Growing Up Sexually







Featured: Swahili, Wanguru, Turu, Kwere, Shambala

, Ngindo, Chagga, Bena, Nyamwezi, Luguru, Kaguru, Sukuma, Subiya, Ngulu, Hehe, Barabaig, Nyakyusa, Gogo, Baraguyu;® Kuria, ®Masai


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)[1]. 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)[2].











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] Beidelman, T. O. (1980) Man and woman in two East African societies, in Karp, I. & Bird, Ch. (Eds.) Explorations in African Systems of Thought. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, p143-64

[2] Beidelman, T. O. (1960) The Baraguyu, Tanganyika Notes & Rec 55:244-78