IndexAfricaTanzania → Chagga


Featured: Swahili, Wanguru, Turu, Kwere, Shambala, Ngindo, Chagga, Bena, Nyamwezi, Luguru, Kaguru, Sukuma, Subiya, Ngulu, Hehe, Barabaig, Nyakyusa, Gogo, Baraguyu;®Kuria, ®Masai

Chaga children are told that babies come from the forest (Raum, 1940)[1]. Precircumcision intercourse is forbidden and punished by staking the lovers to the ground in the forbidden position (ibid., p182; Dundas, 1924:p296[2]). 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[3]; 1940 [1967:p252]; 1973:p35)[4]. Sibling marriage play in huts is met with prohibitions referring to the incest taboo (1940:p180-1; cf. Raum 1938 [1954:708][5]). Night time sex instruction (menstruation, interfemoral intercourse, contraception) for girls occurs in the initiation period (Raum, 1939)[6]. 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[7]; Gutmann, 1932 [I]:p44-54[8] [see also p24-5]; Swantz, 1966:p150ff). The use of riddles in this respect is noteworthy (e.g., Kamera, 1990)[9]. Girls “use wish-magic to make their breasts grow […]” (R., 1938:p221).











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] Raum, O. F. (1940) Chaga Childhood. London: OxfordUniversity Press. Also cited by Ford and Beach (1951:p180), op.cit.

[2]Dundas, Ch. (1924) Kilimanjaro and Its People. London: Witherby. “Almost the most heinous crime known to the Chagga people was sexual intercourse between a girl and an uncircumcised youth”, as it was believed to bring misfortune on the land.

[3] “[…] the element of secrecy which attaches to the copying of the more intimate scenes from the life of the parents and the political authorities draws the boys into a close social unit with a sense of common interests and needs”.

[4] Raum, O. F. (1973) The Chaga of North-Eastern Tanzania, in Molnos, A. (Ed.) Cultural Source Materials for Population Planning in East Africa. University of Nairobi, Institute of African Studies. Vol. 3, p27-46

[5] Raum, O. F. (1938) Some aspects of indigenous education among the Chaga, J Roy Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 68:209-21. Reprinted in Haring, D. G. (Ed., 1956) Personal Character and Cultural Milieu. Syracuse, New York: SyracuseUniversity Press. 3rd. Ed., p703-17

[6] Raum, O. F. (1939) Female initiation among the Chaga, Am Anthropol 41,4:554-65

[7]Moore, S. F. (1977) The Chagga of Kilimanjaro, in The Chagga and Meru of Tanzania. London: International African Institute, p1-85

[8] Gutmann, B. (1932) Die Stammeslehren der Dschagga. München: Beck. Vol. I. [Cf. 1932 HRAF translation as Tribal Treachings of the Chagga]

[9] Kamera, W. D. (1990) Pedagogy and education for the unlettered: a case for Chagga riddles, Afr Marburg 23,1:23-35