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close this bookTraditional Sex Education in Tanzania (WAZAZI, 1991, 82 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentDATA CARD
View the documentACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Open this folder and view contentsINTRODUCTION
Open this folder and view contentsChapter one THE RESEARCH DESIGN
Open this folder and view contentsChapter two THE ETHNIC COMMUNITIES
Open this folder and view contentsChapter three A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF RESEARCH FINDINGS
Open this folder and view contentsChapter four CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
View the documentBIBLIOGRAPHY
View the documentBack Cover

(introduction...)

A study of 12 Ethnic Groups sponsored by WAZAZI (parents associations of tanzania) and the United Nation Population Fund

by
Fr. Daniel Mbunda, Ph.D.

MARGARET SANGER CENTER
PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF NEW YORK CITY
NEW YORK, NY

© 1991, Zawadi Enterprises and United Nations Population Fund, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. All rights reserved.

Published in the United States of America

The Margaret Sanger Center
Planned Parenthood of New York City, Inc.
380 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10010

DATA CARD

PUBLICATION TYPE:

Project publication

IMPRINT:

New York : Planned Parenthood of New York City, 1991

PAGINATION:

76 p.

PERSONAL AUTHOR:

Mbunda, Daniel

AFFILIATED AGENCY:

Planned Parenthood of New York City. Margaret Sanger Center.; Parents Association of Tanzania (WAZAZI)

UNFPA PROJECT NUMBER:

URT/91/P02

NOTES:

Study carried out by Parents Association of Tanzania (WAZAZI) pursuant to


mandate from Julius Nyerere.

ABSTRACT:

Research study based on focus groups among Tanzanian ethnic groups, exploring content of sex education and dynamics of transmittal, and looking for patterns of cultural codes and communication. Proposes model for improved national curriculum.

SUBJECT:

Sex education; Ethnic groups

REGION:

Africa

COUNTRY:

Tanzania

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The researcher wishes to thank WAZAZI, the Parents Association of Tanzania, for assigning him the difficult but rewarding job of conducting this research. He particularly thanks Mr. G. A. S. Mandara, the project manager, for his personal interest in the survey. He appreciates the support the project received from government and Party officials in every region, district, division, ward, and village involved.

He is indebted to his research assistants, all of them WAZAZI regional or district secretaries, for their patience, hard work, and commitment to building better families for the future. They are A. K. Abdallah of Zanzibar, Rahel Amos of Kilimanjaro, M. Chiluma of Mtwara, Lt. F. Kaizelege of Rukwa, E. Kapwela of Mbeya, K. D. Karume of Rukwa, J. N. Kimambo of Arusha, A. Masengwa of Dodoma, C. B. Mathias of Mwanza, S. N. Mollel of Arusha, Helen Mpinga of Singida, J.O. Mujungu of Dodoma, J. J. Mwinuka of Dares Salaam, M. S. Simba of Lindi, and A. M. Wakambi of Lindi.

The researcher is also grateful to the members of the 11 focus groups held in sites scattered across the length and breadth of Tanzania. Their participation in the survey often entailed inconvenience and personal sacrifice. Without them, the project would have been impossible.

Nor could it have been undertaken without the financial and moral support of Dr. A. A. Arkuto and Dr. F. Magari of the United Nations Population Fund in Dar es Salaam.

Special thanks are also owed the secretarial and administrative staff at Zawadi Center and the Morogoro Institute of Adult Education. Mrs. Christine Ponda generously served as cashier and typist throughout the survey period; Ms. Anna Turuka and Claudia Luwago did the final typing.

Finally, the researcher thanks his wife Grace, who helped him design the survey, and his daughters, Anna, Hekamoyo, Zawadi, and Donata, for their quiet encouragement.

Tanzania at the Crossroads

On August 29, 1982, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Chairman of Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), speaking in Zanzibar to the Parents’ Association of Tanzania, known as WAZAZI, made a fervent appeal for change in the rearing of the nation’s young people.

What he said was to affect radically WAZAZI’s thinking about educational planning-indeed, to affect planning for the future of the nation itself.

He asked the Party and WAZAZI to accept the challenge of educating the country about the consequences of uncontrolled population growth. Not only was the health of mothers at risk, he warned, but also the future of their children. He said that if the birth rate were not reduced in time, the resulting poverty and misery would breed social instability and political unrest. He pointed out signs of beginning deterioration - the rising incidence of separation and divorce, pregnancies among girls still in primary school, malnutrition among mothers and children, infant mortality, prostitution, juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, and sexually transmitted disease.

In making his appeal at the time and place he did, he was using Party authority to re-establish and underscore the time-honored role of parents - wazazi - in educating the commonwealth. Traditionally, parents have been the primary educators in Tanzania. In the societies of the past, most social and vocational training was conducted in the home. Later, during the struggle for independence and afterwards, the Parents Association of Tanzania, then called TAPA, now known as WAZAZI, began to set up adult education groups, primary schools, and technical secondary schools.

Wazazi’s Search for Roots

Recently, WAZAZI took several significant steps to carry out its mandate.

First, it produced a guidebook for parents based on the 1987 national policy of education, Sera ya Malezi ya Taifa kwa Watotona Vijana, Tanzania. The book provided an outline of information for parents to give their children, together with suggestions on how to present it.

Then, to introduce the book, WAZAZI organized workshops for its field staff and district-level secretaries nationwide, to train them to present the contents of the book to groups of parents in their areas.

The workshops made it clear that some topics needed a more detailed approach. Sexuality in particular called for immediate attention.

It was also clear that a curriculum on this important and sensitive subject needed to be based on an understanding of how sexuality had traditionally figured in the lives and cultures of Tanzanian ethnic groups. By learning more about these cultural roots, WAZAZI could better define its own role in a rapidly changing modern Tanzania.

Accordingly, WAZAZI undertook a survey of 11 Tanzanian ethnic groups, focusing on their sexual and child-rearing practices. The groups were the Chagga, Fipa, Gogo, Makonde, Makonde Malaba, Masai, Nyakyusa, Nyaturu, Sukuma, Zanzibaris, and Zaramo.

Summary of Report

Because the groups surveyed were at the same low level of technological development, most were superficially similar. But their social fabric was complex, made up of elaborate rules of behavior intertwined with rituals, taboos, magic, and divination. In these low-technology societies, ritual, myth, and magic took the place of science in providing the framework of understanding within which people lived their lives. Rituals and myth surrounded even ordinary activities like farming, herding, fishing, and forging tools.

Sexual development carried special ritual and mythic significance, for at least three reasons: All the communities saw sex as a source of supreme pleasure.

All had a religious awe of sex as the source of life itself-of the ability of individuals to reproduce and the ability of their community to perpetuate itself.

All valued sex as the source of kinship/affinity relationships, the basis of solidarity, reciprocity, and cooperation.

Traditional societies consequently educated their children about sex in the holistic context of educating them about life-preparing them for life.

The report analyzes sexual life in these communities, using a sociological framework borrowed from the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. This helps to clarify the social order underlying sexual life in each community-the range of groups concerned with it, the cultural values to which it was linked, the “cultural code” that marked its customs, and the educational system that sustained it.

Though education was informal, each community had a clearly defined curriculum, a set of teaching methodologies, and an evaluation system.

The curriculum was basic facts about sex.

The methodologies were diverse and all-pervasive, stretching over a lifetime. The household was the primary agency, but virtually all clan institutions were involved at one stage or another. Group members learned by living their roles; they acquired knowledge as they applied it. They absorbed skills and values unconsciously through institutions that were apparently neutral-but the apparent neutrality was just what made them such effective transmitters of the dominant ideology.

Finally, the evaluation system was pragmatic. Sex education was measured by results-by whether it produced, for the most part, sexually satisfied couples heading happy families, able to maintain productive households socially acceptable within the clan.

All the models studied had strengths. All also had two inherent weaknesses, perpetuated along with the strengths. One was group members’ lack of contact with the outside world and limited access to information, which enabled the elders, as custodians of the clan heritage, to wield heavy-handed control over women and children. The other was the traditional division of labor that gave women lesser tasks and lower social status than men. This, too, was exploited by male elders as a means to remain in power.

The report ends with some broad conclusions and recommendations:

· Since most Tanzanians see sexuality holistically, sex education should be approached through life education - in which sex is an integral element, not the whole.

· Sex education should remain largely informal, with parents as the primary educators of their children.

· Parents’ teaching should be supplemented with formal courses, particularly when young people enter important new phases of their lives, such as adolescence or marriage.

· Formal sex education should identify and consciously incorporate the best features of informal education, to insure its relevance and impact.

· Under the coordinating umbrella of WAZAZI, national and private institutions should pool resources to develop a cadre of trained specialized counselors - modem walombo/wanyago - to be assigned to key training institutions.

· WAZAZI should encourage and assist the development of youth organizations under these responsible walombo/wanyago. Religious institutions can play an important role in this effort.

Objectives

The project was undertaken to learn about sexual practices and related issues affecting family health and social welfare in 11 Tanzanian ethnic groups.

The researcher was asked to explore the content of sex education in each group and the dynamics of its transmittal from generation to generation; to investigate patterns of communication about sex between different subgroups - parents and children, males and females, older and younger generations; and to identify the strengths and weaknesses of traditional sex education.

The research was designed to elicit information about each group’s system of values and the institutions and practices in which these values were embodied. It looked for patterns of cultural codes and patterns of cultural communication.

Finally, the project was asked to make suggestions and recommendations based on the findings, to serve as a model for an improved national curriculum of sex education.

The project findings represent a significant addition to the national ethnographic literature. Only a few comparative studies of the sexual life of Tanzanian ethnic groups have ever been done, and those few were intended to have academic use alone. In contrast, this study was designed from the outset to be the basis of an actual education program. Most significantly, it shows the relationship between culture and education and demonstrates how elements of traditional systems of transmitting culture can be used constructively in contemporary Tanzania.

Definition of Terms

Key terms are defined below as they are used in the study:

Education - formal or informal - is any socializing activity through which members of a group are introduced to the group’s values, institutions, cultural practices, and store of basic knowledge.

Formal education is education offered in today’s conventional systems of primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools.

Informal education is the aggregate of learning experiences people are casually exposed to in the course of their daily lives.

Nonformal education is a package of specific skills, knowledge, and mindsets transmitted through carrying out a particular activity or program.

Traditional education is the way in which precolonial societies in Tanzania passed on their cultural heritage to their children.

Sexuality is the state of being male or female, including male and female social roles.

Society/ethnic group is a clearly defined specific group of families/households sharing the same ideology, social institutions, and cultural practices, Culture is the sum total of the values and beliefs of an ethnic group as expressed through their attitudes, institutions, and practices.

A focus group is a group of individuals, brought together for research purposes, who have agreed to discuss certain issues of concern to them.

The Focus Groups

Out of more than 120 Tanzanian tribes, 11 ethnic groups considered to be among the most traditional in the nation were selected for the study. (Originally, 12 focus groups were planned, but one, with members of the Tukuyu in Mbeya, could not be arranged. Its omission is not believed to have significantly affected survey results.) Traditionalism was not the only factor in the selection process. Ethnic groups were also chosen on the basis of their economic activities, to see whether the nature of these activities affected sexual practices. The Chagga, Nyaturu, Makonde, and Fipa represented Tanzania’s farming communities; the Masai, Gogo, and Sukuma were cattle herders. Four groups were chosen to show the impact of urbanization on traditional values: the Zaramo of Dar es Salaam, the Makonde of Lindi, the Nyakyusa of Mbeya, and a mixed group from Zanzibar.

Regional balance was an additional factor. Four groups were held in the north (in Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Singida, and Mwanza), three in the central part of the country (in Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, and Dodoma), and four in the south (in Rukwa, Mbeya, Lindi, and Mtwara).

Each focus group had 10 to 20 participants, both men and women, making a total of 165. All participated voluntarily. The Party was helpful in suggesting informed, respected people who belonged to the community being studied or had closely related ethnic origins. Most were in their 40s or older; some were in their 80s and 90s. The majority of the groups met several times a week for seven weeks. Sessions generally lasted an hour or so.

The focus group discussions were structured around questionnaires prepared for each session. Participants were asked to provide information about themselves and to talk about their ethnic group’s culture, sexual life, and modes of sexual education. Urban focus groups were asked to discuss the impact of modernization as well. A chair elected by the participants led each group. At the end of the discussion, a research assistant acting as secretary and facilitator recorded a group answer to each question in the questionnaire. To encourage greater openness and depth in discussion, groups often broke up into smaller units, later reporting back to a plenary session.

Research assistants reported that participants’ initial reluctance to talk gradually gave way to enthusiasm as they became aware of the national significance of the study and the value of their contributions to it. The sharing of ideas, views, and experiences broke down walls of shyness. Not surprisingly, most participants were sorry to see the sessions end.

Focus group members were the researchers’ primary source of information about sex education, but members of the general public also provided information. Here, too, the Party and government officials were helpful, identifying knowledgeable persons in the area whom the research assistants could consult.

Four WAZAZI regional secretaries, acting as zonal coordinators, provided support and guidance for the focus groups, visiting each group at least twice. The Lindi zonal coordinator supervised in Lindi and Newala; the Rukwa coordinator in Mbeya and Nkasi; the Dodoma coordinator in Dodoma, Singida, and Segerema; and the Arusha coordinator in Kiteto and Hai. The Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar groups received technical support from Zawadi Enterprises and WAZAZI in Dar es Salaam.

Because of poor transportation and, in four areas, devastating floods, the researcher was able to visit only three zones, meeting with only two focus groups. But he was able to meet with all zonal coordinators, and remote groups were reached by telephone.

Focus Group Sites and Participants

THE CHAGGA


Region

Kilimanjaro

District

Hai

Division

Masama

Ward

Machame South

Village

Mungushi

Participants

9 men, 6 women

THE FIPA


Region

Rukwa

District

Nkasi

Division

Namanyere

Ward

Namanyere

Village

Mkole

Participants

10 men, 7 women

THE GOGO


Region

Dodoma

District

Dodoma Rural

Division

Mundemu

Ward

Zanka

Village

Mayamaya

Participants

9 men, 11 women

THE MAKONDE


Region

Mtwara

District

Newala

Division

Newala Rural

Ward

Luchinga

Village

Luchinga

Participants

9 men, 7 women

THE MAKONDE-MAIABA


Region

Lindi

District

Lindi Urban

Division

Lindi Urban

Ward

Msinjahili

Village

Msinjahili

Participants

5 men, 5 women

THE MASAI


Region

Arusha

District

Kiteto

Division

Kibaya

Ward

Kibaya

Village

Partimbo

Participants

10 men, 6 women

THE NYAKYUSA


Region

Mbeya

District

Mbeya Urban

Division

lyunga

Ward

ltezi

Village

ltezi

Participants

8 men, 7 women

THE NYATURU


Region

Singida

District

Singida Rural

Division

Mungaa

Ward

Sinyu

Village

Sinyu

Participants

10 men, 10 women

THE SUKUMA


Region

Mwanza

District

Sengerema

Division

Sengerema

Ward

Sengerema

Village

Nyampulukano

Participants

10 men, 5 women

THE ZANZIBARIS


Region

Zanzibar South Urban

District

Zanzibar Urban

Division

Makadara

Ward

Makadara

Village

Makadara

Participants

7 men. 4 women

THE ZARAMO


Region

Dar es Salaam

District

llala

Division

Ukonga

Ward

Ukonga

Village

Gongo la Mboto

Participants

5 men, 5 women

Limitations

The research was conducted within a limited time, with limited human and material resources. The seven weeks allotted for field research were a very short period in which to build rapport between research assistants and the focus group members assigned to them. Focus group participants also could have used more time to become truly open about a subject as sensitive and personal as sex. Only two of the WAZAZI district secretaries who acted as research assistants had gone beyond primary school. Though their maturity and experience helped them greatly in their work with the focus groups, a stronger educational background would have made them even more effective.

Pre- and Post-Survey Workshops

Zonal coordinators and research assistants were trained in a seven-day workshop held in Morogoro town in April 1990. Since more than 75 percent of the group had no background in social research, the training sessions had to cover basic research principles, survey techniques, and use of research instruments, as well as the researchers’ roles in this particular project. The training also provided a framework of information on culture and cultural practices, focusing on sexual life as an element of culture and on the ideology of sexuality.

This pre-survey training, along with participants’ maturity, helped to compensate for their lack of research experience. In a post-survey evaluation conducted in a second workshop in June, the research assistants reported almost 100 percent confidence in their social research skills.

The comprehensive oral reports on research results that they presented in the June workshop justified their assurance. These reports gave background information about each ethnic group and described its culture, beliefs, and institutions, its practices associated with sexual life, its socialization model, and its sexual ideology.

Research assistants participated in the planning of the final report and turned over detailed written records to assist the researcher in preparing it. For each of the 11 focus groups, he had a completed questionnaire, weekly reports on the group’s sessions, a timetable of activities for the research period, the research assistant’s diary, and a summary report.

(introduction...)

The following descriptions of each of the 11 ethnic groups covered by the survey are based on the research assistants’ much more detailed reports. The original reports and tape recordings of the research assistants’ oral presentation of findings can be made available on request.

The report on each ethnic group briefly sketches the group’s social, economic, and political organization and describes its sexual life in somewhat more detail. This information provides abase for the critical analysis that follows in Chapter Three.

The Chagga

The focus group was held in the village of Mungushi in the ward of Machame South, Masama Division, Hai District, in the Kilimanjaro region. The participants were Chagga, a mixture of Masai, Kikuyu, and Kamba. All of them - nine men and six women - were fairly elderly.

Social organization. The Chagga were patrilineal. Family members lived together on household land under the leadership of a male family head. The wife had her own house, where she lived with her daughters and, when they were very young, her sons. The husband lived in a separate house, as did the older boys.

Chagga society was divided by class, and men and women had defined roles. The elders were a distinct group, set apart from adults and young people.

Work was divided between men and women. Men owned the land, buildings, and animals, did the hard work on the farm, and provided leadership in social affairs. Women did most of the work in the banana fields, fed the animals, prepared food for the family, and cooked for the elders. Special needs were served by a variety of professionals - iron workers, bead workers, toolmakers, artists, singers, medicine men/women, house builders, canal diggers.

Economic organization. The Chagga economy was based on agriculture. Each family was expected to be self-reliant in food production, growing its own bananas, potatoes, and beans and keeping some domestic animals-goats, sheep, and cows - for food, manure, and rituals.

Political organization. Chagga society was highly stratified. At the top was the chief, the mangi. Below him were lesser chiefs or wachili, the rich people or mashimba, and the elders - warmaku wa mungo. At the bottom were the wuhungu, landless people who worked on the land of the mangi, who sheltered them. Political life was male-dominated.

Sex life. The Chagga thought of sex as primarily for reproduction and expansion of kinship. They valued having children, especially male children.

Parents monitored the responsiveness of their young children’s sex organs in the same way they monitored other abilities - to make sure development was normal and everything worked. If a penis or clitoris failed to become erect when stimulated, parents sought help in the form of medical treatment or rituals.

Chagga boys and girls were raised apart, to facilitate the children’s socialization into their future roles as fathers and mothers. Girls lived with their mothers, boys with their fathers. Both boys and girls underwent initiation ceremonies, including circumcision.

The initiation of a girl before marriage was the first major step in her sexual life. It included a period of instruction in a good wife’s duties to her husband, his family, and the community, and it culminated in the ritual removal of her clitoris - in some cases, the labia minora and majora as well - to foster courage and reduce the desire for sexual pleasure. The ceremony conferred adult status, with all the social and ritual privileges that went with it.

Boys’ circumcision consisted of the removal of the foreskin, to instill bravery, encourage cleanliness, and symbolize a man’s responsibilities as husband, father, and soldier.

The next milestone in sexual life was the wedding. Marriage partners were chosen by families on the basis of social acceptability. A virgin bride was highly valued and generously rewarded by friends and relatives. On the wedding night, she was expected to resist her husband’s advances; he was expected to overpower her. For the rest of their lives together, sexual encounters were likely to be limited to the times when she brought him food in the evening. Sexual pleasure was secondary; techniques to enhance it were not stressed.

Polygamy was acceptable among the Chagga. Divorce was permitted on serious grounds, such as cruelty or suspected infidelity. Extramarital sex - prostitution, sodomy, adultery - was unacceptable. Adulterous couples who were caught were forced to lie together in a public simulation of intercourse while their bodies were pierced with a pole.

SEX PROFILE: THE CHAGGA

Objectives

· sexual satisfaction


· reproduction of the clan


· expansion of kinship/affinity network

Acceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· playing with own genitals

monitored by family,

· singing love songs, dancing

grandparents, aunts and

· sucking mother’s breasts, touching her soft parts

uncles

· playing father/mother games


· forming peer groups


· fondling and kissing

At puberty

· interest in opposite sex

monitored by family, clan,

· private masturbation

those in charge of initiation

· singing sensuous songs

rites, birth attendants

· female/male circumcision


· interest in sex ornaments, beads, waist dancing

At marriage

· courtship

monitored by family,

· wedding

clan, and council of elders

· sexual intercourse


· masturbation


· polygamy

Unacceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· foul language

monitored by family,

· sexual intercourse

grandparents, close relatives


At puberty

· public masturbation

monitored by family

· foul language

and clan

· interest in watching animals mate


· sexual intercourse

At marriage

· adultery

monitored by family

· sodomy

and clan

· child abuse


· rape


· prostitution


· abortion


· incest

Sanctions


Rewards

· social accptance


· material rewards


· praise in songs and dances

Punishments

· social disapproval


· reprimands, strokes


· denial of food and privileges


· ostracism


· divorce


· death

The ideal marriage


Husband

· sexually virile and attractive


· initiation graduate, circumcized


· productive, hard-working, can maintain family


· healthy and strong


· affectionate and loyal to family, clan, and in-laws

Wife

· sexually energetic and attractive


· able to have many children and care for family


· affectionate to husband, children, clan, in-laws



Family size

· large

Sex status

· males superior to females

Evaluation

· young people become successful fathers/mothers

Effectiveness

· positive

Mode of education

· informal/nonformal

The Fipa

The Fipa focus group was held in the village of Mkole, in the Namanyere division of the Nkasi district in the Rukwa region. The village population is a mixture of four ethnic groups - Fipa, Sukuma, Rungu, and Nyika.

Seventeen people, ten men and seven women, took part. Their ages ranged from 40 to 70.

Social organization. The Fipa were patrilineal. The smallest unit in the community was the household, which was headed by its oldest male member. His house was in the center of the family compound, with the houses of his children and grandchildren clustered around it.

Several forms of social differentiation cut across family lines.

One was age, which divided the population into elders or wakombe, adults, youth, and children.

Another was property ownership, which separated the rich, who had large farms or many cattle, from the poor, who had nothing and had to sell their labor to the rich.

Still another form of differentiation was professional specialization - making farm implements or weapons, building houses, dancing and singing, or practicing medicine, magic, or the art of war. Important among these specialists were the yanukambuza, elderly women in charge of initiation programs.

Economic organization. Living on fertile land in a favorable climate, the Fipa were primarily farmers and herders of cattle.

Ownership of the farms and flocks was male-dominated. Certain tasks were “male” - cutting down trees, clearing grass, setting up poles for houses, taking cattle to pasture. Other tasks were “female” - planting seeds, drawing water, plastering houses, caring for the household. Because each household was expected to be basically self-sufficient, both men and women had to be hardworking and productive.

Political organization. The leader of the community was the mweneusi or chief of the clans, responsible for the group’s security, peace, and prosperity. He was also his people’s supreme doctor - the one they turned to in times of disaster, suffering, illness, and death. For them, he was the link between this world and the next. They feared him and respected his authority.

SEX PROFILE: THE FIPA


Objectives

· sexual pleasure


· as many children as possible


· expansion of the clan

Acceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· masturbation

monitored by family

· forming peer groups

and clan

· sensuous songs and dances


· playing father/mother games


· interest in sexually exciting stories and games

At puberty

· interest in sexual development

monitored by family, clan,

· interest in opposite sex

elders, those in charge of

· interest in learning techniques of lovemaking

initiation rites

· private masturbation


· love stories, songs, and dances

At marriage

· courtship, intimate lovemaking

monitored by family,

· wedding

clan, council of elders

· sexual intercourse


· polygamy

Unacceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· overindulgence in private masturbation

monitored by family

· foul language


· sexual intercourse

At puberty

· intimate lovemaking

monitored by family, those

· foul language

in charge of initiation rites

· interest in watching animals mate

At marriage

· incest

monitored by family

· adultery

and clans

· sodomy


· sexual intercourse with animals


· prostitution


· masturbation


· abortion


· incest

Sanctions


Rewards

· social approval


· privileges


· material rewards


· praise in songs and dances

Punishments

· social disapproval


· scolding


· strokes


· denial of privileges


· ostracism


· divorce

The ideal marriage


Husband

· sexually stimulating and appealing


· fertile


· hard-working, economically able to maintain family


· affectionate to wife and children


· loyal to clan and in-laws

Wife

· expert at lovemaking and sexual intercourse


· able to have many children


· able to maintain household and homestead


· loyal and affectionate to husband, children, her own family, and her husband’s family

Family size

· large

Sex status

· males superior to females

Evaluation

· young people become successful fathers/mothers

Effectiveness

· positive

Mode of education

· largely informal/nonformal

Sex life. The Fipa saw sex holistically-as one of the most important elements, not just in their individual lives, but in their life as a community.

Fipa parents were concerned with the proper development of their children’s sex organs, just as they were with other aspects of healthy growth. A mother would nurse a small boy on her lap with his penis touching her pudenda, to see if the penis would become erect; with her mouth full of warm water, she would suck the clitoris of her baby girl to make it swell.

As children grew, they were introduced to the skills and values that would enable them to grow up to be “good” Fipa husbands or wives. Girls were apprenticed to their mothers, older sisters, aunts, and grandmothers; their place was the kitchen. Boys were apprenticed to their fathers, older brothers, and other male members of the clan; their place was by the fireplace, where all important decisions were made.

At puberty, girls were given special instruction by the yanakambuza and other older women. They learned about their maturing bodies, the importance of cleanliness, and their duties to their future husbands, their children, their own families, and their husbands’ families. Among these was the duty to live harmoniously with other wives.

Similarly, male elders taught boys the responsibilities of a husband and household head. A polygamous Fipa man was expected to care properly for each of his wives and their children and to visit each wife regularly to insure her sexual satisfaction.

Both boys and girls were forbidden to experiment with sexual intercourse before marriage. A bride’s virginity was prized, rewarded socially and materially.

Marriage was the culmination of everything young Fipa men and women aspired to. The ceremony was rich in rituals signifying fertility and its magic powers. The wedding night was celebrated with great rejoicing. Actual intercourse was preceded by lovemaking, and the bride made herself attractive by wearing beads and other ornaments. If she proved to be a virgin, her family was praised in song and rewarded with gifts of cattle. If it turned out she was not a virgin, she could be sent home in disgrace.

Adultery was a serious crime. It could be punished by divorce, ostracism, or even the death of both culprits. A pregnant woman especially was not supposed to have sexual relations with anyone but her husband.

Men had greater sexual freedom. A man could take new wives even in old age. The more wives he had, the more children he could sire-and in time, the more workers he would command, enhancing his wealth and prestige.

The Gogo

The Gogo, a mixture of the Nyamwezi, Kaguru, and Hehe, migrated to central Tanzania from a place called Goima in the north. Legend says their name comes from a certain log (gogo in Kiswahili) that served as a rest stop en route for travellers to the interior of Tanzania.

The Gogo focus group was held in the village of Mayamaya in Mundemu Division, Dodoma District. There were 20 participants, eleven women and nine men, aged 55 to 80.

Social organization. The Gogo were patrilineal and lived in kinship groups. They saw men as strong and courageous, women as gentle and weak; this was their justification for treated them unequally.

Girls lived in the house of their parents until marriage, so they could be supervised and protected. At 10, boys moved into a separate shelter called a magane. From then until they were 21, they guarded the family property and their unmarried sisters. Removing the boys from their parents’ house also served to keep them from observing their parents’ sex lives.

Men owned virtually all basic resources: houses, farms, livestock, and major tools of production - bows and arrows, hoes, axes, sickles, and spears. Women owned gardens, pots, baskets, domestic utensils, beadwork, and other ornaments.

Work, too, was shared according to sex and age. Young men took the cattle out to pasture while their sisters helped their mothers in the home. Adults handled the more difficult tasks of building, clearing land, digging wells, hunting, and fighting. Adults and elders settled disputes and conducted rituals.

Economic organization. The Gogo were primarily herders, and their entire economy revolved around cattle.

Wealth was measured in head of cattle. The man who had many was rich. The mere farmer who had few or none was poor - he had no cattle to give him milk, ghee, or hides to sleep on. Daughters were valuable because dowries paid in cattle could make a poor man rich. Women hesitated to ask for divorce, not wanting their fathers to be impoverished by having to return dowry cattle.

The community also contained respected specialists - makers of weapons and tools, hunters, collectors of honey, and performers who sang and danced at weddings, funerals, initiation rites, and harvest festivals. Medicine men and women treated cattle and people, bartering their skills for food or livestock. Rituals were conducted by men who supervised clan affairs. Activities related to initiation were supervised by an institution known as makumbi.

The Gogo had domestic slaves, who worked for the rich. Some were captured enemies; others had lost their cattle or fallen into debt. Though given food and shelter, they got no cash wages, which kept them dependent.

SEX PROFILE: THE GOGO


Objectives

· sexual enjoyment


· procreation


· expansion of kinship and affinity network

Acceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· looking at his/her own genitals

montiored by family

· touching genitals

and clan

· enjoying genitals being touched in course of child’s being carried or washed


· sucking mother’s nipples


· causing penis/clitoris to become erect

At puberty

· touching others

monitored by family, peer

· sexual fantasizing

groups, those in charge of

· telling stories with sexual content

initiation rites

· forming same-sex peer groups


· playing father/mother games


· interest in opposite sex


· private masturbation


· initiation and circumcision

At marriage

· courtship, intimate lovemaking

monitored by family,

· wedding

clan, council of elders

· secret liaisons (for barren couples)


· sexual intercourse


· polygamy

Unacceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· foul language

monitored by family, clan

· interest in watching animals mate


· “doing sex”

At puberty

· foul language

monitored by family, clan,

· public masturbation

council of elders, those in

· sexual intercourse

charge of initiation rites

· sodomy and lesbianism


· bestiality


· incest


· rape


· abortion

Sanctions


Rewards

· social acceptability


· praise in words and dances


· material rewards (groundnuts, promise of a good wife/husband)

Punishments

· public reprimand


· strokes


· denial of gifts, food


· ostracism


· fine in cows


· ritual punishment

The ideal marriage


Husband

· sexually energetic and attractive


· circumcized, initiated


· fertile


· able to provide for family’s basic needs, rich


in cows, with a good homestead


· affectionate to his family, has good relations with clan and in-laws, loyal to his people

Wife

· sexually attractive, adorned with beads


· adept at lovemaking, helping husband enjoy sex


· fertile


· good housewife/cook, takes good care of family


· affectionate to husband, children, clan, her people


· able to get along with husband’s other wives

Family size

· large

Sex status

· males superior to females

Evaluation

· young people become successful fathers/mothers

Effectiveness

· positive

Mode of education

· largely informal/nonformal

Political organization. A mtemi or chief ruled each village; the senior male of each clan supervised his clan’s political and ritual activities; each father headed his own household.

The mtemi was supreme. He worked through a council of elders, 50 years of age and older. Below the elders were adults 30 to 50 years old. They were responsible for directing young people in their 20s. Children under 20 were in the charge of their parents. The members of each age set observed a strict code of conduct and respect toward those in other sets, Sex life. Gogo children learned about sex largely by exploring their own bodies and observing what their older siblings and parents did and said. Boys learned to masturbate using a watermelon with a hole bored in it.

At puberty, both boys and girls were circumcised in makumbi initiation rites. Boys had the foreskin removed to encourage cleanliness; girls had the clitoris and labia minora removed to promote cleanliness, reduce sexual desire, and prevent an illness called lawalawa.

But initiation involved more than circumcision. For boys, it meant learning to work hard and be brave. It also meant learning how to please their wives sexually, how to maintain a household, and how to carry out their kinship duties and responsibilities. This last was especially important to the Gogo, who relied heavily on kinship networks for help in hard times.

The Gogo set a high value on sex as a source of physical pleasure. They believed sex calmed the body and soul and sexual denial was unhealthy - it could lead to mental illness. Certainly, sex was important for reproduction - to maintain the family, the clan, the ethnic group. But a man might keep a barren wife if she satisfied him sexually.

The Makonde

Both branches of the Makonde now living in Tanzania came originally from Mozambique. One branch is concentrated in Newala in southestern Tanzania, sharing the territory with the Makuwa and the Yao. The other, known as the Makonde Malaba (see page 26), lives in southeastern Tanzania, on the coastal plain bordering the Indian Ocean.

The focus group was held in the village of Luchinga in the Newala division of the Mtwara region in southeast Tanzania. There were 16 participants - nine men and seven women, aged 20 to 60. They met 17 times, each session lasting 90 minutes or more.

Social organization. The Makonde built their houses around an open square, in the middle of which was a conical structure called a chitala, a public meeting place.

The Makonde were matrilineal. Brothers headed their sisters’ families; a husband worked on his own farm and his mother-in-law’s.

The community was divided professionally into farmers, hunters, ironworkers, medicine men, fighters, builders, and dancers.

The elders were respected for their experience and wisdom and as ritual leaders. Adult men were farmers, hunters, and defenders of the community. Boys were taught the skills that would make them good husbands, good farmers, and courageous soldiers. Girls were taught how to be good wives and mothers.

The Makonde had no slave class. Those who could not support their families in times of famine were considered “poor clans.” Economic organization. Newala is a high, arid plateau good only for subsistence farming and hunting. Because rainfall was often erratic, food shortages were common. Water was so precious that women secretly buried huge pots of reserves under their huts. Households gained respect through self-sufficiency in the production of food and essential domestic tools.

The Makonde assigned jobs by sex. Men’s jobs were ironwork, sculpture, heavy farm work, hunting, house building, fighting, burial, and initiation of boys. Women’s responsibilities were light farm chores; making pottery, baskets, and mats; drawing water; preparing food; and bringing up children.

Political organization. Political life was simple. The mother’s brother headed the household. Traditional leaders, mtimaliki, were in charge of activities requiring clan coordination. Wakrunga supervised clans. Jumbe coordinated on a higher level.

Sex life. Sex education was conducted similarly among both branches of the Makonde. In Newala, the process was much the same for both boys’ and girls’ initiations - a six-month period of instruction (likumbi) for boys, which included a physical rite of circumcision; a somewhat longer period (chiputu) for girls, not involving circumcision.

For both sexes, the initiation period was one of seclusion from the community. Through riddles, poems, songs, stories, dances, and games, the boys were taught the meaning of human life, the role of sexuality, the responsibilities of adulthood and fatherhood, and tribal customs and sanctions, along with warfare. The core teachings were summarized in songs, poems, and sayings called midimu, which the boys were required to memorize. The boys entered the period as annemba - an ignorant lot. On graduation, they became aniyaluka - grown-ups.

Girls were taught that a successful wife and mother needed to be not only hard-working and respectful, but expert at lovemaking and performing seductive dances. They learned about sex and sexual technique through frank talk, songs, dances, and stories; girls, like boys, were expected to memorize the initiation midimu. But premarital sexual experience was frowned on. Virginity on a girl’s wedding night won praise for her family.


SEX PROFILE: THE MAKONDE

Objectives

· sexual satisfaction


· perpetuation of the clan


· expansion of kinship/affinity network

Acceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· fondling/touching mother’s breasts

monitored by family and

· kissing

close relatives

· sucking mother’s nipples


· causing penis/clitoris to become erect


· playing father/mother games

At puberty

· interest in opposite sex

monitored by family and

· forming same-sex peer groups

those in charge of initiation

· sex-related stories and dances

At marriage

· fondling

monitored by family

· masturbation

and clan

· sexual intercourse


· sex-related stories and dances


· polygamy

Unacceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· overindulgence in masturbation

monitored by family and

· interest in watching animals mate

close relatives

· public masturbation


· sexual intercourse


· prostitution

At puberty

· masturbation

monitored by clan and those

· sexual intercourse

in charge of initiation rites

· courthship, intimate lovemaking


· sodomy


· child abuse


· bestiality


· rape


· incest

At marriage

· adultery

monitored by family, clan

· prostitution


· sodomy and lesbianism


· rape


· abortion


· incest

Sanctions


Rewards

· family and public approval


· material rewards

Punishments

· social disapproval


· reprimands, fines


· strokes, denial of privileges, death


· ostracism and repeat initiation, divorce

The ideal marriage


Husband

· sexually energetic, stimulating, initiation graduate


· healthy and fertile


· fatherly and hardworking, provides shelter, food, fish, household security


· affectionate to wife and children


· has good relations with in-laws and community

Wife

· sexually appealing, expert in sexual techniques


· healthy, able to bear healthy children


· hard-working, good cook, takes motherly care of household


· affectionate to husband, children, loyal to her family, good to husband’s relatives

Family size

· large

Sex status

· males superior to females

Evaluation

· young people become successful fathers/mothers

Effectiveness

· positive

Mode of education

· informal/nonformal

Attitude toward change

· hostile

The Makonde Malaba

The Makonde Malaba, like the Makonde, came originally from Mozambique. They now live in southeastern Tanzania, on the coastal plain bordering the Indian Ocean. In pre-colonial days, many of their ancestors worked for the Arabs as laborers and slaves, and their culture still reflects Arab and Swahili influences.

The Makonde Malaba focus group was held in Lindi town, situated in the Msinjahili area of the Lindi Urban District in the Lindi region. There were ten participants, five men and five women.

Social organization. The Makonde Malaba were matrilineal. The most powerful person in the family was the mother’s brother, who played an important part in bringing up his sister’s children and managing her property. A girl did not go to live with her husband when she married; her husband came to live with her. A household meant a mother’s house and the houses of her married daughters in the area.

The Makonde community was socially stratified by sex and age - men’s status was higher than women’s, elders outranked other adults, young adults outranked children. The authority of chiefs was hereditary.

The community’s professionals included ironworkers, sculptors, farmers, medicine men, soldiers, builders, animal hunters, and honey collectors.

Economic organization. The Makonde Malaba did small-scale farming in arid country, moving from place to place and supplementing the millet and sweet potatoes they grew with game and fish.

Men owned houses, weapons, and land. They made hoes, axes, spears, bows and arrows, nets, and canoes; built houses; dug wells; and conducted funerals.

Women owned plots, homesteads, and domestic utensils. They made baskets and mats, cooked, drew water, looked after the homestead, and helped with house building, well digging, and farming.

Political organization. The mother’s brother headed the household. Leaders known as wakurunga organized the small clans for community action. The jumbe led interclan action.

Sex life. Makonde parents viewed sex education for their children as important, particularly when the children reached puberty. Boys entered a six-month period of instruction (likumbi), including a physical rite of circumcision. The initiation of girls (chiputu) did not involve circumcision and lasted longer, up to nine months.

As with the Makonde in Newala, the initiation period for both sexes was one of complete seclusion from the community. In riddles, poems, songs, stories, dances, and games, the boys were taught the meaning of human life, the role of sexuality, the responsibilities of adulthood and fatherhood, and tribal customs and sanctions, along with warfare. Core teachings were summarized in a set of songs, poems, and sayings called midimu, which the boys were required to memorize.

Girls were taught that a successful wife and mother needed to be diligent in her work, respectful in her demeanor, and expert at lovemaking. They learned about sex and sexual technique through discussions, songs, dances, and stories. Virginity on a girl’s wedding night earned praise for her family.

The Masai

The focus group was held in the village of Partimbo in the district of Kiteto, in the Arusha region. There were 16 participants, all men, aged 48 to 80.

Social organization. The nomadic Masai claim to have come to Tanzania from the north - some say Ethiopia, some say Egypt - fighting their way south until stopped by the Hehe. They have two principal family trees, Mollelian and Laizer.


SEX PROFILE: THE MAKONDE MALABA

Objectives

· sexual pleasure


· having children


· expansion of kinship/affinity network

Acceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· fondling/touching mother’s breasts

monitored by family and

· kissing

close relatives

· sucking mother’s nipples


· causing penis/clitoris to become erect


· playing father/mother games

At puberty

· interest in opposite sex

monitored by family, those

· forming same-sex peer groups

in charge of initiation rites

· sex-related stories and dances

At marriage

· fondling

monitored by family

· masturbation

and clan

· sex-related stories and dances


· sexual intercourse


· polygamy

Unacceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· overindulgence in masturbation

monitored by family and

· interest in watching animals mate

close relatives

· sexual intercourse

At puberty

· masturbation

monitored by family, those

· courtship, intimate lovemaking

in charge of initiation rites

· sexual intercourse


· sodomy


· child abuse


· bestiality

At marriage

· adultery

monitored by family

· prostitution

and clan

· sodomy and lesbianism


· abortion


· incest

Sanctions


Rewards

· family and public approval


· material rewards

Punishments

· social disapproval, reprimands


· strokes


· denial of privileges


· ostracism


· repeat initiation


· divorce


· death

The ideal marriage


Husband

· sexually energetic and stimulating


· graduate of initiation rites


· healthy and fertile


· fatherly and hardworking, provides shelter, food, fish, household security


· affectionate to wife and children


· has good relations with wife’s family and larger community

Wife

· sexually appealing and exciting


· expert in sexual techniques


· healthy, able to bear healthy children


· hard-working, good cook, takes motherly care of household


· affectionate to husband, children, loyal to her family, good to husband’s relatives

Family size

· large

Sex status

· males superior to females

Evaluation

· young people become successful fathers/mothers

Effectiveness

· positive

Mode of education

· informal/nonformal

Attitude toward change

· hostile


On the homestead, known as the boma, houses were clustered by age group. In one enclosure were the elders, those 40 and older. In another were the morani young men who had been initiated and circumcized. In still another were the layoni, boys who had not yet been circumcized.

Each Masai wife - most men had several - lived in her own house with her small children of both sexes and older unmarried daughters.

A man made routine rounds of the houses to sleep with each wife in turn. As he entered, he laid his spear on the roof, signifying that he did not want to be disturbed. (If he were to travel to another homestead, a man of similar age and social status would invite him to stay overnight in the house of one of his wives; and the guest would plant his spear in front of the woman’s house, with the same do-not-disturb message. Not even the woman’s husband would then be permitted to enter.) Economic organization. The Masai constantly moved from place to place in search of grazing grounds. Masai life was centered on cattle and sheep - on finding good pasture and enlarging family herds and flocks.

The whole family shared the work. The elders advisd on ways to improve and increase the herds and handled negotiations for sales. The morani periodical1y led the cattle from one grazing ground to another; the layoni took the animals to and from pasture every day. If there were too few layoni, the maroni pitched in, and if the boma had too few young men of any age, girls looked after the stock. Ordinarily, the women’s tasks were to build the shelters, cook, clean, milk the cows, draw water, and make clothing and ornaments.

Women also conducted all rituals, since they were considered gentler and more compassionate than men, thus closer to God. Cattle, sheep, and milk figured prominently in the rituals.

In the patrilineal Masai society, men owned the cattle and tools of food production; women owned the houses they lived in, the utensils in them, and personal ornaments. To be considered rich, a man needed huge herds and flocks, several wives, and many children. The poor received gifts of cattle from wealthier relatives and friends.

Political organization. The elders, who had supreme authority, chose the leader of the Masai, the laigwanani. They gave him a black club to symbolize his power and made him gifts of calves. The laigwanani had a deputy, the engopir.

The morani, who served as soldiers and defenders of territory and property, ranked next. The younger layoni were the lowest-status age group. Traditional healers or laiboni also had high status, Women, though they could conduct rituals and practice medicine, were not permitted to attend meetings.

Sex life. Masai children and adolescents were permitted a great deal of sexual freedom. Sex play and experimentation were discouraged for only the very youngest children.

Even in infancy, when Masai babies were being breastfed, their mothers would eagerly watch for signs of sexual responsiveness - erection of the boy’s penis or the girl’s clitoris.

After the age of seven, boys and girls were allowed to sleep together and discover the pleasures of sex play and intercourse. Unmarried girls under 21 were allowed the same freedom as boys; they were expected to - and did - routinely go off to the morani huts each evening to make love and spend the night. Customarily a girl would choose one young man as her special favorite - someone to do beadwork for and introduce to her mother and the other women. But she would not necessarily be permitted to marry him; her father would make that choice for her.

The initiation rituals for both girls and boys included circumcision. Both rituals were designed to impress on the young people the significance of the transition they were making and the seriousness of the responsibilities they would carry as adults.

Initiation qualified a Masai girl for marriage, and marriage conferred adult status. But it also ended her free and easy sexual life. A married woman was not allowed to have extramarital affairs. Even when a traveling Masai was quartered in her house for the night, nothing sexual was supposed to happen. (Though if anything did - with the guest’s spear guarding the door - it was overlooked.)

The Nyakyusa

The focus group was held in the village of Itezi, about ten kilometers from the town of Mbeya in the Iyunga division of the Mbeya region. Fifteen Nyakyusa, eight men and seven women, participated. Their ages ranged from 40 to 80.

Because Itezi lies on the great highway linking Mbeya and Dar es Salaam, the Nyakyusa have been exposed to many different ethnic groups and different sets of values, often urban and western.

The focus group members regretted the impact these contacts have had on their traditional culture. They blamed western lifestyles and imported religions for corrupting the culture and making modem Tanzanian society too tolerant and permissive. What is described below is a remembered world rather than an existing one.


SEX PROFILE: THE MASAI


Objectives

· sexual pleasure


· reproduction


· expansion of kinship/affinity network

Acceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· fondling/touching mother’s breasts (age 0-7)

monitored by family,

· interest in own genitals (age 0-7)

peer groups, age set

· sucking mother’s nipples (age 0-7)


· playing father/mother games (age 0-7)


· interest in opposite sex (7-14)


· interest in genitals, breasts, buttocks (age 7-14)


· forming opposite-sex peer groups (age 7-14)


· lovemaking and sexual intercourse (age 7-14)



At puberty

· interest in initiation rites

monitored by family, peer/

· interest in opposite sex

age groups, elders, laiboni

· sexual intercourse with variety of partners

At marriage

· sexual intercourse with wife/husband only

monitored by family, age

· pregnancy

set, council of elders

· childbirth

Unacceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· sexual intercourse (age 0-7)

monitored by family, peer/

· sodomy (age 7-14)

age groups, elders

· bestiality (age 7-14)


· rape (age 7-14)


· abusive language (age 7-14)


· incest (age 7-14)

At puberty

· sodomy and lesbianism

monitored by family, peer/

· bestiality

age groups, elders

· rape


· abusive language


· incest

At marriage

· adultery

monitored by family, peer/

· sodomy and lesbianism

age groups, elders

· bestiality


· child abuse


· rape


· incest

Sanctions


Rewards

· social approval

Punishments

· beatings


· scoldings in songs and dances


· fines to be paid in cattle

The ideal marriage


Husband

· sexually stimulating


· circumcized


· productive, possessing many cattle


· loyal to family and clan



Wife

· sexually energetic


· well educated sexually


· able to bear healthy children


· able to care for family and homestead


· loyal to her husband, her family, her people



Family size

· large

Sex status

· males superior to females

Evaluation

· young people become successful fathers/mothers

Effectiveness

· positive

Mode of education

· informal/nonformal

Social organization. Originally, the Nyakyusa lived in the highlands of the Rungwe district. Descent was traced from the father’s side. Several households made up a clan, and clan members built their houses in the same area. Kinship was important to the Nyakyusa; it represented support in all aspects of their lives.

Daily life centered around the family unit - father, mother, children. Unmarried young men lived in areas set apart from the village. So did the elderly women who were in charge of girls’ initiation rites.

Social position was determined by the group to which one belonged. Social position, in turn, determined the individual’s special role within the community.

The elders or wakombe, retired old men, formed the community’s reservoir of experience and wisdom and its highest-ranking age group. They served as advisors to the supreme chief or mwanafyale.

Economic organization. Traditionally, the Nyakyusa were farmers and hunters. Some men farmed and hunted on their own. Others did so collectively, sharing the proceeds after the best shares had been set aside for the mwanafyale and the household heads.

Work was divided according to sex. Activities associated with power, authority, and ownership were usually considered “male.” Other tasks were considered “female” or shared by both sexes. Men owned the land, the homesteads, and the hunting equipment.

Political organization. The political structure was well-defined. At the top, above all the clans, was the mwanafyale - supreme authority in all matters of state, supreme judge in all conflicts, supreme diviner in all rituals. Held in great reverence and awe, he was free to take any woman he pleased as a wife.

Below him were the heads of the individual clans, who were liaisons between the mwanafyale and their clan members. Each received the mwanafyale’s orders and passed them down to the heads of clan households, who then passed them on to the people. On the lowest level of Nyakyusa society were poor families who worked as slaves for rich landowners or the mwanafyale.

Sex life. Training in sexual matters, along with broader training for adulthood itself, was provided within the community’s framework of age groups. The system was designed to assure individual physical satisfaction, public order, and sufficient manpower. Taboos and norms regulated sexual life to assure peace and social equilibrium.

Children younger than 12 lived at home with their families. Their sex education began with family members helping them to discover their bodies, including their genitals and the beginnings of sexual desire.

At the age of 12, boys were sent to live in a separate village, away from their families and from contact with girls. With other adolescents and young men up to the age of 24, they learned the skills of community defense and leadership.

When girls came of age, they were instructed in sexual matters by a special group of elderly women in the clan. These women, known as banyago, taught girls about their changing bodies, about marriage and its privileges and duties, about childbirth and its attendant conditions - and equally important, how to be sexually exciting to their husbands and respected by their neighbors. The girls learned the importance of virginity before the wedding and fidelity after it.

Occasionally, young men and women were allowed to meet at special festivals where partners could be chosen. But the real decisions about marriage were family affairs. Dowries were required. A bride could earn many cows for her family, and if she proved to be a virgin, the bridegroom’s family would make the additional gift of a bull.

Sexual satisfaction was important, but the real goal of marriage for a Nyakyusa man was children - daughters to bring in more cows, sons to defend the homestead and increase the power of the clan.

To assure more children, he married several wives, all of whom were expected to live harmoniously together under the first wife’s leadership. Polygamy was seen as, among other things, a kind of family planning method-it allowed individual wives to delay another pregnancy until they had stopped breastfeeding the previous baby. (Women who became pregnant while still nursing were ridiculed.) A childless marriage was considered a disaster. Abortion was not permitted, and divorce was allowed only in exceptional circumstances.

The Nyaturu

The focus group was held in the village of Sinyu, in the Mungaa division of the Singida region. Three principal ethnic groups, the Nyaturu, the Nyiramba, and the Nyamwezi, live in the area, but the focus group was made up of Nyaturu only.

Ten men and ten women, aged 50 to 100, took part. They met for two-hour sessions three times a week.

Social organization. The patrilineal Nyaturu clustered their houses around the boma, a pen for the cattle belonging to the mnyampaa or head of the homestead, who was the oldest man in the father’s family line.

Nyaturu houses were flat-roofed, rectangular structures of poles plastered over with mud. In this polygamous society, a man’s first wife customarily had the easternmost house in his complex; his second wife’s house was to the south.

The society was stratified by sex and age, with labor divided accordingly. Men built houses, prepared mud for plastering, herded domestic animals and hunted wild ones, conducted public affairs, officiated at funerals, and fought to defend the community. Women plastered the houses men built, looked after the homestead, cared for the children, milked the cows, fetched water, and initiated their daughters into the mysteries of womanhood. Farming was a “common” task; men and women shared it. The professional class included iron forgers, warriors, sculptors, and makers of baskets and mats. There were medicine men and women, as well as men and women who specialized in conducting rituals.


SEX PROFILE: THE NYAKYUSA


Objectives

· sexual satisfaction


· perpetuation of the clan


· expansion of kinship/affinity network



Before puberty

· touching mother’s breasts

monitored by family

· sucking mother’s nipples

(father, mother, siblings,

· forming same-sex peer groups

grandparents, uncles, aunts)

· playing father/mother games


· dancing

At puberty

· interest in maturing body

monitored by family, age-

· interest in opposite sex

set villages, those in charge

· forming same-sex peer groups

of sexual preparation

· sex-related stories and dances


· sexual fantasies


· private masturbation


· enlargement of clitoris

At marriage

· looking for partner

monitored by family, elders,

· payment of dowry, wedding

and those in charge of

· sexual intercourse

sexual preparation

· pregnancy and childbirth


· polygamy

Unacceptable sexual activities


Before puberty

· preoccupation with own genitals

monitored by family and

· association with opposite sex

close relatives

· abusive language


· interest in watching animals mate

At puberty

· association with opposite sex

monitored by family, age-

· sexual intercourse

set villages those in charge

· interest in watching animals mate

of sexual preparation

· sodomy and lesbianism


· courtship


· public masturbation

At marriage

· extramarital sex

monitored by family, clan,

· sodomy and lesbianism

elders, and council

· abortion


· polyandry


· bestiality


· child abuse

Sanctions


Rewards

· social approval


· promotion to next age set


· praise in songs and dances


· material rewards

Punishments

· social disapproval, reprimands


· strokes, fines


· ostracism and death


· divorce

The ideal marriage


Husband

· virile, sexually exciting, uncircumcized


· fertile, fatherly, able to provide family with basic needs: cattle, farm, house, security


· affectionate to family, loyal to clan and


community leaders, courageous in war

Wife

· sexually attractive and expert, beautiful, smart,


enlarged clitoris


· able to bear healthy children and care for family, motherly, good cook


· affectionate to husband, children, good to her husband’s clan and her own

Family size

· large

Sex status

· males superior to females

Evaluation

· young people become successful fathers/mothers

Effectiveness

· positive

Mode of education

· informal/nonformal

Attitude toward change

· hostile

Economic organization. The Nyaturu were farmers and herdsmen. Their main crops were millet and maize; their livestock included cattle, sheep, and goats. Each household was expected to produce its own food, shelter, and clothing.

Men owned the herds and flocks, the farms and buildings, and the tools for building and farming. Women owned the utensils they cooked with and their personal ornaments.

Boys learned to do men’s work from their fathers; girls learned women’s roles from their mothers, trailing after them as they cooked or gathered firewood or drew water. They not only picked up the skills they needed and the behavior expected of them in everyday situations, but absorbed the social meanings of the skills and behavior. Learning to hoe was more than a contribution to the economics of food production; it was a way young men or women could fulfil their social obligation to the family.

Political organization. In the Nyaturu community, the oldest man in the entire clan was designated mnyangee or mtemi, meaning chief. But effective power rested with the head of the homestead, the mnyampaa. He symbolized the authority of the clan. He owned the clan’s property on behalf of all the members. He served as ritual leader when prayers were required for the welfare of the members of the homestead.

Sex life. Nyaturu parents thought of sex primarily as the means of reproducing their clan. But they also valued it as a source of pleasure that helped compensate for the responsibilities that went with parenthood.

Parents’ greatest aspiration was to see their sons and daughters grow up to be fathers and mothers themselves, living on their own homesteads. All their educational efforts were directed at making this possible - equipping the children with the full range of skills required, from the vocational and social to the sexual.

They particularly wanted to be sure their sons’ and daughters’ sexual organs were developing normally. Even infants were closely watched when they touched their genitals, to be sure that the penis or clitoris responded properly.

At puberty, both boys and girls went through initiation ceremonies designed to impress on them the importance of the husband/wife, father/mother roles they would be assuming as adults. Boys also learned how to defend their clan, how to manage public affairs, and how to deal with family crises such as sickness or death.

Both sexes were circumcized - in the girls’ case, to reduce desire and make them less sexually aggressive. Since virginity in a girl was highly esteemed, girls were taught to avoid boys - even to throw stones at men who tried to make advances. Perhaps as a result, sex crimes were rare.

Marriages were preceded by a dowry payment from the bridegroom’s family to the family of the bride, to compensate them for her loss. Then, on the wedding night, the girl was led into to the bridegroom’s house. There, she was expected to resist his advances fiercely, requiring him to physically subdue her and force himself on her.

If he discovered that she was not a virgin, he was supposed to fling open the gate to the homestead boma, proclaiming her shame to the whole village. The disgrace of the girl - and in particular, her mother’s disgrace - was to serve as a warning to others.

On the other hand, if the boma gate stayed closed, the virgin bride was celebrated in joyful dances, while her parents were praised and given ritual rewards of calabashes, pots, and hides. (And after the first sexual encounter, the young wife was free not only to welcome her husband sexually, but to entice him, adorning herself with waist beads.) Pregnancy and childbirth were also greeted with rituals and rejoicing. But a barren woman was considered a social failure; and if traditional medicines and rituals were unable to cure her, her husband might send her away.


SEX PROFILE: THE NYATURU

Objectives

· sexual satisfaction


· having children


· expansion of kinship/affinity network

Acceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· touching own genitals

monitored by family, clan

· fondling/touching mother’s breasts


· sucking mother’s nipples


· forming same-sex peer groups


· sex-related songs, stories, riddles


· playing father/mother games

At puberty

· interest in own sexual development

monitored by family, clan,

· interest in opposite sex

those in charge of initiation

· private masturbation


· joining initiation rites


· interest in male jobs

At marriage

· courtship

monitored by family, clan,

· wedding

and elders

· sexual intercourse


· polygamy

Unacceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· preoccupation with own genitals

monitored by family, close

· interest in watching animals mate

relatives

· foul language


· sexual intercourse

At puberty

· close association with opposite sex

monitored by family, clan

· public masturbation

those in charge of initiation

· sexual intercourse


· foul language

At marriage

· adultery


· prostitution


· sodomy


· bestiality


· rape


· incest

Sanctions


Rewards

· social approval


· material rewards


· praise in songs

Punishments

· social disapproval


· denial of material goods and privileges


· ostracism


· public disgrace and scorn

The ideal marriage


Husband

· sexually stimulating


· circumcized


· able to father many children


· economically able to maintain household


· affectionate to wife and children, loyal to clan


· cooperative and helpful to in-laws

Wife

· sexually appealing yet reserved


· circumcized


· able to bear healthy children


· hard-working, able to care for children and


household


· affectionate to husband, children, loyal to her


own and her husband’s relatives

Family size

· large

Sex status

· males superior to females

Evaluation

· young people become successful fathers/mothers

Effectiveness

· positive

Mode of education

· informal/nonformal

The Sukuma

The Sukuma, one of the largest ethnic groups in Tanzania, live in the Mwanza region around the southern shores of Lake Victoria in the northwest. The Sukuma focus group was held in the village of Nyampulukane in the Sengerema district, one of six districts in the region.

This group had 15 participants, ten men and five women. They met three times a week for one and a half hours or more.

Social organization. The Sukuma were patrilineal, with male elders at the top of the community hierarchy. Houses were clustered by clan, with the head of the homestead in the largest house. Young children lived with their parents; young unmarried men lived in their own bachelor quarters.

The community was divided into age groups. The elders, who had retired from public affairs, served as chief advisors and led the community’s rituals. Adult men were responsible for food production and defense of the clan against invaders; young men herded cattle for their parents. Very young children of both sexes were cared for by the community’s older women. Girls stayed in their charge. Boys graduated at the age of three to the shikoma or “man’s place,” where the head of the household presided. Here, most of their training for adulthood took place in an informal way, as customs and tribal legends were passed on from one generation to another through stories, riddles, and songs. Similarly, girls had their training in the kitchen or while grinding corn or millet or drawing water. Neither boys nor girls went through formal initiation rites. But parents attached great importance to the informal training process.

The community also had professionals - men who were hunters and ironworkers, and women who specialized in pottery, basketry, and mat making. Some singers were famous for their performances at weddings, funerals, harvest festivals, and other ceremonies. There were many ceremonies, since the Sukuma, like other traditional societies, tended to cope with extraordinary events - epidemics, deaths, natural disasters - by inventing rituals to explain them.

Economic organization. The Sukuma were mainly herders of cattle, though they also raised millet, maize, and beans. Cattle were their symbol of wealth - rich families were those with many cattle - as well as their medium of exchange - cattle were used to pay dowries and fines.

Labor was divided along sex lines. Men’s jobs included herding, fishing, hunting, felling trees, forging tools, sculpting, conducting funerals, and defending the community against enemies. Women made pottery, baskets, and mats, prepared food, and drew water.

Political organization. Authority rested with household heads and the senior male members of each clan. There were three grades of leadership. The highest was the mtemi, the chief.

Sex life. Sukuma society officially discouraged sex before marriage. Mothers cautioned their daughters about flirting and warned that girls who were not virgins fetched smaller dowries. A premarital pregnancy meant disgrace for the girl and a heavy fine for the boy, payable in cattle.

Yet in fact, the society was rather permissive, coming close to authorizing premarital sex-for-fun through an institution known as chagulaga mayu.

In this traditional game, often played after evening dances, girl players were surrounded by admiring young men. A boy player began by going up to a girl, usually one with whom he already had some kind of understanding. “Chagulaga,” he would say - choose the one you love. The girl signaled her choice by touching him. Then she would sprint off, and he would run after her. If he failed to catch her, he would be ridiculed and laughed at. But if he caught her, he was entitled to pull her into the bushes and make love to her - actually have sex with her, if he could.

Many girls had their first sexual experience through this game. Afterward, the boy was considered the girl’s “‘boyfriend” - and having a boyfriend was evidence she was attractive. Some couples might even go on to marry, the game having served as a kind of test of sexual compatibility and fertility.

Once married, a girl was expected to be faithful to her husband. On the other hand, he was allowed - even encouraged - to marry as many wives as he could support. A household of many children was the ideal for a man of wealth and social standing.

The Zanzibaris

The focus group was held in the Makadara neighborhood in the western part of the city of Zanzibar. There were eleven participants, four women and seven men, aged 30 to 70.

Zanzibar has an ethnically mixed population - Arab, Asian, and African; and given the differences in these cultures, the focus group discussions could only try for consensus on broad aspects of life. But since most group members were of African descent, with a strong sense of African identity, that point of view tended to dominate.


SEX PROFILE: THE SUKUMA


Objectives

· sexual pleasure


· having children


· expansion of kinship/affinity network

Acceptable sexual activities


Before puberty

· fondling/touching mother’s breasts

monitored by family, close

· sucking mother’s nipples

relatives

· causing erection of penis/clitoris


· forming same-sex peer groups


· love songs and dances


· playing father/mother games

At puberty

· interest in opposite sex

monitored by family, clan,

· playing chagulaga

and elders

· private masturbation


· sex-related stories and dances

At marriage

· playing chagulaga

monitored by family, clan

· courtship


· wedding


· pregnancy and childbirth

Unacceptable sexual activities


Before puberty

· foul language

monitored by family

· public masturbation


· interest in watching animals mate


· sexual intercourse

At puberty

· foul language

monitored by family and

· interest in watching animals mate

elders

· sexual intercourse

At marriage

· adultery

monitored by family, clan

· bestiality


· sodomy


· child abuse


· rape


· prostitution


· incest

Sanctions


Rewards

· social approval and acceptance


· material rewards, such as cattle


· praise in songs and dances

Punishments

· social disapproval


· denial of privileges and material goods


· scolding, corporal punishment


· banishment from home


· forced marriage


· heavy fines in cattle


· reduced dowry to parents when bride not virgin


· divorce


· death

The ideal marriage


Husband

· virile and sexually exciting


· able to father children


· economically able to maintain his household


· able to maintain good relationships with wife and children, his own family and his in-laws


· loyal to clan

Wife

· sexually attractive and exciting


· able to bear healthy children


· hard-working, able to look after her household


· affectionate and loyal to her husband, her children, her husband’s family, and her own

Family size

· large

Sex status

· males superior to females

Evaluation

· young people become successful fathers/mothers

Effectiveness

· positive

Mode of education

· informal/nonformal

Social organization. The Arabs who first came to Zanzibar were traders and landowners. The Asians, especially the Indians, usually came as businessmen. The Arabs enslaved the Africans, forcing them to work on their clove farms and in their houses. The Asians used them as houseboys and servants.

With the abolition of slavery, Zanzibari society began to open up. Gradually, through intermarriage and access to education and new jobs, social integration began to blur once-rigid divisions. In the 1960s, the Zanzibaris threw off the rule of the Sultan of Oman and became politically independent.

But even today, most Zanzibaris are still apt to think of themselves, not as Zanzibaris, but as members of a particular ethnic group or religion-often only as residents of a particular neighborhood, In fact, at times of special celebration or sorrow - births, weddings, deaths - the ties of neighborhood outweigh those of faith or ethnicity Zanzibar has many religions - Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, and others - but all have served to reinforce the dominance of men and subordination of women.

Economic organization. In traditional Zanzibari society-the society that predated the abolition of slavery - only Arabs and Asians were free. The enslaved Africans worked for them, on their farms, in their businesses, in their homes.

Political organization. The central unit was the household, headed by a man. In the slave period, families living on the land were governed by the landowner, who in turn was accountable to the Sultan of Zanzibar. Today, each neighborhood has some recognized head, usually an influential businessman or former slave owner.

Each household educated its children in accordance with its own ethnic traditions, its religion, and the social norms of the area in which it lived.

Sex life. Zanzibari parents, whether Arab, Asian, or African, cared intensely about perpetuating their family line and name and passing on their customs and values to the next generation. Among the slave-owning class, the chief influence on thinking about sexuality was the Islamic religion. With the coming of Christianity to Zanzibar, some of the slave population and immigrants from the mainland adopted Christian beliefs. But traditional ideas continued to dominate.

The behavioral profile that emerged in Zanzibar was not unlike the profiles of mainland ethnic groups, Children spent their earliest years with their mothers.

They were not encouraged to explore the sexual parts of their bodies; but if they did and parents saw that the penis or clitoris was responsive, it was taken as reassuring evidence that the children were sexually normal.

Older boys and girls were strictly segregated. They were taught that sexuality was an overpowering, uncontrollable force and girls were dangerous to men - sly, alluring, potential temptresses, to be kept under lock and key at home or under a veil on the street. A proper woman went out as little as possible - not even to do her own marketing; men, not women, went to the market.

When they reached puberty, boys and girls were initiated according to the customs of their cultures. Boys were circumcised; girls might or might not be, depending on their parents’ background. The initiation process introduced the young people to the rules and the values of their cultures. They learned what constituted a good housewife and mother, a good husband and father, a good citizen of the community. They learned that if the rules were obeyed, sex could be a source of joy; and if the rules were broken, those who broke them would be publicly disgraced and harshly punished.

Marriages were arranged. Dowry was paid - to compensate the bride’s family for the loss of her labor, to establish her husband’s authority over her, and to symbolize the new link between the families. Virginity on the wedding night was highly prized, but the bride did not come to the marriage bed untrained. She had been schooled in ways to excite her husband - kisses, massage, seductive words and ornaments, Zanzibaris valued both the pleasure of sex and its reproductive aspect. Children brought peace and stability to the household. Infertility was a disaster, personally and socially - to be treated with medicines or, in desperate cases, with amulets, divination, and magical rituals.

Polygamy was common, as it assured a man a large family and allowed him to spare an individual wife the risk of another pregnancy while she was still breastfeeding. Both men and women were expected to be faithful.

The Zaramo

The focus group was held in Dar es Salaam, in the Gongo la Mboto area of the Ilala district. The Zaramo are one of three principal ethnic communities in the area. All come from the same stock and moved to the city in the mid- 1940s from the coastal plain.


SEX PROFILE: THE ZANZIBARIS

Objectives

· sexual pleasure


· having children


· expansion of kinship/affinity network

Acceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· touching own genitals

monitored by family

· touching mother’s breasts


· sucking mother’s nipples


· playing father/mother games


· forming same-sex peer groups

At puberty

· interest in opposite sex

monitored by family,

· joining initiation groups, learning appropriate sex roles

neighborhood elders

· private masturbation

At marriage

· courtship, wedding

monitored by family,

· sexual intercourse

neighborhood religion,

· pregnancy and childbirth

elders

· polygamy

Unacceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· masturbation

monitored by family,

· foul language

neighborhood

· sexual intercourse

At puberty

· public masturbation

monitored by family,

· sexual intercourse

neighborhood elders

· foul language


· forming opposite-sex peer groups


· interest in watching animals mate

At marriage

· extramarital sex

monitored by family,

· prostitution

neighborhood religion

· sodomy


· abortion


· bestiality

Sanctions


Rewards

· praise, social acceptance


· material rewards (clothes, food, marriage to beautiful girl)

Punishments

· rebukes


· strokes


· social segregation


· application of pepper to genitals

The ideal marriage


Husband

· sexually energetic


· circumcized


· fertile


· productive and hardworking


· affectionate to his family, loyal to his people, his wife, and the neighborhood

Wife

· sexually engaging and attractive


· healthy, able to bear many healthy children


· hard-working, stays home and takes good care of household


· affectionate to husband, children, her own people, and her in-laws

Family size

· large

Sex status

· males superior to females

Evaluation

· young people become successful fathers/mothers

Effectiveness

· positive

Mode of education

· informal/nonformal

Attitude toward change

· hostile

The group had ten participants, five men and five women. They met for two-hour sessions three times a week.

Social organization. The Zaramo were patrilineal - the father headed the household. The Zaramo’s conical houses were clustered by family and clan. Especially prominent shelters were reserved for the men; the kitchen was the women’s domain.

Labor was divided according to sex. Men were considered strong, women weak. Men could make important decisions; women could only submit. Men fished, hunted, and fought, built houses, cleared farmland, herded domestic animals, and conducted such rituals as funerals and boys’ circumcisions. Women cooked, cared for children, plastered houses, drew water, made pottery and mats, performed girls’ initiations, and mourned at funerals. Even minor tasks performed by children were sex-specific - done by boys directed by men or by girls directed by women.

A handful of tasks could be done by either men or women. These included barter, harvesting, and ritual dancing at initiations, marriages, harvests, and funerals.

Social tasks were organized by the family, peer groups, clans, and the community’s council of elders.

Economic organization. The Zaramo hunted and fished along the coast; grew cassava, maize, beans, cashew nuts, coconuts, and rice; and traded with Arab and Indian merchants. Some were involved in the slave trade, mainly as intermediaries between the Arabs and ethnic communities farther inland. Many Zaramo converted to Islam and worked on Arab plantations as laborers - vibarua.

The economy was organized around the household, the neighborhood, and the clan.

Political organization. Families were grouped into homesteads and neighborhoods according to blood relationships on the father’s side. The oldest man in the family was regarded as its head.

Community affairs requiring broader powers than a clan leader’s - for example, securing the boundaries of the whole settlement - were entrusted to a higher leader known as jumbe or akida.

Sex life. The physical health of their children was important to the Zaramo - so important that a child born with a deformity would be killed or sent to live with distant relatives.

To prevent sexual misconduct and protect girls’ virginity, boys and girls were raised separately. At puberty, both sexes went through special rites of passage to prepare them for marriage and adult family life.

For boys, initiation required going into seclusion for a course of instruction in what a man should know - good manners; bravery; the secrets of life, marriage, and death; the responsibilities a man must carry; the customs and taboos a member of the tribe must observe.

As the time of marriage came closer, sexual matters were dealt with in more detail - in discussions, songs, riddles, stories, and dances. And finally, initiation culminated in circumcision, as a symbol of courage and the transition from youth to adulthood, when men must be ready to defend their land against enemies.

Girls’ initiations were even more elaborate. They, too, were sent into seclusion, under the supervision of a special group of elderly women-grandmothers or aunts. Solemn rituals celebrated maturity, fertility, and birth; ceremonial drinks and meals were served between various kinds of ritual dances. The girls were taught about male physiology, sexual intercourse, pregnancy, childbirth, and the responsibilities of a good wife and mother. And they were sternly warned to stay virgin till marriage. A bride found not to be a virgin would be disgraced, and the marriage could be dissolved.

The first sexual encounter between a man and his bride on the wedding night was crucial. It was closely supervised by two women, a grandmother of the bridegroom and a grandmother of the bride. They stood by as the bridegroom penetrated the bride; and depending on whether he did it with difficulty or ease, they declared the bride virgin or not. Then they continued to observe as the the bridegroom withdrew from his bride and ejaculated outside the vagina, so they could certify that he was virile and fertile. (To get the evidence, the grandmothers were authorized to physically pull the groom away from the bride if they had to.)


SEX PROFILE: THE ZARAMO

Objectives

· sexual pleasure


· perpetuation of the Zaramo community


· expansion of kinship/affinity network for


support and social services

Acceptabie sexual activities


Before puberty

· touching own genitals

monitored by family,

· pleasure in sucking mother’s breasts

neighborhood clan

· pleasure when being carried or washed


· playing father/mother games


· forming peer groups


· learning dances and stories


· learning parts of the body

At puberty

· interest in signs of sexual development

monitored by family, clan,

· joining in initiation rites

makumbi ngariba kungwi

· learning sex-related songs and techniques


· forming peer groups


· interest in opposite sex


· private masturbation


· wearing beads

At marriage

· fondling, kissing, intimate love-making

monitored by family, clan,

· wearing beads

elders

· courtship, marriage


· sexual intercourse


· polygamy

Unacceptable sexual activities

Before puberty

· preoccupation with own genitals

monitored by family, clan

· touching others’ genitals


· sexual intercourse


· watching animals or people mating


· foul language

At puberty

· public masturbation

monitored by family,

· intimate love-making

ngariba, and kungwi



· sexual intercourse


· obscene words

At marriage

· adultery

monitored by family, clan

· prostitution


· sodomy


· bestiality


· rape


· incest


· abortion

Sanctions


Rewards

· social acceptance

monitored by family, clan

· praise in songs


· material rewards (giving girl in marriage)

Punishments

· social disapproval, reprimands

monitored by family, those

· denial of privileges, fines

in charge of initiation

· corporal punishment, ostracism


· repeat initiation, divorce

The ideal marriage


Husband

· initiation graduate, circumcized, sexually skilled


· virile, fertile


· productive, able to keep family sheltered, fed, clothed


· affectionate to family, own relatives, and in-laws

Wife

· sexually exciting, initiation graduate, smart


· fertile


· hard-working in maintaining her household


· affectionate to her family, loyal to her people

Family size

· large

Sex status

· males superior to females

Evaluation

· young people become successful fathers/mothers

Effectiveness

· positive

Mode of education

· informal/nonformal

Summarizing the Findings

On the evidence of the focus groups, it can be said that sexuality was the single most powerful defining force in the lives of the traditional communities examined in this study.

Sexuality shaped the patterns of their social, economic, and political lives. People helped one another because they were kin - but their kinship derived from, at some point, a sexual relationship.

Sexuality motivated both hard work and creativity. In a cattle-raising community, a man fought to increase his herd because he was the father of a family. Warriors risked death in battle to demonstrate their manhood to wives and girlfriends. Young men worked long hours to win girls they loved. The talented composed songs and dances to celebrate loved ones.

But sexuality was a two-sided force - destructive as well as creative. Out of control, it could endanger a whole society - cause emotional disturbances, spread physical infection, sow social discord, hate, and envy. History showed it could even destroy distinguished careers and powerful empires.

Recognizing the potential of sexuality for harm as well as good, traditional communities organized their patterns of behavior to minimize risk and maximize pleasure. A common thread linking the communities was their perception of the importance of “control” - finding and maintaining the kind and degree of control most conducive to personal and social equilibrium, the balance between the creative and destructive.

All the groups surveyed struggled to achieve it, each in its own way. Each had its own elaborate code of do’s and don't's. Those who conformed were rewarded and esteemed; those who persistently did not were regarded as dangers to themselves and society and punished accordingly.

The gravest crimes could call down the full weight of ritual sanction - total ostracism from the community, even death, for offenders felt to have incurred the wrath of departed ancestors and unseen spirits. But no sense of guilt attached to sexuality as a force. The “crime” was expressing it in a way harmful to the welfare of the community.

Another perception the communities shared was the association of sexuality with physical and social development. Concepts of age and maturity - childhood, adolescence, youth, adulthood, old age - could only be understood within the framework of sexual development. (The Gogo killed any hermaphrodite infant at birth, because they had no name for it - not male, not female, it had no “place” in the world of human beings.) In addition, sexual distinctions defined social roles and were the basis for the social allocation of jobs.

Virtually all the groups not only saw sex as a source of physical pleasure, but felt that the maximizing of that pleasure was a legitimate social objective. They also saw the pleasure as being dependent on two requirements - physical expertise and an appropriate social context.

Different groups emphasized different ways of stimulating sexual excitement - amulets, perfumes, massage, caresses, fondling, wearing beads, waist or belly dancing, physical enlargement of the clitoris or labia minora. But they all thought competence in this area was as important as in any other.

At the same time, they thought the enjoyment of sex had to take place in a socially supported framework: marriage. It was important for partners to value each other, to be sensitive to each other’s feelings and expectations - sexual intercourse between men and women should be more than animal mating. To signify this social aspect, the first act of sex on the wedding night was celebrated with community rejoicings, rituals, and meals. And among the Makonde, for example, even a long-married wife was expected to ceremonially provide her husband with water to wash in and food to eat before intercourse.

Seeing intercourse in this way - as meant to be both physically delightful and socially serious - influenced views of other kinds of sexual activity. Adultery, homosexuality, child abuse, incest, and rape violated the social order, the framework that sustained the community; the community therefore found them repugnant and unthinkable.

All the focus groups also agreed on the importance of reproduction in their thinking about sexuality. The desire to reproduce is deep-seated, and sex is the mechanism that makes it possible. Any act of sex between a man and a woman may result in his becoming the father of her child, in her becoming the mother of his child. And “fatherhood” and “motherhood” were not simply biological facts in traditional communities; the words stood for a whole complex set of interdependent relationships, roles, duties, and rights.

Fertility alone could not make a man a “good” father - he had to have the skills necessary to provide his family with food, shelter, and clothing. Nor could a woman be a “good” mother just by giving birth - she had to know how to cook, care for her children, and keep her house clean and orderly. The community made sure young potential parents understood early on the connection between sexual activities and these responsibilities, and the young people’s parents were expected to train them in the skills appropriate to their roles in the community’s economy.

This was bound up with what all the groups agreed was the third function of sexual relations - to create a network of kinship, which in turn defined an individual’s identity and his or her social role generally, along with the ways in which he or she was expected to behave toward many specific other individuals.

Most people’s whole social world consisted of the various roles assigned to them as the result of their own or other people’s sexual relations. To be “successful” was to be able to handle all the roles in a way the community admired - which generally translated into being able to provide sufficient goods and services to one’s own kin and to one’s in-laws.

It was clear to the communities surveyed that all these goals and values bound up with sexuality were much too important to let understanding of them be left to chance. Accordingly, they made meticulous provisions for “sex education” - meaning education in sexual expression itself as well as in the range of social and economic skills, roles, and responsibilities it demanded. The systems of initiation developed by the Makonde, the Gogo, the Zaramo, the Masai, and the Chagga were particularly rich.

Initiation marked the climax of training in sexual roles. Its significance was magnified by its highly detailed procedures, its public nature, its invocation of rituals - hair, washing bodies, putting on new clothes, taking new names - to symbolize initiates’ new identity and new roles. And the ultimate ritual, circumcision, dramatized both the seriousness of adult responsibilities and their connection to sex and the birth of children.

In all the groups surveyed, failure to have children was a peculiarly sensitive problem. Couples took desperate measures to hide it. Herbs might be prescribed or, when herbs failed, rituals. A barren woman might arrange for her sister to bear a child for her; or an infertile husband might permit his wife to have intercourse with another man. The childless of both sexes became the butts of jokes, and men without children forfeited male privileges.

The Impact on Women

On the whole, the focus groups felt that in the past, their traditional ways had worked-had served to direct and control sexual behavior for the benefit of the individual and the community.

But it must also be noted that the controlling powers vested in community elders, all men, also served to reinforce their dominance over women and entrench men as unilateral decision makers for the whole community.

Labor seems to have been divided by sex as far back as anyone knows - though probably not, in the beginning, because of any conscious conspiracy among men to subjugate women. More likely, say some sociologists and social anthropologists, the first reasons were pragmatic - women in prehistory, tied down by their biological roles as gestators and nursers of babies, were less able to handle the rough jobs their male counterparts took over. As time passed, tradition etched in stone what nature had sketched in pencil - women resigned themselves to the kitchen, men took over public affairs. Then, once the domination of women by men could be seen to exist, it was obviously in men’s interest to preserve it; and myths and legends sprang up to give it a sacred character and holy origins.

In any event, all the communities in this study regarded some jobs as befitting men, others as befitting women; and if one looks at the meaning, value, and consequent rank attached to each of the jobs, the men clearly outranked the women.

It is not difficult to imagine how this early social dominance could, over time, progress imperceptibly into economic dominance, leading to men’s claiming ownership of all key resources of production and distribution - grazing land, farms, cattle, houses, essential tools, and certainly children. And ultimately, men’s claims of ownership extended to their wives and their wives’ sexuality.

The Chagga, Masai, and Gogo feared sexual passion in women-it was too powerful, it had to be reduced to prevent behavior damaging to the community. Their control mechanism was circumcision - removal, most importantly, of the clitoris. The practice still persists, defended not only by the older generation, but by many young people. (Some young men from the village of Usseri told the author of the present study that they could not imagine marrying an uncircumcized girl - they would not run the risk of her becoming a prostitute.) The association of women with fertility was wonderful, but also mysterious and frightening. Women were regarded as carriers of dangerous forces, and taboos grew up to limit their behavior during menstruation, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.

Men could and did demand total fidelity in marriage. This was one of the arguments for circumcision of women - presumably, lessening their pleasure in sex would make them less likely to stray. And if a husband traveled often, certain rituals could allegedly make his wife unavailable to other men while he was away from home. But men were free to take as many partners as they liked and could afford; polygamy was acceptable socially and legally.

The dowry system seems to have reinforced the unequal distribution of power between husband and wife. A woman hesitated to divorce her husband, regardless of his behavior, because her family would have to return the cattle her husband had paid for her.

Men decided who would marry their daughters; women had no voice in the decisions. Marriage, like other community affairs, was dealt with in public meetings women could not even attend. A few permissive communities sometimes let them to observe from a distance (the Masai permitted them to serve food), but no woman could take part Even in matrilineal societies, the mother’s brother was the decision maker in the household.

All this was instilled in boys and girls from earliest childhood. At his father’s “fireplace school,” a boy was programmed to be a man - exposed to more contacts, more information, more decision-making situations than his sisters; trained to be courageous and protective of women; confirmed in his sense of superiority to them. Meanwhile, girls, growing up under women’s supervision in the “kitchen school,” learned the submissive role of housewife and mother.

Culture and Ideology

The focus groups provided a large body of valuable information. Now, it is necessary to look at the scientific principles underlying the effectiveness with which traditional societies perpetuated their cultures.

Sociologists and social anthropologists generally define culture as the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and passed on to succeeding generations. Processes of transmittal vary. But three elements seem always to be present - - a network of interrelated agencies or institutions operating within the group to promote specific needs and interests; - a network of interrelated themes and interests that form the objectives of these institutions; - and a cluster of modalities or mechanisms through which the institutions work to realize their objectives.

The French sociologist Pierre Bourdeau has called these three elements the intellectual field, the cultural field, and the cultural code, respectively.

For example, among the communities surveyed for this study, the intellectual field (that is, the institutions that promote the community’s social, economic, and political interests) included the household, the clan, age groups, peer groups, and the system of initiation rites, The cultural field (the interests the community wants or needs to further) consisted of whatever contributed to community survival. And it is easy to see how in a traditional society an institution like the household would help promote survival-not just by supporting economic activities that provided food, shelter, and clothing, but by teaching respect for authority as vested in the head of the household and generating a feeling of belonging.

In turn, the existence of this institution was perpetuated by a cultural code (a mechanism for accomplishing the institutional purpose) that told the community’s young people the only way they could enter on adult sexual life was by establishing households of their own. Exact expressions of the cultural code - initiation ceremonies, for instance - varied from group to group. The Makonde had different rites than the Chagga or Gogo did, since they lived in worlds with different physical and social realities.

To the people who live in it, every culture seems universal, obvious, neutral, in the best interests of all. They take for granted their culture’s system of beliefs, values, and institutions. Its patterns of socially acceptable thinking and behaving seem the only reasonable and objectively desirable ones.

In a sense, the culture of any community can be thought of as a vast, generally invisible, social control system that programs individual members of the group to act in the particular way favored by the group as a whole - to become ultimately an expression of the group’s ideal. The culture defines what is legitimate and what is not, rewards and punishes those who do or do not conform.

At the heart of the culture is its ideology - its special system of ideas, beliefs, and values that says there is only one appropriate way people can achieve their personal and social goals. The power of ideology as a social control is that it operates, not by force, but by consent, usually unconscious consent. And the message is transmitted all the more effectively because it comes through institutions perceived as neutral - churches, schools, social clubs.

And of course, ideology and education are linked; one cannot exist without the other.

The Nyaturu are a good example of how the process worked in the traditional communities. Their ideology was what, after thought and study, the Nyaturu believed necessary for their survival as a community - as the kind of community they were. The way they lived worked for them; the distribution of social roles and political powers in their society seemed genuinely in the best interests of all Nyaturu. They wanted to preserve this collective status quo - to pass it on to the next generation as they passed on their individual biological heritage to their children. And partly, they were able to do this, family by individual family, simply by bringing up their own children with the same skills, attitudes, and beliefs they had.

But the Nyaturu elders understood that the essence of being Nyaturu was more than a stock of knowledge or skills or ways of doing things. The collective heritage, the shared world view, of the whole community - the why we do if this way - had to be transmitted as well, thoughtfully, purposefully, authoritatively. And so they created institutions, including but extending far beyond the individual household, expressly for this broader transmittal of culture.

In short, the efficacy of an ideology generates in the group the desire to preserve and transmit it - and out of the desire come the systems for effecting the transmittal. Ideology contains within itself the seed of its own transmittal.

Socialization

Sexual union within marriage assured the physical survival of the Gogo or the Sukuma or the Fipa. But their survival as societies was made possible by socialization: the process by which the youngest members of a community are “made social” - trained to live in the world of adults and introduced to that world’s accumulated knowledge and experience.

Socialization is necessarily a selective process. It must sort out from all of the group’s lived experience only what seems essential to life. Within that package, it must also separate out what is or is not relevant to sets of individuals-depending, for example, on whether they are boys or girls and what their roles in the particular community are expected to be.

Sociologists attempting to analyze precisely how socialization works have advanced many theories. Generally speaking, all fall on a continuum between two extremes, the reproduction theory and the radical theory.

Reproduction theorists see socialization as a process by which, through a variety of institutions (the family, age sets, initiation rites), a dominant older generation passes on its culture to a largely passive and receptive younger generation. The culture itself is thought of as a fixed “quantum” - like capital banked in each generation, never added to, never subtracted from, simply handed over intact. It is a fixed set of skills and knowledge necessary to perform in a fixed set of social roles, defined by the dominant group and assigned to the young people.

Among the Masai, for example, skill with the spear and club was part of the package for a young male Masai. Masai cattle had to be defended against wild animals - that was a piece of objective reality. Young men were likely to be more physically powerful than young women, so weapon wielding was designated a “male” social role. Accordingly, boys were taught the skills to defend the community; girls were not. (Division of labor by sex may, as here, seem a sensible choice. But it is still a choice, not a genetic imperative. Sex roles are products of culture, taking their significance from values assigned by the particular community.) In any event, reproduction theorists would argue that by defining the social roles, the elders defined the social context in which Masai boys had to operate and the skills they had to learn to be acceptable in Masai society. By depriving the boys of other choices, the elders forced them to become warriors. Yet the force was not physical or even visible. Having grown up unconsciously identifying themselves with the roles they saw around them, most boys probably never felt forced at all. Their highest aspiration since childhood had been to do exactly what the elders were now demanding of them - to fit into their own special place in the social structure.

Radical theorists, in contrast, doubt the power of any society, however conservative, to exercise total control over the individual. They criticize reproduction theorists for failing to recognize what the young people being socialized contribute to the process - from creative ideas to simple resistance. They argue that socialization is an arena where competing views vie for the learner’s “consent” - which can never be taken for granted, even in a society where one ideology dominates. There is always the possibility that an opposing point of view will challenge it - perhaps force it to modify its position. And even within the framework of an accepted package of skills and social norms, the radical theorists claim, there is still some kind of freedom to choose among alternatives.

For example, the fact that the Chagga needed to use the threat of execution by impaling as a deterrent to would-be adulterers proved that there were would-be adulterers in Chagga society - men and women raised to believe that out-of-wedlock sexual intercourse was unequivocally wrong, yet willing, once at least, to break the rules. A radical theorist would say this demonstrates that the power of an ideology to prevail depends ultimately on its credibility to the individual - on whether, and how consistently, individuals choose to obey its rules.

According to radical theorists, then, socialization is far from a simple, peaceful assimilation. It is a process of lively give and take between society and individuals - one that permits, even encourages, social change.

Most of the communities surveyed followed a pattern of socialization much closer to the reproductive end of the theoretical spectrum than to the radical.

The institutions in charge of socialization in these communities - households, age sets, and especially the elders - wielded immense power. The elders had the final word in all matters of ownership. They were the repository of collective knowledge, the transmitters of ancestors’ blessings, the intercessors between ordinary men and women and the supernatural world accessed by ritual. They set the community’s agenda, defined the social roles and patterns of behavior they considered in the group’s best interest, and imposed whatever sanctions they felt would induce conformity.

And reinforcing their power and credibility was an almost total absence of competing ideas. Their omnipresent influence generated what people perceived as an atmosphere of consensus and solidarity, a society that was rational, natural, universally beneficial. Apparently, the communities were unified and at peace. It was impossible to question such a social order, let alone rebel against it.

But under the surface lay seeds of dissent. The communities themselves realized it, which is why they maintained their elaborate systems of rewards and punishments.

Since the ultimate punishments were ritual excommunication or death, it is not surprising that the level of adherence to the community code of conduct was high. All the focus groups agreed that deviations rarely, if ever, occurred, which they saw as evidence of their systems’ effectiveness.

To better understand the dynamics of the socialization process in traditional communities, it may help to borrow a conceptual framework developed by Basil Bernstein. Socialization, Bernstein says, is a communication system between teacher and learners that has three components: curriculum, pedagogy, and evaluation.

The curriculum, according to Bernstein, is what a community considers valid or “educational” knowledge - the body of facts, skills, and values that the community agrees is relevant and important for a particular purpose. (Not all knowledge needs to be “taught,” in schools or elsewhere.) Whoever sets the content of the curriculum influences the future of not only the learners, but the whole society. And the choice of what is “relevant” and “important” reflects the value judgments and interests of a dominant group that is seen as representing the community as a whole; so the extent to which a group controls curriculum design reflects the relative power of that group in the community.

Actually, in the traditional communities analyzed in this study, the curriculum-controlling elders were not designers of the curriculum so much as its custodians. The real authors, lost in a mysterious and legendary past, were sanctified by time and remoteness; even the elders, powerful as they were, could not change the content of what “tradition” had handed down to them.

But they could and did exert power when it came to instruction.

Bernstein defines pedagogy as what a community considers a valid system for teaching its curriculum - who teaches, who learns, the nature of their relationship, where the learning takes place, the sequence of topics.

In the communities analyzed here, parents chose who was to participate in the community’s initiation programs. But the elders appointed the directors of the programs, determined the sites, and set the timing. In turn, the program directors planned and supervised the daily routines in the camps for the duration of the initiation periods. There were no alternative programs; the elders’ appointees were the only legitimate providers of services. The future of the initiates and the community was in their hands.

Bernstein explains his third term, evaluation, as what a community considers a valid assimilation by the learner of the community’s curriculum. The aim of the socialization process is to transform the learner, in effect, into a new person - a newly competent person, able to use the knowledge and skills the community has chosen to transmit. Evaluation must therefore measure and grade the extent to which this transformation has taken place.

In the academic world, evaluation takes the form of examinations. In Tanzania’s traditional communities, too, young people were regularly tested at key stages. At the weaning stage when a Makonde boy graduated from his mother’s ‘kitchen school,” or when an initiated Masai boy moves from his layoni dormitory into the morani house, or when a Nyakyusa bachelor wanted to marry - at all these transition points, parents and the community had yardsticks that determined who passed and who did not.

The tests were strictly practical. The Masai young man who wanted to qualify as an adult fought a lion singlehanded. The Makonde girl who wanted to marry demonstrated her ability to entertain her future husband sexually. Daily life was the testing place; the learners’ actions were the measure of the transformation effected.

The “Traditional Model” of Sex Education

At this point, using the information about traditional communities gained from the focus groups, and applying the conceptual framework of curriculum, pedagogy, and evaluation just outlined, it is possible to construct a model of the particular education system of most interest to this particular study - that is, the communities’ system of sex education.

Several of the focus groups supplied sufficient information to be fitted into the framework, but the study will focus on the Makonde system as illustrative of the others.

To begin with, as explained earlier, the Makonde saw sexual life as an integral part of their whole existence. Becoming a successful father or mother was their measure of success for a man or a woman.

The Makonde also had a defined body of general knowledge that they considered important to social identity and survival. From this, they selected a package of special information necessary to a man and a woman as a couple.

The contents of this package were wide-ranging. They included the names and functions of the genital organs, and information on how to care for them; kinship relationships and the social roles a Makonde plays in the household, neighborhood, community, and clan; and the skills required not only to live, but fulfill his or her social obligations.

In other words, the curriculum covered biology, health, sociology, politics, history, hunting, farming, house building, cooking, medicine, and more. And every Makonde man or woman had to “know” the package to function successfully in the Makonde community.

The curriculum went beyond facts and theory to fine points of technical skill. It was not enough for a Makonde girl to know that the Newala plateau was arid and water was precious; she had to know exactly how to store water in huge pots buried deep under the floor of her hut. Nor was it enough to know she must please her husband by wearing waist beads, dancing waist dances, and offering food and a loving welcome home before engaging him in sexual intercourse. There were strict rituals for even inviting her husband to a meal - she had to know not just what to do but how to do it.

Beyond these things, the curriculum required the inculcation of moral virtue - the predisposition, the mind-set, that made people want to behave in all the ways they ought to behave. Models of everything a Makonde should be were imprinted on the young through games, stories, and examples from real life. A good Makonde was rewarded in this life and after death; a bad Makonde would suffer here and in the next world.

Obviously, such a curriculum demanded an equally wide-ranging pedagogy. Instruction was systematically fitted into all life experiences. People learned by doing, by being what they were expected to be - by performing their roles. Acceptance of these roles was the single most important means of motivation. A Makonde’s roles summed up his or her identity. Roles were assigned, and taken for granted, as though no alternatives existed. Practically speaking, none did. The moral pressure from inside and outside was intense.

Though learning went on from birth to death, there were clearly special “school” times - intensive training courses associated with milestones in individual life, like puberty, marriage, first pregnancy, first birth, death. But it would be misleading to think that any course provided the only preparation for a particular milestone; it was simply a peak in a lifelong continuum of preparation. This continuity, this all-pervasiveness, was the great strength of the system.

Predictably, the evaluation of the system was pragmatic. Yes, it was important for adolescents to pass the test of memorizing the midimu. But in real life, a man proved he was a “good” father by caring for his wife and children; providing them with adequate food, shelter, and clothing; meeting the full range of his social responsibilities. If the system enabled the preponderance of Makonde to do that, it was a success. If it did not do so, it was a failure.

Most of the focus groups, as pointed out earlier, were happy with the outcomes of their communities’ systems of sexual socialization and education. When asked whether disapproved sexual behavior ever occurred in the past, they answered “Never” or “Rarely.” The Gogo group was bewildered by a question about sodomy. Someone said, “How could anyone in his right mind want to do that sort of thing, with all the women around?” The Chagga group admitted premarital sex had been known to happen in the old days, but only very rarely - “Where would you go if you behaved like that?” The social climate was charged with a kind of public conscience, which was, in effect, the police force of the community. This charged atmosphere exerted a moral force on members. They did not deviate from social expectations.

The traditional model of education has many things in common with the modem school model besides having a curriculum, a pedagogy, and a system of evaluation. But it was also different - most importantly, in the relative mix of freedom and authority exercised by society, teachers, and learners in each of these areas.

Modem school education is formal. There is a syllabus followed by all schools, which lays out the course of study, topic by topic, week by week. Teachers and pupils have little freedom to choose what will be taught, when, or in what order.

Traditional education, on the other hand, was a large group of culturally accepted values and skills. The content was fixed, but those who taught-in effect, the whole community - had considerable freedom in how they interwove lessons with daily life. Learners, too, had some freedom. The daily-life setting permitted freer interaction between teacher and learners than a modem classroom does, and role play involved learners more actively than classroom recitation does. Because of this relative freedom of teachers and learners, traditional education has been described as nonformal or informal.

Formal education, besides having a prescribed course of study taught by an accredited faculty in an accredited institution, has as its goal producing graduates who may be thought of as intellectually competent in a broad sense. Usually, they demonstrate their competence in written examinations and are awarded credentials - certificates, diplomas, degrees - that carry a market or social value.

Nonformal education is more narrowly directed. It teaches how to do a particular thing - build a house, kill a lion, bear a child - or take on a particular set of duties and responsibilities - to marry, to become a husband or a wife. There are no written exams, no qualifying credentials. Graduates prove their ability to do by doing. And in traditional communities, this kind of nonformal project-focused education was interwoven with informal education - the everyday pick-up learning of ordinary life, that goes on continuously and unconsciously.

Traditional communities clearly had a system of socialization in general, and sex education in particular, that emphasized the interests of society over those of the individual. Still, within the general dictates set out by society, individual parents and other agents of socialization, as well as young people themselves, had considerable freedom in managing the process. Nothing was taught formally. Key “courses” (such as rites of initiation or preparation for marriage) were taught nonformally. The rest - probably the major part - of the necessary facts, skills, and values in the curriculum was absorbed informally, through life experience.

(introduction...)

In the light of the focus group findings and the critical analysis of them in the preceding pages, some conclusions can be drawn.

As noted earlier, these communities saw their lives holistically. The social, economic, and political aspects of their lives were so intimately interrelated that they were not, in fact, perceived separately. Certain social roles called for certain economic roles, and vice-versa. Political roles existed to create a context for the social and economic roles. All of them together had what Emil Durkheim has called “organic solidarity” - like a family of father, mother, children, which would cease to exist as that family if a single component were withdrawn.

This view of life created a culture with an ideology that permeated all of society. Its power to shape minds and behavior patterns was so universal that dissonance was rare and opposition virtually nonexistent.

In turn, the unitary structure of community life, with its interlocking social and economic spheres and political authority concentrated in the elders, made it easy for the ideology to pass intact from one generation to another.

Analysis of the focus group reports identified three components critical in these communities’ systems of sex education. Using sociological terminology, these components were - - an intellectual field: a network of institutions or agencies (here, households, neighborhoods, peer groups, age sets, clans, initiation directors, councils of elders) charged with supervising sexual socialization; - a cultural field: an agreed-on package of information and attitudes that the institutional network was charged with passing on (such as the names and functions of the genital organs, the social implications of sexual behavior, and the obligations placed on individuals by their social roles); - and a cultural code: a range of means through which the socializing institutions could convey their messages effectively to each new generation.

The organic unity that marked the ideology of the community stemmed from the internal linkages between these components - the institutions, what they taught, and how they taught. They reflected-consensus and produced it - the social harmony that ultimately guaranteed community survival. They had stood the test of time. They worked.

Each community’s systems of sex education and initiation varied in details. But the elements they shared were both more numerous and more important.

In each community:

Sex education was a lifelong process intimately integrated into daily life, punctuated at developmental turning points (puberty, marriage, etc.) by intensive, narrowly focused training.

Sex education was a responsibility, in one-way or another, at one stage or another, of the whole society. It involved everyone - family, clan, neighborhood, territorial authority - because everyone was affected. Sexuality was a basic human characteristic; awareness of sexual behavior and its ramifications shaped every life and the whole community’s ideology.

Sex education, in the form of parental education-in social roles, began at home and continued until children formed their own new households. The role of the parent was key.

Sex education was provided largely through interpersonal communication and individualized counseling in small groups. The intimacy of the teacher-learner interaction made the level of trust high.

Sex education used a variety of teaching aids that linked the messages to real life. Among them were personal anecdotes, invented stories, songs, riddles, games, dances, and dramas.

Sex education was closely connected to rituals, ceremonies, and other public events, demonstrating and reinforcing its social importance and spiritual dimension.

Sex education was reinforced by role-playing and imitation. This made everyone in the community a role model to some-degree and necessitated a consistent high standard of public morality.

Sex education was frank and open in its approach to sex. It did-not try to instill conformity by making sex itself a source of guilt. Sex was presented as a highly enjoyable activity; people simply had to be responsible and observe the rules.

Sex education provided by special teachers was monitored to insure that correct information was available to young people at every stage of life. The men and women responsible for the community’s initiation programs had to be approved by the family or clan

Sex education was seen by the entire community as critical to every young person’s future. Conformity to the clan code of conduct was the passport to the clan-controlled knowledge, social status, and material resources on which Individual survival depended. The apparent neutrality and objectivity of socializing agencies enhanced their ability to bring about this conformity.

Now, how can this knowledge help contemporary Tanzania develop an equally effective process to meet today’s needs?

One thing all the focus groups confirmed forcefully was that present-day Tanzania has strong roots in the past - roots that cannot be ignored in planning for the future.

Participants in the groups, particularly those in urban centers, said they understood and accepted the inevitability of social change. But they feared that total loss of their culture would result in chaos. The solution, as they saw it, was for society to take steps to control its own change.

Precedents for this exist. Even the conservative Gogo and Chagga adopted many Masai customs over the years, when these customs offered solutions to problems the Gogo and Chagga were confronting for the first time. The Nyakyusa exposed to urbanization by the Mbeya-Dar es Salaam highway abandoned banana-farming and took up trade. The Makonde Malaba of Lindi had to come to terms with the Swahili and Arab worlds as laborers on the farms of the rich. Zanzibar has become a melting pot of cultures, a mix of Arab, African, Oriental, and western influences.

For Tanzania, rejection of the past would mean rejection of its identity. The only way forward, in fact, is to accept and value the history that has made us what we are; that is the underlying meaning of “self-reliance” in the philosophy of Ujamaa. The only way we can understand the new is with the knowledge we have derived from the old.

Here are some concrete suggestions - actions Tanzania can take now, building on the past, to create a better future.

A National Curriculum

Much of the strength of the traditional sex education model derived, as has been shown, from its base in a universally shared ideology, which the elders of the community were responsible for preserving and passing on.

But modern Tanzania, with its diversity of ethnic groups, has no single sexual ideology and no national equivalent of the traditional elders.

WAZAZI has, in effect, been asked by CCM to assume such a role - to take on the educational responsibilities of the traditional elders on a national scale.

In this role, WAZAZI must start to develop and promote a “national curriculum” of sex education.

Given Tanzania’s ethnic diversity, given the new ideas and values spreading via the mass media, and given especially the various, often conflicting, religious beliefs imported into Tanzania from both East and West, the “curriculum” will have to be a broadly framed policy statement, focusing on principles and guidelines. But it will be a beginning. It can start the nation moving toward consensus on what constitutes essential sexual knowledge and acceptable sexual behavior.

The demands of sexuality in Tanzania today are no different from what they were in our ancestors’ times. People still want to have sex, for all the same reasons - for pleasure, for children, for social survival. And there still have to be “rules of the game” if chaos is to be avoided. But they have to be new rules now, worked out sensitively and agreed on by all Tanzanians.

Obviously, achieving such rules will take time and patience. What is important now is for WAZAZI to commit itself to undertaking the job.

And immediately-while development of the guidelines is in progress - WAZAZI must work with all institutions now involved in sex education to identify the country’s most urgent issues related to sexual behavior, so appropriate action can be taken quickly.

At the same time, WAZAZI needs to make all parents aware of their collective responsibility as educators - of all children, not just their own.

There was a general feeling in the focus groups that many parents today are abdicating their responsibility to teach social and ethical values or to set behavioral standards and demand that they be met - that “bringing up” children, in the traditional sense, is increasingly being left to the school, the church, the mosque. More and more parents, they said, are slow to act when their own children misbehave and afraid to intervene when other people’s children do, for fear of provoking conflicts with other parents.

Accordingly, WAZAZI should use all available channels of communication - from Party outreach organizations and religious institutions to the mass media - to awaken the public to the importance of parental responsibility. It should enlist organizations like the National Service, the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, and Christian youth movements to help spread the word.

And it should begin to develop a comprehensive, holistic sex education curriculum for parents themselves.

All-Pervasive Modes of Teaching

Chapter Three highlighted the range of educational methods used by traditional communities to transmit the sexual information they thought necessary and develop the patterns of behavior they thought desirable.

WAZAZI should explore some of these methods more deeply, with a view to using them to teach the national sex education curriculum. Today, as in the past, appropriate sex education needs to be provided through informal and nonformal channels, as well as in formal programs. Like sexuality itself, sex education has to be part of life from infancy to old age.

The role of the family, as the basic unit of society, should be primary. But WAZAZI should examine the possibility of also involving a variety of public and private institutions throughout the country as providers of different levels of sex education at different stages of young people’s lives.

A cadre of trained professional specialists in sex education, especially in sex guidance and counseling, should be developed - a modem equivalent of the walumbo who conducted the initiation rites of traditional societies.

As much as possible, sex education should be provided in the form of continuing counseling over a sustained period of time, allowing mutually frank, honest, and trusting relationships to develop between today’s walombo and their learners.

More structured short-term education courses should be designed to meet special needs at particular times of life-puberty, marriage, first pregnancy, first birth, etc. WAZAZI may want to consider adapting some of the forms such courses took in traditional societies.

WAZAZI should use all media - newspapers, radio, video, live drama, dances, stories - to insure that approved educational messages are as all-pervasive in contemporary Tanzania as such messages were in traditional communities.

WAZAZI should also organize annual competitions - between households, communities, schools, and other institutions - in subject areas related to sex education and life education. These can help draw public attention to important issues and concerns.

Pragmatic Evaluation

It has been noted earlier that there were no pen-and-paper exams in traditional sex education programs. Life was the test. The Masai warrior killed his lion, or the lion killed him.

WAZAZI must seek to restore that sense of connection between education and success in life, especially in sex education/life education courses taught in schools. Nonconventional educational agencies - youth movements, religious bodies, Party units - may be particularly helpful in suggesting fresh, practical ways of assessing students’ progress.

Whatever the evaluation mechanism is, it must measure more than assimilation of isolated facts; it must indicate the extent of improvement in the individual’s preparation for life - life on his or her own and in relationships with others.

This applies, no matter what setting sex education is provided in. In choosing the suitability of different settings - government schools, as against non-government institutions - WAZAZI may want to make special use of religious institutions, Their concern with moral values makes them natural allies.

In traditional communities, the universal dominance of the ideology guarded and transmitted by the elders had its roots in the elders’ economic power - their monopoly over all the clan’s resources, whether of land, or cattle, or practical knowledge, or arcane ritual. They were the keepers of a single gate - the gate all young people had to pass to survive.

Today, modern education, technology, and the mass media have opened a whole range of gates - alternative routes to survival-for young people, stripping away the ability of Tanzanian parents to control their children’s thinking and life styles as the elders once did.

WAZAZI needs to respond to this change realistically. WAZAZI and all agencies of sex education have to aim now at strengthening all young people’s ability to think critically, to decide for themselves what is in their own best interest - to choose, not just conform.

This means, where sex education is concerned, preparing them for lives of greater freedom. But it must - and can - be responsible freedom.

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Back Cover

THE MARGARET SANGER CENTER
of Planned Parenthood of New York City

is an international center for education about sexuality, reproduction, and health, providing trainning and technical assistance to professionals from all over the world.

It has worked with government and voluntary agencies in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia to help them establish, expand, and improve systems for reproductive health care. It has helped design national programs addressing quality assurance in service delivery. And it has enabled a dozen countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and Africa to develop nonformal community-based parent education programs, as well as to integrate more formal family living/sex education curricula into their schools.

The Sanger Center has worked in partnership with the Parents Association of Tanzania (WAZAZI) for several years.