Cross-cultural surveys indicate that 50 to 60 per cent of societies initiate girls, compared to 30 to 40 per cent that initiate boys (quoted in Geisler 1997:125). A certain connection between matriliny and women’s initiation as cultural practice seems a possibility, as Audrey Richards (1982:160, 172, 185) noted, although the correlation is certainly not a direct one. There is insufficient basis for conclusive comparative studies, as anthropological studies of women’s initiation are a rarity.[19]

The following overview of ethnographic information on Owambo women’s initiation relies on a variety of published and unpublished sources from the colo­nial era, written by colonial administrators, missionaries and, in the later period (1940s to 1960s), the odd South African or American trained anthropologist. As a rule, these observers were partial adherents to the notion of the otherness of Af­rican sexuality. This is especially the case with the mission-based texts, but also

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