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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 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.