Growing Up Sexually





Index Africa Botswana Nharo


Featured: G/wi, Hambukushu, Kgalagari, Nharo, Dobe Ju/’Hoansi, (Ba)Katla / (Ba)kgatla,; also®Subiya, ®Tswana, ®Atonga


Marriage and sexual activity becomes possible after the puberty ceremony at menarche (Barnard, 1980:p118)[1].[Kaufman[2] (for the ¹Auin Bushmen) reports that 13 to 14 year old girls (or before puberty) were married to 16 to 20-year-olds (cf. Lebzelter, 1934:p71[3])]. The game of “Getting Married” played by “young” girls includes a marriage by capture, with dragging away of the screaming bride (Bleek, 1928:p20[4]; Lebzelter, 1934:p69)[5]. Children spend their days “wandering in the open” or helping collecting. In later childhood girls “will probably have a lover or two, as erotic play and courtship behaviour begins at a relatively early age, often prior to puberty. All that is required for her to become a woman and ready for marriage is to undergo her [...] puberty initiation” (Guenther, 1986:p211)[6]. Dances at girls menarchal rites are “frenzied and replete with erotic gestures” (p280). Afterwards, “[s]he was now [...] eligible for serious courtship or marriage. In the event that the initiand was already married, she would now change her status from child wife to true wife and would consummate her marriage”.










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] Barnard, A. (1980) Sex roles among the Nharo Bushmen of Botswana, Africa 50,2:115-24

[2] Kaufmann, H. (1910) Die Auin. Mitt. A.d. D. Schutzgebieten, p156; Crul, Th. W. (1942) Het Huwelijk bij de “Ethnologisceh Oervolken”. Dissertation. Leiden [Holland]: A. W. Sijthoff, p110

[3] Lebzelter, V. (1934) Eingeborenenkulturen in Südwest- und Südafrika. Leipzif: Verlag Karl W. Hiersemann

[4] Bleek, D. F. (1928) The Naron. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press. Also quoted in Barnard (1992:p145), op.cit.

[5] Op.cit.

[6] Guenther, M. (1986) The Nharo Bushmen of Botswana: Tradition and Change. Hamburg: Buske