1978:p1092)[708].At the night before circumcision, held every five year, the initiand "is questioned in detail about any sexual activity he may have either with other people or with animals. Sodomy and sexual connexions with children animals are stringently forbidden everyone, while only males who have been circumcised are permitted to have sexual intercourse with mature females". When he confesses, he must pay a fine, under the threat that he would bleed to death when circumcised if he had not done so (Sangree). The taboo is not paralleled for females. "[…] the prevalent Tikiri view vis-à-vis females on this score is comparable to that held in some of the rural and isolated regions of the United States, which American wags have summed up as, "If they're big enough, they're old enough". Intercourse with a girl who has not started to menstruate or who has not yet developed her secondary sexual characteristics is considered a serious and dangerous deviation from the natural (luswa), and the man involved is regarded as the one primarily at fault. Other than this no regularly maintained sanctions exist regulating the time of a female's introduction to active heterosexuality" (p65).

 

 

Chuka (Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The age of circumcision and labiotomy varies greatly, but may be said to take place at about age 16 for both sexes. Specific data on "instructions" are not given (Browne, 1915)[709].

 

 

Maragoli (Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

 

"Maragoli girls often participate in sex play with boys, although intercourse does not take place until after puberty" (Brockman, 1997)[710]. "Bei den Margoli heißt das Onanieren der Mädchen "Kuikunda kitere" (d.h. Koitieren mit dem Finger), im Gegensatz zu dem der Knaben "Kuueniola". In dieser Bezeichnung des Verbums ist die Technik der weiblichen Masturbation angegeben" (Bryk, 1928:p118). Maragoli children sleep separated from the age of seven, boys in a hut, girls with an elderly couple or widow/widower (Lukalo, 1973:p141)[711]. From the age of eight, girls and boys may sleep in a dormitory. "The age when a girl starts sexual relations is undefined. A girl was exposed to it the moment spending the night in the dormitory with the others. Playing with boys of the same age after dark (on the way to the dormitory) could have been the starting point". "As in the case of girls, sexual relations for a boy could start during puberty and, in some cases, even before, part of the impulse stemming from the fact that today children share sleeping accommodation with parents"[712]. Sex was to be kept secret, and done in the bush or girl's dormitory. The boy is circumcised just after puberty, but has to await the "circle".

 

 

Kikuyu, Akikuyu, Wakikuyu, Gikuyi (Kenya) (2+,3,3,4-, 4,4;5,5)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Female circumcision marked the cut-off point between child and woman, signifying the transition from the state of ignorance, inactivity, impotence, and asexuality into one of activity, knowledge and reproduction (Mbiti, 1969:p123; Nelson, 1987:p221)[713]. Kenyatta (1939 [1961:p159, 161])[714]: "[…] a Gikuyu man has been taught from childhood to develop the technique of self-control in the matter of sex […] During early childhood parents talk freely to their children explaining all matters connected with sexual taboos". Pre-initiation masturbation is considered "right and proper"; afterwards, it is said to be abandoned and referred to as a babyish habit. Girls are told it is "wrong" (p162). Formalised sex instruction is offered to girls in an initiation ceremony including circumcision (Leakey, 1931)[715].

Occasional infant and child betrothal was noted by (Routledge, 1910: p124-5)[716]. Dundas (1915:p284)[717] stated that infant betrothal was common. Usually, however, the betrothal is a girl's own affair.

 

The Pre-Colonial Kikuyu were said to practice "incomplete sex play" known as ngwiko after initiation at puberty (Ahlberg, 1991:p61)[718]. Sexual intercourse is part of initiation ceremonies of both boys and girls (Lambert, 1956:p54-5; see also p34-5)[719]. For girls, it required full intercourse before nuptial age, "to be wiped clean from the soot of the knife" (kuhuuruo mbiro ya ruenji). It would take place before menarche (to avoid pregnancy)[720], and should lead to defloration (but not wholly, since virginity was valued [!]). Elders say that girls got rid of their "initiation dirt" by intercourse with immature and uninitiated boys (a heinous offence on the part of an initiated girl except for this one purpose), who, not having reached the stage when sex was socially important, would not suffer from the taint".

During the irua ceremony, relatives and friends of the novice sing about sexual knowledge and the rules governing social relationships between men and women to acquaint the initiates with their future adult roles (Kenyatta, 1938:p141)[721]. For the ceremony, girls must be menarchal, and must not have had sexual intercourse or experience with masturbation (Bunche, 1941:p)[722]. The songs at the mugumo tree impart knowledge about sexuality and how to comport oneself in sexual relationships.

Consummation of marriage was a recognised event (Leakey, 1977 [II]:p381-3)[723], and there were routine instructions for brides and grooms (p786-8). Sexual intercourse before initiation was strictly forbidden, and it was said it would show after operation: the wounds would not heal properly (I, p398, 410). Taking advantage of the few opportunities for breaking the rule we met by severe beatings. Initiation age was lowered with the arrival of Europeans, from 17/18 to 14/15 (II, p587-8); girls were initiated at age 12 ("when their breasts were only partially formed"), though elders indicated menarche age was lowered compared to the old days. Ritual sexual intercourse is witnessed by the initiates at various occasions.

Boys up to ages 14/15 were allowed to play at mutual masturbation and sexual intercourse with girls (II, p584); afterwards, it was forbidden out of fear that they would abuse little girls. Big boys would have to settle with masturbation, sex with barren married women, or with goats or sheep, the latter both being tabooed. Most 14/15 year olds build huts proudly announced as their thingira (men's hut), inviting boys and girls to

 

"play sexually in imitation of their initiated brothers and sisters. As the parents were fully aware of what went on and knew that these boys and girls would lie together, they constantly warned them that in no circumstance were they to attempt to have actual sexual intercourse, and that they had to content themselves with fondling and cuddling each other. Occasionally a boy and girl would disobey this rule, and because of this many mothers would regularly examine their daughters' genitalia. Knowledge that there would be this examination from time to time was usually enough to make the little girls careful to obey the rules laid down for them. They knew that if they allowed the bigger boys to have full intercourse they would be found out and severely punished. For their part the boys were constantly warned that if they did more than simply play at sex, they would do themselves harm, and that when they were circumcised they would not heal quickly. Naturally, both boys and girls grew up with a considerable knowledge of sex, for in addition to what they heard and saw of the behaviour of the grown-ups, they were also taught a great deal by their parents when being told of the prohibition against full intercourse" (II, p584-5).

 

Decline of the age-set system, schooling, the gweko custom, and the delay of integration of sex education has changed recent matters (Worthman and Whiting, 1987)[724]. Today, Ahlberg et al.[725] argue, circumcision still symbolises becoming a Kikuyu adult, it is now performed in a clinic and no longer includes the ceremonies and open discourse that formerly conveyed sexual knowledge combined with strict social controls regulating sexual behaviour. The changes have resulted in "numerous discrepancies between cognition and practice": although parents believe sexual intercourse should be restricted to marriage, they have employed "a prohibitive silence" that is misinterpreted by youth who have little reliable knowledge about sexual matters.

 

 

Kipsigis (Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Peristany (1939:p47-8)[726] states that boys of about 15 (after initiation)  and girls of 12 will be preoccupied with seeking a mate. Premarital courtship results in the adolescents sleeping together every night in the singroina, or men's club. They may sleep in their sibling's presence, but no intercourse is to take place (p50). A virgin at initiation (variably scheduled at ages 14-20, but in former years it could be as late as 30 for both sexes) is honoured; it was estimated that half were indeed pergeyat (virgin) at this time. Boys and girls practice an external form of intercourse (p51). At initiation the boy is required to admit or deny repeatedly his coital experiences, "[...] since an uncircumcised boy is said to soil all women with whom he has had sexual intercourse, and to make them barren" (the Arap Mogoss trial, p10-2).

In times of famine, an infant girl may be betrothed to a grown man (Kabwatereret, p64-5). The children learn by imitation (p94), and most commonly play at house building (p95-6), but no associations are made. "When they are old enough to take interest in love-making [?], they are all seen together at their meeting-places [...]" (p96). "Brothers and sisters, before having sweethearts, sleep naked and close to each other in their own hut, away from any supervision". No clear pictures arises from this: "La faim, l'occasion, l'herbe tendre et, je pense, quelque diable aussi le poussant".  Orchardson (1930/1:p101)[727] states that the girl marries immediately after her circumcision[728], and that the institution is consummated only when her mother has decided that she is ready to cook for her husband.

 

 

Samburu (Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Subincision is performed by Samburu herdboys around age seven to ten (Margetts, 1960)[729]. The boys operate on themselves, and sometimes on their peers. The operation is attributed to custom, to efforts to differentiate the male urine stream from the female (both sexes squat during micturation), and, according to five informants, to make ejaculation faster. Later, circumcision follows. According to Spencer (1965)[730], heterosexual play is punished severely, and the sexes are separated early. Homosexual practices are an every-day occurrence at the cattle posts, and are regarded as normal. Adolescent morans [warriors] have mistresses who are invited to their clubs. A very strict intergenerational avoidance is requested of the girl.

 

 

Gusii, Kisii, Abagusii (Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"The Kisii tolerate extensive sex play among smaller children, although shame taboos require that after about age 7, such activities are not to be seen by parents" (Brockman, 1997)[731]. LeVine and LeVine (1963:p492)[732] noted the following verbalisation of Gusii parental conflict on boy's heterosexual play: "I would cane him very badly; thinking, "After all, it is the natural thing to do", but since I found them at it, I must cane severely". Parental intercourse occurs only when children are supposed to sleep[733]. LeVine and LeVine (1981)[734] mentioned rape of prepubescent girls by adult men "who in many instances are the classificatory parents". Mayer (1973:p132)[735] wrote: "Even little boys would play at "pretending to catch little girls". Decency required that from about the age of seven they should not play sexually in front of parents, or other abansoni (respected people). They would have witnessed copulation of animals, if not humans, and would have slept in the mother's bed until decency required them to move to the grandmother's, or a saiga (boy's hut). Circumcision took place in early puberty (13 to 15)[736], whereby the novices may be teased by girls exposing their genitals, causing painful erections. The first formal sexual experience is usually after initiation (girls: 8 to nine years; Boys: 10 to 12 years). Earlier intercourse would be forbidden and punished (LeVine, 1959). Initiated girls, "as young as they are, begin grooming themselves for marriage" (LeVine, 1959:p117)[737]. The Gusii practice clitoridectomy and excision of the labia minora (Meschig et al., 1983)[738].

Marriage does not take place after circumcision or menarche (Kyewalyanga, 1977:p42).

 

Minturn and Lambert (1964:p247-8)[739]:

 

"One of the most serious offences is for a boy to attack a girl who is not his sibling. Such attacks are regarded as sexual in motivation even among young children. Preadolescent boys and girls do indulge in sex play when adults are not around. When the girls approach initiation they begin to spurn the advances of their male playmates, who are still several years away of their initiation. The attacks of herd boys on these girls are evidently the result, in part, of this rejection. One of the reasons given by the girls for desiring to be initiated was to avoid these attacks, since parents take strong action to stop attacks of uninitiated boys on initiated girls".

 

[Additional refs:

-- LeVine, R. A. (1963) Child rearing practices in sub-Saharan Africa: an interim report, Bull Menn Clin 27,5:245-56

-- Schaeffner, A. (1953) Les rites de circonsion en pays kissi, Étud Guinnéennes 12 [?]. Also cited by Erny (1972 [1981:p61]) ]

 

 

Luo, Nilotic Kavirondo, Jaluo (British East Africa; Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"[…] among themselves an unmarried woman who has reached the age of puberty may have as many friends as they call them, as she likes, provided that they come from another clan; after marriage she must confine her attentions to her husband" [740].

 

Blount (1973:p325)[741]: "Young Luo boys begin to experiment with sex when they are four to six years of age, but their behaviour is severely criticized and restricted. As mobility is limited, boys are first interested in girls who reside in the immediate vicinity, and due to residential patterns, these girls are close relatives. Sexual relations with them are incestuous and although this concept is not immediately understood by a young boy, he quickly learns that they are not "available sex playmates". If need be, a young boy will be sent to stay with a relative to remove him from temptation of nearby female cousins or sisters. Only after a boy becomes a youth, at the approximate age of 13 to 15 years, is there opportunity for considerable contact with members of the opposite sex". Luo boys are said to practice a preputial conditioning at the age of 10 to 12 (Parkin, 1973:p335-6)[742]. Schoolgirls begin to take a great interest in romantic aspirations, and eagerly await thelarche (Ominde, 1952)[743]. The marital cycle "proceeding" to the act of childbearing, is imitated (p31). Genitals are compared, and "something approaching a crude sexual intercourse" takes place when older members of the family are absent. During the period when the crops are ripening these older children, sometimes accompanied by younger ones who act as sentries, disappear into the cornfields to carry out this practice". The parental reaction is one of reproach and restriction. Before age eleven, restrictions of exogamy are suggested to the girls. The girls learn from the coquetry and customs of more mature girls with whom they sleep. Sexual instruction for girls took place within the swindhe, a form of communal living (Cohen and Odhiambo, 1989)[744].

Child betrothal (p92) or marriage (p117) may take place (Wilson, 1961)[745], but this seems a peripheral custom. Child marriage (nyar osiep) includes marriage ceremonies without consummation (cf., Kyewalyanga, 1977:p24)[746].

 

 

Nandi (Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

An uncircumcised Nandi boy rarely has an opportunity for intercourse, due to the strict controls of the warrior age set (Huntingford, 1973:p410[747]; Brockman, 1997)[748]. Nandi boys thus practice masturbation (De Rachewiltz (1963 [1964:p151]). Bryk (1928:p118)[749]:

 

"It is common practice among the Nandi for the boys to smear sticky, milky juice of the euphorbiaceous plant yeptiringuet on the glans and to masturbate (lat pertit)with it. The juice of this plant is quite caustic and causes the glans to swell up strongly, so that the foreskin can easily be drawn back; which is what is wanted. During the process the boys call out, "Suren suren, ce kwamon pek a metet" (Become big and I'll give you something to eat). The blossoms of this plant are usually stuck into the hair, the separated milk serving as the agglutinant. Now the little fellow can go to a girl and try it".

 

Huntingford (1972:p789-91)[750] states that "a boy's sex life begins as soon as he has emerged from the seclusion of circumcision (kakoman tum) and a girl's when she reaches the age of puberty, i.e. about twelve. Girls do not normally begin younger; but boys, who sometimes may not be circumcised until they have reached the age of 17, 18, or even 20, often do, though they are not supposed to do so, and must make love in secret, risking punishment from the warriors if caught". A favourite game played by small children is house-keeping, an openly performed mock marriage, "but often a sexual element enters into the game which must be kept secret. For this they go into the bushes and play with each other, imitating as far as they can the actions they have seen and heard performed in their parent's hut at night. The parents of course know that such things are done, but they do not seek for offenders, and only if actually caught would a boy be slapped by his parent, with an admonition to mind what he did or he would have the warriors after him". A circumcised boy may have intercourse with uninitiated girls, who form lasting couples (mureret-sandet, beloved-lover). The boy may, first at age 7 or 8, find himself in various configurations of sleeping naked in the same bed as naked girls their age. The close and unfair competition for girls is illustrated when a warrior is also present, and the boy may attempt to cor tipik "steal girls" by pressing himself as close to the girl's back as he can when the warrior is asleep.

 

"The girl often allows this, though she dare not turn toward the boy for fear of disturbing the warrior. The warriors of course know that this goes on, since they have all done it themselves, but as long as they do not actually see or feel anything they take no notice. But if the boy should forget himself and move too much, he is likely to pay for his fun with a sore back".

 

Langley (1979:p46, 71)[751] states that in former days a boy's sex life began at the end of initiation (circumcision), which may be as late as at age 25. At the time of writing, boys were entitled to sexual (intercrural) intercourse with uncircumcised girls at age 15. Thus, "[s]eduction of an uninitiated girl was not a tort provided pregnancy did not ensue […]" (Snell, 1954:p31)[752].

Long before initiation (about age 14), and beginning when the girls are about ten years old, they must obligatory life in a mixed gender places called sikiroino, an institution meant "to teach the girls how to behave towards men and how to control their sexual desires. No sexual intercourse is permitted when the boys and girls sleep in this way. At a later stage the girls would be examined for virginity, and it is great shame and anger to the girls and their parents if any are found to have lost their virginity. In some cases such girls would be speared to death; while virgin ones would receive gifts of cows and sheep" (Cherotich, 1967[753]; Mbiti, [1990:p124]). After clitoridectomy, during seclusion, sexual instruction takes place, including "how to sleep with their husbands, when to refrain from sexual intercourse during pregnancy and up to the time the child begins to walk, how to be attractive wives, and how to bring up children".

Child marriage (Huntingford, 1953:p29)[754] may have been no more in 1973 (Langley, p72). A prepubertal girl could be tied to a rich man; consummation is delayed until she is grown up (Huntingford, 1923/3:p53; 1927:p434)[755].

 

Among the Nandi and Masai of the Uganda Protectorate, the younger professional warriors, who live with immature girls as a regular and sanctioned practice, can do so only until the girls attain the age of puberty. After puberty the girls must either be married or sent home to their mothers" (Margold, 1922/3:p50-1)[756].

 

 [Additional refs.: Hollis (1909:p16, 58)[757];Cherotich, S. (1967) The Nandi female initiation and marriage and christian impact on it, Dina Na Mila 2,2/3:67-77]

 

 

Tuken (Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Kettel and Kettel (1973:p420)[758]: "Uncircumcized boys should not engage in sexual intercourse, but they do so frequently, usually from the age of 10 to 12, and there seems to be no effective means of curtailing this activity, although those who are caught are beaten". Uncircumcised boys are avoided by the women.

 

 

Meru (Kenya)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Njeru (1973:p71)[759] states that the Meru girl is taught about sex by her mother when young, and is instructed about sex conduct when approaching puberty by her grandmother. "Premarital sexual relations start quite early in life and apparently the society encourages them by reprimanding those who insist on being virgins. Such girls are mocked and penalized a goat at circumcision for being "too cowardly to have their hymens broken". Sex life among boys and girls is regarded as normal so long as they do not do it openly. Girls dance in the evening with boys, they go to fetch firewood where they know boys are grazing the herds, and each chooses the boy to "give her tobacco". Usually these boys are too young to have ejaculation, and so do not have to worry about any pregnancy". A man is not supposed to have an uncircumcised girl experience the pleasure of ejaculation, and is urged to practice coitus interruptus. Boys aged 5 to 7 sleep with their grandfathers or in the junior boy's hut (gam ya ncuna); later they live in the boy's hut (gam ya runge). Senior boys (before circumcision) "have some sexual relation with young girls, usually the ones who have not reached puberty", as determined by menarche. Older girls were also on their agenda, but not without the competition of the circumcised.

 

 


Ruanda, Rwanda  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Father Arnoux (1931:p348)[760] noted that due to the unclothed state of being, children "[…] se permettent toute sorte de jeux indécents avec camarades des deux sexes, sans ressentir le moindre remords". Maquet (1961:p78)[761]: "The Ruanda thought that when the sex activity of an individual had begun, he could legitimately expect an opportunity to enjoy intercourse as frequently as was socially thought normal. Some parents were said to be severe towards sexual play among children. When the latter indulged in imitation of adult relations, in masturbation, and other manipulations, they were beaten and flogged. Others were more permissive [Vincent]. Homosexuality was common among young Tutsi being trained at court, and was almost exclusively ascribed to the lack of heterosexual contacts".

 

De Smedt (1998)[762] speaks of "child" marriage in Ruanda refugee camps but implies early adolescent marriage (girls: 13, boys: 14). Enry (1981, I:p35-7)[763]  relates that boys in their "second childhood" [of three] are made to live with aunts or or grandparents in order to prevent the sighting of parental intimacies. Nevertheless, "les conversations et les jeux avec les aînés les instruisent sans retard". Many forms of sexual games exist, including the Bantu "jeu des huttes", and even a secret language exists to escape the surveillance of authorities. After menarche, which may be as late as 17 or 18 (p37, n1), a stricter regimen is practised. Rather than by parents, the age group assures sex communications. Some autobiographies shed some light on these arguments (II, p409-18).

 

Mayr and Mayr-Knochel (1996:p29-30)[764] state that grandmothers may tease the little boy with his masculinity. Sexual acts are free, when not compromising parents or overt masturbation. Children build huts, and play husband and wife.

 

In a recent study[765] of Kigali street children (N=238, ages 6-20, median age 13 years, mostly males),  "a full 35 percent of those under 10 were found to be sexually active".

 

 


Burundi (Republic of Burundi)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Albert (1963; see p195)[766] noted that prepubertal sex play, even between siblings is not considered a moral transgression, unlike premarital postpubertal play. Prepubertally, girls mutually practice macronymphia. With the people of Rwanda and Burundi, Vincent (1954)[767] describes the following four stages of the evolution of infantile sexuality: (1) maternal genital pacification; (2) the start of sexual games after the discontinuation of primal scene exposure; (3) these games develop in sexual relations of shepherd boys; and (4) an evolution toward masturbation and homosexuality just before adolescence. Among the Tutsi, homosexuality among the young warriors is a refined practice. The adults make fun of these practices but they certainly condone them. As noted: "Parents will take pleasure in seeing their son engage in sexual games with young girls, for that proves that he is normal, and that he will be potent". Nobody worries about the sexual conduct of prepubertal girls, but she is no longer considered free to go with the boys after menarche. Masturbation is "almost obligatory": "a girl who does not masturbate becomes everybody's laughing-stock, and acquires the reputation of not being able to marry and procreate. The practice is seemingly fused with labial elongation, considered necessary for enhancing sexual pleasure of her future husband, and vaginal dilation facilitating delivery.

 

 

Barundi (Burundi[up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Meyer (1916:p106)[768] states that marriage occurred for girls at age 12 "or even younger, when they attain puberty at an earlier date"; boys marry when they can pay the bride price.

 

 


Tanzania (Swahili, Wanguru, Turu, Kwere, Shambala, Ngindo, Chagga, Bena, Nyamwezi, Luguru, Kaguru, Sukuma, Subiya, Ngulu, Hehe, Barabaig, Nyakyusa, Gogo, Baraguyu;®Kuria, ®Masai)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Formerly, women were married at or near the age of puberty, or three years before reproductive age (Geiger, 1987:p14)[769]. In the highlands of Buha (Tanzania), virginity is highly appreciated, and girls were well guarded by parents (Scherer, 1965:p41)[770]. Boys secretly have coitus with widows, divorcees, and even married women, no excluding the wives of brothers and fathers. Although girls do not marry until puberty, menarche is not the main indicator for nuptial status: the appearance of breasts and the competence in household duties are. Giving in marriage of an immature girl (ukwenzeraza) is considered a sign of extreme poverty and does not add to one's status in the community. Immature girls could also be betrothed, but infant betrothal occurred only in mock fashion. The marriage of an immature boy (barely ten) to a grown woman was considered as a sign of prosperity, and occurred not seldom- especially in former days- and was said to "make the boy grow up quickly".

In a study on medical students, covering 15 ethnic groups, Swift and Pendaeli (1974)[771] noted that formal instruction in sexual matters was reportedly uncommon for males, with most of the information learned from peers or older siblings. Girls were more likely to receive some formal teaching from older adult women, often as part of a puberty ritual.

Traditional Tanzanian sex education was reserved for the somo, ceremonial leader, during the Unyago ritual (Fuglesang, 1997:p1248-9/1999)[772]. It is observed within three ethnic groups in Tanzania (Wapare, Wamera, Wakaguru) and was said to include instruction of sexual, maternal and reproductive matters.

This takes place at puberty, but the customary three-month duration would not be compatible with scholastic regulations and thus lead to prepubertal scheduling of the rite (age 7-8), at least in one Town (Lindi). "What impact this may have is unclear, but it is obvious that the girls are too young to comprehend much of the meaning of initiation, and it may prematurely encourage them to take an interest in sexual activity". Where the rites have withered away, "girls do not receive any systematic instruction from reliable adult", although incidental initiatives are noted. A detailed analysis of Tanzanian traditional sex education is offered by Allen (2000)[773], additional to a survey of rites de passage by Swantz (1966 [1969])[774].

Teachings would include the idea that female sexual pleasure is something that is given to males, in return for which she should be paid something, so that young girls extramaritally exchanging sexual services for a wage traditionally fell outside the locus of patriarchal control (Mbilinyi, 1985:p115-6) [775].

Vriesendorp (1980)[776] noted that, through foreign institutions, "[f]amily life suddenly became some sort of holy institution in which reproduction was to take place in the strict intimacy of the conjugal bed, not to be discussed outside the bed. [...] A distance was being created between parents and children based on the philosophy that children are innocent creatures not to be spoiled by the knowledge of the "facts of life" and who should certainly not to be bothered with the hard realities and responsibilities of married life before it was considered their time. [...] Family life education (including sex education) gradually disappearing from the scene as something unnatural and unnecessary", a void not initially filled by school education (Batwa, 1986)[777].

Rajani and Kudrati (1994, 1996)[778] found that at Kuleana Tanzania street adolescents experienced very low percentage of overt prostitution. Less than five percent, six cases, are reported to have agreed to have sex with an adult with whom they were staying the night. The children placed rape amongst manifestations of violence like beatings, fights, being locked-up, and "never in the same cluster as expressions of wanted sex". Anal sex, kunyenga, among boys was often practised as an "initiation rite" (cf. Lockhart, 2002)[779]. Anal sex also took place with younger boys to relieve "sexual tensions" by playing with each other at night. Older boys, 14 - 17, engaged in vaginal sex with street girls, this often represented power or being a "real man".

Median age at first sexual intercourse for men aged 25-49 is 17.5; for females it is 16.8 (Klitsch, 1994)[780].

Silberschmidt and Rasch (2001)[781] observed that older adolescent girls are normally seen as victims and easy preys of (often older and married) men's sexual exploitation. However, the article was to suggest that these girls are "not only victims but also willing preys and active social agents engaging in high-risk sexual behaviour" with old males (relationships called mpenzi).

In a study on 657 Tanzanian students, one out of every four girls conceptualised menarche as a sign of injury or disease while 10% of boys had similar feelings about spermarche[782].

 

In Islamic Pangani District, there is no courting of unmarried women, and premarital sexuality is entirely banned (Tanner, 1962)[783].

 

[Additional refs: Lugoe et al. (1996)[784]; Matashaet al. (1998)[785]; CRLP (2001) Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives: Anglophone Africa. Progress Report, p113-29]

 

 

Swahili (Tanzania; Kenya, Mozambique)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Washirazii / Wambwera Swahili in Tanzania, sex education is given after menarche by the instructress (Caplan, 1976)[786], as to boys (p23, 25). Boy's circumcision (occurring anywhere between one year and puberty) is considered necessary to allow the boy to eventually have coitus. Premarital virginity is valued.

Among the Mombasa Swahili (Muslims), boys beginning at the age of twelve as they start to move into all-male social contexts have age-stratified sexual relationships with older men (Shepherd, 1987)[787]. The junior is called shoga, the senior is known as pasha. Anal intercourse appears to be the accepted practice (Standing and Kisekka, 1989:p107-8).

 

 

Wanguru (Bantu; Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Dooley[788]: "Vigoli (girls who have not yet arrived at puberty) and young boys before they reach the age of puberty are more or less free from all sexual taboos with one another. When a boy reaches puberty he is forbidden to play any more with vigoli" (p2-3). During the ngoma, Wali (girls who have reached puberty), are "taught all matters of sex. […] During the ngoma the makungwi and all other visitors to the lago, the large grass initiation hut built outside the village, have full permission to discuss sexual matters with the wali. Matters concerning marriage with birth, wives and concubines, and in general all the wali wish to know, are part of the instruction" (p2, 6). Male circumcision at age 8 or 9. MacVigar[789]: "Instructions are given to boys and girls during the respective puberty rites. These rites for the boy generally take place before puberty; for the girl they begin the day first menstruation starts".

 

 

Turu (Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"The Turu of Tanzania enjoy sexual license during the puberty ceremony of their teenage boys. On the first day's festivities, extramarital lovers dance to imitate intercourse and sing songs extolling the penis, vagina, and copulation. If these dances are not "hot", or full of sexual passion, as the Turu say, the celebration will be a failure. That evening sweethearts consummate what they have suggested all day"[790].

 

 

Kwere, Wakwere (Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Beidelman (1967:p25)[791] states that boys are "circumcized in the bush at the ages of five to seven". Not mentioning initiation schools, it is also stated that "Grandparents instruct persons in sexual relations".

Denis[792] details the ngoma initiation rites for both sexes (p18-35). Boys' and girls' secondary hair is epilated, and the initiandi are instructed in in reproductive physiology. A girl is apparently not instructed in menarche matters, since on its occurrence, she runs away in fright until she drops from exhaustion (p28). During the rites there is a taboo on coitus (p29).

 

Shambala (Bantu; north-eastern Tanganyika, Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

At the time of writing, childhood betrothal (Winans, 1964:p47)[793] was giving way to having the boy discover his own preferences.

 

 

Ngindo (Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Traditional education was tied to circumcision, scheduled in adulthood, or at least "past puberty"(Crosse-Upcott, 1959:p169, 184)[794]."Now on the contrary the initiates are mere children on whom many of the ritual lessons, and in particular the formal instruction in such matters as sex, are altogether lost".

 

 

Great Lakes  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Kashamura (1973)[795] on the peoples of the Grand Lacs: The kukuna represents the initiation into sexual life for both sexes. By mutual manipulation of the labia pudenda and vagina, the sexual apparatus is prepared for coitus. Progress is checked digitally on a routine basis by the initiatrix. The custom, along with sexological discussions is performed in the night, in the bios sacré. "Les garçons très jeunes, qui n'ont pas encore de sperme, sont encouvertement admis au bois sacré: ils participent aux excercices des filles, à la fois comme partenaires et comme élèves. Le plus souvent, c'est aupres de sa grande sœur qu'un jeune garçon fait son apprentissage, ou avec l'amie de celle-ci. Le principe de cette coéducation est excellent non seulement pour le jeune garçon, mais aussi pour la fille, qui, s'exerçant à faire l'amour avec un garçon impubère, ne court pas le risque de se trouver enceinte. Quand un garçon prend de plus en plus conscience de sa maturité sexuelle, il se voit exclu du groupe des adolescents admis à suivre les filles dans le bios sacré" (p81-4).

 

 

Chaga, Chagga, Wachagga (Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Chaga children are told that babies come from the forest (Raum, 1940)[796]. Precircumcision intercourse is forbidden and punished by staking the lovers to the ground in the forbidden position (ibid., p182; Dundas, 1924:p296[797]). The operation took place nominally at puberty, or rather, together with the chief's son's puberty; so some were operated upon at a younger age.

Childhood family or house games provide opportunities for sexually tinged games (Raum, Raum, 1938:p219[798]; 1940 [1967:p252]; 1973:p35)[799]. Sibling marriage play in huts is met with prohibitions referring to the incest taboo (1940:p180-1; cf. Raum 1938 [1954:708][800]). Night time sex instruction (menstruation, interfemoral intercourse, contraception) for girls occurs in the initiation period (Raum, 1939)[801]. Although girls are told to "watch their bodies" and not to lie with their boyfriends, they are actually encouraged to "laugh, be happy, make yourself pleasant! If you withdraw into yourself, you will not get a husband!" Extensive education in sexual mores was given at pubertal rites (Raum, 1940:p330; Moore, 1977:p62[802]; Gutmann, 1932 [I]:p44-54[803] [see also p24-5]; Swantz, 1966:p150ff). The use of riddles in this respect is noteworthy (e.g., Kamera, 1990)[804]. Girls "use wish-magic to make their breasts grow […]" (R., 1938:p221).

 

 

Nyamwezi (Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Blohm (1931:p96)[805] speaks of rearing marriage. Betrothal could take place at a "very young" age or before birth (p192). Similar to the Sukuma, boys and girls moved out of their parents' hut any time after the age of 6 and 10 years and lived in girls' and boys' dormitories (about ten girls together (Swantz, 1966:p118)[806]. The girls had considerable freedom and the boys could enter into their hut, called maji (cf. ®Basukuma) and vice versa, not needing anyone's permission. No one was to see them entering, though. As (Blohm, 1933:p25)[807] remarks, "[e]he Mädchen zur Frau reifen können, meinen viele, daß ein Mädchen erst bei einem Mann liegen muß, ehe ihr erster "Monat" kommt. Deswegen tun sie es auch". Children play marriage, but no sexuality was connected to this play by the author (p21, 22).

 

 

Bantu (Tanzania) (®Bantu)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Wembah-Rashid (1994)[808] states that mothers were encouraged to carry babies on their back to feel its erection when he needed to urinate.

 

"As boys and girls develop and manifest sexual growth, parents and society show appreciation of such developments because they point to sexual potency, hence fertility. Grandparents often examine boys' and girls' sexual parts without necessarily directly showing that they are ascertaining fertility characteristics. A grandparent can handle a boy's genitals pretending "to seek snuff" from the phallus or wanting to use the whole apparatus as "bellows" (the testicles) and "tuyere" (the phallus). If fact, he or she want to establish the reaction of the boy: whether the testicles are developing, whether pubic hair is growing, or whether the grandparent can trigger an erection. Grandparents would do the same for girls. When a grandmother would go so far as to check on the genitals, a grandfather would only play with breasts. He would teasingly demand to suckle from the girl" (p51-2).

 

Dolls and playing marriage were encouraged as "fecundity-generating" activities. Boys receive sex instruction on the day they moved into circumcision camp prior to entering it (sexual function, female genitalia, incest and menstruation taboos). "Sex outside appropriate circumstances was seen as a resulting in, among other things, impotency, i.e., the loss of fertility". Clitoris and labia were manipulated. After seclusion, they were brought to a secret place for a rite called nkmango (Wamakonde), nkamako (Wamakua), or nkooli (Rufiji-Pangani languages), where the focus is on coitus:

 

"The message is that sexual congress within its appropriate context is a healthy act and therefore desirable. A copy of the male organ carved from wood or moulded in clay is produced for the initiates to see, handle and feel. They are also shown where in their own body it should go and how. As at this stage they would have reached puberty, they would be told that they were physically capable of accommodating any male organ, whatever the size" (p52-3).

 

Conform Arab-Persian custom, the mentor would be present at the consummation of marriage.

 

 

Luguru, Zaramo, Wazaramo (Tanzania) (2,2,2,2,2,2;5,5;d2)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Tanzanian Luguru, boys may be given a demonstration of sexual intercourse using a hen during the ng'hula initiation stage, at age 8 to 9 (Brain, 1980:p377)[809]. Four terms are used for periods up to mwali (maidenhood), the use of which is considered offensive after a next had been appointed (Brain, 1978:pp179)[810]. Although breasts are frequently used for a girl's growing up, secondary hair growth and menstruation are conversational taboos; menstruation is indicated only in euphemism, and "[s]everal women informants protested their total ignorance of menstruation before it occurred, and their terror they had done something wicked. They all stated "Mwiko kabisa kumwambia kigoli!" (Sw.)- it is absolutely taboo to tell a pre-puberty girl". After the seclusion of the Mwali rite (held "when a girl reaches puberty", and to shield her from sexual relations), the girl is instructed at a ceremony called kucheza mkole (the dance at the tree of maturity), by the muhunga, according to Von Waldow (1935)[811] the maternal grandmother, but never the mother. According to Swantz (1965:p45-6)[812] this information included statements such as

 

"with maturity comes sex, never refuse your husband; use three pieces of cloth to wipe him after intercourse and keep them washed; do not commit adultery; when you menstruate dig the blood into the ground and never climb into the loft for food at that time- send somebody else; only mature women can attend mkole; mothers must not teach their daughters; don't be stubborn, especially with your husband, stubborn ones die of snakes; do not pass a cross-roads directly".

 

The mwali ceremony, also practised by neighbouring Kwere and Kami tribes,  is aided by the use of dolls (Harding)[813] maintained by the candidate during her seclusion.

 

Most wali (sing. Mwali) are engaged before or during seclusion. "Although Muslims and Christians go through the wedding ceremonies of those religions, a wedding, as such, was not part of Luguru custom; the bride went from her début to her husband's bed" (p182-3), where after the final instructions, the grandmother expects to find coins on the bed corners as a sign of mutual satisfaction.

Thus, "[t]he Zaramo girl at the onset of menstruation is secluded for a lengthy period of time, in order, it is said, to make her submissive, as well as to educate her for her future adult role" (Swantz, paraphrased by Mbilinyi)[814].

 

[Additional refs: Mluanda, M. (1971) The Luguru traditional moral schools, Rev Ethnol 3,8:57-62]

 

 

 

Kaguru, Wakaguru (Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

During  rituals of sexual initiation practised by the Kaguru of Kilosa district in the Morogoro region of Tanzania, "[e]nactments are performed that instruct on the physiological nature of the woman and its relation to reproduction process, marriage life, parenthood and the obligations and responsibilities of women in the society" (Mlama, 1990:p166)[815]. Digubi songs and performances instruct girls between puberty and marriage on sexual hygiene, and details of the sexual act (Van de Walle and Franklin, 1996)[816]. The girl is taught "various riddles, sayings and songs with double meaning relating to proper sexual conduct and sexual hygiene" (Beidelman, 1973:p264)[817]. "Kaguru girls are (or were in the past) subjected to labiadectomy. This is said to "soften" the girl and thereby make her better able to bear children. At present this operation is not practised on all Kaguru girls […]".

 

Beidelman (1997:p109-30[818]; cf. Beidelman, 1980)[819] gives a detailed account of Kaguru sexual development. Children learn about sexuality and initiation long before they are eligible for the latter. Children are "morally limited beings, and as such are excluded from full social, moral affairs; they are not "innocent", but rather "incomplete social beings". Moral responsibility is tied to adult knowledge (usungu) and cleverness ordinarily concealed (kufisa) and transmitted during initiation, and also informally through storytelling heard before initiation: "Sexuality truly is the single most important factor lying behind most Kaguru stories", at least communicating the "dangerous, difficult and tricky" side of it, and sometimes the "amusing and ridiculous". Sexual allusions are strictly forbidden between adjacent generations (at least among direct kin), which leaves room for same-sex grandparent-grandchild and unrelated peer communications on the matter (cf. p128, 185). Boys' maturity is expressed through his no longer being allowed to eat food in the back of the house with his family[820]. Little children sleep with parents, though sexual activity is carefully shielded from them, and "even before initiation", or age 9-10, some older children are transferred to a neighbouring dwelling for unmarried men and women. Pubescence announces a new era of social control (p123-4).

Initiation songs and riddles cover a wide range of sexological statements by metaphor, including circumcision, sexual practices and meanings, menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth (p186-229). Girls are initiated after menarche, and initiation is said to "cool" (imhosa) the girls, subduing and controlling their new sexuality (p163). Boys' masculinity seems to be tied to a circumcised penis. Songs seem to imply that circumcision is done to facilitate coitus.

Apparently little is said about sexual behaviour development.

 

 

Baraguyu (East-Central Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

It is stated that "[l]ong before puberty, girls commence sexual play with men, usually unmarried warriors. In all of this, female lives do not undergo profound changes in terms of daily routine. The relations of female with males change, however, from child, to Lolita-like lover, to wife, to mother, to mother-in-law, and grandmother". They are initiated usually before menarche, and are forbidden to conceive before marriage, which does not preclude "a wide variety of sexual play with the warriors, often much older than these girls" (Beidelman, 1980:p155)[821]. Girls leave home soon after puberty "if not before". There is much rivalry for the sexual favours of girls among adjacent age-sets (following the ®Masai system). "For Baraguyu, age is profoundly important for both men's and women's sexuality, yet since men buy a womb and need not even be the actual genitors of the children they control, their sexuality may be ideologically manipulated to a considerable extent. Warriorhood serves a necessary function in distracting attention and providing vicarious, transitory rewards for those at their sexual peak who are denied formal realization of their energies". An uncircumcised youth is not allowed to sleep with circumcised girls, while junior warriors have access to all unmarried circumcised girls (Beidelman, 1960:p273)[822].

 

 

Basukuma, Sukuma (Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Tanner (1955a:p124)[823] remarks:

 

"In Sukuma life there is no clearly prescribed sexual role because children and young boys (bayanda) and girls (baniki) play together without restriction, in the course of which there is bound to be a increasing amount of sex play. Children thus behaving would get a sound beating from their parents or neighbours catching them, but nevertheless such play is universal and forms a gradual and informal education into life which is denied to more withdrawn communities. […] Both sexes from about the age of eight years until round about the time of puberty, play at building small houses and setting up families therein. This game (bulya) consists of cooking grain that they have gleaned away from the fields at harvest, the inevitable sexual play between the children acting as mother and father, and the caring for imitation cattle  […]. Thus from an early age both boys and girls are conditioned into their future roles as husbands and wives with their sexual activity taken for granted with the only restriction that it should be carried on discreetly so that the older generation should not notice and of course that unmarried girls should not bear children".

 

In the maji (ibanza is the boy's equivalent; cf. ®Nyamwezi), which is established in the house of an old married couple of the village and entered after menarche, or even before, no formal sex education takes place. However:

 

"The inhabitants of a maji are free to leave it at night, and not only the young men of the village, but married men also call at the house and frequently invite the young girls to dances (mbina). It is not good form for a man to enter the maji at night, but the evenings are spent in conversation and flirting […] The maji time, especially during the first few years, is a very happy phase, but sexual intercourse is in no way its sole purpose. In many cases the state of semi-virginity is retained for a long time. The behavior of the girls is not criticized by the community as long as they observe the conventions of their position which demand not chastity but discretion […] The ideal behavior for a girl while living in the maji is to have a few lovers, so as to gain sufficient experience for a good wife, and to marry at the age of about 18 to 20 years" (Cory, 1953 [1970:p39-40])[824].

 

In fact, "so long as no one sees, all the numberless devices of illicit love are used" (Tanner, p125).

 

Tanner (1955b:p239)[825]:

 

"There is no formal sexual instruction given to either sex prior to marriage probably owing to the absence of initiation rites, although a certain amount of general knowledge is picked up from their contemporaries in the dormitories and fields; however, mothers usually give some instruction on sexual techniques to daughters about to marry as a means to satisfying their husbands and thus preventing them from wandering off elsewhere to find pleasure, as well as in other aspects of married life".

 

As in the Nyamwezi, it is stated that "elders considered it a necessary practice for a girl to have had sexual intercourse before her first menstruation" (Swantz, 1966:p118). However, Tanner (1955a:p127) argues that, although, as among the Haya, Bena, Nyakyusa, Nyamwezi and Zamaro, betrothal could take place at any time after age 5, and marriage is celebrated when the outward signs of puberty arise, "there seems to be a genuine and almost universal reluctance to have intercourse with immature girls for fear of damaging them for childbearing". Lang and Lang (1973)[826] have noted that the influence of Christian missionaries led to the decline of the maji house in contemporary society.

 

 

Bena, Ubena, Wabena, Mbena (Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Bena children of both sexes freely mix and play games together, based on imitating adult life (Culwick and Culwick, 1935:p339)[827]. From about the age of 9-10, children sleep in separate quarters away from the parents, and a relative separation of sexes is noted. "At the first manifestations of puberty [polluarche], boys undergo an initiation ceremony during which they are given definite instruction regarding sexual intercourse. It is believed that if they do not go through these rites their virility will fail". The instruction takes place using sticks and stones as graphical support, and the boy is warned against puberty. At girl's menarche[828] but also from age nine, girls are instructed in male sexual anatomy (choosing healthy ones from deformed) and sexual intercourse at a second initiation ceremony called kwiwindi (p349), along with maternal duties, etc. After menarche, and, if betrothed, her marriage ceremony, there is again sexual instruction by songs and dances, but never by the mother (p355). Unmarried boys and girls passing puberty are "far from likely to live celibate" (p360), connected to the fact that the "Wabena quite frankly regard sexual pleasures as the normal hobby of every normal man and woman […]. It [sex] is a great interest, a good sport, a constant adventure, and it causes him no devastating moral conflicts"(p361, 414). Betrothal could take place in girls' childhood (p309). A house was built close by to have the girl visit the husband taking him food her mother had cooked. "She at first, she would after a little while stay chatting and playing, and as she began to develop he would lead her on to greater intimacies, even before she actually reached puberty; for Bena girls are precocious misses and conscious of the promptings of sex before they reach adolescence". She would return home at night until reaching puberty.

 

 

Subiya (Tanzania, Botswana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Zambia Subiya, initiation and sexual instruction begin at the time of menarche (Crowther, 1964:p53)[829], during Sikenge. "After [the subsequent cleansing ceremony of two months], the girl is considered mature and ready to be married. In some cases, her family would have arranged her marriage" (Ndana, 1999:p130)[830]. Via a nuptial song, the couple is invited to have their first coitus (ibid.), which may be interpreted as a learning experience.

 

 

Ngulu (Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

At menarche, girls undergo seclusion, sexual instruction and labiadectomy (Beidelman, 1964)[831]. "Ngulu boys are initiated some time between the ages of about 12 and 16; they undergo circumcision and some hazing, and are taught various songs and riddles providing traditional lore not only about sexual relations, the nature of the sexes and the problem of birth, but also about other values and traditions not directly associated with these. […] Although they may be initiated either before or after they show signs of puberty, today, at least, most boys are circumcised before they have reached sexual maturity. I was told that a sexually mature youth who was not circumcised would be refused by women" (Beidelman, 1965:p143)[832]. As to the format of instruction, the candidates "[…] are posed various riddles (mizimu) and mechanical puzzles (kihili, pl. Vihili) which they are later taught to understand and which are related to the sexual lore they must learn in order to conduct themselves as proper lovers and husbands" (p144). As for the regulations covered, these include avoidance of "incest and other forbidden sexual relations" (p145 et seq.).

 

 

Hehe, Wahehe (Bantu; Southern Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

At puberty, but before menarche, the girls receive genital surgery, possibly hymenectomy, but perhaps labial (Brown, 1935:p92-3)[833]. At the same ceremony, a collection of songs (misimu) and accompanying dances are to introduce the girls with "facts of life, things to do or to avoid doing during pregnancy and menstruation and the rules which should guide girls in their marital relations, their relations with co-wives, mothers-in-law, etc.". Not only does a mother not participate in the sex instruction of her daughter, "custom also decrees that she must be careful about enquiring into her daughter's love affairs". The ceremonies are held under direction of her grandmother (p95-6). Hodgson (1926)[834]: "After the age of three or four years [boys] were not allowed to play with small girls, and though considerable laxity has crept in of late years, it was formerly the custom to take great care of the morals of the young.  They were supposed to know nothing until puberty, and were not allowed to associate with strangers who might corrupt them. Sexual matters were never mentioned in their presence; their elders would even refrain from making such a remark as "So-and-so is pregnant", and when a child was born they were told that it had been caught with a fish-hook in the river, and if anyone died that he had been taken away by birds" (p50). At puberty, the boy "is given medicine to prevent his being impotent, but is warned against sexual intercourse with any woman before marriage, lest he contract a disease, or made her pregnant and be obliged to pay compensation". Girls appear to be married at puberty (although "[f]ormerly the Wahehe never married till several years after puberty"), and coitus interruptus is practised institutionally at the conclusion of the wedding feast. The girls receive instructions on "manners" and "duties" at the two-stage genital surgery on the labia minora and majora.

 

 

Barabaig (Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Klima (1970:p54-5)[835]:

 

"Between the ages of four and six, boys and girls engage in sex play, imitating their parents, who do not take any precautions to prevent the children from witnessing their sex act. Since children sleep with the mother and observe the father visiting her, sex education starts early in a Barabaig household. Boys and girls six years of age build a small hut of sticks and grass a short distance from the kraal and engage in juvenile sex play. If they are discovered by either parent, the children will not be admonished or made to feel ashamed, although the girl will be called away to run an errand. It is a short transitional step from the sex play of children to the sexual liaisons of adolescent boys and girls".

 

 

Nyakyusa , Nkonde, Ngonde (Bantu; Tanzania, Malawi) (2+, 2+, 2, 3-,3,3;5,5;G3)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Wilson (1951a [1963])[836]: "It is in conversation and play with village contemporaries that some knowledge of sex is acquired" (p88). "[…] [I]n spite of her mother's responsibility for her [virginity], a girl learns nothing positive from her mother about sex, but from her own slightly older friends; with them she discusses the technique of love-making in detail, but never with her mother" (1936:p264). More clarity is gained at puberty initiations, although  "[f]ormal sex instruction" may precede puberty initiation (cf. Stephens, 1971:p407)[837]. The basis of Nyakyusa sexual morality is the separation of the sexual activities of successive generations (particularly mother-son), hence the so-called age-villages, where age-segregated groups of the same gender life together. Adults rationalise this with the danger of a growing boy hearing lewd talk between parents or seeing parental nudity (Wilson, 1949:p22, 24-5[838]; Wilson [1964:p82-3, 159]). In line with this organisation, "[t]he Nyakyusa believe that the sexual fluids are extremely dangerous to children [[839]], hence (they say) the restrictions on the parents of a young child sleeping together [sic]" (Wilson, 1936:p262 / 1951b:p262; 1950:p126-7[840]). "Except in some wealthy Christian families, men rarely marry before 25, and commonly not until nearer 30, while the girls are betrothed [at] about [age] eight, and go finally to their husbands when they reach puberty"; the men also marry junior wives. Hut building is practised by small boys, but this becomes serious business among herdboys at age 10 or 11. Homosexual play is common among boys herding cows, beginning at age 10 to 14 (1951a:p196[841]; [1964:p87-8, 196-7]). According to "an exceptionally reliable informant", the older ones may "persuade the little ones to lie down with them and to do that which is forbidden with them between the legs". "Contrary to general belief about "primitive" societies, homosexual intercourse is common in the boys' villages, between close friends, but there is no real perversion; homosexuality is said to be always faute de mieux. The older men in discussion dismiss it with the tolerant word "adolescence", it is never continued after marriage, and all except the feeble-minded get married sooner or later" (1936:p273). Indeed, later, because the older men are polygynists so that the younger age group cannot marry (Wilson, 1959:p197)[842]. In the boy's village, sexual matters are freely discussed and the younger ones listen to older ones (1936:p272-3): "[…] that is how children grow up". Affairs with girls begin before puberty. Childhood elongation of the labia majora is practised (Wilson, 1957:p87)[843]. Girls may be betrothed well before puberty (8 years, opposing an average age of "puberty" of 15-16; or even in infancy; Wilson, 1936:p257)[844], and they may live with their "husbands" for some time before they grow up,

 

"for the view of most Nyakyusa is that a girl should become accustomed to her husband gradually and that it is good for her to visit him from time to time, sweeping his house, cleaning the byre, drawing water and cooking for him, and learning the art of love-making with him and no one else. While she is still very immature it is insisted that he should only have intercourse with her inter crura, but when she is approaching puberty he often has full intercourse with her. No legal case can be brought against him in court if he does so, provided that he has not forced or frightened her, but his friends may tell him he is foolish, and is "teaching his wife adultery", since now he can have no proof, in the physical examination at puberty, that she has not slept with other men"[845] (for an historical analysis, see also Wilson, 1977:p111-8)[846].

.

In the seclusion hut/ bride's hut, a "centre for sex play", "[…] intercourse inter crura is permitted, and no "husband" can claim damages if his betrothed wife lies with another young man there, unless penetration has taken place". The girl receive advise on sexual mores and menses, and are examined for virginity (p96-9). Wilson (1936:p258) states that in some families the girl's mother inspects the hymen after each visit. If she is found to be deflowered, a father may do nothing at all, or sends her off to her husband: "You have made her a woman yourself, you must pay the rest of the marriage-cattle quickly".

 

Ngonde boys from age 10 to marriage live in separate villages, and homosexuality was condoned provided it was mutually agreeable; polygyny would have facilitated the practice, and there are no observations on the equivalent in girls, who marry early (Wilson, 1957).

 

 

Gogo (Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Youth are not supposed to be sexually active until after the ritual and circumcision after pubescence (Rigby, 1967)[847]. Girls are marriageable after the puberty ritual, including instruction in sexual matters from a woman of her grandmother's generation. "Children before puberty and initiation play at being married. Young boys build tiny "homesteads" and "cattle byres" and clay cattle, and the girls help them in this and play at being wives. Sexual play among children is condoned as simply the result of childish ignorance. But sexual segregation in work and play takes place at an early age (Rigby, 1969:p205)[848]. "It is virtually impossible for uncircumcised boys to have heterosexual relationships, as it is indeed for uncircumcised adults from areas who have come to live in Ugogo; the girls and women just laugh at them"; circumcision takes place at age 11-14, "or even younger". A girl is initiated at age 8-11, before puberty, and the initiation does not signify her immediate marriageability (this is attained at menarche). Betrothals rarely occur before puberty, or in infancy (p209). Instruction may be given by any married woman.

 

 


Angola (Babunda, Luimi, Umbundu, Bajok / Badjok, Wahiwé)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Whether the speech in boy's initiation ceremonies includes sexologia was not clarified by Hambly (1935:p39)[849]. However:

 

"Traditionally, the Angolan youth, particularly from rural areas, has practised rites of initiation. These rites introduce young men and women to sexual issues. The main objective of this ritual learning process is to prepare the youth for marriage and their individual and social roles as procreators. For example, the initiated boy shall have his first sexual experience with an adult woman (generally, a maternal or paternal aunt) who could explain to him the most adequate attitude to fulfil his role as a father and to inhibit distress (Altuna, 1993)[[850]]. These pre-marital relations are considered as an important psychological preparation and acquisition of skills for the exercise of a man's primordial role in society. Society, therefore, recognises these rites as rehearsals and a proof of his ability to be married. Although society exerts a strong control on youth, particularly, regarding sexual life, this sexual education might be at the origin of certain abuses and sexual freedoms. Thus, initiated youths could take a lover in secret. In some cases, young women who have been initiated and are no longer virgin feel freer to maintain hidden sexual relations. Circumcision has the following objectives: to prepare the young man for physiological roles of fatherhood and to define his sexual role regarding marriage. This could be practised as part of rites of initiation into puberty (Altuna, 1993)"[851].

 

Further (ibid.),

 

"The family education particularly regarding sex exerts an influence on behaviour of young people. However, considering the Angola case study, its discussion between parents and offspring is very rare in so far as sex is considered a "taboo" subject. The results of the study carried out in Luanda among teenagers between 14-20 years old show that most of the teenagers do not talk about sex with their parents. Generally, this subject is tackled among friends, school acquaintances or girlfriend/boyfriend (Leitão, Ana, 1997).  According to some authors, parents avoid talking about these issues for it is considered a motivation to the early practice of early sexual experiences" (p40). "Within the traditional societies, the beginning of sexual life is very early, but it is regulated and reproduction oriented.  In this way, the youth begins their sexual life within a framework of a formal union. Today, the practice of sex addresses pleasure, as well as the learning of sex addresses the duties of a husband" (p54).

 

 

Babunda (Kimbundu, Angola)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Torday[852] details institutional child prostitution of a rare species:

 

"Virginity cannot be expected in the bride as girls are allowed to indulge freely up to the age of puberty. It is the custom of the country that about the period when the millet ripens (May) the young men of each village should club together to obtain a Mombanda.  The Mombanda has to be a girl under the age of puberty, a stranger to the village, and she has to prostitute herself with all the young men in turns, but there are days when orgies take place and all the men have intercourse with her. On these special days the Mombanda's mother provides food and palm wine for the young men; it is she who receives the payment, which consists for the term of its duration (two lunar months), of fifty "salts" per man. Not all young men contribute, as they are some who cannot afford it; only contributors enjoy the privileges, and it is "good form" to belong to this set. Not only does a fact that a girl has been a Mombanda not prejudice her chances of marriage, but it is considered a distinction; no girl can be Mombanda more than once. Should she die while she is in this position, her village is entitled to heavy damages".

 

 

Luimi (Angola)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Sexual instruction formed a portion of boy's ritual education at about age 12 (Tucker, 1949)[853].

 

 

Umbundu, Mbundu, Ovimbundu (Angola) (eHRAF) (3+,3+,3+,3+,3+,3+; 5,5)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Girls are warned for boys. An Ovimbundu mother "[…] will teach her daughter saying, A girl does not play with boys, for boys are sharp ones[854]. Don't play with them. This advice is because of sex, although the child may not understand it at the time. But when the boys call her, she will remember the advice of her mother and may quickly reply, saying, My mother says, Don't play with boys: they'll hurt you. Thus she has taken to heart what her mother has told her and may go ahead in the same way. A good deal of knowledge is "incidentally" learned from adults and children, though "[l]ittle direct sex teaching is attempted". Parental sexual intercourse might be observed, though prevented. McCullouch (1952:p42)[855]: "Little direct sex teaching is attempted, and adults are reticent in speaking of sexual matters in the presence of children. But since children live with their parents in one-room houses, it is inevitable that children should sometimes observe intercourse". "Hetero-sexual play is not in vogue" (Childs, 1949:p103-4)[856]. No speculations are made for possible instructions at the onjango (men's club), an institution in decline where boys learned "to know his social status and all the etiquette pertains to it", or at the initiation. The Ovimbundu education is said to be generally casual. With puberty (about 14-16 for girls, 15-17 for boys), "girls congregate in kitchens and each boy builds himself a house". Late teens may have a trial marriage (oku tumisa), but are warned for intimacy. Premarital virginity is highly prized, although no periodic tests take place (cf., Erny (1972 [1981;p61]). Three females "act as instructors for the girls during isolation in the bush where they receive sexual and domestic instruction"[857].

 

 

Bajok / Badjok (Angola)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Boys get sexual instructions and ritual intercourse in the seclusion accompanying the puberty ritual. Girls have a ritual with the same elements (Holdredge and Young, 1927)[858].

 

 

Wahiwé (Angola)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Among the Wahiwé described by Falk (1925)[859] solitary masturbation is regarded as suspicious, though homosexual acts occur in both sexes from age 7 to 18. There is also age-stratified male homosexuality with boys 12 to 15 years old.

 

 


Zambia (Kaonde, Nkoya, Tonga, Ila, Bemba, Ndembu, Mambwe / Amambwe, Luvale, Lozi)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"In Zambia, the timing of sexual activity initiation, and the societal control of sexual relations among adolescents, varies across ethnic groups. The Bemba, for example, expect teenage females to be chaste before marriage. The Cewa, on the other hand, tolerate limited and discrete sexual relations among the young. […] One of the most common traditional methods of imparting family life education among Zambian ethnic groups is through initiation ceremonies. The Bemba, a large Zambian ethnic group, seclude the teenage woman for a few days to a month at the commencement of her first menstruation. Elderly women, chosen by the initiatee's parents, instruct and test the ability of the teenager to perform the Cimwangalala dance. This is a dance every Bemba woman is expected to know. In addition, they instruct the young woman on many familial and personal matters such as sexual hygiene and child rearing. These ceremonies provide young Bemba women with sexual knowledge and the ability to make decisions in the interests of the self and the family (Barnes, 1970; Jules-Rosette, 1980; Mair, 1969). […] The results of this study underscore the importance of traditional institutions such as initiation ceremonies on sexual activity levels of teenagers"[860].

In a 1973 study by Bahl et al. (1975)[861], the commonest age of first sexual experience in Zambia was about thirteen. In a study among 64 mostly male university students by Bloom (1972)[862], first sexual experiences were indicated to occur at a range of 8-17 (p295). About 1/5 claimed to be seduced by older girls, and about 1/5 found their early sexual experiences so traumatic "that they had abandoned overt sexual behaviour until recently". According to one study [863], indicate that traditional courtship forms are slowly being replaced by modern patterns of courtship behaviour.

According to clinical admissions[864], most STD's in children are due to a vertical transmission by adults to "promiscuous" adolescents to passive yet curious children.

Among 1980 Toka (Zambia), the supposedly secret dances of the girl's initiation, which imitate desirable sexual movements were actually common knowledge of all small children, boys and girls, who liked to play at practising them "in public and in full view of annoyed adults" (Geisler, 1997:p96-7). As for initiation:

 

"The process of initiating a girl […] plays a crucial role in shaping a girl's perception of sex and sexuality" (Mlay, 2000:p79-80)[865]: "In Zambian families it is a taboo for parents to discuss matters relating to sex and sexuality with their children as only grandparents are supposed to do so. […] Depending on the subject, demonstrations would have to be carried out. This particularly happened during lessons on love-making during which an old woman would lay on top of her for therapeutic [?] demonstrations. […] [According to an informant,] "During all this time the emphasis was on how to please your husband in bed and being submissive to him at all times including making love to him whenever he demands" […]".

 

[Additional refs.: Peltzer and Likwa (1991)[866]]

 

 

Kaonde, Kahonde, BaKaonde (Bantu; Zambia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"The marriage of immature girls is so customary among the Ba Kaonde that a Government inquiry was made into the matter; it was found that girls "are courted and wed between the ages of eight and thirteen, always before they have attained puberty… It is not uncommon for them to be wives three or four years before they are even capable of coitus" (Melland, as cited by Seligman)[867].

 

 

Nkoya (Central Western Zambia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Van Binsbergen ([1987])[868] related that Nkoya girl's initiation rite "[…] is the celebration through which she shall finally become a woman, after months of seclusion in which the only manner she could set a step out of doors was in a stooping position and covered by a blanket; after months of rough sexual and social teachings from the part of her mentrix and other elderly women in the evenings".

 

"Great emphasis lies on the acquisition of an adult female sexual role. The girl is taught to enlarge her vagina till three fingers can go in; she is taught to wiggle and incline her pelvis during the coitus; and acquires knowledge about secret herbs that (unfortunately at the cost of damage to her fertility) prevent vaginal secretion — to serve the Nkoya male ideal: penetration in a bone-dry vagina. She has already been setting herself to make her labia larger than nature provides: starting in her ninth or tenth year up until her coming-out ceremony, the girl spends hundreds of hours, by herself or in company of girl-friends, indoors or somewhere in an open spot in the woods, stretching these parts of her body until they have reached an extra length of some centimetres [note: Could not this custom, which in Bantu-speaking Africa seems by no means unique to the Nkoya, again be interpreted as an attempt to imitate another physical feature of the pre-Bantu Khoisan inhabitants: their enlarged labia? Cf. van Binsbergen, in press]".

 

 

Atonga, Tonga (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botwana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Johnston (1897:p408, n1)[869], a medically trained missionary informing Johnston about the "depravity prevalent among the young boys in the Atonga tribe" rated their behaviour as defying description even in "obscure Latin". As for the opposite sex, "scarcely any girl remains a virgin after about five years of age" in nearly the whole of British Central Africa (p409, n) "except perhaps among the A-nyanja" due to officious coitus after betrothal. Later, Roberts (1964)[870] would note that girls are considered marriageable after menarche, and marriage at 15-17 was common. Sexual instruction is part of the wedding night ceremonies.

 

 

Ila-Speaking Peoples (Rhodesia, Zambia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Smith and Dale (1920, II:p38)[871] observed Ila children playing mantombwa ("harvest festival") with house-playing and going to bed in separate huts. This is seen in the light of chikunku (childishness). Sexual interaction with an immature girl is tonda (taboo) but, according to leading men in the tribe, it occurs. They probably practice kuchompa ("external" intercourse), after which the girl may be rebuked by her elders. "Owing to these things, it is doubtful whether any girls who could be called chaste are discoverable over ten years of age". Thus, "It is reported that there are no virgins among these people after the age of ten" (Ford and Beach, 1951:p191). "Formal sex instruction" may precede puberty initiation (Stephens, 1971:p407)[872]. The Ila child was sometimes betrothed at age four, or even earlier. At age ten, she was taken to her future spouse's hut to perform domestic chores[873].

 

 

Bemba (Northern Zambia) (-,-,-,-,2,2;5,5) (eHRAF) (®Vol.II, §5.3.2.1)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The Bemba are known for their detailed sex instructions, as described by Hinfelaar (1994:p186-7)[874]. Bemba matrilinear instructions on how to please a future husband were said to be given "in such detail that many men who intend to marry a lady from another tribe set great store in her being taught by the Bemba grannies in the rural areas". A female journalist was quoted by Hinfelaar (p186) as complaining:

 

"The rise in promiscuity which the nation is experiencing can be squarely attributed to the initiation ceremonies on which women spend much of their time teaching small girls how to become professional love-makers. Is this what initiation is all about, a tradition that turns daughters of the soil into prostitutes who later bring unnecessary problems like unplanned babies and diseases?[875]".

 

Richards (1956:p126-7)[876], however, wrote that Bemba "instruction, in the European sense, was quite unnecessary" in such subjects as bringing up children, cooking, and acting as a housewife. "In the same way, Bemba girls are not ignorant of the nature of sex since many of them have been given to their husbands before puberty and some form of intercourse, usually incomplete, has taken place". Sexually mature people are considered "hot" and as such dangerous for infants and young children. Hinfelaar notes in this respect: "Traditionally children were regarded as cold, that is as sexually neutral, almost genderless. It was normal for boys and girls to play together and even their imitations of parental and conjugal life was regarded as innocent". Coitarche after initiation is considered dangerous, and not to be carried out without ritual precautions. As Maxwell (1983:p31)[877] points out: "Children can "play at sex" (Masansa). However, as soon as a girl's periods begin, there is danger that sex and blood would mix to produce a "child of ill-omen" (Wa mputula), born outside socially and ritually sanctioned precincts. In this case, the young parents would be driven into the bush away from their community".

"Ukuwila Icisungu, to have one's first menstruation, was celebrated as a wondrous event when the young woman received the gift of her sexuality from the Transcendent. The word Chisungu is derived from the verb ukusunguka, to be overwhelmed, to be startled and is associated with the noun chisungusho, a wondrous event" (Hinfelaar). "At their first menstruation the initiates, sometimes called Cisofu "the big elephants", run into the forest […]. Their unbridled sexual fertility will be rescued from chaotic animal needs and brought under social control" (Maxwell).

Girls' puberty rite is called chisungu (kisungu). Betrothal takes place before this. The rites are disappearing or abbreviated (Mair, 1969:p104; Jules-Rosette, 1980:p394)[878], "with the consequent omission of moral and magical instruction". The first of three phases of the rite are occupied with marital instructions, "obviously belonging to Christian sex education" (Hinfelaar). "The mother and daughter cannot easily talk of sex matters together, but the grandmother [...] or some non-related midwife is not limited in this way" (Richards). A detailed description of contemporary rites is offered by Rasing (1995)[879]. She writes that the rites take place some years after menarche. "The girl is supposed to know nothing about sexuality, which is nowadays hardly ever the case. At school she learns about sexuality and many girls have sexual relationships. When girls are about ten years old, they are supposed to extend their labia [minora]. In this way they have some sexual experiences but the main thing is that they have not had sexual intercourse" (p44). "Parents and children would never speak of sexual matters in front of each other and children above the age of weaning are not allowed to share the sleeping hut of their parents, although now required to do so by almost all the schemes of urban housing. Women frankly discuss sexual matters, but are careful of referring to these when members of different age groups are present" (p27). In a later dissertation (2001)[880] the author further details the sexual significance of the rites (e.g., p121-2, 185, 248-50) in contemporary urban context. A further listing of songs is provided by Verbeek[881].

As in other Bantu tribes, small girls and boys play at marriage, building huts, cooking, "and sometimes imitating the sex act" (Richards, 1940:p15[882]; Rasing, p31). The sexes are separated at play and work and the "sex play allowed between adolescent boys and girls in a number of other Bantu societies is not permitted in this tribe". "There is nevertheless a constant emphasis on the coming of sex maturity. Young girls sometimes join up in pairs and refer to each other as husband and wife [a footnote reads: "I have some evidence that a certain amount of homosexuality, usually mutual masturbation, occurs among the adolescent boys at this time, but my information on the up-bringing of girls is naturally fuller than that of boys"]; and from twelve or fifteen onwards they meet together in small groups in the bush to practice the custom known as ukukuna [labial stretching, as in the ®Chewa]. They speak earnestly of their duty to prepare themselves in this way for matrimony, watch anxiously to see their breasts forming, and constantly refer to the coming of physical maturity and to their ability to bear children. Bemba parents give their daughters to their husbands before puberty (cf. p64) a custom also practiced by kindred tribes such as the Bisa and Kaonde. [...] most girls have prenuptial intercourse with their future husbands, and it must be rare for them to reach puberty without the knowledge or practice of sex relations" (p16). Girl's pubertal stages are intimately linked to social status; a distinction is made between pre- and postpubertals, and for prepubertals, between pre- and neothelarchics. Running counter Christian teachings, the Bemba socialise sex and prepare the young of both sexes for the satisfaction of the sex impulse "as soon as possible" (p18, cf. 25) and "to an extent unknown in modern society". However, "[t]he rape of a girl who has not reached puberty is a matter of little importance, while heavy damages may be exacted for the rape or seduction of an initiated girl".

Labia are lengthened at age 12-13, boys masturbate in groups (Raum, 1986:p38)[883].

 

 

[Additional refs: Hoch, E. (1968) Mbusa: A Contribution to the Study of Bemba Initiation Rites and Those of Neighbouring Tribes. Chinsali: Ilondola Language Centre]

 

 

M'wemba (Northern Rhodesia, Zambia) [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Clarke (1931:p274)[884] states on the M'wemba of Rhodesia that

 

"[g]irls when they have their first menstruation are taken to a hut in the village, where they are instructed as to how to best please their husbands, and they are told all about childbirth, which is demonstrated to them by old women. Their sexual organ is enlarged either with an artificial penis cut from the Mulombwa tree or from a tree called Mutimbwambusa, or with an artificial penis made from the leaves of Itchifumbi".

 

Marital sexarche is preceded by ritual.

 

 

Ndembu (Zambia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Sex instruction is given by an instructress (Turner, 1968:p246, 247f)[885]. At circumcision, novices are given tortoise (mbachi) meat to eat "to give them a strong penis" (p254), and there is mimicry of coitus (see also Turner, 1967)[886].

 

 

Mambwe / Amambwe (Zambia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Betrothal is common in childhood, but no cohabitation occurs until the marriage ceremonies after puberty (Mors, 1946-9)[887]. At menarche, sexual instructions are had from some old woman, a nacimbusa (Mors; Willis, 1966:p51)[888].

 

 

Luvale, Lwena, Luena (Zambia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In an effort to delay menarche, girls are told not to run around the village or lie down on their stomachs (White, 1953)[889]. Premarital virginity is not expected of girls and many have sexual relations prior to puberty (White, 1962)[890]. Unlike the Bemba, there is an obvious association of detailed sexual instruction and the puberty rituals. If not betrothed by the time of the ceremony, a young man has to be found who will have sexual intercourse with her as a finale "to remove the taint of growing up" (1962:p14) (cf. Kikuyu). Ritual intercourse is important at the end of both boy's and girl's ceremonies (White et al., 1958)[891]. Additional preparations include the administration of aphrodisiac herbs, intravaginal medicines, steaming of the vagina, and love potions. During seclusion, defloration (if necessary) and macronymphia is practised (White, 1953).

Prepubertal marriage is less common than in the past. When it does happen, in contrast to the past, the girls will have prepubertal intercourse with their husband.

 

 

Lozi, Marutse, Barotse (Northern Rhodesia; Zambia) (3-,3-,3-,3-,2,2;6,4;G3)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In Northern Rhodesia, infant betrothal was opposed by Lozi law as established by King Lewanika (d. 1916)[892]. According to Stirke (1922)[893], girls were betrothed in childhood, and married after mwalianjo (initiation); there were no boys' initiation ceremonies (cited by Turner, 1952:p45)[894]. Gluckman (1951:p84/1967:p122)[895] was told by men that the girl "enlarges her vagina with a hoe-handle, and enlarges her labia minora". Women artificially deflower girls at puberty, so that most men denied knowledge of the hymen, and do not speak in terms of defloration.

Holub (1881:p314)[896] remarked that children "are often affianced at an early age, and the marriage is consummated as soon as the girl arrives at puberty".

 

 


Malawi (Lake Nyasa, Chewa, Yao, Ngoni; ® Nyakyusa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In Malawi, female sexual activity is actively promoted through initiation rites that teach girls about sex and encourage experimentation (cf. Horne, 2001)[897].

 

"In some of the districts, especially those dominated by the Yao tribe, a young girl is told to become 'intimate' with a man after initiation... Among other things girls are taught how to satisfy a man sexually. This encourages unsafe sex. 'These young girls are not ready for sex, either physically and mentally. […] During initiations the boys too are taught about sex and are […] encouraged to have sex after initiation. Quite often these youngsters do not use condoms because they know very little about it. Despite all this it is still a taboo in Malawi for parents to talk to their children openly about sex. As a result they learn about it from initiation ceremonies in rural areas and from magazines and from their peers. […] The Malawian cultural values regarding sex and sexuality tend to emphasise and strengthen the dominance of boys and men and subservience of women and girls"[898].

 

Thus,

 

"Initiation ceremonies […] are intended to train boys and girls in acceptable behaviour but are also loaded with lessons on theory and practice of sex, the latter before marriage. […] Traditional initiation is the counseling of boys and girls by elders on acceptable code of behaviour.  This marks the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence or, in some cases, adulthood.  The practice is common in most parts of Malawi except in the Northern Region where the patrilineal family system predominates.  In some cases the initiates are encouraged to have sex upon graduation as a way of putting into practice the knowledge they have acquired"[899].

 

"In some of the districts, especially those dominated by the Yao tribe, a young girl is told to become 'intimate' with a man after initiation… Among other things girls are taught how to satisfy a man sexually. This encourages unsafe sex. 'These young girls are not ready for sex, either physically and mentally. It is against this background that responsible leaders must have the courage to change some of these harmful cultural norms', says the [UNICEF] report. […] During initiations the boys too are taught about sex and are also encouraged to have sex after initiation. Quite often these youngsters do not use condoms because they know very little about it. Despite all this it is still a taboo in Malawi for parents to talk to their children openly about sex. As a result they learn about it from initiation ceremonies in rural areas and from magazines and from their peers"[900].

 

For a Nyasaland boy's coming of age, Young (1933:p16)[901] observes, "[t]he decisive sign is the erotic dream, and it is only then that the lad reports to a village elder (never to his own father), and the preparations are made for a quite simple ceremony that marks his passage into manhood". This would happen between age 15 and 18. "The next step is marriage, and while a girl could be selected and negotiated for while still immature, the boy had to be proven man before negotiation for him began". [Young contests qualifications such as "obscenity" and "indecency" as applied to sexual instructions.]

 

 

Lake Nyasa (Mainly Malawi)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Lake Nyasa boys and girls play at being man and wife before puberty[902]. "As children, boys and girls play at being man and wife, building little houses in the bush and sleeping together; this is known as masanje. Promiscuous sexual intercourse among girls before puberty is common; in this way the vagina is usually dilated and no operation for so doing is performed. A virgin on her marriage is "broken" by a friend of the bridegroom before the latter cohabits with her. The friend is said "to eat new things"- Kudia ujobvu. A boy having an emission in the night will take his soiled cloth to the headman of the village. He says, if the stain be black, that the boy must not marry as he will be impotent" (p309-10). Curiously: "A certain degree of precocity is apparent at least in young boys, and is noticeably lost when they arrive at the age of puberty, when sexual excess seems to reduce them to a state of, in many cases, semi-imbecility. From this they may recover, or on the other hand they may remain certainly not so bright as when they were boys" (p295). Seduction of a virgin requires a payment of the equivalent of 2 dollars, "unless he marry her immediately". "Young girls by constant pulling on the labia minora and enclosed clitoris try to cause elongation, as such is said to be admired" (p317).

 

 

Chewa / Cewa (Bantu, Malawi)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Boys and girls play at husband and wife outside the village, including trial matings. The Chewa "believe that unless children begin to exercise themselves sexually early in life they will never beget offspring" (Ford and Beach, 1951:p190). Hodgson (1933:p138)[903], on the Chewa: "[…] the marriage may be contracted long before the girl is old enough for consummation, and in such a case she must abstain from intercourse with any other man, just as though the marriage had been consummated. If, however, she is married before she can know her mind, and subsequently refuses to have intercourse with the husband when approaching puberty, she is not held to the contract". Winterbott and Lancaster (1965)[904] mention sexual teachings by an older woman during the seclusion period after menarche. Traditionally, Chewa girls were generally married "within a few months of reaching puberty (i.e., between twelve and fourteen years of age)" (Phiri, 1983:p260)[905]. The breaking of the hymen is an integral part of the puberty ceremonies of a Chewa girl (Hodgson; Gordon and Brelsford, 1950:p219[906]; Phiri, 1998:p131)[907]. The ritual intercourse was performed by an unknown man, or, if married, by her husband. After marriage, specific sex instructions were given, emphasising techniques "for pleasuring her future husband". Kaspin[908]:

 

"The purpose of male initiation is to turn boys into sexual men and predatory members of Nyau [secret society, religious / moral universe], a simultaneous transformation that takes place when they are led for the first time into the Nyau meeting place […]. Female initiation is the complement of male initiation, for its purpose is to turn girls into succulent meat. This takes place at the "tree of maidenhood" (mtnego wa namwali), synonymous with the bush, where girls receive instruction on the protocols of womanhood" (p43).

 

Gregersen (1983:p199)[909] states: "The Cewa believe that if a girl does not copulate before she starts to menstruate she will die. Cewa specifically encourage childhood copulation when children are playing house. If by misfortune a girl has not been deflowered by puberty, he hymen was forcibly ruptured in a prescribed way". As with other Central Bantu tribes, it was customary in the past for girls to be betrothed before puberty, from which date only "limited sex relations were permitted between the couple, but the girl must not be deflowered until the initiation ceremony, which was held as soon as possible after her first menstruation" (Rangeley, 1948:p41; Mair, 1951:p106; 1953:p88)[910]. Mission teachings condemned early betrothal, sex play before marriage, and the initiation ceremony, and fixed at minimum age for sexual intercourse (p107). This would coincide with a belief that full intercourse with an uninitiated girl led to sickness of a supernatural origin.

 

 

Yao (Malawi)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

According to Mitchell[911], though he recorded no actual instances, Yao girls would still "quite frequently" be betrothed as infants or small children. The husband may also be a child. Cohabitation would not occur until the girl reaches puberty. Female puberty rites, at which sex education is given, may, in the past, have included ritual defloration (Mair, 1951)[912]. A comparable liaison of sex education and instruction with initiation (during seclusion period) is described for boys (Stannus and Davey, 1913)[913]. Bride and groom are formally instructed at the time of the wedding rituals (Ngwane, 1959)[914]. In Msondo (Nsondo), the Islamic version of the former Chiputu, girls of age ten were given sexual education to prepare her for married life (Msiska, 1995:p72)[915]. During Jando, the Islam substitute for the former Lupanda, boys were said to be "thoroughly enlightened as to sexual relations" (Johnston, 1897:p409, as cited by Msiska, p77). According to the latter, this "included not only sexual techniques, but also instructions to be followed, for example, when a woman is menstruating".

 

 

Ngoni (Malawi)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Read (1959:p40)[916] found that all physical acts connected to sex are met with "extreme prudishness", demanding correct behaviour from early life. Children's house-playing is not noted to be sexual, but the children might play "Choosing a Lover", etc. (p41, 43).

 

"The most stringent [of prohibitions] was on any form of sex play between boys and girls. To avoid any likelihood of this, little boys and girls were early encouraged to form separate play groups. The elders kept an eye particularly on the boys, and if they showed any inquisitiveness in their play about the private parts of a girl playmate, they were beaten and reproved and told: "If you do this again, I shall tell your father" (p80, 81).

 

At adolescence, sex instructions are given at "puberty school". Macronymphia is practised in prepuberty, and in pairs (Read, 1938)[917]. Among the Chewa, childhood sexuality is common (p8, 12), and known by the name of ukusewera. Ngoni condoned partial intercourse prior to marriage. Upper class girls would be examined once a month by older women to monitor chastity. Sexual instruction is part of the puberty rites, and is performed by same-sex adults.

 

[Additional refs: LeVine, R. A. (1963) Child rearing practices in sub-Saharan Africa: an interim report, Bull Menn Clin 27,5:245-56]

 

 


Namibia (Bergdama, Nama, !Ko, !Kung, Herero)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

 

Bergdama, Damara (Central Namibia) [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Vedder (1928 [1966:p49])[918] states that the development of breasts of girls was the sign for the first physical preparation for marriage. At menstruation, she is "instructed in the manner of her conduct towards young men and brothers [including a strict incest avoidance], and in her later station as a married woman towards her husband". She is now considered "adult". Marriage may be arranged in childhood (p52) but this is not the sole way. Premarital pregnancy is regarded a disgrace.

 

 

KhoeKhoe, Hottentots, Nama Hottentot / Naman, Namakwa, Namaqua, Khoikhoin (2,2,3-,3-3,3; 8,5; d5,3; E) (southern Namibia; South Africa) (®San)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

H. v. François noted that "[d]er Verkehr der Geschlechter ist vom Eintritt der Rife an völlig ungehindert […]" (cited by Ploß / Renz, 1912:p544). No secret is made of early childhood masturbation, which takes place with "considerable" frequency (Ford, 1945 [1964:p20]; Ford and Beach, 1951)[919]. Mantegazza[920] stated that it was so frequent, one might call it a "natural vice". There is mention of childhood elongation of the labia majora (Schapera, 1930:p243)[921]. Hottentot mothers would tell their daughters, before their first menstruation, to "Go and make yourself a mfuli [artificially extended labia] […]" (De Rachewiltz, 1963[1964:p152]). Schultze (1907:p298, 309)[922] noted the precocity of the Hottentots. "Bei der sinnlichen Frühreife des Volkes haben Knaben oft schon Geschlechtsverkehr, ehe sie den Kinderspielen entwachsen sind" (Karsch-Haack, 1911:p132). The tribadie of Hottentot girls was discussed by Karsch-Haack (1901 [1983:p241-2])[923] quoting Gustav Fritsch on the matter. The Nama were said to "encourage sexual relationships between adults and children" (Eskapa, 1987:p154), but this remains unconfirmed.

Indicative of the "love-play", or "sex-play" hinted at by Nama dances as encountered among the Korana people by Kirby[924] was the suggestion that "[…] no boy was even taught how to play until he had been through the doro or puberty ceremony. The significance of this limitation", the author argues, "is obvious".

 

[Additional refs.: Hoff, A. (1995) Puberty rite of a Khoekhoe girl], South Afr J Ethnol 18,1:29-41]

 

 

!Ko, !Xo (Khoe Bushman, Khoisan, San) (central Kalahari) [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

!Ko parents try to enlarge the boy's penis by pulling and sucking it (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1972:p59, 63; p58, ill.)[925]. A boy may be punished in this way (Sbrzesny, [1975] 1976:p237)[926]. When the boy infant touches his member himself, he is prevented to do so (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, p153; 158, ill.). Girls mockingly "present" themselves ventrally and dorsally (p128-40, ill.; cf. Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1976 [1982:p142-7, ill.][927]), but no further observations on sexual behaviour are communicated. "Although the Bushmen are fairly liberal in sexual matters, open promiscuity is not tolerated" (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1978:p136)[928]. Children play in groups and imitate incipient life events such as initiation rituals (Sbrzesny, 1973)[929]; sexual games were not noted in this article.

A menstruating girl is to marry an initiated boy, there are no child marriages[930] (Heinz, 1994:p131, 175-6)[931], and the !Ko frown upon it; rape of immature girls is considered particularly bad (p120). Boys and girls play together until they informally separate at age 8; "[g]irls have generally less freedom than boys".

 

"At the age of about 12 boys begin to experiment with girls. They go into the bushes with them, fondle them, and try intercourse ante portas [sic], but no defloration appears to occur at this stage. Sometimes because older ones are not available the girls are still quite young and cry during these advances. Usually they are seen by someone in the village who reports the matter to the parents, who will reprimand them, telling them to grow up before they do this sort of thing; but these scoldings seem to lack conviction- grow-ups have told me about them without evincing the slightest sign of annoyance. When the girl reaches puberty she is no longer required by public opinion to abstain from sexual activities. Virginity on marriage is neither essential not common" (p118-9).

 

Girls are extensively instructed on marital life after menarche, emphasising passiveness when courted and during marital intimacy (p124); boys are not instructed on sexual matters (p129).

 

Heinz and Lee (1978:p41)[932] state that "[...] most children start early, and go into the bush to indulge in sexual experimentation. When a girl reaches puberty she is not by conviction required to show avoidance of sexual activities, but while having full licence in sex matters girls do come across practical obstacles to their indulgence: there are usually people about, especially younger children, who play around in the same house without respect for privacy". The only other limitations to sex are "the taboos on sex before puberty and incest".

 

 

!Kung San / Bushmen (northern Kalahari; Namibia, Botswana, Angola) (3+, 3+, 3+, 3+,4,4;2,2)  (®G/wi) [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Lee (1985:p27)[933] states that before 1960, most !Kung girls were married between 12 and 15, or as is said, "the girls of Nyae Nyae go from their mother's breast to their husband's on one day". Marriage sometimes takes place five to six years before menarche (Marshall, 1965:p261[934]; Marshall 1959:p350)[935], the latter occurring as late as 15.5 (Kalota, 1974)[936]. This would be so in former generations, says Shostak (1981:p127). Howell (1979:p174, 178)[937] found that 65% of Dobe !Kung women were married before menarche, occurring on average at age 16.6 (SD=1.3, median age=17.1). The mean age of marriage for girls is 16.9 (median 17.4) compared to 26.7 for males, median 25.5 (p175, 260). "Marriage need not be equated with the first experience of sexual intercourse, since the !Kung do not see to place any value on virginity and sex play among children is said to be common".

Eight and nine-year-old brides would be married to teenaged husbands. Sexual intercourse does not take place until the girl is "ready". However, no definite age requirement exists for marriage, and physical signs of puberty are not required (Marshall, 1976:p269)[938]. "The young couple are expected not to have sexual intercourse until the girls are "big enough", informants said […]", although nothing was learned about the actual sexual experiences of young couples.

 

Marshall did no observations on the early marital couple. The girls should be "big enough" for sexual intercourse; a "gentle old man" said, "They enjoy their youth together". Young children may be instructed by sexual joking in their presence.

 

!Kung childhood was studied by Draper (1972)[939];  infancy was studied by Konner (1973)[940]. !Kung are known for their tolerance in child rearing matters; children of both sexes play together, and both parents take part in socialisation (Barnard, 1992:p53). Children freely play games such as "Ostrich's Courtship"[941].

Shostak (1976; 1981:p18-9, 30-1, 104-24)[942] gives a rather detailed first-hand account of !Kungchildhood sex play. Sexual intercourse is shielded from the eyes of the children, but apparently not in a serious fashion. "All the women I interviewed said their childhood sex play included sexual intercourse". Children are not prevented if such play is done away from adults, although they "do not approve" of it. The girls are "as free and unfettered as boys". The interviewees reveal a great deal of pressure from the part of the boys, who even played within a co-wife scenario. An "old" woman is interviewed:

           

"That's what an older boy does. He waits until he is with a little girl and lies down with her. He takes some saliva, rubs it on her genital, gets on top and pokes around with his semi-erection, as tough he were actually having intercourse, but he is not. Because even though young boys can get hard, they don't really enter little girls. Nor do they yet know about ejaculation. Only when a boy is almost a young man does he start to have sex like an adult" (1981:p112).

 

Michl (1986; 2002:p248-52)[943] seems to have little to add to this story.

A distinction is seen between premarital and marital pressures:

 

"Although sexual knowledge is Each !Kung woman's legacy from the sexual play in childhood, most young girls see a world of difference between playing with boys their own age and having sex with their husbands- grown men. A girl's first experience of adult sex is, therefore, often traumatic. Sexual relations may be postponed for years, but once a girl show clear signs of sexual development she is generally pressured to accept her husband's sexual advances" (p147-8).

 

 

Herero (Bantu; Cental Namibia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The Herero are engaged in childhood (Dannert, 1906:p24)[944]. At any rate, the engagement is a paternal matter (see also Vedder, 1928:p178[945]; Luttig, 1933 :p89)[946]. Sometimes prepubertal marriage of girls occurred (Gibson, 1958)[947]. Irle (1906:p58-9) [948] commented on the "absence" of childhood education, leading to Unkeuschheit (p100-2).

 

 


Botswana (G/wi, Hambukushu, Kgalagari, Nharo, Dobe Ju/'Hoansi, (Ba)katla / (Ba)kgatla,; also ®Subiya, ®Tswana, ®Atonga)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Using data from the 1995 Botswana Adolescent Reproductive Health Survey in conjunction with data from focus group discussions, Meekers and Ahmed (2000)[949] suggest that adolescents become sexually active at an "early" age, and that many of them, males and females alike, have multiple sex partners, facts implying that adolescent reproductive health programmes should target youths aged 13 or younger. According to a 1988 study[950], the median age of female first sexual intercourse was just above 17.

 

 

G/wi, Gcwi (G//Wikhwe, G//Wi, G/Wi, Gcwi, G!Wikwe, G/Wikhwe, Dcui) (Botswana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

G/wi girls are married at age 7-9, boys at about 14-15 (Silberbauer, 1963[951]; Singer, 1978:p126-7[952]; Campbell, 1967:p42[953]). Coitus does not begin until the girl is 11 or 12, when her breasts begin to develop, i.e., prior to menarche. Prior to this time, a husband may, although rarely so, be sexually active with an unattached older woman. The Bushchildren play house (Silberbauer, 1965:p79)[954], though no sexual implications are indicated. From age 5 or 6 on, the girl is exposed to the conversation of adult women during food gathering, which is "far from inhibited". Girls marry at age 7 to 9, to boys aged seven years more (p81), and without much of a ceremony. "Sexual intercourse commences only after the first couple of years of marriage, when the girl's breasts begin to develop"; if she is slow to mature, "her husband rather coyly admits his impatience" (p83). There is no special recognition of defloration.

 

 

Hambukushu (Northern Botswana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Sex education for girls is part of the postmenarchal initiation rite (Larson, 1979)[955]. Pubescent girls would practice a kind of genital modification used for "enlargement of the genital orifice". Girls were be married before (those born between 1920 and 1930) or after ghudyaho (girls' puberty ceremony), either by kushesha (man chooses a young girl) or kwandekera (infant betrothal) (Unzicker, 1996:p98)[956]. In the past, in both methods marriage partners were selected before menstruation, and often the girl was married before puberty (i.e., at ages 8-11), "though most said the couple was forbidden to have sexual relations until after the puberty ceremony. The girl is said "to sleep at the back" of her husband before her first menstruation but is able to lie in front of him after her ghudyaho" (p99). For the grandparental generation, marriage was consummated at the first day (wenga); at wenga the bride's grandmother (thitongwa, teacher) was present to instruct the couple about living and sleeping together.

Both marriage patterns were quite rare in the late eighties, and girls are married a year or more after menarche. Ghudyaho is no longer is vogue, and girls hide their menarche.

 

 

Kgalagari (Botswana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Sexual activity prior to the payment which give the right of a man to sexual intercourse with his fiancée is punished by a fine (Kuper, 1970)[957].

 

 

Nharo Bushmen (Botswana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Marriage and sexual activity becomes possible after the puberty ceremony at menarche (Barnard, 1980:p118)[958].[Kaufman[959] (for the ¹Auin Bushmen) reports that 13 to 14 year old girls (or before puberty) were married to 16 to 20-year-olds (cf. Lebzelter, 1934:p71[960])]. The game of "Getting Married" played by "young" girls includes a marriage by capture, with dragging away of the screaming bride (Bleek, 1928:p20[961]; Lebzelter, 1934:p69)[962]. Children spend their days "wandering in the open" or helping collecting. In later childhood girls "will probably have a lover or two, as erotic play and courtship behaviour begins at a relatively early age, often prior to puberty. All that is required for her to become a woman and ready for marriage is to undergo her [...] puberty initiation" (Guenther, 1986:p211)[963]. Dances at girls menarchal rites are "frenzied and replete with erotic gestures" (p280). Afterwards, "[s]he was now [...] eligible for serious courtship or marriage. In the event that the initiand was already married, she would now change her status from child wife to true wife and would consummate her marriage".

 

 

Dobe Ju/'Hoansi (Botswana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Lee (1993:p90-1)[964] quotes a 50-year-old woman on her childhood experiences, probably characteristic of the Dobe Ju:

 

"When a child sleeps beside his mother, in front, and his father sleeps behind and makes love to her, the child watches. Perhaps this is the way the child learns [….]. Then, when he and the other children are playing, if he is a little boy he takes his younger sister and pretends to have sex with her. As he grows, he lives in the bush and continues to play, now with other children, and they have sex with each other and play and play and play […]. Some days I went with them. Sometimes I refused to play, other times I agreed. The little boys entered into the play huts where we were playing and then they lay down with us. My boyfriend came to see me and we lived like that and played. We would lie down together and they would have sex with us".

 

 

Bakatla / Bakgatla / Kgatla (Botswana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Seligman (1932:p213-4)[965] quotes an observation on the Bakatla, communicated by Dr. Schapera [1930][966], Capetown University:

 

"The small children of these ages (6-12), boys and girls, play together, and one of their games, called mantlwane ("little houses") consists of erecting miniature household enclosures; then they pair off, boys and girls, in couples and celebrate mock weddings, which end with each couple going to its little enclosure and lying down together. Occasionally they both remove their loin-girdles and rub together their genitals, without of course achieving penetration. This game is played at night, when the parents can't see them. One of my informants, a young man, told me that when he was a child of about 9 or so his older brother, together with boys and girls of his age (13-15) used to get the smaller children at night, pair off the boys and girls, make the little boys lie on top of the girls, and then shout, e tsenye! e tsenye! [encouraging the children to mimic performance of the act]".

 

Schapera (1930) points out that circumcision had been abandoned, and that the sex education associated with its ceremony had not been substituted. Traditionally, boys were "taught various rules of sexual conduct, "because in the old days boys grew up at the cattleposts and knew nothing of women" " (Schapera, 1978:p13-4)[967]. Instructions included avoidance of coitus during menstruation, after recent abortion, and with much older women.

Schapera (1940)[968], on the Kgatla: "From an early age children are familiar with the nature of copulation, and much of their play consists of games with a definitively sexual character" ([161]). Girls start pulling their labia at puberty, "sometimes a little later", sometimes mutual.  If the labia do not stretch fast enough, magic is employed: as in the Venda, the powder of a bat's wings is used. "In this way the labia will grow long like the wings of the bat". The purpose is aphrodisiacal: "To excite the bull" ([p40, 168]). Boys use love medicines (meratisô) ([p42]). Girls from the age of 16 also dilate the vaginal canal ([p166]). Schapera speaks of betrothal in early childhood or before birth in the past ([33, 37]). At the time of writing, "[s]exual adventure not only enters largely into the lives of the young Kgatla, but strongly affects modern courtship".

At a later date, Suggs[969] (p108) notes that "[w]hen a girl attains menarche, she may already have learned of its significance from friends. […] the Kgatla value age-specific knowledge greatly and, while matters dealing with sexuality may be spoken about among peers, such topics are rarely and only situationally discussed between generations". This renders menarche a horror. Menerchal girls are told that "if you now play with boys you will get a baby".

 

 


Zimbabwe (Karanga, Matabele, Shona; ®Lemba, ®Atonga)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In Zimbabwe, Symington (1972)[970] found a mean age of male coitarche of 18, earliest at age seven. In another study, the median age of first sexual intercourse was 19 for females aged 14-24), and 18 for males aged 14-21 (Boohene et al., 1991)[971].

Twenty one per cent of rural and urban secondary school boys aged 12 years reported having had intercourse (Campbell and Mbizvo, 1994)[972]. According to another study, children might initiate sex, at an earliest age at eight, "although some indicated body experiments between children as early as four years (Loewenson et al., 1997:p11)[973]. Youths found themselves "able to decide about sex" at age 14.0 (rural boys), 17.0 (urban boys), 13.9 (rural girls), and 16.6 (urban girls) (p10). Some customs were recognised that might lead to sexual abuse of children (p29): "Chiramu" or "Sibale" ("a custom aimed at socialising children that induced touching young girls, leading to touching of young girls private parts"); "kuzvarira" ("young girls pledged in marriage"); "ngozi" ("young girls handed over as compensation to an injured family"); "chikwambo" (visible or invisible objects are "instructed to have sex with children").

The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture has introduced sex education in primary schools in spite of the controversy that still surrounds it (Mapfumo, 1999)[974]. The author comments on the breakdown of sex education roles for aunts and uncles as a result of contact with the European family system. The study demonstrated that most of the sixth and seventh grade pupils felt comfortable to discuss sex with their teachers, while most did not with their parents, although 82% felt their parents had positive attitudes toward sex education.

In pre-colonial days, homosexuality was disapproved of "at least beyond adolescence" (Epprecht)[975].

 

[Additional refs.: Center for Reproductive Law & Policy, (CRLP) and Child Law Foundation, (CLF) (2002) State of Denial: Adolescent Reproductive Rights in Zimbabwe. Research Report, p18-9; CRLP (2001) Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives: Anglophone Africa. Progress Report, p130-52]

 

 

Karanga (Zimbabwe)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Girls are given "sex instructions" at puberty by her father's sister (Aquina, 1967:p36)[976].

 

 

Matabele (Zimbabwe)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Girls are "not so free in their childhood than boys" (Carnegie et al., 1894:p88)[977], but no statements are made on sexual life.

According to Jones (1921)[978], the ugutomba (girl's initiation) includes songs "of the lewdest description"; the author subjoins one example but does not translate it[979]. Female informants assured that "there where no immoral practices in connection with the ceremony of ogutomba in the days of Mzilikazi", or rather, it would be punished by the chief. Later, rules would be relaxed "and a good deal of immorality was connived at, if not actually permitted". The intombi (initiated) girl is placed in the charge of "a woman, who is responsible for her moral behavior during a period of generally about two years, the intention being to preserve the purity of the girl until she is married".

At least in a rural district of Matabeleland, traditional sex education no longer takes place (Vos, 1994)[980].

 

 

Shona (Southern Rhodesia; Zimbabwe)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Shona practice of labial elongation is called kusenga (Gelfand, 1973b[981]; 1973a[982]). It is generally done at age eleven before the onset of menarche, sometimes mutual, and particularly in rural areas (1979b:p19-20): "from at least the time of menstruation, sometimes even from a year or two before". It is taught to girls by older cousins and neighbours "at the first signs of puberty" (Williams, 1969)[983], but it may also started before menarche ([1967a][984]). In one study ([1967a]) it was done by 13 of 29 girls. In the harvest season, adolescents would be allowed a one-month period of play marriage in early "adolescence"; supposedly, this does not include full intercourse (Gelfand, 1963[985]; Gelfland, 1967b[986]), and is actually "conducted on strict moral standards".  It is called muhumbwe (or mahungwe) and takes place in shelters (Gelfand, 1959:p183[987]; [1973c:p172][988]). The pairing off is supervised by parents, and occurs at about age ten (1967a:p105-6; 1967b:62-3). In the formerly mentioned study, 9 of 21 boys and 23 of 29 girls said they played at this pretence marriage (p101).

Children sleep in the parental bedroom until ages eight or nine. Sexual instruction of girls is provided by the grandmother or parental aunt (Gelfand, [1973c]). From age fourteen on, the girl is examined for virginity biannually (Gelfand, 1973a; 1979b:p19; [1967a:p100]), a custom called kuenda kurukova. A pubertal boy was warned for sex by his grandfather. His urine and semen was examined to assess his potency, and to asses the necessity of special foods (Gelfand, 1979a, 1985)[989]. Herding the cattle, boys "may mimic" their act (Gelfand, 1979b:p17, 18)[990]. Masturbation occurred in variable number of boys, but is discouraged. Procreative heterosexuality is strongly emphasised in both sexes from "very early age", and theirs is "safeguarded" by seniors.

 

"There is no attempt to deny knowledge, but this knowledge is only given at an age when the boy or girl can appreciate it. Neither is told very much about the sexual act until about 14. Before that in the early ages they are taught cleanliness and modesty by their mothers and are encouraged to keep to their own sex. As the child becomes a little older the grandfather tells the boy that he will marry someday, but in the meantime he must not interfere with any girl and the girl is taught similarly by her grandmother. The grandparents and youngest aunt talk to the children freely on these matters. But even before puberty stress is laid on the importance of marriage" (1967b:p62).

 

Shire (1994:p154-6)[991] observed that boys learn sex from the paternal aunt, vatete. That is, "[…] about practical matters such as contraception and also about sex: about what kinds of character to marry, the kinds of pleasure which would stop women from leaving, and ways in which women could be handled or controlled". From the maternal aunts, Shona boys "learnt about a masculinity whose discourse centred on giving pleasure to women", including knowledge about "medicinal plants" and "ideas about sexual prowess".

 

"From an early age, boys engaged in games which were concerned with ensuring procreation in adulthood. Certain fruits and pods signified potency and formed the basis for activities which centred on notions of sexual competence. For example, the mumveva (Kigelia pinnata) fruit was regarded as signifying this kind of masculinity. When the fruit was regarded in season, boys would bore a hole in the young fruit, into which they would insert their penises. They would then wait to see whether the fruit matured or died. If the fruit died or became deformed, this signified a threat to their sexual potency. If it grew into maturity, this was seen to result in sexual competence and an enlarged penis".

 

Boys do pissing games, and operate on themselves to "free the foreskin" to win games, and because of "its association with the passage of semen in adulthood. Boys who did not want to have this operation were teased an laughed at; they were called "chickens", told that they were not really boys and that all they wanted to do was to stay home and look after chickens". The homosexual games are discontinued around pubescence, after which it becomes a sign of homosexuality. Those who continued "were called names alluding to bullocks with only one testicle, which are unable to fend off other bulls that mount cows, and which were only able to mount oxen". As boys were becoming of topic, girls faded in as long as they were still allowed to swim together (thelarche). Pretence marriage (mahumbwe) "could at times end up provoking jealousies as it became obvious that people were not just playing, but that something else was going on". Biting beetles were used to promote thelopoesis.

 

 

Nambyans (Shona; Rhodesia, Zimbabwe)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

According to Kisembo et al. (1977:p125-6[992]; Onibere, 1984:p103)[993], the only Shona-speaking people in Rhodesia who still practise traditional sex education are the Nambyans. Women are known for their expertise on giving sexual pleasure, and grandmothers together with "another old woman" instruct the girl in coital techniques after menarche, which she is to imitate. Medicines are given to regulate menses and to make her more attractive. "She is instructed to abstain from sexual contact during her menstruations and she is sent back home. There she begins tying beads around her waist for attraction. Sex-education for Nambyan boys begins with their first wet dream". The boy eats a cock with his grandfather, who tells him to refrain from sexual intercourse over a period of four months, to allow medicines that are to make him "more virile" to do their duty. If his grandfather is a medicine man, he might give him more medicines for "sexual prowess" should he need it later in life (Aquina, 1975, II:p11-3).

 

 


Mozambique (Makonde, Valenge; ®Swazi, ®Thonga)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In colonial rural Mozambique, "[w]omen were often promised in marriage in infancy and in some tribes child marriage was common" (Kruks and Wisner, 1984:p112)[994].

"In northern Mozambique as elsewhere in Southern Africa, the elongation of the small vaginal lips that used to make or break a girl's initiation, was started when the girl was 8 or 9 years old (Geisler, 1997:p96)[995].

 

 

Makonde / Maconde, Wamakonde (Bantu; Mozambique, Tanzania)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Harries (1944 [1970])[996] gives a detailed account of Makonde initiation rites known as Jando (also Unyago). Without initiation, a woman is believed to be deprived of the good prospect of a fruitful marriage, unclean. In the case of pregnancy before initiation, occurring sometimes, she is deprived of the privilege of initiation (p77), and forever known as anahaku (a term for girls before initiation), and not classed with people of hr own age-grade. Ciputu (first phase of female initiation) takes place usually before menarche. A chief instructress (Bimkubwa, grandmother) supervises preparations for vaginal distension in the first night (p30). Sexual instructions are given (p35-6) and obscene songs are practised. "Vaginal" distension (second night) is practised as in other Bantu (Bemba, Yao, Makua), and is said to include the labia minora. The hymen is not ruptured. If this is already the case, the Bimkubwa calls her mother and enquiries are made as to the girl's conduct. Girls are told to manipulate themselves at home. More complete "distension" takes place on the night of the mhyako. During Kulunda Inole, water is poured over the pudenda (kukalawile, p38-9), accompanied with songs. The meaning of vaginal distension is emphasised once more (p41-2). At mhyako, "girls are made familiar with the facts of sexual intercourse by the application of an egg [?]. They are taught the motions of the sexual act. With red inumbati [...] powder they are taught about the menses [...]". She is told about pubic shaving. The egg is later broken on the forehead and the yolk is to run down via the nose, not into the eyes for this would be indicative of her "future bad character or of incontinence on the part of her relations during the conduct of the rites" (p43). A month after the rites further sexual instructions are given (p44) using symbolic representations. Afterwards, they are adults: "What remains for tomorrow now is for you to be sought in marriage by a man. That's all" (p46)[997].

Boys are circumcised, and a taboo on sexual intercourse rests upon the boys until they are healed (p7, 18). At the rite, boys are told about sexual purity, sexual disease through impurity and about menstruation using symbolism (p27). This would occur at ages nine to sixteen.

In a note on the decursus of Jando, it is mentioned that the "Christianised" Jando is "devoid of explicit sexual instruction" (p135-6) (®Yao).

Contrary to Harries, Dias (1961)[998] mentions that a clay phallic object is used in defloration at the end of chiputu. Instructions are given by means of song and explicit clay figurines (see Cory, 1948:p84-9, ill.)[999], including themes of defloration, conception, orgasmic timing, and intercourse taboos.

 

 

Valenge (Mozambique)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In Mozambique VaLenge, sexual instruction was given by the mother, with assistance by the ritual leader (Earthy, 1925)[1000]. Dolls were used to illustrate topics such as physiology and sexuality. Ritual defloration was carried out with a sacred horn. Earthy (1933 [1968:p150])[1001]: "[…] if a marriage is consummated before a girl is physically fit, it is considered a disgrace and a misfortune, and believed to bring illness and vene death upon the girl".

 

 


Bantu Tribes (Bakene, Bageshu, Teita, Makonde, Luba, Cewa, Lobedu / Lovedu, Tebu, Herero, Hehe; ®Tikiri, Tanzania [Wanguru], ®Chewa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The many Bantu languages[1002] are spoken in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Central African Republic, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Comoro Islands, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, and South Africa[1003]. Ethnologists have provided general remarks (vide infra) on the early sexual life of Bantu speakers. For this reason some tribes were tentatively arranged according to linguistic (rather than geographic) classification. The choice and argument involved have proved to be arbitrary, though, historically speaking, perhaps not more arbitrary than a nationalist arrangement.

 

Generalia  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Bantu tribes are noted for their nonbloody genital manipulations. Some girls try to widen [the vagina], for instance, by introducing a sweet potato or a piece of cassava (Pelt, [1982:p183])[1004]. A note on traditional age of consent:

 

"If the woman whom the man desires to marry is past the age of puberty and is able to judge for herself as to a man's parts, the man will first address himself to her. If the girl is still a child he goes to her father and mother in the first place. The proposal made, the father and mother discuss the matter. […] The "Bundle" [bride-price] having been given to the assenting parents, when the time comes or the girl arrives at the age of puberty, the bridegroom sends money to the parents so that the girl may be placed in the "paint house", where she undergoes certain rites of purification. […] When a man sleeps with a child not yet arrived at the age of puberty (Xina Xinselo) and so causes the wrath of God and a drought and consequent famine."[1005].

 

Dundas (1921:p42)[1006] briefly notes on the East African Bantu tribes: "Curiously enough, several tribes permit sexual intercourse between immature children and regard it in the light of play". Torday and Joyce (1905:p410, 420)[1007] state that in the Ba-Mbala (Bantu) tribe, "[m]orality , in our sense of the word, can scarcely be said to exist; virginity is not considered of the slightest importance, consequently unmarried women indulge freely from a very early age, even before they have reached maturity; one result of this is that solitary and unnatural vices and prostitution are unknown; but, on the other hand, sexual excess is having an evil effect upon the mental and physical characters of the race. […] Males have intercourse at the age of about ten years, the age of puberty; girls, from the age of six or seven, before menstruation; the position adopted is usually side by side". Culwick (1939:p425-6) [1008] wrote: "It is common knowledge that in Bantu tribes sexual experience in one form or another begins for the great majority of children before ever puberty is reached, and certainly in some places it is, and has been for at least as long as any can now remember, accepted practice for girls to have full sexual intercourse for several years before their first menstruation. Yet some of those self-same people will shut the girl away in rigorous confinement the moment she reaches puberty". De Rachewiltz (1963[1964:p229]): "The Bantu boys have sexual experience while still very young, and the girls also have usually had experiences before adolescence".

Around Johannesburg, Longmore (1959:p173-5)[1009] found that

 

"[c]hildren play at marriage from very early years. I have seen children in Eastern Native Township from five years of age playing as bride and bridegroom, who must always be members of the opposite sex. They dress up and build rude shelters as houses and then play at sleeping together. Older children who are also playing with them will tell the very young ones to play sexually because they are man and wife. The reason that children understand about sex at such early ages in urban areas is on account of severe overcrowding. […] They immediately copy their elders and parents, who seem surprised that children can be so precocious, and fail to realize that the fault lies with them. Whenever the children in the township play "housey-housey", they always imitate the sex act. From information given me by teachers and parents, children begin to court each other when very young. Stories indicate that children indulge in intercourse almost as soon as they discover the facts of life, which come to their notice in the overcrowded township at a very early age. One teacher told me that at Eastern native Township every evening he chases children away from the trees in front of his house, his reasons being that they are too young to have sex relations".

 

Other teachers, however, would deflower premenstrual girls. Krige (1937:p109)[1010] stated: "Bantu children, even before puberty, indulge in play at sexual intercourse; but this is either connived at or looked upon with amusement and toleration by adults, because it can have no social consequences". Again, "[…] sex play among small children [is] connived at […]" (Krige and Krige, 1954:p79)[1011].

 

Van der Vliet (1974:p223)[1012] notes that house playing among Bantu children is common, and in case of the Lobedu, Venda and Pedi leads to highly formalised imitation of marital life, in miniature villages. Sexual intercourse would be rigidly forbidden in the Pedi "village" (p242n11), but Krige and Krige (1947:p109)[1013] mention "play intercourse" among the Lobedu. Hunter (1953 [1960:p180-4])[1014] relates that a girl would be ridiculed if she did not have lovers, and is taught how to avoid defloration. Periodical examination is performed by old women. Paradoxically, girls' seclusion hut becomes an attractant for youth of both sexes.

Steyn and Rip (1968:p511)[1015] found that among urban South African Bantu families, very few parents provided any sex education for their children. Most girls had sexual experiences before age 15, and multiple partners were common for both sexes.

 

 

Bakene (Bantu)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Roscoe[1016] implies that a boy may (want to) marry when he "comes to puberty". Although "guided" by friends and family, the choice is free on both sides.

 

 

Bageshu (Bantu; Uganda Protectorate)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

According to Roscoe[1017], "[t]here are no [marriage] arrangements between the young people until after puberty; the advances are made by the men, who approach the women, though there is no notion of love between the parties. It is purely a financial transaction between the elders or parents of the couple, though a man seeks to find a woman who is strong and able to work to be his partner" (p182-3). Boys and girls are initiated with genital operations (circumcision, labiotomy); after the evening dances that follow "[…] there is the fullest license given to both sexes, men and women have promiscuous intercourse without any restraint" (p187). Boys and girls are nude until the initiation/puberty.

 

 

 

Teita (Bantu)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Betrothal takes place in childhood, marriage is to await puberty and initiation (Prins, 1952:p123[1018]; Kyewalyanga, 1977:p43). The girl is not informed, and she is kidnapped by four men, bridegroom included, who are all allowed to cohabit with her. "This will be the first time the future husband is allowed to do so, as he has had to avoid her until then, though premarital intercourse is always allowed between members of corresponding age groups of opposite sex".

 

 

 

Tebu (Bantu) (South Eastern Cape; Chad, Niger, Libya[up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Laubscher (1937:p76, 77-8, 79-80)[1019] states that boys of twelve begin to decorate the sex organs, which is to draw attention to it. No sexual instructions are given to boys. "They roam about in association with the animals they herd and learn their lessons from these sources and companions. In fact, unnatural sex relations with animals are not at all uncommon at this period [adolescence]. If a boy is observed in such an act, he is punished by corporal punishment. [sic] […] Masturbatory manipulations of the penis are quite common and may receive a playful rebuke, but are not viewed at all seriously. They are merely considered as playful activities of children. At the age of fifteen and when nearing the age period (usually eighteen years) for the Abakweta ceremony, masturbation in the youngster will create concern if it comes to the notice of the elders, because it is considered as evidence of immaturity and hence unfitness for the Abakweta ceremony". Girls are not instructed in sexual matters, but are frequently warned against sexual relations. Customary examination of the female sex organs is instituted "from about the age of twelve years, even before the onset of menstruation" or "since early girlhood", for which phenomenon the girls are instructed. Examination occurs every three days (p78, 80), later by a specially appointed female at significant events. Metsha, intercrural intercourse, "is performed by boys and girls at an early age and may serve as an early form of hetero-sexual adaptation. It certainly does not, at the prepubertal period, replace masturbation. Some observers and informants place the ages for the beginning of metsha somewhere about ten or eleven, if not earlier. In fact many native males state they started to metsha at such an early age that they could not remember". The attitude of parents toward metsha is dualistic: fathers pretend not to know, mothers warn their daughters against it. It takes place in a separate children's hut. Parents prevent children observing their intercourse, because they "must never have reason to think that sexual relations occur between the parents".

 

 

 


South Africa (Kaffir, Zulu, Basuto, Swasi, Bovale, Pedi, Lemba, XhosaXesibe, Tshidi Barolong, Venda, Fingo, Lobedu; ®KhoeKhoe)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index] [IES]

 

In a black township near Pretoria, of 105 pre-marital mothers it was established that 20 per cent had engaged in sexual relationships before "puberty"; of these 105, 90% were forbidden to go out alone with boys, 82% were forbidden to go out alone in the evenings, 89% were forbidden to receive boys at home, and 51% were forbidden to go out in a group, all before puberty (Rip and Schmidt, 1977:p21)[1020]. Attitudes on premarital sexuality were quite evenly divided. In one study (Du Toit, 1987)[1021], the youngest age of coitarche was nine, and about two in three black schoolgirls had had coitus by age 15. In a study among rural Transkei adolescents (Buga et al., 1996)[1022], boys initiated sexual activity at an earlier age than girls (13.43 vs 14.86 years, p=0.0000). To put these figures in perspective, menarche and semenarche occurred at 13.90 +/- 1.23 and 15.12 +/- 1.58 years. In a later survey among female university students (Buga, 1998)[1023], subjects indicated having initiated sexual activity [intercourse] at a mean age of 17.27 +/- 2.18 years. A 1999 survey in South Africa among 796 adolescent girls in KwaZulu Natal, first sexual intercourse took place at a mean age of 16 (Manzini, 2001)[1024]. Among 1063 sixth-grade students (average age: 13.6 years), 17% initiated sexual intercourse during the previous year (Klepp et al., 1997)[1025]. According to a recent study[1026], girls were generally thought to have sex at an earlier age than boys, although the estimated average age for them was only slightly lower than for boys (15.3 years for girls, compared to 15.7 years for boys). The lowest age was 7; 1% had their "first sexual encounter" under age 10, which paralleled expectations. However, a considerable expectation for sexarche at ages 11-12 (11% boys, 17% girls) was not met with indications about personal pasts (only 2% indicated sexarche in both categories). Only 1% indicated receiving information about "sexual health issues" from a "traditional practitioner".

Girls in Johannesburg had only minimal sex education from their mother at menarche (Hellmann, 1935)[1027]. This may not have changed much, as cited by Morrell[1028]:

 

"There is little talk about sex between parents and children - and children fear beatings if they admit to being sexually active (Unicef/NPPCHN, 1997, 27)[[1029]]. There is very little communication between parents and children. Mothers assume that when girls have boyfriends, they will be engaging in sex and send them to the clinic for contraception. But there is no talking about this (Unicef/NPPHCN, 1997, 74)".

 

Chastity and modesty would be the highlights of Hindu children's moral upbringing in South Africa (Kuper, 1960:p155-6)[1030].

Pre-initiation sex and marriage are more punished than premarital sex and marriage (Jules-Rosette, 1980)[1031]. In the past, "sex play without penetration (ukumetfha) was an established part of the relations between girls and boys, and the custom of regularly examining girls for virginity secured a measure of parental control. The latter custom has fallen into disuse, however, as has the custom of including an additional beast among the marriage cattle in respect of a bride whose virginity was intact" (Wilson, 1952:p95)[1032].

In adolescent sexual learning, an important role is reserved for mass media, especially TV and magazines, although friends also constituted a significant source of information[1033].

Henderson (1994)[1034], drawing from informal colloquia with Cape Town adolescents, found that parents generally do not welcome other-sex visits or stays at home, and sexual discussions with parents are avoided as a form of "respect". Nevertheless, "[g]irls are sexually active, often from the age of thirteen" (p38).

 

Some data on childhood sexual experiences are collected in Gevisser and Cameron's Defiant Desire[1035] on gay and lesbian lives in South Africa.

 

A 1992 survey of 7,000 adolescents found that 17 percent had engaged in sexual intercourse, with a median age of 15 years at first intercourse (Cooper et al. 1994)[1036]. According to a study of first intercourse and contraceptive experiences of 1,737 black South Africans conducted during their first year in a university (Nicholas, 1994)[1037], male respondents' mean age at first intercourse was 15.5 years and their partners' age was 14.5 years old.

Hurwitz (1997)[1038] argued that "[t]here is no literature or data pertaining to autoerotic behavior and patterns in South African children, adolescents, or adults".

Focusing on adolescent black children and teenagers, Preston-Whyte and Zondi found that both boys and girls admitted experiencing sex before their 12th or 13th year[1039]. Some had experienced penetration before they reached physical maturity. By age 13, most had been sexually active, if not regularly, then at least on a number of occasions. Full penetration was the rule.

The following findings regarding intrafamilial communication about sex in South Africa were obtained in 1990 from 1,902 black first-year students at a South African university (Nicholas 1991)[1040]. Thirty-eight percent of respondents indicated that they had received no sex information from their mothers; 8.2 percent of females and only 3.8 percent of males indicated that they received much information from mothers. As expected, 65.5 percent of respondents indicated that fathers had given no sex information; 4.5 percent, 3.1 percent of males and 1.4 percent of females, reported their fathers provided much sex information.

Sixty-two percent of respondents indicated that they received no sex information at primary school, whereas only 10.9 percent indicated that they received no sex information at high school. Guidance teachers seem to provide much of the sex information at school, with 30.3 percent of respondents indicating that they received much information from guidance teachers.

 

Late 19th century South-African boarding school experienced the problems with this type of scholastic system as anywhere. "Initiation into the "under-life" of the reformatory could be through homosexual rape, while younger boys were soon drafted into service, sexual and otherwise, for older boys. Masturbation and homosexuality were common, while fagging, a common boarding school phenomenon, also appears to have been in practice […]" (Chisholm, 1986:p490)[1041].

Despite the "repressive puritan stance towards adolescent sexuality" that came with the advent of Bantu Education in 1953, "[f]ormer primary school pupils claimed that their sexual biographies began fairly early in their lives. 'Many primary school boys had sex', I was told. 'They were above thirteen and had already been circumcised. The girls agreed. They also enjoyed sex' " (Niehaus)[1042].

 

 

[Additional refs: Swart-Kruger and Richter (1997)[1043]; CRLP (2001) Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives: Anglophone Africa. Progress Report, p90-112]

 

 

"Kaffir" / Kafir (Bantu; South Africa; that is, AmaZulu, Ama-Swazi, Ama-Tonga, and Kaflirs proper, represented by Ama-Xosa, Tembu, Pondo)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

After the seclusion of a Kafir girl at puberty she is allowed to cohabit with anyone during the festivals that follow[1044]; Kafir boys after being circumcised may have connection with any unmarried females they can persuade[1045]. Kidd's (1906)[1046] work on "Kafir" (Pondo) childhood appears void of sex.

 

 

Zulu (South Africa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Zulu childhood heterosexual masturbation was said to be encouraged in the late nineteenth-century (e.g., Eskapa, 1987:p45). Krige (1936 [1950:p78])[1047]: "[…] Zulu children at an early age not only know a good deal about sex, but themselves indulge in playful sexual intercourse (ukwenza isiNcogolo)[1048]. Small girls when out alone, on seeing a boy often call out to him in a singing manner words intended as an enticement to him for sexual purposes". Unwin (1934:p153)[1049], on the Amazulu, stated that "a special term existed, u(lu)ngqoyingqoyi (lit., "delicious food") which small girls, when out alone and seeing a boy, called out to him, the words being intended as an enticement to him to come to them for sexual purposes". Reader (1966:p138-9)[1050] only speaks of sex instruction, "when the time for lovemaking came". The Zulu valued hymenal virginity, and puberty songs were to instruct the girl (Krige, 1968)[1051]. The established form of external intercourse with a single lover was called ukusoma. Songs and dances in girls' initiation refer to sexual acts, menstruation, and premarital morality. The traditional form of sexual instruction for young girls was, until recently, carried out by a designated female elder, but the subject may have been taboo at home (Loening, 1981)[1052]. Spermarche and menarche are considered significant events, requiring special hygienic measures (Lugg, 1907:p116)[1053]. Lautenschlager (1963:p66)[1054]: "Verbreiten waren […] sexuellen Spielereien. Die Zulu kannten in geschlechtlichen Dingen wenig Zurückhaltung, so daþ die Kinder schon früh darüber Bescheid wuþten und sich im Spiel nachzuahmen. Der Umstand, daþ die Erwachsenen nuer einen kleinen Lendenschurz und die Kinder gar nichts oder nur eine Perlenschnur um die Lenden trugen, begünstigte diese Spielereien".

Bryant (1949:p562-4)[1055] sketches the following "development":

 

"With the Zulus, boys especially, and in a lesser degree girls, manifest the sexual instinct of sensual desire (as yet unconsciously and sexlessly) sometimes as early as their third years […] by the eighth or ninth, sex selection and sexual magnetism are strongly experienced and displayed […] This preference for the opposite sex and a certain aversion toward its own, had been constant since the fifth or sixth year. So, about this time most small boys and girls commenced to "court" each other and choose secret paramours, partly in imitation (for they were most observant, as well as imitative) of their elder brothers and sisters".

 

The Zulu instructress is a girl of nineteen or twenty years old and supervises the ritual seclusion (Cheetam et al., 1974)[1056]. Adolescent girls are periodically examined for virginity. In a study on urban Zulu schoolchildren by Graig and Richter-Strydom (1983)[1057], the earliest coital experience occurred at age twelve. Two in three had had coitus before age sixteen. 82% of pregnant girls had not known anything about menstruation at the time of onset. "As the age of onset of sexual intercourse roughly paralleled the onset of menstruation, one can assume that the majority of the young girls who later became pregnant had little sexual knowledge by the time they first had intercourse" (p242-3). Zulu children and adolescents were said to be engaged in external intercourse (ukuhlobongo), but were punished if the girl was deflowered (Rip and Schmidt, 1977:p21).

The act of circumcision, "a ritual preparation for its legitimate use in reproductive activities", was anticipated by Zulu herdboys who cut the frenum (Raum, 1973:p277)[1058]. Boys' puberty ritual (ukuthomba), after ejacularche, implies a plethora of sexual restraints (p278); the same for girls (p281, 282). Initial courtship routines are strictly regulated (p284-9). Girls may play games such as choosing a lover (ukumema injenga)[1059]. "In Zulu communities, as accurate accounts show, sexual intercourse is not uncommon among children under the age of puberty" (Schoeman, 1975:p33)[1060].

 

 

Basuto, southern Sotho, Suto (South Africa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Grützner (Ploß and Bartels, I:p392; Bloch, 1902, I:p254)[1061] noted among the Basuto, "neben der sanctionierten Hurerei eine Heimliche, welche die kleinsten Kinder, treiben, und wobei die Knaben den Mädchen perlen, Messingdraht, u.s.w. als Hurenlohn geben".

Ashton (1952[1955:p38])[1062]: "[…] [i]n early youth, no notice is taken of a boy playing with his penis; this they do quite openly and unself-consciously. They also play a game of "cows", in which one boy chases, rounds up and rides another one, who runs on all fours, and then having "kraaled" him, milks him by pulling his penis as though it were a teat. This game is played by children from one and a half years old to anything up to about ten, and is rarely interrupted by adults. Some mothers try to promote the development of his sex organs by fondling the child's penis and encouraging him to do so himself, though others disapprove of this, saying it makes the child too interested in sex". The girls are reared more strictly. "Ordinarily they do not take any obvious notice of the sexual organs of the boys playing around them, but a small girl of about five or six got exceedingly embarrassed when a naked boy of about two reversed up to her on all fours and asked her to "milk" him […]". Despite a code against premarital liberties, "[…] there is good evidence that some children's sexual experience begins even before puberty"(p40). "Formal sex instruction" may precede puberty initiation (Stephens, 1971:p407)[1063].

 

"Girls of Basutoland, South Africa, are expected to attire themselves with rings of braided grass and cowhide, and white clay rubbed on their bodies and legs. These young girls are first instructed for a period of some weeks in the details of sexual intercourse, after which they are circumcised--that is, the clitoris is amputated. This is done to prevent them from engaging in promiscuous sexual activity when they are married. As part of this rite, they act out coital positions with each other"[1064].

 

 

 

Tswana [formerly spelled Bechuana, Becwana] (South Africa, Botswana)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Schapera (1955:p128-9)[1065] found that the former custom of prenatal betrothal of girls was replaced by marriage based on mutual consent. "The shepherd-boys of the Tswana frequently have intercourse with their flocks, but are punished if caught in the act" (De Rachewiltz (1963 [1964:p283]). Girls received "extensive sex role training" (particularly including "passive obedience") at ages 10-13 when they attended initiation (boyale) (Kinsman, 1983:p48-9)[1066]. The girl was internally inspected, after which her hymen was pierced with a tuber[1067]. Thereafter, the initiates were "explicitly taught about sex by their tutor-by custom a widow[1068]. The girls learned "licentious" songs, which missionaries believed were corrupting the soul. Boys of the age-group after 8 are "allowed considerable freedom in conduct, especially in matters of sex" (Schapera, [1991:p32][1069]).

 

The male Mochuana (Becwana tribes) "is warned that sexual intercourse among the uncircumcised has the same connecting effect as when dogs indulge in it- that the internal organs of the woman are drawn out of her and many similar things too disgusting to mention" (Brown, 1921:p421)[1070]. Willoughby (1909) stated that, for boys and girls, one of the requirements for officiating in the initiation ceremony was chastity for the previous four years; also, they had to adhere to a four-year period of chastity after the rites.

 

 

Swasi, Swazi (Swaziland, South Africa, Mozambique)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Kuper (1973:p351)[1071] observed how clothing provides "a visible mode of social control outlining sexual morality":

 

"[c]hildren until weaned (in the third year) have their bodies most fully exposed. Recognized as sexually innocent, they have nothing to hide. Their nakedness reveals their purity at the same time that grown men and women are permitted to comment on both the physical beauty and sexual potential. When slightly older (approximately 3-6) sex differentiation is made culturally conspicuous. Little girls may continue to wear only a string of beads around the hips and little boys may be given a lijobo, a garment of two triangular flaps, one before and one aft[er], cut from the pelt of a specific wild animal. […] From before puberty the genitals are conspicuously hidden".

 

In Swasiland, "[t]here are overlapping stages and categories of sexual relationships, which often begin with traditional puberty rites that may be regarded as legitimizing sexual activity, and are often followed by several subsequent stages of pre-marital relations[1072]. Barker (1965:p94-5)[1073] notes:

 

"Since he slept in the same hut as his parents, Manjenga knew as a child what was meant by sexual love-making. When he reached the age of puberty he moved from his mother's into the bachelor's hut on the outskirts of the kraal, and was permitted-indeed, encouraged- to start love-making himself, within certain limits. Swazi parents instruct their children in a kind of sexual activity between boy and girl without actual intercourse, known as kujuma. Full sexual penetration before marriage is considered shameful, all the more so if the girl is made pregnant".

 

Mndebele (1998)[1074] provided some data concerning the age of first homosexual experience and age of homosexual partner.

 

 

 

Bovale (South Africa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Circumcision rituals take place at age eight to ten, rarely over 14 or 15 (White, 1983)[1075]. Ritual non-penetrative homosexual play is expected of the novices with the genitals of the ceremonial officials. Sexual instruction and obscenity occur in the ceremonial lodge.

 

 

Pedi, Bapedi, Transvaal Sotho, Northern Sotho (Bantu; South Africa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Pedi parents speak freely about and perform sex before their children until they reach the age of three years, when "the child cannot be influenced (xa a bone) (Pitje, 1951)[1076]. Infant masturbation is verbally discouraged. "Childish" sex play is viewed tolerantly but, after age six, boys and girls are informally separated although the "occasional promiscuity" is taken for granted by adults unless pregnancy occurs. Like among the ®Trobrianders, children form "juvenile communities" where "nurses usually make the boys and girls in their care to have sexual intercourse while they hysterically laugh at the process. Some nurses allow the small boys to practice on themselves. The only sexual taboo that exists among them is that between brother and sister. […] Adults are not unaware of these juvenile experiments, but they generally look upon them as a harmless pastime, "so long as discipline is enforced upon them when the time comes" ". The games are called Mokutelano (Hide-and-Seek), and Mantlantlwane (cf. K&K, 1947:p109, Mandwane), which includes wife-exchange in anticipation of the adult custom. When puberty is attained, total abstinence from intercourse is the proscribed rule[1077], and the girl is to withstand the male's natural inclination to sex. To insure chastity, parents may make the boy eat a herb causing painful haematuria. Nevertheless, seduction is common with any resulting pregnancy bringing social stigma and censure upon the girl and her parents. "Childish" temporary pseudo-marriage unions, although little more than a game, are frequent, and recognised by adults as a social institution which provides practice in home management. Although usually dissolved when the "pseudo-husband" enters lodika, a form of tribal initiation school, the union may be revived with the consent of both sets of parents. Sexual intercourse in rigidly forbidden in the Pedi play village (Van der Vliet, 1974:p242, n11) [1078].  Ford and Beach (1951:p182) state that intercourse before puberty ceremonies is strictly forbidden. Mönning (1967:p110-1)[1079] states that the Pedi, as do the ®Zulu and ®Venda, practice external intercourse, a matter denied by Harries (1929:p7)[1080]. Children are betrothed in infancy, and joined at girl's age of 12, a matter of which she is frequently reminded. Marriage takes place after the one-year native school. If by then a boy is not old enough to take her as a wife, she is "looked after" by his maternal uncle until he is (hlapetsha). In the girls' school, a matron instructs the girls on matrimonial morality (or rather, principles "hardly fit for publication") (p77). On boys' initiation, it is stated: "It is generally understood that all manner of lewd instruction, pertaining to sexual matters, is given at the bodikane [[1081]], but this has been emphatically denied, and the assurance given that the opposite sex may never be mentioned by or to the initiates" (p71); anyhow, the rite would have been threatened through contact with Europeans (p65).

 

 

Thonga / (-,-,-,-,3,3;5,5;G2;C) Plateau Tonga, Tsonga (South Africa; Mozambique)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

As with the Bemba, it is considered disgraceful for a girl to be impregnated before the puberty ceremony, and if this occurs she has difficulty in finding a desirable husband, and may have to marry an old man or a foreigner[1082]. The Tonga have a female but no male initiation (Colson, 1958:p181-9)[1083]; the anatomical indicators are thelarche or menarche (and contemporarily, school schedules), no instruction takes place, and the girl is thereafter considered adult ("Now you are grown we want you to stop using obscenity and abusing people").

 

"No specific instruction on sexual matters is given in a normal [sic] fashion by older people to children, at least as far as I could learn. Instead, they are expected to acquire such information by casual observation in a community where little attempt is made to hide from them any of this side of life. Children sleep in their parents' hut, and small children may share the family bed. Boys commonly move out at about the age of seven or eight, either to the kitchen or to join older boys in the huts they have built for themselves. Girls either remain with their parents until marriage, or they go to sleep in the house of some old woman. […] Children not barred from sexual experimentation. Small boys and girls masturbate without any notice being taken of it by older people, and small boys occasionally engage in mutual masturbation in public. That some stigma may attach to the practice, however, is suggested by the reaction of a child if someone comments on the matter. Two little girls giggled when they saw a four-year-old masturbating and announced, "John pulls himself (ku-li-kwela)". At this the child set up a howl and rushed off in tears, while the two imps giggled with delight at the uproar they had caused. Heterosexual play also occurs, though I do not know how prevalent it is. Children from four of five on tease one another about their lovers. […] There may have been some disapproval in the past of serious sexual play if this came to light at the time when the child had to face the rite in which the front upper teeth were removed shortly before puberty. If the operator found that the teeth did not come out cleanly with a single blow of the chisel, he would announce that the child had been indulging in sexual intercourse and make it announce the name of its lover, whereupon the recalcitrant teeth were expected to give to the chisel. The operator then presented himself to the child's guardians with a demand for payment of damages for having had to deal with a troublesome subject. […] Full sexual life […] should not begin for girls until after their puberty ceremony. A child conceived before this time was malweza, and formerly destroyed. […] After puberty, sexual experimentation continues, though now very often with full adults" (p271-5).

 

Adolescent boys may have thelarchic girls as lovers but adult sex with prepubescents in either configuration is said to cause a disease (cinsiluwe) in both parties; even deafness and prepubertal death would be attributed to seduction. Girls begin to enlarge the labia majora before puberty, and continue till after. [Among the Tsonga tribe of Mozambique and northern Transvaal, the female puberty initiation rite involves "having the girls pair up to stretch each others labias, performing tasks symbolizing women's horticultural duties, and ritual defloration with a musical kudu horn"[1084]. The Tsonga Musevhetho initiation includes the rite 'u kwevha' (cf. ®Bemba), which involves elongation of the girls' labia minora, which is referred to as 'milevhe'. The role of this initiation school according to Xitlhabana in Milubi (2000:p59-60)[1085] is to gratify men's unsatiable sexual appetite: the longer the size of the elongation, the better wives[1086].] Girls eagerly await thelarche, but disclaim using medicines. Ciccatrizations, considered erotogenic and included in foreplay, is prohibited below the age of puberty. The children use beautifying medicines, as do adults, and with their silent approval. According to Kisembo et al. (1977:p126[1087]; Aquina, 1975, II:p24), "[...] Tonga youths do not receive any sex instruction at all. Fathers merely tell their sons about the responsibilities of a husband and father around a fire at night and that is all! No direct sex-instructions are given. Washing in cold water once on an early morning without shivering is the only test a young man is given by his father or guardian to ascertain whether he is now grown up and fit to court girls and eventually marry. No sex-instruction is given to the girl either. At her first menstruation she is considered of marriageable age". Marriage negotiations may begin well before the girl's puberty.

Infants are welcomed into the family by tying a string around his waist smeared with his father's semen[1088]. Following circumcision (ages 10-16), boys enter the sungi seclusion, where sexual intercourse is forbidden, but obscenities are recommended (Junod, I, 1962:p80; see also [1927:p172-3])[1089]. Among the western Tonga, a boy could be initiated into sexual intercourse by a paid "experienced" woman (Colson, p275). The Ngoma (circumcision school), however, does not relate to sexual life (p94). After boy's polluarche, a man is said to have become an adult. Medicines may be administered to the boy that will prevent him from being overcome by them (the Custom of the Erotic Dream, Tilorela; p95). After the puberty rites, boys and girls, who live in separate huts, play Gangisa, a marriage game including hut-building, and play "in a less platonic fashion" (p97-9), which may be intercrural intercourse (Harries, 1990:p459-60; 1994:p200-1). A girl may solicit for intercourse. "A boy how has no such flirt, no shigango [[1090]], is laughed at as a coward; a girl who refuses to accept such advances is accused of being malformed". In fact, "If a boy has not been successful in his "gangisa", if he is despised by the girls and has no chance of being accepted", special rite is needed to help him find a wife. The girl is passed from asexuality to sexuality by the Khomba nubility rite, when she "comes of age" (I, p176-8). "They are also instructed in sexual matters, and told that they must never reveal anything about the blood of the menses to a man". The girls make an apron (p182).

A scene of boy prostitution seemed to have existed in early 20th century Johannesburg, including (a few) little boys to men in their twenties (Junod, I, p492-5); the natives "speak of it with laughter".

 

 

Fingo (South Africa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Males are circumcised, the age is not exactly given (Brownlee, 1931)[1091]. "I cannot say more of their motions in dancing than that they were suggestive of procreative ability; this idea, indeed, might be applied to the movements of all the dancers, male and female, throughout the ceremony". In Fingoland, Brownlee (1935:p8)[1092] was informed that during the seclusion at the menarchal/thelarchal initiation rite (often performed later), a girl's hymen "is perforated by means of an ox horn, and that the same instrument is used for extending the labia majora, the idea being by this means to make intercourse more pleasurable, and fruitfulness more certain".

 

 

Xhosa, Red Xhosa (South Africa) (®Vol. II, §6.1.3.1)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Teenagers reported that their first sexual encounters occurred at a young age, usually around 13 or 14 years (but as young as 11). In the majority of cases male partners (the first and subsequent) were said to be older than the girls by about five years […]"[1093]. Mayer and Mayer (1970:p175)[1094] stated: "Early sex play is regarded indulgently by adults, including the play of children out herding who "learn" by seeing animals mate and "may try to copy them". "All this is only childishness". The boy is rather a "bull" (unsocialised) than an "ox" (socialised sexuality) (Mayer and Mayer, 1990:p37)[1095]. In an illustrative paper by Ntlabati et al[1096] (cf. Kelly and Parker, 2000:p31-3)[1097] adolescents construe their coitarche in contradistinction to sexual games, including undize, or coital "hide-and-seek" (cf. Vol. II, §6.1.3.1). Identifying a multifactorially determined "shift away from parental mediation of sexual enculturation towards a youth and peer-based framework for the same", Ntlabati, Kelly and Mankayi (2001; note how Undize, hide-and-seek[1098], as traditionally played in a deep rural area of the Eastern Cape in South Africa by children aged 7 to the early teens, acquired a coital, as well as a more invariably sexual, level over the past 50 years. This has strained the definition of curricular categories[1099]:

 

"[…] there used to be a strong distinction between sexual experimentation and sexual intercourse. This distinction appears to have blurred so that sexual experimentation much more rapidly evolves into intercourse, to the extent that Undize now involves sexual penetration, albeit somewhere between experimentation and fully-fledged, passion-driven intercourse".

 

Thus, while "[l]earning about sex through play is hardly unusual, but in this case the play tends towards reality". This discourse is suggested by the respondents persistent minimalising of the occurrences:

 

Female: "[…] it was nothing serious at that stage [12 a 13 to 15]" / "[…] it was not really serious. There was penetration but there was no ejaculation. We were just doing it and we didn't even experience any form of pleasure. Hence I say it was nothing serious". Male: "I was 15 and this was nothing serious. We were just playing Undize".

 

These ramifications are significant enough to put data such as "[a]n astonishing 22% had their first sexual experience at or below the age of 11 years" on misty grounds (note that the authors do not define their measure of "sexual debut").

 

Another account of Xhosa coitarche performances and negotiations leaves out games entirely, instead identifying intercourse as a performance of "love" and "growing up":

 

"First sexual encounters were mostly reported to have occurred at a young age, often 12 years, with a male partner who was older by about five years. The consistently reported pattern was that women accepted male requests to establish a liaison, as revealed in the words 'he asked me if we could love each other and then I agreed'. To these young women, agreement to love was equated specifically with having penetrative intercourse and being available sexually. This equation clearly derived from their male partners, who told the women that sex was the 'purpose' of being 'in love', that people 'in love' must have sex 'as often as possible', and that sexual intercourse was 'what grown-ups do'. These constructions of love, apparently defined entirely by men, constituted the major reason to begin and continue sexual activity for the teenage women"[1100].

 

However, the researchers (1997)[1101] note that "[m]any of the adolescents described sex as 'playing'. One girl explained that some teenagers (particularly those from poor families) had sex frequently because there were no other activities available to them: 'it starts with the girls because we are lost. You just do a thing, not thinking about the after-effects; it's nice to go with boys' ". Adding to the confusion, male adolescents' sexuality discourse is complicated with themes of violence and infidelity, boys arguing they are "played with"[1102] by girls in their love trajectories.

 

With puberty the children must learn to refrain from any mention or hint of sexual things in their parents' presence […] it is merely the hlonipha (respect behaviour) due to parents. Girls in the intutu grades- pre-adolescent or barely adolescent- are already learning about the permissibility of metsha, external sexual intercourse. Invariably this instruction is said to be given by the older girls and never on any account by the mother, for hlonipha reasons". Until marriage, keeping to metsha is a cardinal rule of youthful sex "play" (p175-8). Among the Xhosa, children are never told about conception, and only seldom witness parental coitus. Males are circumcised at ages 18-22, after which they are told "the laws" (incl. adultery prohibition) by "the old men" (Laidler, 1922)[1103]. Premarital virginity is important, marriage occurs at about age 15. Girls must not eat eggs for it would lead to promiscuity (Ames and Daynes, 1974)[1104]. "Children were never told about contraception. They seldom witnessed parental intercourse and if they did so inadvertently, they were frightened by the "fighting". When children asked where the baby came from, they were told that it was bought from the shop or the hospital, "because you should not each a child bad things. If the child is clever and not satisfied with this answer, or has seen sheep giving birth, we tell him that children are born from the knees of the mother because we don't want them to think that giving birth and going to the toilet are the same thing. The difference between the sexes that is clear to all semi-naked toddlers is usually "explained" by the older children to the younger, the penis often being referred to as ncolosi (the Xhosa name for St. Lucy's Hospital). A girl may take hold of a boy's penis, saying she would like to have it. "This is how intercourse begins". Girls are seldom told about menstruation before the menarche", and interpret it as traumatic. Girls are not usually told about menstruation until it occurs (age 14). Indeed, only 2 of 30 rural schoolgirls (mean age 17.8) claimed to have had any sex education at school (O'Mahony, 1987)[1105]. The earliest admitted "sexual experience" was 14, mean age of first 16.4.

 

[Additiona refs.: Collins, T. & Stadler, J. (2001) Love, Passion and Play: Sexual Meaning among Youth in the Northern Province of South Africa. Paper presented at International Conference, AIDS in Context, April 4-7, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Cf. Ibid, J Anthropologues  [Montrouge] 82-83:325-37]

 

 

Urbanised Xhosa (South Africa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Pauw (1963:p111-3, 114, 115, 116)[1106] states that in East London "[s]exual activity commonly starts at an early age, long before marriage". Intercrural intercourse was permitted to unmarried people to avoid premarital pregnancy. However, the majority of town Bantu accept full sexual intercourse as a normal feature of premarital relations. The majority of girls was not prepared for menstruation. After menarche girls are told the possibility of pregnancy. "Other mothers only gave a vague warning not to play or laugh with boys, because they are "dangerous", "mischievous", "cruel", or "rough". A few girls claimed that they did not realize the significance of their condition when they became pregnant". One girl was told that babies are bought at the market. "Sex instruction was not discussed in detail with boys, but it is our impression that in the home they get even less of this than girls. Admonitions during initiation may include warnings against making girls pregnant, and immodesty (e.g., not to embrace a girl in view of older people), but there is no evidence of any instruction in sexual technique as part of the initiation ceremonies in town. This the boys [...] learned from the older ones". "Children start having "sweethearts", "boy-friends" or "girl-friends", "cherries" (girls), or iintokazi (lit., female things) from 10 or 11 years onwards". This varies in intensity. The early timing of the "love-making" is attributed by the respondents to the freedom associated with single-parent household, giving way to unsupervised interplay; others referred to the compromised privacy of the home causing "their being aware of their parents' sexual relations from an early age". "Intensive petting- referred to as unkuncokolisa (to excite sexually), uku-phathaphatha (the intensive form of the verb ukuphatha, to touch or feel), or by the English word "romance", used both as noun and verb- and with it sexual intercourse, are often part of a love-affair from an early age. Cases of pregnancy are known to occur from 12 years age and onward. Among the informants 14 was the youngest age at which one of them first experienced sexual intercourse. From 16 onwards most young people have love-affairs in which intercourse is a common element". However, there is a deal of interindividual variability. Some have multiple simultaneous lovers: a major one (makhonya, known lover), and a "minor" one (osecaleni, "one on the side").

 

 

Xesibe (South Africa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

A girl may marry at puberty, but usually this is delayed until age 15-18 (O'Connell, 1982)[1107]. Not having a boy- or girlfriend is ridiculed.

 

 

Tshidi Barolong (South Africa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Infant betrothal is practised but marriage is delayed until puberty. Premarital sexuality is unusual, and if it occurs, linked to marital plans (Mathews, 1940)[1108].

 

 

Lemba (South Africa, Zimbabwe)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Sex education was offered to girls at marriageable age by older girls. Prenuptial examinations of the girls by old women (Jaques, 1931)[1109].

 

 

Venda; Bawenda (South Africa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Gottschling[1110] speaks of girl betrothal when "very little" and prenatal; but this is not standard. Blacking[1111] observed that the among the Venda of the Sibasa district of the Northern Transvaal (South Africa) a woman's labia minora must be lengthened by manipulation. "This operation is begun often long before puberty[1112], its importance is emphasised at vhusha [puberty school], and it must be stopped after a girl has attended tshikanda [intermediary initiation school between vhusha and pre-marital schools]".

"By the time they attend domba, girls are supposed to have given up the practice of lengthening the labia minora and to have turned their minds to the serious matters of marriage and child-birth. These words of criticism are said by youths who laugh at big girls who still practice kwevha [elongation]" (®Tsonga):

 

Musidzana a songo tamba,

U mona na nnu a lila,

A tshi elelwa zwo ita vhawe.

Makwevho ndi mavhulaise,

Vhasidzana vha litshe u kwevha! (Vhasidzana litshani u kwevha!)

Zwi ea vhuhole shangoni.

Zwi dina nga u holefhadza.

 

When a girl has not yet played with a boy,

She goes behind the hut and weeps,

Thinking of what others have done.

Playing at kwevha will be the death of you,

Stop lengthening your labia, girls!

It cripples the country.

It causes trouble by making cripples.

 

Blacking[1113]:

 

"From the beginning of vhusha to the end of domba, we move from the initial climaxes of individual girls experiencing the first signs of sexual maturity through a series of measured stages, to a final, massive climax in which the community participated in the symbolic rebirth of itself through the corporate rebirth of the novices. […] The initiation cycle was a system of formal education designed to follow the informal education of childhood (Blacking 1964b). But it was also a sensuous bodily experience that was considered essential for the well-being of each individual body and the whole human and natural environment. It was a productive technique of the body (cf. Marcel Mauss) for the purpose of reproduction. But although there was much explanation of sexual matters, it was not a system of education primarily concerned with the actual techniques of reproduction. The most important lesson of domba and of the other initiation schools was the instruction about the institutions and responsibilities of motherhood, fatherhood, and marriage. Thus, if a girl became pregnant during domba, she was not praised for succeeding in what the school might have seemed to be teaching: she was thrown out in disgrace! […] Girls undoubtedly express a desire for esoteric knowledge when they say "we go to domba [or vhusha etc.] because we want to 'learn the laws' " (u guda milayo): and indeed they learn much about etiquette and the correct social and sexual behaviour of married women, although in many cases the instruction confirms what has already been learnt informally from older girls and women".

 

Blacking[1114] details the dances that are attached to the instructions. There is also extensive use of humanoid sculptures by the Venda in female initiation rites (Nettleton, 1992)[1115]. Puberty rites (including immersion in icy water) are performed soon after the first signs of physiological puberty. "At the conclusion of the rites, sexual activity is permitted on the strict condition that the girl is not deflowered […]" (Saucier, 1972:p240)[1116]. This is called hlobongo, according to Harries (1929:p7), and would be taboo for the one who has been bespoken for him or her. Blacking (1959, 1978)[1117] observed that a traditional "mother-child" custom attached to the vhusha is mimicked by pubescent and prepubescent girls. The "play mother" and "play child" declare their love to each other, and the mother may help the child in her first amorous approaches.It is unclear whether sexual behaviour is involved[1118].

Stayt (1931 [1968:p99-100])[1119] refers to Venda children aged 12 to 15 years playing mahundwanu (miniature village), but nothing is said of sexual contacts. In the vhusha (p108), sex education is given, and "[q]uite tiny girls are often shown, by an old woman of their kraal, how to stretch the labia minora". A stone is tied to the parts, and the juice of a cooked bat is rubbed onto the vulva to arrive at the desired anatomical state. The traditional age of Bavenda circumcision is not given by Wheelwright (1905)[1120]. In the circumcision lodge, the songs initiands are taught are "obscene and lewd, bearing entirely on sexual matters" (p254).

 

[Additional refs: Jeannerat (1997)[1121]].

 

 

Lobedu / Lovedu (Bantu; Northern South Africa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Krige and Krige (1947:p109)[1122] mentioned "play intercourse". Among the Lobedu, play villages are erected called mandwane. Not more than a few years ago, sexual intercourse would take place as pubertal boys and girls (of marriageable age) claimed a role in the play. Now, "[t]he game is confined to children under the age of puberty". "[…] [M]asturbation among children is looked upon as "playing with" the sexual organs, among boys and girls it is indulged in less for its sexual satisfaction than to prove to their mates that they have reached maturity (p290).

 

 


Lesotho / Kingdom of Lesotho (formerly Basutoland) (®Basuto)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

In Lesotho (Gay, 1979, 1985)[1123], a system of "mummies" and "babies" prevails in which young girls in the modern schools develop close relationships, with slightly older girls. Sexual intimacy is an important aspect of these relationships. This was previously described by Mueller and Hopkins (1979)[1124]. According to these authors, girls of about 9-12 would play the baby of adolescent girls, and according to a limited number of informants, their interaction included hugging, kissing, or genital play. Premarital sex with boys is strictly tabooed (cf. Omari on ®Ghana).

 

[Additional refs.: Mturi, A.J. (2001) Parents' Attitudes to Adolescent Sexual Behaviour in Lesotho. Paper presented to IUSSP XXIV General Conference, August 2001. Brazil]

 

 

Madagascar (Tanala)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

De Flacourt[1125] (1658; as cited by Karsch-Haack, 1901[1983:p251]; Karsch-Haack, 1911:p178)[1126] on Madagascar: "[…] schon kleine Knaben und kleine Mädchen trieben Liebespiele im Beisein ihrer Eltern, welche darüber lachten und selbst dazu Anreiz gaben; bisweilen trieben kleine Buben, ohne Scham, in Gegenwart ihrer Eltern, ausschweifende Spiele mit Kälbern und Zicken"[1127]. Audebert (quoted by Ploß and Bartels, II; Bloch, 1902, I:p254) also noted Paradoxia in Madagascar. According to Sibree (1880:p39, 43)[1128], premarital freedom on Madagascar was noted for, among others, the Hovas and Valave.

 

Predelli[1129] examined the sexual control in a Lutheran boarding school for girls established by Norwegian women missionaries in Madagascar in 1872.

 

 

Tanala (Madagascar)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Sexual play between children is forbidden and masturbation is not observed (Linton, 1939:p295)[1130]. There is no separation of the sexes (Linton, 1926:p295-6)[1131]. At age 15, or even before puberty, boys are given a separate house where they receive girls ("pour recevoir leur partenaire sexuelle"). Ravololomanga (1992:p65)[1132] relates:

 

"[…] les garçons et les filles dans leur enfance, vivant en promiscuité avec leurs parents, partageant avec eux la même chambre, ont pu apercevoir leurs ébats amoureux et n'ignorent pas l'acte sexuel. Vivant au milieu de la nature, regardant les animaux domestiques ou suvages copuler, ils constatent leur reproduction. Les enfants de même groupe d'âge et de même sexe se font de temps en temps des confidences sur leurs expériences sexuelles. Dans cette société, la virginité n'est pas exigée pour le mariage, sauf chez les rares familles où la morale chrétienne a mis son empreinte. Les jeunes filles commencent leurs expériences sexuelles vers quartorze ans et les garçons vers seize ans sand que leurs parents leur en fassent de reproche".

 

 

 

Lambas (Northern Rhodesia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

The Lambas marry at age 14, and have no word for virginity (Doke, 1931)[1133]. Children practise three types of hut building: one for childhood, boyhood and girlhood (p143-6), although no observations were made on sex play. In the children's hut, girls may use obscene language ("Now unfold your scrotums and sleep in it"). In the boy's hut, boys practice phallopoesis by heating a root and pressing it on the penis, "to enlarge and harden the organ" (p145). Girls practice vaginal distension. Christian influence would have begun to have a deterrent effect on both practices.

 

 

Ambo, Ovambo (Rhodesia)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Stefaniszyn (1964:p99)[1134] observed that Ambo "children and adolescents gain their sexual experience only occasionally and furtively. There is extensive phallo- and andropoetic pharmacology (p98), but the age of application is unclear (probably at pubescence). Hahn (1928 [1966:p32])[1135] states that girls are married "when quite young", but not until after the ohango ceremony. "Courtship often commences long before a marriageable age is reached. Headmen of quite advanced age frequently train young girls, generally maidens in their employ, in their habits and ways with a view to ultimately marrying them".

 

 

Kua Bushmen (Kalahari)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Valiente-Noailles (1993)[1136] states that boys are taught sexual matters by their fathers and girls by their mothers, although much teaching is not necessary because "children, when we think they are asleep, see many things". In addition, girls are formally taught during the pubertal ritual. "The important rule is that no sex is allowed before the girls have reached puberty [[1137]]. From then on it does not matter if she has sexual intercourse "with whoever she loves". The loss of virginity has no special significance" (p98). Much openness in sexual discussions is noted by Dornan (1925:p128)[1138].

 

 

 

 

 



 

Geographically Unspecified Tribes

 

 

Wa-Sania (East Africa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

"Before marriage the young men and girls carry on the practice of lukh, that is to say, the youths are allowed to inset the penis between the girl's legs and sleep with them in this fashion; but they are not allowed to penetrate the vagina. I believe that the same practice exists amongst other tribes in British East Africa" (Hobley, 1911:p31)[1139].

 

 

Wageia (East Africa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Girls are promised to men "bereits mit 6 oder 7 Jahren", and handed over at maturity (age 12-14)  (Weiß, p222).

 

 

Bakulia (East Africa)  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Sexual life for girls is "officially" begun after the circumcision (Weiß, p300). "So-called wise women" provide instructions for the girls, "die in erste Linie auf das Geschlechtsleben Bezug haben" (p299).

 

 

 

 

 


Uncovered SCCS Tribes  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

Massa (Masa) (2,2,2,3-,2,2;8,8)

Fur (Darfur) (2-,2,2-,2,2-,2-;88)

Songhai (2+,2+,3,3+,2,2 ;8,2)

Mao (2+,3-,2+,3+,-,4-;2,2)

Konso (2+,3,3,3+,3-;66)

Bogo (3,4,3,4,-,4;-,1)

 


 

 


Additional Reading: Africa  [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

 

-- Caldwell, J. C., Caldwell, P. & Orubuloye, I. O. (1992) The Family and Sexual Networking in Sub-Saharan Africa: Historical Regional Differences and Present-Day Implications, Popul Stud 46,3:385-410

-- Caldwell, J. C., Caldwell, P. & Quiggin, P. (1989) The Social Context of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, Populat & Developm Rev 15,2:185-234

-- Eilers, A. (1927) Die Sozialen Beziehungen des Kindes bei den Bantunegern. Hamburg

-- Hoernle, A. W. (1931) An outline of the native conception of education in Africa Africa 4,2:145-63

-- Jansen, C. J.(1988) Homosexuele Handelingen in Noord Afrika. Onderzoek naar het Voorkomen en de Vorm van Homosexuele Handelingen in Noord Afrika. Dissertation, Amsterdam [Dutch]

-- Klepp, K., Ndeki, S. et al. (1996) Predictors of intention to be sexually active among Tanzanian school children, East Afr Med J 73,4:218-24

-- Olenick, I. (1998)Female Circumcision is Nearly Universal in Egypt, Eritrea, Mali and Sudan (in Digests), Int Fam Plann Perspect 24,1:47-9

-- Ravenhill, Ph. L. (1978) The Interpretation of Symbolism in Wan Female Initiation, Africa 48,1:66-78

-- Rooth, G. (1973) Exhibitionism outside Europe and America, Arch Sex Behav 2,4:351-63

-- Smith, T. L. (2001) Pre-teen and early adolescent African American girls' attitudes toward teen sexual behavior and pregnancy, DAI-B 61(8-B): 4429

-- Stavrou, S. E. & Kaufman, C. E. (2000) "Bus Fare Please": The Economics of Sex, Gifts and Violence among Adolescents in Urban South Africa. To be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, March 23-25, Los Angeles, California, United States [www.dra.co.za/downloads/sexgifts.doc]

-- Stevens, W. E. & Vrzal, R. D. (1974) Male false pride syndrome: Cause and cure, J Am Instit Hypnosis 15,4:157-60

-- Varga, Ch. A. (1999) South African young people's sexual dynamics: implications for behavioural responses to HIV/AIDS, Resistances to Behavioural Change to Reduce HIV/AIDS Infection, p13-34

 

 

 


Notes [up] [Contents] [Geographic Index] [Ethnographic Index]

[Last updated]


 

 

 



 



[1] Rasing (2001:p282), cit. infra, song 194: "Please mother, come out and ulululate for me, I have brought my maturity".

[2] The arrangement within the chapter roughly reads from the east to west, and from the north to south.

[3] Prefices such as A-, Ba-, Ka-, and Wa- have been common in the past and connote identification of tribal identity.

[4] Barton, Th. G. (1991) Sexuality and Health in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Annotated Bibliography. Nairobi, Kenya: African Medical and Research Foundation

[5] Standing, H. & Kisekka, M. N. (1989) Sexual Behavior in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review and Annotated Bibliography. London: Overseas Development Administration

[6] Beck, R. B. (1979) A Bibliography of Africana in the Institute for Sex Research, Indiana University. African Studies Program, Indiana University

[7] Molnos, A. (Ed., 1973) Cultural Source Materials for Population Planning in East Africa. University of Nairobi, Institute of African Studies. Esp. Vol. 3

[8] Ayisi, E. O. (1979) An Introduction to the Study of African Culture. 2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, see p6-12

[9] Cudjoe, S. D. (1965) Sex and human relations: African pattern, in Sex and Human Relations. Proeccedings of the 4th Conference of the Region Earope, Near East and Africa of the International Parenthood Federation, London, 8-11th June, 1964. Amsterdam [etc.]: Excerpta Medica, p31-3

[10] Caldwell, J. C., Caldwell, P. & Quiggin, P. (1989) The