Growing Up Sexually





Index AfricaNigeria Ibo Asaba Igbo


Featured: Badjju, Nupe, Hausa, Kadara, Kagoro, 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


Isichei (1970; 1973:p682-5)[1] 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]















Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1] Isichei, P. A.C. (1973) Sex in traditional Asaba, Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines 13,52:682-99. Chapter from a B. Litt. Thesis for Oxford University, 1970