Growing Up Sexually





Index Africa South Africa Basuto


Featured: Zulu, Basuto, Swasi, Bovale, Pedi, Lemba, Xhosa, Xesibe, Tshidi Barolong, Venda, Fingo, Lobedu; ®!Xo


Grützner (Ploß and Bartels, I:p392; Bloch, 1902, I:p254)[1] 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])[2]: “[…] [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)[3].


“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”[4].









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] Op.cit.

[2] Ashton (1952) The Basuto. London [etc.]: OxfordUniversity Press. See also Erny (1980:p180)

[3] Op.cit.

[4] “Curiosities”, Sexology, 30, Feb. 1964, p466. Ref. Martinson, F. M. (1973) Infant and Child Sexuality: A Sociological Perspective. St. Peter, MN: Book Mark, p112