Featured: Makonde, Valenge; ®Swazi, ®Thonga



Harries (1944 [1970])[1] gives a detailed account of Makonde initiation rites known as Jando (also Unyago). Without initiation, a woman is believed to be deprived of the good prospect of a fruitful marriage, unclean. In the case of pregnancy before initiation, occurring sometimes, she is deprived of the privilege of initiation (p77), and forever known as anahaku (a term for girls before initiation), and not classed with people of hr own age-grade. Ciputu (first phase of female initiation) takes place usually before menarche. A chief instructress (Bimkubwa, grandmother) supervises preparations for vaginal distension in the first night (p30). Sexual instructions are given (p35-6) and obscene songs are practised. “Vaginal” distension (second night) is practised as in other Bantu (Bemba, Yao, Makua), and is said to include the labia minora. The hymen is not ruptured. If this is already the case, the Bimkubwa calls her mother and enquiries are made as to the girl’s conduct. Girls are told to manipulate themselves at home. More complete “distension” takes place on the night of the mhyako. During Kulunda Inole, water is poured over the pudenda (kukalawile, p38-9), accompanied with songs. The meaning of vaginal distension is emphasised once more (p41-2). At mhyako, “girls are made familiar with the facts of sexual intercourse by the application of an egg [?]. They are taught the motions of the sexual act. With red inumbati [...] powder they are taught about the menses [...]”. She is told about pubic shaving. The egg is later broken on the forehead and the yolk is to run down via the nose, not into the eyes for this would be indicative of her “future bad character or of incontinence on the part of her relations during the conduct of the rites” (p43). A month after the rites further sexual instructions are given (p44) using symbolic representations. Afterwards, they are adults: “What remains for tomorrow now is for you to be sought in marriage by a man. That’s all” (p46)[2].

Boys are circumcised, and a taboo on sexual intercourse rests upon the boys until they are healed (p7, 18). At the rite, boys are told about sexual purity, sexual disease through impurity and about menstruation using symbolism (p27). This would occur at ages nine to sixteen.

In a note on the decursus of Jando, it is mentioned that the “Christianised” Jando is “devoid of explicit sexual instruction” (p135-6) (®Yao).

Contrary to Harries, Dias (1961)[3] mentions that a clay phallic object is used in defloration at the end of chiputu. Instructions are given by means of song and explicit clay figurines (see Cory, 1948:p84-9, ill.)[4], including themes of defloration, conception, orgasmic timing, and intercourse taboos.








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] Harries, L. P. (1944) The Initiation Rites of the Makonde Tribe. Communications of the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute 3. Reprinted 1970, Lusaka, Institute for Social Research

[2] Betrothal may also occur.

[3] Dias, M. (1961) Makonde-Topferei, Baessler-Archiv, ns IX; [105]; Harries (1944 [1970:p50, n9])

[4] Cory, H. (1948) Jando: Part II: The Ceremonies and Teachings of the Jando, J Royal Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 78,1/2:81-94