“Teenagers reported that their first sexual encounters occurred at a young age, usually around 13 or 14 years (but as young as 11). In the majority of cases male partners (the first and subsequent) were said to be older than the girls by about five years […]”. Mayer and Mayer (1970:p175) stated: “Early sex play is regarded indulgently by adults, including the play of children out herding who “learn” by seeing animals mate and “may try to copy them”. “All this is only childishness”. The boy is rather a “bull” (unsocialised) than an “ox” (socialised sexuality) (Mayer and Mayer, 1990:p37). In an illustrative paper by Ntlabati et al (cf. Kelly and Parker, 2000:p31-3) adolescents construe their coitarche in contradistinction to sexual games, including undize, or coital “hide-and-seek” (cf. Vol. II, §188.8.131.52). Identifying a multifactorially determined “shift away from parental mediation of sexual enculturation towards a youth and peer-based framework for the same”, Ntlabati, Kelly and Mankayi (2001; note how Undize, hide-and-seek, as traditionally played in a deep rural area of the Eastern Cape in South Africa by children aged 7 to the early teens, acquired a coital, as well as a more invariably sexual, level over the past 50 years. This has strained the definition of curricular categories:
“[…] there used to be a strong distinction between sexual experimentation and sexual intercourse. This distinction appears to have blurred so that sexual experimentation much more rapidly evolves into intercourse, to the extent that Undize now involves sexual penetration, albeit somewhere between experimentation and fully-fledged, passion-driven intercourse”.
Thus, while “[l]earning about sex through play is hardly unusual, but in this case the play tends towards reality”. This discourse is suggested by the respondents persistent minimalising of the occurrences:
Female: “[…] it was nothing serious at that stage [12 a 13 to 15]” / “[…] it was not really serious. There was penetration but there was no ejaculation. We were just doing it and we didn’t even experience any form of pleasure. Hence I say it was nothing serious”. Male: “I was 15 and this was nothing serious. We were just playing Undize”.
These ramifications are significant enough to put data such as “[a]n astonishing 22% had their first sexual experience at or below the age of 11 years” on misty grounds (note that the authors do not define their measure of “sexual debut”).
Another account of Xhosa coitarche performances and negotiations leaves out games entirely, instead identifying intercourse as a performance of “love” and “growing up”:
“First sexual encounters were mostly reported to have occurred at a young age, often 12 years, with a male partner who was older by about five years. The consistently reported pattern was that women accepted male requests to establish a liaison, as revealed in the words ‘he asked me if we could love each other and then I agreed’. To these young women, agreement to love was equated specifically with having penetrative intercourse and being available sexually. This equation clearly derived from their male partners, who told the women that sex was the ‘purpose’ of being ‘in love’, that people ‘in love’ must have sex ‘as often as possible’, and that sexual intercourse was ‘what grown-ups do’. These constructions of love, apparently defined entirely by men, constituted the major reason to begin and continue sexual activity for the teenage women”.
However, the researchers (1997)note that “[m]any of the adolescents described sex as ‘playing’. One girl explained that some teenagers (particularly those from poor families) had sex frequently because there were no other activities available to them: ‘it starts with the girls because we are lost. You just do a thing, not thinking about the after-effects; it’s nice to go with boys’ ”. Adding to the confusion, male adolescents’ sexuality discourse is complicated with themes of violence and infidelity, boys arguing they are “played with”by girls in their love trajectories.
With puberty the children must learn to refrain from any mention or hint of sexual things in their parents’ presence […] it is merely the hlonipha (respect behaviour) due to parents. Girls in the intutu grades- pre-adolescent or barely adolescent- are already learning about the permissibility of metsha, external sexual intercourse. Invariably this instruction is said to be given by the older girls and never on any account by the mother, for hlonipha reasons”. Until marriage, keeping to metsha is a cardinal rule of youthful sex “play” (p175-8). Among the Xhosa, children are never told about conception, and only seldom witness parental coitus. Males are circumcised at ages 18-22, after which they are told “the laws” (incl. adultery prohibition) by “the old men” (Laidler, 1922). Premarital virginity is important, marriage occurs at about age 15. Girls must not eat eggs for it would lead to promiscuity (Ames and Daynes, 1974). “Children were never told about contraception. They seldom witnessed parental intercourse and if they did so inadvertently, they were frightened by the “fighting”. When children asked where the baby came from, they were told that it was bought from the shop or the hospital, “because you should not each a child bad things. If the child is clever and not satisfied with this answer, or has seen sheep giving birth, we tell him that children are born from the knees of the mother because we don’t want them to think that giving birth and going to the toilet are the same thing. The difference between the sexes that is clear to all semi-naked toddlers is usually “explained” by the older children to the younger, the penis often being referred to as ncolosi (the Xhosa name for St. Lucy’s Hospital). A girl may take hold of a boy’s penis, saying she would like to have it. “This is how intercourse begins”. Girls are seldom told about menstruation before the menarche”, and interpret it as traumatic. Girls are not usually told about menstruation until it occurs (age 14). Indeed, only 2 of 30 rural schoolgirls (mean age 17.8) claimed to have had any sex education at school (O’Mahony, 1987). The earliest admitted “sexual experience” was 14, mean age of first 16.4.
[Additiona refs.: Collins, T. & Stadler, J. (2001) Love, Passion and Play: Sexual Meaning
among Youth in the
Pauw (1963:p111-3, 114, 115, 116) states that in
Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. Volume I. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology
Last revised: Mar 2005
 Wood, K., Maforah, F. & Jewkes, R. (1998) “He forced me to love him”: putting violence on adolescent sexual health agendas, Soc Sci & Med 47,2,16:233-42
 Mayer, Ph. & Mayer,
 Mayer, Ph. & Mayer,
Kelly, K. & Mankayi, A. (April, 2001)
The First Time: An Oral History of Sexual Debut in a Deep Rural Area.
Conference presentation, AIDS in Context
Conference, University of the
 Kelly, K. & Parker, W. (Nov., 2000) Communities of Practice: Contextual Mediators of Youth Response to HIV/AIDS. Sentinel Site Monitoring and Evaluation Project. Stage Two Report, Commissioned by Beyond Awareness Campaign, HIV/AIDS and STD Directorate, Dept of Health
 U ndize. Children call out “Ndize?” Can
I come? The game was mentioned in Nelson Mandela’s 1994 autobiography Long Walk to Freedom.
 See also Stadler, J. (1998) Sex as Play and
as Procreation: Adolescent Constructions of Sexuality in the Northern Province
of South Africa. 4th Reproductive Health Priorities Conference, Aug 18 -
K., Maforah, F. & Jewkes, R. (1996) Sex, Violence and Constructions of
Love Among Xhosa Adolescents: Putting Violence on the Sexuality Education
Agenda. MRC Technical report, Medical Research Council,
K., Maepa, J. & Jewkes, R. (1997) Adolescent Sex and Contraceptive
Experiences: Perspectives of Teenagers and Clinic Nurses in the
K. & Jewkes, R. (1998) 'Love is a Dangerous Thing': Micro-Dynamics of
Violence in Sexual Relationships of Young People in
 Laidler, P. W. (1922) Bantu Ritual Circumcision, Man-4
 O’Mahony, D. (1987) Schoolgirl pregnancies in Libode, Transkei, South Afr Med J 71,12:771-3
 Pauw, B. A. (1963) The Second Generation: A Study of the Family
among Urbanized Bantu in