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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 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.



· 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



· social acceptability

· praise in words and dances

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


· public reprimand

· strokes

· denial of gifts, food

· ostracism

· fine in cows

· ritual punishment

The ideal marriage


· 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


· 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


· young people become successful fathers/mothers


· 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.