EWE (Ghana)




IndexAfricaGhana → Ewe

(Thsi-Speakers, Tallensi, Akan, / ASHANTI, Fanti, Kokomba, (S)Isala, Ga, Ewe, Vagla, Krobo

Among the Ewe-speaking peoples, children may be betrothed in childhood or before birth[1]. In Dahomi, girls aged ten to twelve, in every town, are married to Gods. They remain three years in religion institutions prostituting themselves to priests and inmates of male seminaries, at the end becoming “secular” prostitutes[2]. Among the Anlo Ewe, sex before the puberty rites was considered not only immoral but also an affront to the spiritual powers, particularly the ancestors. Sexual intercourse was reserved for procreation, the family regarded as a sacred unit (Dovlo, 1995)[3]. “These prohibitions were traditionally taught from childhood on, though not always in a formal manner”. “Children were severely punished for such acts as masturbation and sodomy and childhood play activities that [may] lead to sexual contact”. Sexual instruction was carried out by the same-sex parent, for girls formalised in the premarital seclusion (p32). In a more recent study[4] (data gathered 1971-3), first sexual experiences were found to occur at age 18-19 (boys) and 17-18 (girls). Though a changing pattern, girls could be betrothed before puberty, and are paraded around the village to announce their nuptial status at pubescence (Nukunya, 1969:p77-9)[5].


In Goviefe, “masturbation in children is recognized as being common. Masturbation will make the child grow into a highly-sexed personality and it will lead to the development of premature, or precocious, sex appetites and, therefore, immorality” (Kaye). In Vakpo, “it is thought that no children masturbate over the age of three”. In Gblede, “mother-and-father make-believe games are not encouraged but are viewed with suspicion by parents who think that they might lead to sexual play”.


Hevi-Yiboe (2003)[6]


“In Dodome, the puberty rite for girls is called Tugbewôwô but it has been suspended for some years now. As part of these rites, girls are supposed to remain virgins till after the rites are performed. They are taught the arts of womanhood, motherhood etc. and are prepared to take their places as women in society. Modernization has eroded most of these resources that prepared girls to become effective members of society, producing teenage single parents. The rites served as an incentive for mothers to constantly remind their daughters of society’s expectations of them and thus they preserved their chastity. That is no longer the case. An exploratory study in Dodome revealed that the majority would like tugbewôwô to be reintroduced.”






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] Ellis, A. B. (1890) The Ewe-Speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa. London: International African Institute, p199; Parsons (1906:p71), op.cit.

[2] Ellis (1890:p139-41), op.cit.; Parsons (1906:p127-8), op.cit.

[3] Dovlo, E. (1995) Traditional sexual norms of the Anlo Ewe, Africana Marburgensia 28,1/2:32-45

[4] Verdon, M. (1982) Divorce in Abutia, Africa 52,4:48-65

[5] Nukunya, G. K. (1969) Kinship and Marriage among the Anlo Ewe. [University of] London: The Athlone Press

[6]Hevi-Yiboe, Laetitia A. P. (2003) Family Resources and Reproductive Health of Girls: a Focus on Money and Tugbewcwc Puberty Rites among the Dodome Ewes, Instit African Studies Res Rev 19,1:79-90