Growing Up Sexually





Index AfricaNigeria Bini


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



“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” [1].


“A Bini girl is sometimes affianced when she is a few years old” (Talbot (1969 [III]:p433). Onibere (1984:p103)[2] 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)[3]. 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”.













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] Dennett, R. E. (1906) At the Back of the Black Man’s Mind. London [etc.]: Macmillan

[2] Onibere, S. G. A. (1984) The supernatural triad in Bini morality: a case of unchastity, Cah Relig Afr 18,35:99-121

[3] Mbiti, J. S. (1969) African Religions and Phylosophy. London [etc.]: Heinemann. Second ed., 1990