Growing Up Sexually



NGULU (Tanzania)




Featured: Swahili, Wanguru, Turu, Kwere, Shambala, Ngindo, Chagga, Bena, Nyamwezi, Luguru, Kaguru, Sukuma, Subiya, Ngulu, Hehe, Barabaig, Nyakyusa, Gogo, Baraguyu;® Kuria, ®Masai


At menarche, girls undergo seclusion, sexual instruction and labiadectomy (Beidelman, 1964)[1]. “Ngulu boys are initiated some time between the ages of about 12 and 16; they undergo circumcision and some hazing, and are taught various songs and riddles providing traditional lore not only about sexual relations, the nature of the sexes and the problem of birth, but also about other values and traditions not directly associated with these. […] Although they may be initiated either before or after they show signs of puberty, today, at least, most boys are circumcised before they have reached sexual maturity. I was told that a sexually mature youth who was not circumcised would be refused by women” (Beidelman, 1965:p143)[2]. As to the format of instruction, the candidates “[…] are posed various riddles (mizimu) and mechanical puzzles (kihili, pl. Vihili) which they are later taught to understand and which are related to the sexual lore they must learn in order to conduct themselves as proper lovers and husbands” (p144). As for the regulations covered, these include avoidance of “incest and other forbidden sexual relations” (p145 et seq.).











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] Beidelman, T. O. (1964) Pig (Guluwe): an essay on Ngulu sexual symbolism and ceremony, Southwest J Anthropol 20,4:359-92

[2] Beidelman, T. O. (1965) Notes on Boys’ Initiation Among the Ngulu of East Africa, Man 65:143-7