Growing Up Sexually





Index Africa Botswana Hambukushu


Featured: G/wi, Hambukushu, Kgalagari, Nharo, Dobe Ju/’Hoansi, (Ba)Katla / (Ba)kgatla,; also®Subiya, ®Tswana, ®Atonga



Sex education for girls is part of the postmenarchal initiation rite (Larson, 1979)[1]. Pubescent girls would practice a kind of genital modification used for “enlargement of the genital orifice”. Girls were be married before (those born between 1920 and 1930) or after ghudyaho (girls’ puberty ceremony), either by kushesha (man chooses a young girl) or kwandekera (infant betrothal) (Unzicker, 1996:p98)[2]. In the past, in both methods marriage partners were selected before menstruation, and often the girl was married before puberty (i.e., at ages 8-11), “though most said the couple was forbidden to have sexual relations until after the puberty ceremony. The girl is said “to sleep at the back” of her husband before her first menstruation but is able to lie in front of him after her ghudyaho” (p99). For the grandparental generation, marriage was consummated at the first day (wenga); at wenga the bride’s grandmother (thitongwa, teacher) was present to instruct the couple about living and sleeping together.

Both marriage patterns were quite rare in the late eighties, and girls are married a year or more after menarche. Ghudyaho is no longer is vogue, and girls hide their menarche.












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] Larson, T. J. (1979) Hambukushu girls’ puberty rites, Botswana Notes & Records 11:33-6

[2] Unzicker, A. B. (1996) Hambukushu marriage traditions: past and present, Botswana Notes & Records 28:97-106