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close this bookTraditional Sex Education in Tanzania (WAZAZI, 1991, 82 p.)
close this folderChapter two THE ETHNIC COMMUNITIES
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe Chagga
View the documentThe Fipa
View the documentThe Gogo
View the documentThe Makonde
View the documentThe Makonde Malaba
View the documentThe Masai
View the documentThe Nyakyusa
View the documentThe Nyaturu
View the documentThe Sukuma
View the documentThe Zanzibaris
View the documentThe Zaramo

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.



· 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


· 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



· social accptance

· material rewards

· praise in songs and dances


· social disapproval

· reprimands, strokes

· denial of food and privileges

· ostracism

· divorce

· death

The ideal marriage


· 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


· 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


· young people become successful fathers/mothers


· positive

Mode of education

· informal/nonformal