Sexual activity was meant for procreation and in a polygamous marriage it was coordinated by the elder wife, who received reports from the younger wives to invite the husband in their houses during ovulation period.
That could have been the reason that the women got sexual satisfaction from polygamous marriage. This is unlike in the contemporary time, when the man is coordinating the sexual activity in polygamous marriage and women are not allowed to get their husband from the co-wife’s house when she is ovulating and has the sexual urge for him.
It was discovered that these women go for extra marital sex mainly with the youth during night vigils at funerals and other functions within the community.
WIDOW/WIDOWER – REMARRIAGE AND CLEANSING
The study found out that when in traditional times a man lost his wife to death, he slept on the verandah of his house till he got wet dreams. The elders proved this by seeing the seminal fluid a sign of ejaculation. They believed that the seminal fluid contained the spirit of the deceased, and that the widower was now free to sexually relate with his other wives or could get a new wife.
This was the process of cleansing the widower from the spirit of deceased wife. Ma be this could be the reason why men in this area do not recommend condom use for the widower during the cleansing period.
The study found out that nowadays – after the emergence of AIDS – widowers no longer wait for wet dreams. They also do not go for commercial sex workers, since these women negotiate for condom use. Instead they opt for sexual cleansing at funerals and other night vigils under the influence of alcohol with women unknown to them. It is believed that the seminal fluid containing the spirit of the deceased should be deposited in a woman you don’t know and do not wish to know again. That may be the reason the widowers chose on night vigils.
WIDOW SEXUAL CLEANSING
In traditional times widow cleansing did not involve the sexual activity. This was mainly a practice for women in menopause age where such widows were not expected to have sexual activity. A grandson under the age of puberty was selected from the clan, given tobacco to take to the grandmother in the evening. The grandmother opened the door for him and as the small boy entered the house, she closed the door behind him. A sign that no other man is allowed to come in, prepared food and shared her bed with him. In the morning, some rituals were performed including the widow having her hair shaved. This marked the cleansing session.
We got to learn that sexual cleansing and inheritance in this community were two different things in those days.
A young widow was officially inherited by one of the brothers-in-law and taken with her orphans to his homestead. She became his sexual partner and the community observed the couple for years, in case they contract the same health problems as the deceased. No other man was allowed to have sex with the widow other than the official inheritor.
Nowadays widow cleansing and inheritance mean the same. And the worst part of it is that a widow has several inheritors, depending on how much the men are able to contribute financially. Most of the widows have ventured in brewing illicit alcohol, maybe for income or to trap the inheritors.
In the traditional days, funeral rites were carried out in the honor of the deceased, who was believed to be hearing and seeing what was going on at the funeral. Every activity was carried out solemnly to avoid confrontation with the spirit of the deceased and those of the ancestors.
Women and men in reproductive age group and the youth were not allowed at the funeral during the night. No alcohol was brewed or drunk before burial, no noise was allowed before burial. Only close family members were invited. People not belonging to the family lineage were not allowed to attend the funeral rites.
In the contemporary time, it came out clearly that the respect for the deceased is lost. The elders have been overpowered by the young generation, who dominate the funeral during the night with loud music, illicit alcohol and other subsistence drug abuse, and casual sex risking their lives to HIV infection.
Traditionally alcohol was brewed from millet and sorghum and was taken as a beverage after the day’s work. This brew was nutritious, with a low quantity of alcohol (4%). The youths were not allowed to take alcohol.
Today beer is brewed from maize, brown sugar and molasses, and then distilled and sold. The nutrition value is low, with a high alcohol content that is addictive. This beer is taken 24 hours of the day, many times on an empty stomach. The study in Mung’ang’a complemented the work of other scholars, who found alcohol to be the ordinary name for a substance called ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol or pure spirits whose mane is ethanol.
The fermented drinks contain 2-6% alcohol, while the distilled drinks contain 40-50% or more alcohol. Perhaps that is the reason why most people who take the distilled Chang’a become addicts and are weak. Maybe alcoholism is a hindering safe sexual behavior, since the discussants stressed the point that many times they remember about safe sex after the act.
The male youths confessed that they engage into sexual activity with married women under the influence of alcohol. This could be another reason why the women invite the men to their houses for sexual activity when the husbands are drunk and cannot fulfill the duty of sexual activity. This could be one reason of spreading HIV infection.