Are Africans pre-occupied with sex as one is made to believe?
On the contrary, Africans do not preoccupy themselves with sex as it is considered an extremely private affair and in some African cultures considered reserved mainly for procreation instead of the gratification of the senses; a preoccupation with sexual matters is therefore considered prurient and frowned upon. It is particularly interesting to encounter the writings of Westerners who write about sex in Africa as if Africans are animals who are always on heat and spend every minute of the day mating in public for them to watch and emerge with anthropological details about the sexual habits of this "species." Alex Shoumatoff writes for example as he grapples with ideas about the transmission of AIDS in Africa:
For most Africans, sex is a matter of vigorous old-fashioned humping, often without foreplay, which means that there is insufficient lubrication, and the genitalia of both partners are therefore liable to abrasion. Some researchers have speculated that the duration of the sex act, and the frottement, or grinding, that the women of certain tribes are famous for, certain techniques like the titikisha, Swahili milling movement, and the okuweta ekiwoto, the frenzied twisting of the waistline of Baganda women, may play a role. In other tribes, like the Tutsi and the Kikuyu, the woman is not supposed to move during intercourse lest she be thought of as a prostitute. (177)
For Shoumatoff, obviously, if foreplay does not consist of what he knows it to be—the aggressive yet mutual invasion of each other's body with parts of a partner's body and man-made gadgets, toys as they call them, about twenty minutes before intercourse, in ways some Africans may consider embarrassing and even dirty, because of their cultural beliefs—then it is not foreplay. No, sex is like a meal, the meal of the soul, cooked, served, and consumed differently according to cultural values, this fact needs to be respected instead of Westerners writing condescendingly about sexual idiosyncrasies in other cultures. "Humping" is hitherto a natural phase in the sexual act, but who would just jump on a sexual partner and begin "humping," as per Shoumatoff?
No, sex in pristine Africa was respected and reserved for couples and mature members of society. The younger generation though, is again affected here by Western culture that has transformed sex into an everyday topic through pornography and anything else— fashion, sex-education and what have you, all of which are slowly being imported into Africa. Consider magazines on sale in the West, where virtually every magazine has a section that deals with sex in one way or the other; this is not the case in Africa. However, like a lot else that is Western, this disposition towards sex is creeping into the continent. Even then, sex is traditionally not a public matter in Africa, for which reason it is difficult for African parents to discuss matters relating to sex with their children, even today that the children are exposed to sex and similar notions through bookwork in school and the media.
Do men and women get married or they can just sleep with whomever?
In the past, virginity was the order of the day, and so parents did all to ensure that their children remained virgins until marriage, especially the bride. With all the pornography around these days, children who in the past would not have heard of sex at their ages are becoming experts on matters of sexuality. The result is that it is no longer uncommon to see couples cohabiting even though this is still greatly frowned at and is done at the expense of the girl who might never get an African man for a husband if it is known that she had cohabited with another man before, unless the man has been influenced by foreign cultures and he does not care. Most young men however, will not easily get married to a girl who is publicly known to have cohabited with another potential suitor, especially one that they know. This notwithstanding, young men and women sleeping around before marriage is a trend that seems to be more commonplace nowadays than it was the case in the past.
Is incest common in Africa?
Incest is a very serious offense in African worldview and so it is taboo. A person might grow and die and never hear of a single occurrence. Such offenders are usually ostracized from society by being driven out of the village, which in the past was their world, so to say. Robert Brain's words about incest among the Bangwa people of Cameroon, is typical for the peoples of Africa; his words reveal not only how rare incest is, but also confirm the nature of punishment meted out on the offender:
Incestuous relations between patrisiblings and father and daughter have been known and told to me. An actual case of father-daughter incest occurred leading to the ostracism of the man by fellow members of his community who refused to share food with him. A case of incest between patrisiblings resulted in the boy's banishment from the village; the girl was beaten and given a week's hard labor at the palace. When I asked why the girl was not sent away too they replied in a practical fashion: 'How can we ostracize somebody else's wife?' (59)
Incest is not common within African cultures as it is considered an abomination.