Growing Up Sexually



NGONI (Malawi)


Index Africa Malawi Ngoni


Featured : Lake Nyasa, Chewa, Yao, Ngoni; ®Nyakyusa


Read (1959:p40)[1] found that all physical acts connected to sex are met with “extreme prudishness”, demanding correct behaviour from early life. Children’s house-playing is not noted to be sexual, but the children might play “Choosing a Lover”, etc. (p41, 43).


“The most stringent [of prohibitions] was on any form of sex play between boys and girls. To avoid any likelihood of this, little boys and girls were early encouraged to form separate play groups. The elders kept an eye particularly on the boys, and if they showed any inquisitiveness in their play about the private parts of a girl playmate, they were beaten and reproved and told: “If you do this again, I shall tell your father” (p80, 81).


At adolescence, sex instructions are given at “puberty school”. Macronymphia is practised in prepuberty, and in pairs (Read, 1938)[2]. Among the Chewa, childhood sexuality is common (p8, 12), and known by the name of ukusewera. Ngoni condoned partial intercourse prior to marriage. Upper class girls would be examined once a month by older women to monitor chastity. Sexual instruction is part of the puberty rites, and is performed by same-sex adults.


[Additional refs: LeVine, R. A. (1963) Child rearing practices in sub-Saharan Africa: an interim report, Bull Menn Clin 27,5:245-56]














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] Read, M. (1959) Children of their Fathers. London: Methuen. Also cited by Erny (1972 [1981:p62])

[2] Read, M. (1938) The moral code of the Ngoni and their former military state, Africa 11,1:1-24