Growing Up Sexually



GOGO (Tanzania)




Featured: Swahili, Wanguru, Turu, Kwere, Shambala

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


Youth are not supposed to be sexually active until after the ritual and circumcision after pubescence (Rigby, 1967)[1]. Girls are marriageable after the puberty ritual, including instruction in sexual matters from a woman of her grandmother’s generation. “Children before puberty and initiation play at being married. Young boys build tiny “homesteads” and “cattle byres” and clay cattle, and the girls help them in this and play at being wives. Sexual play among children is condoned as simply the result of childish ignorance. But sexual segregation in work and play takes place at an early age (Rigby, 1969:p205)[2]. “It is virtually impossible for uncircumcised boys to have heterosexual relationships, as it is indeed for uncircumcised adults from areas who have come to live in Ugogo; the girls and women just laugh at them”; circumcision takes place at age 11-14, “or even younger”. A girl is initiated at age 8-11, before puberty, and the initiation does not signify her immediate marriageability (this is attained at menarche). Betrothals rarely occur before puberty, or in infancy (p209). Instruction may be given by any married woman.









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] Rigby, P. (1967) The structural context of girls’ puberty rites, Man 2,3:434-44

[2] Rigby, P. (1967) Cattle and Kinship among the Gogo.Ithaca [etc.]: Cornell University Press