MERU (Kenya)


IndexAfricaKenya → Meru


Featured : Pokomo, Amwimbe, Kore, Kuria, Masai, N’Jemp, Ariaal Rendille, Kamba, Tiriki, Chuka, Maragoli, Kikuyu, Kipsigis, Gusii, Luo, Meru, Samburu, Tuken, Nandi; ®Iteso


Njeru (1973:p71)[1] states that the Meru girl is taught about sex by her mother when young, and is instructed about sex conduct when approaching puberty by her grandmother. “Premarital sexual relations start quite early in life and apparently the society encourages them by reprimanding those who insist on being virgins. Such girls are mocked and penalized a goat at circumcision for being “too cowardly to have their hymens broken”. Sex life among boys and girls is regarded as normal so long as they do not do it openly. Girls dance in the evening with boys, they go to fetch firewood where they know boys are grazing the herds, and each chooses the boy to “give her tobacco”. Usually these boys are too young to have ejaculation, and so do not have to worry about any pregnancy”. A man is not supposed to have an uncircumcised girl experience the pleasure of ejaculation, and is urged to practice coitus interruptus. Boys aged 5 to 7 sleep with their grandfathers or in the junior boy’s hut (gam ya ncuna); later they live in the boy’s hut (gam ya runge). Senior boys (before circumcision) “have some sexual relation with young girls, usually the ones who have not reached puberty”, as determined by menarche. Older girls were also on their agenda, but not without the competition of the circumcised.


“Age and place of circumcision have changed during recent decades, but traditional elements remain. Prior to circumcision young boys are still forbidden by cultural pressure to have sexual relationships. After circumcision and the transition from child to man, sexual engagement is permitted. Boys and their families still desire teaching on sexual matters and life skills. They also expect that circumcision and the teaching will bring about a profound life change”[2].



Further references:


  • Haram, Liv (2005) "Eyes Have No Curtains": The Moral Economy of Secrecy in Managing Love Affairs among Adolescents in Northern Tanzania in the Time of AIDS, Africa Today - Volume 51, Number 4, Summer, pp. 57-73




Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. Volume I. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Aug 2005



[1]Njeru, B. K. (1973) The Egoji clan of Meru, Central Kenya, in Molnos, A. (Ed.) Cultural Source Materials for Population Planning in East Africa. University of Nairobi, Institute of African Studies. Vol. 3, p68-78

[2] Grant W, Brown J, Mecheni K, et al. (2003) Seizing the Day — right time, right place, and right message for adolescent RSH. Reaching Men to Improve Reproductive Health for All, Dulles, Virginia, September 15-18, 2003. Cf. Grant, Elizabeth; Angus Grant, Judith Brown, Evans Manuthu, Kenneth Micheni, and Jane Njeru (2005) “‘Seizing the Day’: Right Time, Right Place, and Right Message for Adolescent Male Reproductive Sexual Health: Lessons from the Meru of Eastern Province Kenya”, International Journal of Men's Health 3,3:189-196