Growing Up Sexually



MENDE (Sierra Leone) (3,3,3,3,2,4-;5,2;D4,1) 




IndexAfricaSierra Leone→ Mende

(Kuranko, Mende, Poro


The Humui, or medicine society, forbids sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of puberty (Little, 1951 [1967:p147]; 1954:p131)[1]. Sex matters are taught to initiates in the privacy of the kpanguima, or Sande [women’s society] initiation enclosure (Boone, 1986:p52)[2]. In older days, children would be severely chastised for the most innocent curiosity or questioning (p78, n2). Girls are instructed during the Sande society ceremony, which is to transform her from child into adult (Jedrej, 1980)[3]. During this, “[t]hey are subject of [sic] lewd speculation by the men and there is no doubt about their sexuality” (p136).


















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] Little, K. L. (1951) The Mende of Sierra Leone. 1967 repr., New York: Humanities Press; Little, K. L. (1954) The Mende in Sierra Leone, in Forde, D. (Ed.) African Worlds. London: Oxford University Press, p111-37. Critical passages reprinted in Middleton, J. (Ed., 1970) From Child to Adult. New York: Natural History Press, p207-25

[2] Boone, S. A. (1986) Radiance from the Waters. New Haven [etc.]: Yale University Press

[3] Jedrej, M. C. (1980) Structural aspects of a West African secret society, Ethol Zeitsch Zürich 1:133-41