IndexAfricaNigeria → Nupe


Featured: Badjju, Nupe, Hausa, Kadara, Kagoro, Efik, Tiv, Kanuri, Ijaw/ Ijo, Bini, Marghi, Jekri, Lala, Kofjar, Ibibio, Woodabe Fulani, Borroro Fulani, Ibo [ Afikpo Igbo, Asaba Ibo], Rukuba, Irigwe, Yakoe, Igbira, Igala, Orri, Dakarkaki


Among the Nupe, betrothal may have been “as early as five to seven years for girls, and ten to twelve for a boy, but this is not usual”, the usual age for girls being fifteen to seventeen (Temple and Temple, 1919:p322[1]; cf. Yahaya, 2003:p105-6)[2].


Nadel’s (1954:p57)[3] informants denied boyhood masturbation; however, “[…] when confronted with incontrovertible evidence they admitted that parents did sometimes observe this kind of “play” and would warn their boys that it was a “bad thing” ”. At the initiation festival adolescents have ritualised sexual licence, and children are allowed to sing obscene songs, and discuss ribald matters (Nadel, 1949)[4]. Nadel (1952)[5] noted that Gwari (Nupe) children are familiar with cohabitation from earliest age, taking place in the wife’s hut. This contrasts with the attitude of the Nupe wife leaving her children behind when going to the men’s hut. The first sexual experiences occurred at ages thirteen to sixteen; later men claim that sexual activities are weakening and should be more restrained.












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]Temple, O. & Temple, C. L. (1919) Notes on the Tribes, Provinces, Emirates and States of the Northern Provinces of Nigeria. Cape Town: The Argus Printing & Publishing Co.

[2]Yahaya, Mohammed Kuta (2003) The Nupe People of Nigeria, Stud Tribes & Tribals 1,2:95-110. Download here

[3] Nadel, S. F. (1954) Morality and Language Among the Nupe, Man 54:55-7

[4] Nadel, S. F. (1949) The Gani ritual of Nupe: a study oin social symbiosis, Africa 19,3:177-86

[5] Nadel, S. F. (1952) Witchcraft in four African societies: an essay in comparison, Am Anthropol 54,1:18-29