The photographs throughout the book, as well as on the cover, are portrait pho­tographs taken by photographers working in Mali in the 1950s—1980s. The ar­rangements (clothes, poses, accessories) are chosen by the models themselves.

Hamadou Bocoum (1930—1992) was born in in a small Peul village in northen Mali. He grew up in a family of griots (traditional oral keepers of history). He lived with his uncle in a town on the banks of the Niger river. The places along the river were visited by travelling photographers, who would set up temporary studios and darkrooms wherever they went. Later he moved to Bamako in order to be­come a schoolteacher. It was here, in the early 1950s, he learned photography. In 1956, when he was sent to Mopti, northern Mali, to teach in primary school, he opened a studio in the old part of town. For the rest of his life he divided his time between teaching and photography. He worked as a photographer until 1982, when his sons took over his studio. Throughout his life Amadou Bocoum trav­elled extensively, which brought him into contact with what was happening in other parts of the continent. His trips took him to the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mauretania. These trips, according to his son, contrib­uted to the expansion of his practice, providing him with new ideas.

Seydou Kei’ta (1923—2001) was born in Bamako, Mali, in the part of the town known as Medina Koura. He was trained as a carpenter, making furniture out of wood. Kei’ta’s first camera was given to him by a relative from Senegal, and he set out to learn photography through trial and error, being helped, however, by a French photographer in Bamako, Pierre Garnier. Combining carpentry and pho­tography, Kei’ta was finally able to open his own studio in 1948. At that time there were several photographers in Bamako, but Keita’s studio was well situated in a busy part of the town, and people liked his portraits. Samples of his work were exhibited on the walls of the studio, so that customers could choose the positions they liked, and there was also a choice of possible accessories, such as a watch, a fountain pen, a radio, a telephone, a bicycle, an alarm clock. Kei’ta always made a point of saving and filing his negatives, and his photographs can be dated accord­ing to the backdrop he uses: 1940—52: bedspread with fringes; 1952—55: flower pattern; 1956: leaf backdrop; 1957—60: arabesque backdrop; 1960—64: grey back­drop. From 1962, when Mali became independent, until his retirement in 1977, Kei’ta worked for the Malian government as a state photographer. Since 1991 Sey­dou Keita’s photographs have been exhibited all over the world.

Abderramane Sakaly (1926—1988) took an early interest in photography. His fa­ther was a trader from Morocco who married and settled in Saint Louis, Senegal. Abderramane Sakaly learnt the profession in the studio of Mei’ssa Gaye and Mix Gueve in Saint Louis. In 1956 he moved to Mali, setting up a studio in the Medina

Photographers’ Biographies

Koura part of Bamako, the capital of Mali. Although originally a trader in textiles, he eventually settled down to become one of Bamako’s best known studio pho­tographers. His studio, on the busy Route de Koulikoro, was visited by all the im­portant people of Bamako. Since Abderramane Sakaly’s death in 1988 the studio has been run by his son. The space has been converted into a small business with a telephone booth and a fax machine. Clients still come to have their ID pictures taken, but the era of studio photography is over.

El Hadj Bassirou Sanni (1937—2000) was born in Nigeria, getting his schooling in photography with a master of the art in Lagos. Here he worked with a plate camera in large format, and also learned the difficult art of retouching with a sharpened soft pencil directly on the negative. In 1962 Sanni settled in Mopti, northern Mali. From Nigeria he brought a fine Japanese mahogany plate camera; with this equipment he started his career. People came to his studio to be photo­graphed with a radio, a bicycle or a moped, symbols of modernity and prestige. In 1970 his business went so well that Bassirou Sanni sent for his younger brother, Latifu to come and help him in the studio and to be his apprentice in photogra­phy. In 1971 the elder brother’s friend from Nigeria, Tidjan Shitou also settled in Mopti. After Bassirou Sanni’s death, Latifu Sanni continued on his own in the stu­dio in the old part of Mopti.

El Hadj Tidjan Shitou (1933-2000) was born and grew up in Nigeria. He start­ed out as a trader, but when government regulations created problems in trade, he took up photography, working as an apprentice with a Nigerian photographer in Gao, northern Mali. In 1968 he left his master and started travelling across rural Mali, making ID photographs and portraits. Working between Mopti and Djenne, he eventually made enough money to establish his own studio. In 1971 he settled down in Mopti, northen Mali, in a small 9 m2 studio in the old part of town. Ini­tially his studio was open only at night. In the daytime he continued taking ID pic­tures down by the river. After some time he was able to work full time in his studio and became well known as a studio photographer in Mopti. According to el Hadj Tidjan Shitou himself, photography gave him everything a good Muslim wants in life. He could afford three wives, a house, and a pilgrimage to Mecca together with his friend Bassirou Sanni. After Tidjan Shitou’s death his studio was taken over by his sons, who are well-known photographers in Mopti today.

Sources, further reading (and more photographs)

www. african-collection. dk (the Sokkelund Africa Collection).

Elder, Tanya, 1997, Capturing Change: The Practice of Malian Photography 1930s – 1990s. Linkoping: Linkoping University, Sweden.

Magnin, Andre (ed.), 1997, Seydou Keita. Zurich, Berlin, New York: Contemporary African Art Collection.

Photographers’ Biographies



[1] The paper in question was first published in 1986, and again in 1988. An updated and modified version was pub­

lished in Mohanty et al. (eds) 1991, from which I quote. In a recent paper: “Under Western Eyes” Revisited (2002)

Mohanty discusses current intellectual and political challenges for feminist scholarship and organizing. Her cri­

tique in the 1986 paper remains, however, valid.

[5] Two papers presented at the Sex & Secrecy Conference in Johannesburg, 22—25 June 2003. Neville Hoad (2003) and Heike Becker (2003) alerted me to these particular Mbeki speeches.

[6] For further analysis of the Sarah Bartmann case, cf. Arnfred’s chapter.

[7] Neville Hoad’s presentation at the Sex & Secrecy Conference in Johannesburg, June 2003.

[8] Investigating issues of gender and sexuality in Mozambique in the early 1980s, I found similar customs in Manica/Sofala in patrilineal central Mozambique.

[9] In regard to gender-and-development (GAD) discourse I am referring not only to a particular line of thinking and talking, a certain vocabulary etc, but also to the institutions in which these lines of thinking are produced and the practices with which they are connected.

[10] As outlined e. g. by Judith Butler: “The very notion of patriarchy has threatened to become a universalizing con­cept that overrides or reduces distinct articulations of gender asymmetry in different cultural contexts. As femi­nism has sought to become integrally related to struggles against racialist and colonialist oppression, it has become increasingly important to resist the colonizing epistemological strategy that would subordinate different configurations of domination under the rubric of a transcultural notion of patriarchy” (Butler 1993:46).

[11] Fanon as a psychiatrist talks of ’phobia’ rather than of ’fear’—”the Negro is phobogenic” (Fanon 1952/1986: 154).

[12] Cf. the previous footnote.

[13] This chapter has benefited substantially from comments on an earlier draft made by the participants of the con­ference “Contexts of Gender in Africa”, 21—24 February 2002, Uppsala, Sweden; and during the University of Cape Town/University of the Western Cape Joint Anthropology Seminar, 28 February 2002.

[14] This commissioned study was carried out under the auspices of a collection of local and international research and development Non-Governmental Organisations (cf. NDT & CASS 1994; Becker and Hinz 1995).

[15] Efundula (pl. omafunduld) is currently used in Namibian discourse as the generic term for Owambo women’s initia­tion. More precisely, it is known as efundula in Oukwanyama, ohango in Ondonga and Uukwambi, and olufuko in most parts of western Owambo.

[16] The chapter draws on field research on various occasions from 1996 through to 1999, on archival research at the Vereinigte Evangelische Mission archives in Wuppertal, Germany and at the ELCIN (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia) Leonard Auala archives in Oniipa in January and May 1999 respectively, and on the analysis of ethnographic and documentary film. The field research was assisted by Nangula Amoonga and Natangwe Shapange in 1996, by Piteimo Hainyanyula in 1997, Penoshinge Shililifa in 1998, and Monica Kalondo in 1999, to whom many thanks are due. The 1996 research was carried out jointly with Patricia Hayes. Nepeti Nicanor tran­scribed and translated the interviews recorded in 1996; transcriptions and translations of the later research were done by Piteimo Hainyanyula, Monica Kalondo, Sacky Shanghala and Penoshinge Shililifa. Research was sup­ported by the Sonderforschungsbereich 389 ‘Kultur- und Landschaftswandel im ariden Afrika, Entwicklungspro – zesse unter okologischen Grenzbedingungen’, University of Cologne in 1996, by the Swedish International Development Agency in 1997, the Department for Cooperation and Cultural Affairs of the French Embassy to Namibia in 1998, and the Ford Foundation in 1999.

[17] Megan Vaughan (1991:21) argues that in British colonial medical discourse male African sexuality became a signi – fier for ‘the African’, although female sexuality became an object of concern and control at specific moments, in particular in the debate on sexually transmitted diseases. Marion Wallace (1998), and Lynette Jackson in a presen­tation at the 2001 African Studies Association meeting in Houston/Texas, have shown attempts at subjecting African women to compulsory examinations for STDs in colonial Namibia and Zimbabwe respectively.

[18] I understand public culture in this context broadly as cultural strategies aimed at pulling local, national and, poten­tially, transnational communities together.

[19] Audrey Richards’ dense text on a 1931 girl’s initiation among the Bemba is still an outstanding example (Richards 1982). Victor Turner (1967; 1969) has partly drawn on Ndembu female initiation in his writings on ritual. More recent are Corinne Kratz’s work on ritual efficacy in Okiek women’s initiation in Kenya (1994), and Signe Arn – fred’s on Mozambique (1990).

[20] Patricia Hayes has critically appraised Hahn’s photography in general, and his visual narratives of initiation in par­ticular (Hayes 1998a). An exception among the Owambo ethnography is the work by British sisters Diana and Antoinette Powell-Cotton, who observed and filmed a Kwanyama efundula in southern Angola in 1937. A recent analysis of their work commended that they had made a remarkable effort for their time, “a genuine and success­ful attempt at studying women as active members of society and not merely as passive observers or even sex objects” (Davies 1987, 7).

[21] It should particularly be taken into account that there is a definite lack of relevant ethnographic accounts of west­ern Owambo. Nothing has been written on initiation in the West that is not in either Oshiwambo or Finnish. I am grateful to Meredith McKittrick (1999) for alerting me to this point.

[22] Interviews; Evaristus Amweelo, 12.12.1996, Ondjondjo; Fransina Kuutondokwa, 12.12.1996, Omusheshe; Peyav – ali Naliende, 14.12.1996, Omatunda; Haikali Hamunyela, 16.12.1996, Ongha; Ester Kashikuko kaNande, 17.12.1996, Onengali. In western Owambo, women seem to have been the main leaders of initiation (Meredith McKittrick, personal communication).

[23] Interviews; Julia Mbida, 16.12.1996, Odibo; Ester Kashikuko kaNande, 17.12.1996, Onengali.

[24] Only Diana and Antoinette Powell-Cotton were apparently more sensitive to androcentrism and sexism (cf. Dav­ies 1987:6-7).

[25] I refer to the area as Owambo unless specified contexts require the colonial designation, Ovamboland.

[26] NAN, NAO Vol 13 6/2/5, NC Ovamboland – Secretary SWA, 27.8.1935, cited in: Hayes 1992:303.

[27] Interview with Haikali Hamunyela, 16.12.1996, Ongha.


[28] In a study of the Basler Mission’s efforts directed at women, Prodolliet (1987, 71-75) has shown how the mission­aries’ efforts to ‘clothe’ the ‘natives’ targeted particularly women, since women were perceived as sensual and potentially sinful, which implied their alleged uncontrolled sexuality.

[29] VEM, RMG 1.658a B/c II 85; Sckar, Karl an Inspektor der Rheinischen Mission; Namakunde, 30.12.1911.

[30] VEM, RMG 2.629 C/k 5 Missionarskonferenzen im Ovamboland:Protokolle; Protokoll der Konferenz rhin. Mis – sionare in Ukuanjama. Vom 6.-9. Dez. 1913. The next efundula which had been intended for 1915 was called off when a devastating famine ravaged Owambo that year.

[31] VEM, RMG 2.518 C/h 34 Quartalsbericht der Station Ondjiva vom 1. Januar-31. Marz 1913. Absender: Hoch­strate.

[32] VEM, RMG 2.636 C/k 22; Vortrage und Aufsatze zur Ovambo-Mission von A. Wulfhorst 1910-1933.

[33] The preparation for the efundula has been described in detail by Tonjes (1911:133-136) and Bruwer (1959:115­116).

[34] Estermann (1976:70) wrote that from the early years of Christianisation among the Kwanyama of Southern Angola ‘to marry in church’ was frequently translated as okufukala m’okapela (to do the initiation rite in the chapel/ church).

[35] It appears that the 23 years of the liberation war (1966—1989) did more to discourage such events that involved all-night outdoor sessions. (Interview; Mirjam Kautwima, Shipola Kukenge, Mukwaluwala Hitombo, 18.5.1999, Ongha.)

[36] The following discussion is mainly based on the 1996 research in Oukwanyama.

[37] Interviews; Evaristus Amweelo, 12.12.1996, Ondjondjo; Fransina Kuutondokwa, 12.12.1996, Omusheshe; Peyav – ali Naliende, 14.12.1996, Omatunda; Ha. ika.1i Hamunyela, 16.12.1996, Ongha.

[38] Focus group discussion with women aged 20-29, 20.8.1998, Tsumeb.

[39] Telephone interview; Bishop Kleopas Dumeni, 8.5.1996.

[40] Telephone interview; Bishop Kleopas Dumeni, 8.5.1996.

[41] Interview; Rev. Linekela Shidute, 13.8.1998, Tsumeb.

[42] The politics of these campaigns have been questioned by anthropologists and African feminist scholar-activists on the grounds of their implicit racism and ethnocentrism (cf. Kratz 1994:341—347; Nnaemeka 2001).

[43] Several leading ELCIN clergy have expressed their respective views in conversations with myself and other researchers. I refrain from naming those who have shared their thoughts with me for reasons of privacy, but still wish to express my gratitude. Ian Fairweather’s insightful doctoral thesis on identity politics and the heritage industry in Owambo (2001), as well as our earlier conversations, have helped to clarify my thoughts on the role of efundula in identity formation.

[44] Interview; Martha Waalye, 18.8.1998,Tsumeb.

[45] It was the absence of any references to sexuality in the analytical works of Ifi Amadiume and Oyeronke Oyewumri—authors whose work I admire and which I have used a lot—that first alerted me to this general absence. I later saw it confirmed by Amina Mama (1996).

[46] According to Lindy Stiebel (2001) an early interpretation of this treasure map as a woman’s body can be seen in one of the many film versions of the book, where the map is engraved on the body of a small nude female sculp­ture (Stiebel 2001:101).

[47] The fact that they were inhabited did not really count in this context, since Africans were anyhow seen as living outside History. According to Hegel, Africa was ‘no historical part of the world, with no movement or develop­ment to exhibit’ (McClintock 1995:40).

[48] Stiebel points to the fact that Haggard and Freud are contemporaries (2001:49) noting several parallels in their lines of thinking.

[49] According to Strother, contemporary documents often refer to Baartman as Saartje, which is a diminutive of Sarah. Such diminutives were, however, often used for slaves and blacks—similar to calling a grown up black man ‘boy’. Strother therefore prefers to use the adult name Sarah, and I follow her example.

[50] Sander Gilman (1989) shows no restraint in reproducing these demeaning pictures. Considerable more concern is shown by Yvette Abrahams (1997, 1998) and Z. S. Strother (1999).

[51] Strother’s paper carries as annexes a series of documents from the court case.

[52] Title: Extraits d’observations faites sur le cadavre d’une femme connue a Paris et a Londres sous le nom de Venus Hottentote (Gilman 1989:359).

[53] Even if the exhibition of Sarah Bartmann entered into the line of ‘freak shows’ popular in England at the time, Sarah Bartmann was exhibited as a typical, as opposed to an extraordinary specimen (i. e. freaks like dwarfs, giants, porcupine men etc), cf. Strother 1999:24 .

[54] As for another difference, regarding which people like Cuvier were particularly curious, the so-called tablier (elon­gated lips of the vagina), Bartmann managed to keep this a secret until after her death, when Couvier could finally get his will with her (Strother 1999:35).

[55] This aspect of Gilman’s analysis is discussed and developed by Susanne Thorbek (1998).

[56] The line of argument taken by Ahlberg is parallel to one of the sides in the Uganda-syphilis debate, according to Vaughan (1991): That the vulnerability of the Baganda to the disease had been created by the disintegration of their traditional social and political systems brought about primarily by the introduction of Christianity (Vaughan 1991:133).

[57] These practices, as also stressed by Kendall, coexisted with the women being engaged in ‘normal’ heterosexual marriages. Women-to-women relationships were a supplement, not an alternative to marriage.

[58] The chapter is based on experiences from my anthropological fieldwork that was conducted in the Lower Casa­mance region in the Fogny area during a period of 16 months between December 1997 and July 1999. I stayed in a small village of about 400 inhabitants, in the compound of an extended, polygynous Muslim Jola family. Inter­views were conducted with people in different villages in the area, where I also attended several initiation rites for girls. The chapter is part of my PhD project financed by Sida/Sarec. A previous version of this chapter has been published in Goteborg University in Africa—.Africa at Goteborg University (Narman and Ewald 2001).

Internationally, ‘female genital mutilation’ (FGM) is the generally accepted term used by Western as well as many African activists working against the practice. Until the 1970’s, the concept ‘female circumcision’ was used, but has since come to be understood as an euphemism. However, in a local context the concept FGM is con­ceived of as insulting; no parent would agree with the statement that they are mutilating the daughters, which is why I do not use this term other than in referring to a Western context of understanding. The Jola generally refer to the practice, which among them comprises clitoridectomy, as ‘circumcision’ and ‘excision’. As this chapter is about Jola conceptions of the practice, these are the concepts I will use. It is important to note that the non-Mus­lim, foremost Christian, Jola do not practise female circumcision (Linares 1992, Thomas 1959, Friebe 1996), while male circumcision is practised by both Christian and Muslim Jola (Linares 1992, Mark 1992). This chapter deals exclusively with the Muslim Jola population..

[59] Excision has come to be associated with Islam among many practising and non-practising people. The custom predates Islam by at least 2,500 years. It is unknown in Saudi Arabia, the cradle of Islam and the majority of Mus­lims in Africa do not practise it. Female circumcision is a local tradition and not a universal Islamic practice (Kas – samali 1998). It is not mentioned in the Quran, nor in the Bible or in the Torah. It is, however, practised and commonly used as a religious marker by certain Muslim, as well as Christian, Jewish, and ‘animist’ ethnic groups in different parts of the world (Dorkenoo 1994; Toubia 1995). Considering the high prevalence of excision in the African continent, the practice is foremost an African phenomenon.

[60] See also Alice Joyce Hamer (1983).

[61] See Newsweek October 1994; New African, January 1997; The Democrat, September 26, 1996.

[62] In January 1999 the Senegalese government passed a law against female genital mutilation.

[63] In an article in Le Monde (June 2000) a male journalist writes on female circumcision in Senegal. He draws the conclusion that: “Excision… simply seems to be an expression of men’s will to control their wives’ and daugh­ters’ sexuality by mutilating them” (my translation). This sentence, written in one of Europe’s most renowned newspapers, can be seen as representing the deeply prejudiced assumptions commonly held by many in the West­ern world on practising people and, by extension, people in the Third World. The important distinction between structure and actual individuals is missing and this evokes an image of all women as powerless victims in the hands of men, who are egocentric monsters (cf. Mohanty 1999).

[64] An emic model explains the ideology or behaviour of members of a culture according to indigenous definitions, whereas an etic model is based on criteria from outside a particular culture (Barnard 1996).

[65] The Jola word for circumcision, sunnaye comes from the Arabic word sunnah which means ‘tradition’. Within Islam, sunnah is the generic term for the Hadiths (the accounts of the Prophet Mohammed’s life, his sayings and doings). Acts that are considered religiously advisable are called sunnah, which is a subject of local variation (e. g. Abu-Salieh 1999). There is no Islamic consensus on female circumcision being advisable (see footnote 1 on p.80).

[66] Christian Jola women who convert to Islam and choose to undergo excision usually have to cope with their fam­ily’s dislike, which means that their freedom of choice is relative.

[67] According to Skramstad (1990:12), solima means ‘uncircumcised person’. Weil (1976:187), who has done fieldwork in the Gambia as Skramstad, says it means ‘sexually licentious person’. Skramstad (1990) critisises him for not explaining how he comes to this conclusion. Her study does not support his interpretation and neither does mine.

[68] Cf. Foucault 1976.

[69] Cf. Wilhelm Reich and Herbert Marcuse using Freud’s theory on sexual repression and neurosis for re-analysis.

[70] These findings on male resistance correspond with recent studies from other parts of Africa and from studies on

Africans in Sweden (cf. Almroth & Almroth-Berggren 1998; Johnsdotter 2000a, 2000b, 2002; Skramstad 1990).

[71] According to different review articles and a MEDLINE search conducted by us in March 2001, male circumci­sion and HIV have been discussed in approximately 40 articles since 1986, with a peak from 1999 onwards. These articles in the Lancet, British Medical Journal, AIDS, International Journal STD AIDS, Clinical Infectious Diseases, New England Medical Journal and International Journal of Epidemiology (and to some extent other media following up the medical reporting) constitute the material of this study. The debate has continued since this study was concluded.

[72] TAC is a noteworthy health movement with its emphasis on generating political mobilization in society. It deserves a more thorough examination than what is possible here (Jungar and Oinas 2003).

[73] Mainly two explanations are given as to why uncircumcised men would be more vulnerable to HIV infection. Firstly the foreskin contains HIV target cells. During intercourse the foreskin is pulled back and the highly vascu – larised part of the foreskin, which contains a high density of HIV-target cells, is exposed. The other explanation is that the foreskin during intercourse may be more sensitive to trauma, which could cause tearing and bleeding, which means additional vulnerability to HIV. Finally it is explained that circumcision may reduce the risk of STDs, which act as co-factors for HIV infection (Weiss et al. 2000; Szabo & Short 2000a).

[74] Another problematic issue is the objectification of participants during a research process. Concerning male cir­cumcision trials the researchers point out that men’s own accounts of whether their penises are sufficiently cir­cumcised cannot be trusted but their penises should be examined by experts to see whether at all, and to what extent, the foreskin is removed (Weiss et al. 2000:2368). We find such examinations extremely humiliating. They resemble examinations conducted on mine workers in South Africa, which violate basic human rights and the bodily integrity of workers (Butchart 1998).

[75] According to current medical understanding HIV infection is no longer a life threatening condition but, with con­tinuous treatment, leads to a manageable chronic disease.

[76] I use the term “Third World” pointedly to refer to those countries and societies that have overtly experienced col­onization, or covertly continue to experience different forms of exploitation. I do not use the term to denote hier­archy (the sense in which it was used in the 1970s development literature) relative to a “first” world, but rather to reflect the political, economic and cultural dominance that has divided the world, and which is implicit in many of the concepts and the discourse on population and demography.

[77] Credit to Marilyn Waring (1999) who uses the term to reflect the over-consumption and waste in the industrial­ized nations. The resultant discrepancies that thus exist between these nations and those in the Third World can­not be overlooked in analyses of population discourse.

[78] Even in Africa the trend continues. The stated goals of the revised 1994 Ghana population policy, for example, even though these include the pursuit of programmes and measures directed at promoting development, enhanc­ing the status of women, and improving not only reproductive/maternal health, but also general health and nutri­tion, still maintain a fertility-reduction focus (Population Impact Project 1995).

[79] The need for comparative fertility data on a global scale prompted the creation of demographic surveys that measure individuals’ knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) related to a range of reproductive issues. The first, the World Fertility Survey (WFS 1972—1984) was carried out in more than 60 countries focusing primarily on fer­tility and maternal and child health. Contraceptive Prevalence Surveys (CPS 1977—1985) were designed to quickly provide basic indicators on family planning and fertility. Since 1984, when The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) program was established at The Institute for Resource Development, Inc. (IRD), over 100 surveys com­bining the qualities of the WFS and the CPS have been carried out in the Third World. The DHS include impor­tant questions on maternal and child health, nutrition, and HIV/AIDS (www. measuredhs. com/data/indicators/ table_builder; accessed June 18, 2002).

[80] Refers to the physiological cessation of menstruation such as during pregnancy or lactation, as well as the patho­logical absence of menstruation.

[81] Belatedly the population establishment has also conceded that women may not be using contraceptives because of opposition from male partners, hence the new call to “focus on men” (Population Reference Bureau 1996). However, even here the emphasis has often been on disagreement about using contraceptives rather than on dis­agreement about fertility preferences.

[82] Hereafter referred to simply as abortion.

[83] Some of the DHS carried out since the mid-1980s also include similar questions for smaller (sub-) samples of male respondents.

[84] There were also important political and epistemological reasons for this historical trend, which this chapter can­not take up, but which are addressed elsewhere (see Adomako Ampofo 2002).

[85] The WFS did not ask women about their desire to space births.

[86] This was found to be useful in distinguishing between women who needed temporary methods (for spacing) from those who needed permanent or long-term methods (to stop childbearing).

[87] 20 in Africa, 5 in the Near East and North Africa, 8 in Asia, and 11 in South America.

[88] In some countries, contraceptive use rates in the 1990s have remained under 5 per cent (DHS/Macro Interna­tional 1995).

[89] An important exception are the Contraceptive Prevalence Surveys carried out in the Caribbean region in which male respondents were also considered as potentially having an unmet need. Men were included in this category if they were sexually active, their partners fecund and not pregnant, they did not want their partners to become pregnant but neither was using contraception (see McFarlane et al. 1994).

[90] Sexually active unmarried adults or adolescents form another group, who have generally been neglected in the conceptualisation and measurement of unmet need. These groups, if they are sexually active, are obviously at greater risk of having unwanted or mistimed pregnancies. Westhoff himself (Westhoff et al. 1994) observes that this is a serious omission.

[91] Many useful, thorough accounts exist (see the work of Fortes, Nukunya, Oppong, Sarpong to name but a few).

[92] New babies are usually ‘outdoored’ presented to the families in ritual celebrations, about a week after they are born.

[93] The performance of initiation rites, however, has declined markedly over the last few decades.

[94] In 1958 the Native Authority Courts were officially abolished; however, certain customary laws have been incor­porated into judicial laws. Furthermore, traditional courts still have limited jurisdiction in domestic issues espe­cially pertaining to marriage and the family.

[95] See Adomako Ampofo (1999) for an analysis of the effects of these variables on what I refer to as individuals’ gender orientations, and how this is associated with reproductive decision-making.

[96] A 12th wife could not be interviewed as her schedule did not seem to make this possible, hence my ending up with 11 and not 12 dyads.

[97] A possible ninth category, “Wife not then/Husband no more” (Wife wait—husband stop) was not represented in my data.


[98] In the case of one particular couple (not discussed in this chapter) the wife indicates she wanted the child “then” during the survey but revises her position during the interview to say she did not want the child at all. What I assess has happened in the intervening period is that she believes her husband to have taken a second wife, and that this new relationship causes him to neglect his family. She now says she wishes her young daughter had never been born and insists that she did not want to get pregnant at the time.

[99] All names have been changed.

[100] There is very little accurate data on the incidence of abortions in Ghana; however, a study of complications aris­ing from incomplete abortions carried out at the nation’s major hospital in the 1980s suggests that the incidence is high among women in their late teens and early twenties (Ampofo 1993).

[101] For example Sinding and Fathalla (1995) proposed this at the ICPD (International Conference on Population and Development) held in Cairo in 1994.

[102] I write coloured, black, white or any race name in small letters but follow the usage of the students and other writ­ers when quoting. However, African, Indians or European I capitalise as I take these to be more than strictly race identities.

[103] Anlu refers to the act of female militancy.

[104] The author provides a description from Gaza where groups of girls would go to the dense bush about 3 o’clock in the morning, each of them carrying a capulana (a coloured piece of cloth, normally used as a skirt) to be used as cover once the work started, because they would be sitting like somebody giving birth to a child. On the first day they would be given instructions by the madrinhas (older women in charge) about how to procede, and after that each of the girls would continue on her own, using a certain pomade to facilitate the process. In the course of this work the madrinhas would check each one of the girls in order to see if they had been pulling satisfactorily, at the same time verifying that some of them had been doing too little work.

G-spot is a region of the wall in front of the vagina which swells during sexual arousal and is highly sensitive to stimulation.

[105] Wekker explains that ‘mati work’ is an institution in which Creole women openly engage in sexual relationships with men and with women, either simultaneously or consecutively. Mati is the Creole word for friend used by and for males and females. Mati work is called work by insiders because it involves obligations between two female partners in nurturing, social, sexual and economic spheres. In the Afro-Surinamese construct, these women share the values of a working class culture that stresses the importance of motherhood, emotional and financial savvy, and a sharp presentation of the self. And it is a culture where importantly, sexual activity is considered healthy and in itself more interesting than the gender of the object of one’s passion (Wekker 1997; also in Wekker 1992).

[106] This practice is worsened sometimes by a cutting and sewing of the large lips (labia majora). This latter procedure is called “infibulation”.

[107] Castes are social groups with lower status, resulting from a hierarchical stratification of society.

[108] Konoboli-so refers to the process of submitting the future bride to a special liquid diet, which constantly purges her, and to light daily meals.

[109] Nuptial rooms are set up as seclusion spaces in which the bride and groom are kept inside, all week long, to start their intimate life as a couple.

[110] This is Bambara terminology, which means ingredients to sweeten human relationships.

[111] Which means that the big wooden spoon, containing the concoctions served to the couple, was a lucky one.

Incense, the Malian style, is made of a mixture of flavored roots and grains, high quality Arabic gum and various perfume fragrances. The whole thing is kept tightly closed in order to obtain a strong pleasant scent.

[112] Illustrated by this common Bambara saying: “Sodon, djidon, yeredongnonkont$” (The best of all is knowing oneself!)

[113] His interest in provoking his wife into asking for a divorce was related to the issue of bridewealth (bogadi). If he demanded a divorce because he wanted to marry another woman he would have no possibility of reclaiming his marriage payments. If, on the other hand, the wife wanted a divorce because he planned to take an additional wife he might be able to reclaim his payments since taking another wife is not grounds for divorce (cf. Helle-Valle 1997:155).

[114] A small elaboration would not be out of place here. There is one category of older women who have suitors, the rich ones. Many of these have laid the foundation for their wealth by being mabelete. However, these women are most often unwilling to marry because they already possess the security, wealth and social position a man could offer. Wealth, as well as grown-up children, generate security and often also social position. The poorer, older women, on the other hand, are not desirable marriage partners since they lack all of these qualities, as well as beauty.

[115] Although most material for this chapter is from my fieldwork between 1991 and 1995, I have been in the field intermittently ever since. Grateful acknowledgement of funding is extended to the Tanzania-Norwegian AIDS project (1989-1972), the Norwegian Research Council (1992-1995), and the Nordic Africa Institute (2001-the present). Special gratitude goes to the field assistants Mrs. Elimbora Ayo Laiser, Mrs. Asinath Sumari and Mr. Jehova Roy Kaaya.

[116] All local terms are in Swahili, the national language in Tanzania.

[117] As in much of East Africa, the migrating Meru men have been slow to take their wives along to the towns (Obbo 1981; Swantz 1985; Setel 1999).

[118] Another view, cast in the urban-rural dichotomy, is, for instance, the distinction between ‘work’ (kaz), on the one hand, and ‘business’ (biashara), on the other. Whereas ka%i is perceived as hard, physical work, such as farming, and thus something that rural people engage in, biashara, on the other hand, is not proper work. Accordingly, those who do ka%i, the logic goes, get tired and thus cannot be involved in promiscuous sexual activities. Towns­people, on the other hand, who merely do biashara, do not get physically tired and thus have the energy for pro­miscuous sexual behaviour.

[119] The latest UNAIDS reported AIDS cases in Tanzania, for the age group between 20 and 24, show that whereas the infection rate for men is 7.7 per cent, the rate for women is 17.9 per cent. The AIDS prevalence is also much higher among women in the age group between 15 and 19 compared to men—respectively 4.8 per cent for women and 1.5 per cent for men (UNAIDS/WHO 2002). Thus some of these young women have most likely been infected in their teens. These statistics also point to the fact that young women have sexual relationships with relatively older men—in the literature, commonly referred to as ‘sugar-daddies’ (Haram 1995; Silberschmidt and Rasch 2001).

[120] Much research has focused on so-called risk groups, such as, prostitutes, bar-women—often neglecting the users/ buyers of sex—and long-distance truck drivers. These groups had a high infection of HIV in the West, but in much of Africa they are increasingly irrelevant in the spread of HIV (Wallman 1996; Heald 2001).

[121] The standard exchange rates for 1US$ in 1991 and 1994, were Tzs 246 and 385, respectively. In 2002 the standard exchange rate for 1US$ had increased to Tzs 962.


[122] In fact, Nora’s mother is cursing her daughter, or, as Nora explains it: “Without my daily care, my mother fears that she may die and thus, she threatens me.”


[123] Although Nora had had several partners some time back, she had never had any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Maybe she had used the pill for too long, she worried. She resorted to all kinds of treatment alternatives including a gynaecology examination at the regional hospital and a handful of local healers. Nora was also treating herself with local medical herbs—knowledge she inherited from her father.


[124] The Swahili term mradi commonly refers to a means of supplementing income. Men and women are commonly engaged in one or more such ‘projects’. As illustrated by Rachael, women also commonly refer to a man who sup­ports them economically like any other income generating activity.

[125] Assessing the person and the (Meru) notion of personhood, the concept of tabia is central. It is also gender spe­cific, but suffice it here to say that it strongly impinges on the notion of a moral person as well as his or her sexual behaviour.

[126] Before the ICPD (Internationa! Conference on Population and Development) in Cairo, September 1994, men, their role as (responsible) partners and also their own sexual and reproductive health needs had not received much attention—in spite of men’s prominent sexual and reproductive role. The final ICPD document (1994), however, clearly recognised the need to address and involve men, in order to improve women’s reproductive health. With deteriorating sexual and reproductive health, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, with more women than men being HIV infected (often by their own husbands), male involvement, men as responsible partners, and not the least male sexuality and sexual behaviour have become increasingly unavoidable issues on the sexual and reproductive health agenda. This was clearly reflected in the Cairo + 5 meeting in The Hague in February 1999. The ‘male issue’ is gaining in importance. This has been clearly demonstrated in the document ‘Men make a dif­ference’ (2000) presented by UNAIDS at the AIDS conference in Durban, SA (2000). Operational attempts, though, to reach men are very few, and have not yet been given high priority either by local governments, donor agencies or NGOs, or by researchers.

[127] In the 1970s, 33 per cent of the households in Kisii were still polygamous (Population and Development in Kenya 1980). Survey findings in 1986 by this author indicated that less than 10 per cent lived in polygamous unions.

[128] In the deconstruction of traditional sexology and sex research it has become apparent that these concepts are based on ideology and social coercion rather than necessity. Traditionally, sexual desire was assumed to be natural and automatic and heterosexual and universal. With the constraining frames of local marriage rules the male body responded to the presence of the female body, as if to a natural sign. In the most recent discussion of sexual desire the focus moves from inside the individual to the external environment. Rather than asking what internal forces create desire, the questions are: how is desire elicited, organized and interpreted as a social activity? Recent attempts to uncover local histories of desire have been closely linked to a fundamental concern with the relation­ship between sexual desire and identity (Gagnon and Parker 1995).

[129] Research on sexuality in recent years has examined the role of gender-power and inequality in creating the frame­work for the sexuality of women and men. While the effects of gender-power are not the same in all cultures, gen­der inequality is widespread and interacts with the sexual system of specific cultures to shape most aspects of sexual life (Gagnon and Parker 1995).

[130] I only came across one young married man in Kisii who had the guts to openly demonstrate a different type of masculinity. He was very proud to admit that he was doing women’s work (i. e. he worked together with his wife in the fields). His argument for this was that they would increase the produce and following this, their living stand­ard. However he was ridiculed by other men and excluded from their company. In their eyes, he had abandoned his prescribed role as a man—he had let his masculinity falter. His wife was seen as having the upper hand, she did not respect him, and the men in the village feared that eventually he would be completely crushed. The young man, though, did not care that he was ridiculed. Instead he pitied the other men who would never be able to increase their living standards.