That such opinions exist today suggests that Africans, generally speaking, view certain aspects of pleasure and sexuality as foreign. There is difficulty in seeing ancient or pre-colonial Africans as sexual beings. This is not surprising when one considers just how understudied African history is. There is still so much we do not know about pre-colonial African histories and there are still too many Africans who believe we were saved by European colonialism.
African history is woefully under-represented on the global stage — and it only gets harder when it comes to sex. In search of the history of African sexuality On the Wikipedia page for the global history of human sexuality, you will find that Africa is largely missing.
It gets mentioned twice, when Aids is discussed. This almost perfectly captures the frustration that comes with trying to learn more about the history of African sex. However, if one digs deeper, one can catch glimpses of sexuality in colonial documents.
A girl and her friend went out to make love, and when they had gone, the girl herself found a lover, and she took him, but she prevented her friend from doing the same, so the friend became angry and returned home. Tremearne The folktale implies that both girls are unmarried. Digging further, one learns of the Hausa institution known as tsarance , in which young, unmarried people were allowed sex that did not involve penetration.
This institution existed among other African ethnic groups too: Sex without penetration does suggest foreplay but the details of what went down when young couples got together are not available.
In fact, some scholars have argued that tsarance was actually exploitative and harmful for young girls. Leaning over her, his lips swooped down on hers, reigniting the shameless desire within her. His tongue invaded her mouth.
She tasted her tangy sweetness on his lips. His earthy spiciness assaulted her nostrils with each breath she struggled to take. Her body keened with inflamed feelings. He roamed her body with his hands, tweaking and rubbing her breasts, which grew heavier, and nipples that got tighter.
They moved lower to caress her stomach and waist. When he lifted his head, she was gasping for breath. As for oral sex, it has been said that Lucy, the first pre-historic woman, practised some sort of fellatio. There are ancient Egyptian myths and images depicting fellatio, although history has been less forthright when it comes to cunnilingus.
As for kissing, current research disagrees that prolonged kissing with tongue is universal. Of the 31 African cultures surveyed, kissing was present in only 4. But the available research should not be a limitation. Pleasurable sex is more than kissing and oral sex, and even without those two, there are ways to imagine pre-colonial African sex.
Where imagination meets pleasure Bridging the complex gap between assumptions, historical fact and imagination are writers. African literature is wide and diverse but in that diversity, both romance and historical fiction are small niches. When the latter two are combined as historical romance, the niche becomes narrower. Yet some women are using fiction to challenge notions of sex and sexuality in African history.
The history embedded in the former is not necessarily captured in Western history books and this is where Kiru draws inspiration from when she writes. She credits the power of imagination, weaving this with stories and anecdotes her grandmother told her as a child. Women look at sex-toys on September 27, at the Sexpo sexuality and lifestyle show in Johannesburg. The Sexpo sexuality and lifestyle show is currently in its sixth year.
Kiru asserts that ancient Africans were sexual, whether we want to admit it or not, and the fact that songs like this have been recorded suggests so: