How Do Africans Kiss?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


When I clicked play on this video, I was astounded to find it so literal.  I have watched it  4 times since discovering it yesterday and I think it is brilliant in its simplicity and so refreshing in its candid approach to a strangely strange question.  How do Africans kiss?  The first answer ''I don't see Africans kiss'', at first seems silly but there's some truth to it, that Africans kissing isn't something that continues to be pervaded in popular culture.  I don't know how true it is what the man with the long dreadlocks says when he says ''African's don't kiss''. He killed me when he says ''I only learned how to kiss when I came here to America.  Kissing with tongue is like having meat in your mouth.  It makes you want to throw up at first but now it's nice''.  The fact that this video was made though means there's a definite element of mystery and simply a lack of education about African sexuality. 

When I was a teenager, I used to think about the correlation between Missionaries and the missionary position.  Did Missionaries ''teach'' us to have sex like that?  How have Africans been having sex through out history?  Did blow jobs and culliningus come with the white man and the white woman? Have we been misled into thinking that this was the case?  Are we that ignorant? Were we indeed really practical when it came to sex? These are questions I have always wanted to know.  

My father's PhD Thesis briefly deals with this matter.  It's a broadly cast but detailed undertaking to explain Xhosa culture and cultural practices and it looks at the cultural practices and their significance in all 13 groups that make up The Xhosa Nation.  Traditionally, Xhosa teenagers who had not yet come of age, who had not yet gone through Ulwaluko (male circumcision) and Intonjane (a ceremony celebrating the transition from girlhood to womanhood which thank God did not involve female circumcision) but had reached puberty, were encouraged to engage in sexual play.  There would be times when a parent would know that her daughter has gone to that particular part of the river to ''play'' with a boy from the same village.  I don't know if it was entirely celebrated but human sexuality was acknowledged and accommodated within the society.  I don't know if they didn't engage in full on sex but teenage pregnancy wasn't a problem in pre 20th Century Eastern Cape. Girls would hardly have their periods until around the age of 18. This was because their diet didn't have the protein and hormones our modern diet has so their bodies took longer to ''develop'' meaning they had an extended period to fool around without worrying.  I remember an old relative of mine discouraging us from eating eggs as teenagers because girls were never allowed to eat eggs for this reason.  It was only when Victorian English culture and it's draconian attitude towards sex and sexuality, did the attitudes about sex and sexuality in this part of Africa change.  I wonder how many similar stories can be found in other parts of the continent. 

I have never sought this knowledge out though, I'm pretty sure there is a thesis somewhere that delves into African sexuality.  I remember watching Generations in varsity with friends and a kiss between Sibusiso and Karabo or whoever, always being followed by an ''eewww'' because Sibusiso couldn't kiss in the way we were used to.  I remember words like ''Their lips are too big'' being bandied about and it being normal to associate abnormality and even antagonism to Africans kissing.  Isn't it fascinating how self loathing can seep so deeply and sit so comfortably in our psyche?  I refuse to believe that we didn't have our own ways of engaging in sex, that we didn't have kissing, even if it wasn't the Hollywood style passion kiss.  If anybody can save us from our ignorance by sharing some information and shedding some light into the matter, please come forward.  I'll also take book recommendations. 

Yesterday I borrowed ''All About Love'' from my friend Stephanie, a book that deals with Love in general but because it's written by bell hooks, focuses its gaze on love in black communities and the lack of a particular, necessary kind of love in black families in America.  It also talks of the lovelessness in our society in general, how we all cower behind the fear of loving or seeking love because we've been exposed to how much one can hurt as a result of being in love.  How a lot of us engage in risk free casual sex affairs that are devoid of an emotional connection because it's easier to not be vulnerable to somebody else.  I'm digressing but it's a lovely thick topic to discuss on another day, how normal it has become for people to say ''I don't want a relationship, I just want to have fun'' meaning they just want sex and not the responsibilities that come with sex. How on earth is that fun if you're the one that's being somebody's c*m bucket?  I've fallen into the trap and I know plenty of people who have engaged in casual sex relationships. Yes it's fun in the beginning but somebody always gets hurt somewhere along the line, because to some degree, sex without love is violence.  Many of my friends disagree with me on this, as I'm sure many people do, but over the years, my stand point on the subject of casual sex hasn't changed. Somebody is always being short changed because they are too afraid to come clean with their emotions.  And whether you like it or not, you do form an emotional connection with someone you are casually boning for a certain period. Remember Hannah and Adam in Season 1 of Girls?  How many of us can truly continually divorce emotion from a sexual experience? Men have learned to do that but I refuse to believe that they have less emotions that women. They hide them somewhere good but they are there. Again, I digress. I need an editor man. Once I start writing about a subject I am passionate about, I can't stop.  Please lend me your thoughts on any of these subjects.

Happy Tuesday.  

5 comments:

Nobusi said...

"C*m bucket" even? Lol. Love it. I'm so interested in the link between young girls 'playing' with boys by the river and the idea of casual sex in the 21st century. Is it something that has always been there, for Africans especially? This article has me going, can't wait to discuss with the girls over a glass. Thanx Miss Milli

Zimmy** said...

Very Interesting... You've made me curious to research African sexual history... very interesting that that was the view towards sex way back when - I cant imagine my VERY Xhosa parents being so casual about me playing with a boy haha!

Thanks once again Milli...so excited for the new look :)

Alex said...

I'm from London but I lived in Johannesburg for 3 years and I was struck by the multiplicity of the city, being an outsider all we are fed is that Joburg is violent but I came to see that like all cities it is filled mostly with love. I found this site iloveyouthemostjohannesburg.tumblr.com and I think that was the intention behind the site. Love and romance is universal but we tend to reserve it for only people "like us" it is beautiful to think our common thread is something as daring as love. London like Johannesburg like Lagos is tied by the praxis of love.

Larry Khumalo said...

Nice short docu, very thick topic, so multifaceted. Quite struck by a few things:

1. Sexuality in Africa.
I think it became taboo after the arrival of colonialists. Even after the end of colonialism, the veil of the Victorian hangover, as I prefer to call it, still exists. We continue to remain prudes about things the colonialists did not understand about us: sex, spirituality, community, etc. With respect to sex: I come from a society where girls are taught from an early age to be sexual beings - note, I said sexual beings and not sluts. Boys were also taught 'masculinity' and within this comes teachings on sex and sexuality. The conversations that were had around these processes need to continue as part of a collective reclamation process of the collective self, and also of the individual self.

2. Casual sex
Sex is not possible without a connection, otherwise it is really just bad sex. And one is better off not having sex if the only other option is bad sex! The connections vary in depth, for some it can be really momentary, while for others, linger much longer. But the connection is still going to be there. There are times when both parties agree that the connection is just physical, on the surface, and that is fine; just as much as there can be one party feeling more deeply than the other, or both feeling deeply for each other. I think this is such a dynamic place that it requires constant renegotiation.

When one feels that the other is not coming clean about how they feel, then there is need to express this. A lot of the times, casual 'fuck buddy' type sex where one feels a deeper connection leads to that person not talking or opening up about it for fear of being uncool. What's there to realise is that by trying to be cool, one shortchanges oneself.

And in as far as 'cum buckets' are concerned, I think such labels come from a place where one chooses to seem 'cool' about just kicking it when they feel more, and then resentment sets in because there is something unexpressed. My opinion - whenever one feels something more than just physicality, one must express these emotions, even at the risk of seeming uncool. Better off losing a fuckbuddy than losing self!

slomokazi said...

I also refuse to believe that as Africans we did not have own ways of expressing love and sexuality, because we did. In traditional Zulu culture, ukusoma (foreplay and non penetrative sex) is encouraged between young unmarried couples. Young people are taught how to engage in their sexuality without compromising their "virtue". These are the lessons that are shared with young lasses, during ukugoya before their memulo. Likewise, young Zulu boys, were taught similar during their circumcision time.

But anyhow, many have forgotten these ways and the reasons why we do them. I honestly believe that Africans were causal and mature headed about the reality of sexuality. The arrival of Europeans, led to us being shameful of our bodies preferring the western dress and as such it became difficult to embrace our sexual knowledge with the new world.
I did read/ watch somewhere that missionaries, did indeed teach us how to have sex like that, as they believe the "wild & unnaturral" positions we were exploring with were unholy or demonic or something along those lines.

When I was younger, I used to believe in casual sex. Partly as a tool for rebellion and whatever other reason I convinced myself. O fcourse that was followed by a monogamous relationship with slight hiccup along the way. In as much as I really want to believe that there is a tiny place that carries and allows the balance and existence of both, in my experience it is almost impossible to sexually involved with someone and not feel connected to them. Sometimes the connection is harvested, or unwanted or worse yet, not mutual.

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