A historical analysis was offered by (Erlank, 2003).
In a black township near Pretoria,
of 105 pre-marital mothers it was established that 20 per cent had engaged in
sexual relationships before “puberty”; of these 105, 90% were forbidden to go
out alone with boys, 82% were forbidden to go out alone in the evenings, 89%
were forbidden to receive boys at home, and 51% were forbidden to go out in a
group, all before puberty (Rip and
Schmidt, 1977:p21). Attitudes on premarital
sexuality were quite evenly divided. In one study (Du Toit, 1987), the youngest age of coitarche
was nine, and about two in three black schoolgirls had had coitus by age 15.
In a study among rural
“There is little talk about sex between parents and children - and children fear beatings if they admit to being sexually active (Unicef/NPPCHN, 1997, 27)[]. There is very little communication between parents and children. Mothers assume that when girls have boyfriends, they will be engaging in sex and send them to the clinic for contraception. But there is no talking about this (Unicef/NPPHCN, 1997, 74)”.
Chastity and modesty would be the highlights
of Hindu children’s moral upbringing in
Pre-initiation sex and marriage
are more punished than premarital sex and marriage (Jules-Rosette, 1980). In the past, “sex play without
penetration (ukumetfha) was an established part of the relations between
girls and boys, and the custom of regularly examining girls for virginity
secured a measure of parental control. The latter custom has fallen into
disuse, however, as has the custom of including an additional beast among the
marriage cattle in respect of a bride whose virginity was intact” (Wilson,
1952:p95). In the
“[…] there are specific institutions and places where sexual discourse is required and elaborated. In KwaZulu-Natal, the recent renaissance of formal virginity testing by older women, usually traditional healers, young girls gather to be examined by specialist who determine whether they are virgins. Wearing short traditional skirts only, they are led one by one to a healer who performs a vaginal inspection to ascertain whether the hymen is intact. If it is, the girl is given a formal certificate, signed by the chief and the tester, which states that she has undergone the test and was determined to be a virgin. Girls who submit to this test are also advised about sexuality during the examination. One tester, the traditional healer Makhosi Sibuko, also advises girls how to place their boyfriend’s penis between their thighs, rather than in their vaginas during pre-marital sex. Girls are also inspected for virginity during the vhusha initiation ceremony in Venda, Limpopo province, during which they are also taught elements of sexuality and sexual performance (Jeanerat 1997: 48)[]. Boys initiation rituals in many parts of South are also instances where sexual knowledge is given and demonstrated by elders to juniors. This knowledge is, in all cases, considered to be secret, although it is an open secret”.
In contemporary adolescent sexual learning, an important role is reserved for mass media, especially TV and magazines, although friends also constituted a significant source of information.
Henderson (1994), drawing from informal colloquia with Cape Town adolescents, found that parents generally do not welcome other-sex visits or stays at home, and sexual discussions with parents are avoided as a form of “respect”. Nevertheless, “[g]irls are sexually active, often from the age of thirteen” (p38).
Some data on childhood sexual experiences are collected in Gevisser and Cameron’s Defiant Desire on gay and lesbian lives in South Africa.
A 1992 survey of 7,000 adolescents found that 17 percent had engaged in sexual intercourse, with a median age of 15 years at first intercourse (Cooper et al. 1994). According to a study of first intercourse and contraceptive experiences of 1,737 black South Africans conducted during their first year in a university (Nicholas, 1994), male respondents’ mean age at first intercourse was 15.5 years and their partners’ age was 14.5 years old.
Hurwitz (1997) argued that “[t]here is no literature or data pertaining to autoerotic behavior and patterns in South African children, adolescents, or adults”.
Focusing on adolescent black children and teenagers, Preston-Whyte and Zondi found that both boys and girls admitted experiencing sex before their 12th or 13th year. Some had experienced penetration before they reached physical maturity. By age 13, most had been sexually active, if not regularly, then at least on a number of occasions. Full penetration was the rule.
The following findings regarding intrafamilial communication about sex in South Africa were obtained in 1990 from 1,902 black first-year students at a South African university (Nicholas 1991). Thirty-eight percent of respondents indicated that they had received no sex information from their mothers; 8.2 percent of females and only 3.8 percent of males indicated that they received much information from mothers. As expected, 65.5 percent of respondents indicated that fathers had given no sex information; 4.5 percent, 3.1 percent of males and 1.4 percent of females, reported their fathers provided much sex information.
Sixty-two percent of respondents indicated that they received no sex information at primary school, whereas only 10.9 percent indicated that they received no sex information at high school. Guidance teachers seem to provide much of the sex information at school, with 30.3 percent of respondents indicating that they received much information from guidance teachers.
Late 19th century South-African boarding school experienced the problems with this type of scholastic system as anywhere. “Initiation into the “under-life” of the reformatory could be through homosexual rape, while younger boys were soon drafted into service, sexual and otherwise, for older boys. Masturbation and homosexuality were common, while fagging, a common boarding school phenomenon, also appears to have been in practice […]” (Chisholm, 1986:p490).
Despite the “repressive puritan stance towards adolescent sexuality” that came with the advent of Bantu Education in 1953, “[f]ormer primary school pupils claimed that their sexual biographies began fairly early in their lives. ‘Many primary school boys had sex’, I was told. ‘They were above thirteen and had already been circumcised. The girls agreed. They also enjoyed sex’ ” (Niehaus).
[Additional refs: Swart-Kruger and Richter (1997); CRLP (2001) Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives: Anglophone Africa. Progress Report, p90-112]
“KAFFIR” / KAFIR (BANTU; SOUTH AFRICA; THAT IS, AMAZULU, AMA-SWAZI, AMA-TONGA, AND KAFLIRS PROPER, REPRESENTED BY AMA-XOSA, TEMBU, PONDO)
After the seclusion of a Kafir girl at puberty she is allowed to cohabit with anyone during the festivals that follow; Kafir boys after being circumcised may have connection with any unmarried females they can persuade. Kidd’s (1906) work on “Kafir” (Pondo) childhood appears void of sex.
D. F., Growing Up Sexually.
Last revised: Jun 2005
 Erlank, N. (2003) “The problem of SEX”: Christian grapplings with sex education for Africans in South Africa, 1910-1950. 4th Conference of the International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society (IASSCS) ‘Sex and Secrecy’
 Rip, C. M. & Schmidt, J. J. (1977) Black Pre-Marital Illegitimacy in Pretoria. Pretoria: South African Human Sciences Research Council. Research Report 100
 Du Toit, B. M. (1987) Menarche and sexuality among a sample of Black South African schoolgirls, Soc Sci & Med 24,7:561-71
 Buga, G. A., Amoko, D. H. & Ncayiyana, D. J. (1996) Sexual behaviour, contraceptive practice and reproductive health among school adolescents in rural Transkei, South Afr Med J 86(5):523-7
 Buga, G. A. (1998) Cervical cancer awareness and risk factors among female university students, East Afr Med J 75,7:411-6
 Manzini, N. (2001) Sexual initiation and childbearing among adolescent girls in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, Reprod Health Matters 9,17:44-52
 Klepp, K. I., Ndeki, S. S., Leshabari, M. T., Hannan, P. J. & Lyimo, B. A. (1997) AIDS education in Tanzania: promoting risk reduction among primary school children, Am J Public Health 87,12:1931-6
 Hellmann, E. (1935) Native life in a Johannesburg slum yard, Africa 8,1:34-61
 Morrell, R. (2001) Silence, Sexuality and HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Paper for the International Conference Gender, Sexuality and HIV/AIDS: Research and Intervention in Africa, University of Copenhagen, April 23-24
 NPPHCN/UNICEF, Youth Speak Out … A Study on Youth Sexuality (Braamfontein, c1997)
 Kuper, H. (1960) Indian People in Natal. Natal: Natal University Press
 Jules-Rosette, B. (1980) Changing aspects of women’s initiation in Southern Africa: an exploratory study, Can J Afric Stud 13,3:389-405
 Wilson, M. (1952) Social Structure. Pietermaritzburg: Shuter & Shooter. This would be true for the Xhosha and Mfengu.
 Watts, R. (1999) The challenge of the virginity campaigns, AIDS Anal Afr 9,4:9-10
 Thornton, R.
(2002) Flows of ‘sexual substance’ and
representation of the body in South Africa. On The Subject of Sex Seminar Series,
Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (Wiser), University of
 Jeannerat, C. (1997) An Anthropology of Listening: A Study of
Discourses on Tradition, Rituals, and the Situation of Women in Tshiendeuli,
Venda, in the Early 1990s. MA Dissertation, Department of Anthropology,
University of the Witwatersrand,
 Kaya, H. & Mabetoa, Ph. (1997) Knowledge and Attitudes towards Sexuality among Black Youth in South Africa, Educ & Soc 15,1:81-7
 Henderson, P. (1994) Silence, sex and Authority: the contradictions of young girls’ sexuality in New Crossroads, Cape Town, VENA J 6,2:33-9
 Gevisser, M. & Cameron, E. (Eds., 1994) Defiant Desires. Johannesburg: Ravan Press. See especially Zackie Achmat’s My Childhood as an Adult Molester (p325-41). Other clues to South African male homosexual development are found in Isaacs, G. & McKendrick, B. (1992) Male Homosexuality in South Africa. Cape Town: Oxford University Press
 Hurwitz, M. B. (1997) South Africa: another perspective, in Francoeur, R. T. (Ed.) The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. New York: Continuum. Quoted from the online edition
 Preston-Whyte, E. & Zondi, M. (1991) Adolescent Sexuality and Its Implications for Teenage Pregnancy and AIDS, South Africa’s Continuing Med Educ Monthly 9,11:1389-94
 See Nicholas, L. J. (1993) A Profile of 1,500 UWC First Year Students: Career Interest, Guidance Experiences, Knowledge and Attitudes towards AIDS and Sexuality and Religiosity. Unpublished report: Centre of Student Counselling, University of the Western Cape; Nicholas, L. J. & Daniels, P. S. (1997) South Africa, in Francoeur, R. T. (Ed.) The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. New York: Continuum, Vol. 3. Quoted from the online edition
Chisholm, L. (1986) The Pedagogy of Porter: The Origins of the Reformatory in the Cape Colony, 1882-1910, J Afr Hist 27,3:481-95
 Niehaus, I. (2000) Towards a Dubious Liberation: Masculinity, Sexuality and Power in South African Lowveld Schools, 1953-1999, J Southern African Studies 26,3:387-407, at p391
 Swart-Kruger, J. & Richter, L.M. (1997) AIDS-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviour among South African youth: reflections on power, sexuality and the autonomous self, Soc Sci & Med 45,6:957-66
 MacDonald, J. (189) Manners, Customs, Superstitions, and Religions of South African Tribes, J Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 20:113-40. [Macdonald, however, writes that actual sexual intercourse is prohibited]
 Maclean, J. (1858) A Compendium of Kafir Laws and Customs. Mount Coke, p98, 101[orig. footnote]
 Kidd, D. (1906) Savage Childhood. London: Adam & Charles Black