Growing Up Sexually





Index Africa Zambia Ila


Featured: Kaonde, Nkoya, Tonga, Ila, Bemba, Ndembu, Mambwe / Amambwe, Luvale, Lozi


Smith and Dale (1920, II:p38)[1] observed Ila children playing mantombwa (“harvest festival”) with house-playing and going to bed in separate huts. This is seen in the light of chikunku (childishness). Sexual interaction with an immature girl is tonda (taboo) but, according to leading men in the tribe, it occurs. They probably practice kuchompa (“external” intercourse), after which the girl may be rebuked by her elders. “Owing to these things, it is doubtful whether any girls who could be called chaste are discoverable over ten years of age”. Thus, “It is reported that there are no virgins among these people after the age of ten” (Ford and Beach, 1951:p191). “Formal sex instruction” may precede puberty initiation (Stephens, 1971:p407)[2]. The Ila child was sometimes betrothed at age four, or even earlier. At age ten, she was taken to her future spouse’s hut to perform domestic chores[3].












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] Op.cit.

[2] Op.cit.

[3] S&D, II, p47-8. See also Mair (1953:p88), op.cit.