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The 'torturous' process traditional Gikuyu youth underwent to help them control sexual energy

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Traditional Gikuyu dancers. [Photo: Karukira mwomboko dancers/ Youtube]

Traditional Gikuyu young men used to undergo what can only be termed as a 'torturous process' after circumcision to enable them to control their sexual energy.

This ensured that young men looking for potential suitors did not go around the villages sleeping with young girls haphazardly, as it is the case today.

According to Gikuyu Centre for Cultural Studies, the youths went through a training of the control of sexual energy by a method referred to as 'Ngwiko'.

The method involved an intimate contact between a woman and a man that did not involve penetration. 

"After the healing process of the circumcision, young men returned and grouped themselves into several young men’s huts, 'thingira', where the initiation ceremonies in the form of teaching were held. 

"It is here where circumcised girls of the older initiation set came and performed Ngwiko with the men initiates. This Ngwiko could happen at first under the supervision of the matrons in charge of the girls’ training but they were soon left alone after they internalized the rules. It would then continue with different partners until marriage," documents the cultural centre.

But how was this 'Ngwiko' thing done?

Well, the cultural centre says that it involved a boy removing all his clothing while the girl would remove her upper garment, 'nguo ya ngoro', and retain her skirt, 'muthuru', and her soft leather apron, 'mwengu' which she would pull back between her legs to 'protect' her vagina.

"In this position, the lovers lie together facing each other with their legs interwoven to prevent any movement of their hips. They then begin to fondle each other rubbing their breasts together, whilst at the same time they engage in love-making conversation until they gradually fall asleep," adds the centre.

Sounds torturous? Well, an old adage says that a well-refined gold must be passed through an extremely hot fire. That is what these men had to go through to be responsible on sexual matters.

The cultural centre notes that the rules governing Ngwiko were so strict that the couple could never risk the consequences of infringing them.

"Undoing a woman’s skirt was social ostracism from a group for the man and the impossibility of getting another girl to agree to his Ngwiko," the cultural centre further notes.

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