Gikuyu Sex Training for Youth – Nguīko

The great traditional Gikuyu initiation ceremonies, Mambura, that ushered a new generation of youth into adulthood ready for marriage involved many processes of which the circumcision of the genital organs is the most famous. Many people today have focused on the circumcision ceremony, irua, reducing it to a discussion of the surgical cut. The Mambura ceremonies and related rituals however were a very complex affair with many of the rituals being of an esoteric nature revealed only to initiates. The purpose of this post is not to discuss the emotive subject of the cut, otherwise known as MGM, or Male Genital Mutilation or its female counterpart FGM.

According to Kenyatta, among the things taught during this period before marriage, were “matters relating to rules and regulations governing sexual indulgence.” The youth went through training of the control of sexual energy by a method referred to as Nguīko; a method of 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, thingiras, 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 Nguīko with the men initiates. This Nguīko 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 which ended the group sharing but would continue within marriage.

Kenyatta explains that Nguīko, or fondling as he calls it, was looked upon as a sacred act and one which followed a systematic, well organized method. He explains that all matters relating to sex were done in a well regulated code of convention. He states that this form of regulation of sexual energy formed the basis of health and was the foundation stone upon which the Gikuyu built themselves into a physically, morally and mentally sound race free from nervous and psychic maladjustments. Thus the cardinal virtue among the Gikuyu of temperance where powerful creative energy is hidden, controlled and used judiciously was learned.

Kenyatta describes the act thus:

The boy removes all his clothing. The girl removes her upper garment, nguo ya ngoro, and retains her skirt, mothuru, and her soft leather apron, mwengo, which she pulls back between her legs from behind and fastened to the waist, thus keeping mwengo in position and forming an effective protection of her private parts. 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.

The rules governing Nguīko were such that a couple could never risk the heavy consequences of infringing them. The consequence for 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 Nguīko. On the event that the two colluded and the woman was found out she becomes a laughing stock of the community. The skirt, muthuru, and the apron, mwengu were carefully inspected in the morning by the matron or other girls. In the unheard of event that a woman was to get pregnant the punishment to the man by the Tribal Council was nine goats and three fat rams for the Council. The man also became a social outcast and was no longer accepted into in his age group activities. The girl would find it hard to get a husband after that, a terrible predicament.

It is interesting that the Indians had a similar thing of making love divinely without intercourse. This “making love” was meant to harmonize and bring into equilibrium the male and female principles where the couple reached a heightened level of consciousness and soul union. According to one lady who rembers the joys of Nguīko, it was to prepare the Nyungu, pot for the future child much like a garden was prepared for seed. It also gave them fuller breasts and more radiant skins. She claims that the current disharmonious relations between male and female were learnt from the Mubia, priest, and should be unlearnt. The Mubia she says, is a child as far as sexual matters are concerned. It is no wonder that the Gikuyu Nguīko was a women driven affair.

Sexual energy according to Alice Stockham when well directed, heals sensitive nerves, vitalizes the blood and restores tissue. Apart from individual healing the couple also transmits this love to the community and societal order and harmony is realized. That is why Kenyatta said, Nguīko was the foundation stone upon which the Gikuyu society was built and why for lack of Nguīko modern society is experiencing all manner of calamities.

The idea today would be to redeem sex from the great depths it has descended of animal “Bang! Bang! thank you mom or whatever”, through Western influence. Redeem it also from fear, guilt and shame wrought by influence of silly Western religion. We must re-anchor sex on worship and as a divine and sacred act in order to heal not just our individual lives but society in general. Within the Gikuyu home sex was “The Great Sacrifice”. Kigongona Kia Mucii.


Jomo Kenyatta: Facing Mt. Kenya, The Tribal Life of the Gikuyu. pdf

Alice B. Stockham: Karezza ethics of Marriage

The Art of Making Love Divinely Without Intercourse

<a href=”“>More on nguīko

31 thoughts on “Gikuyu Sex Training for Youth – Nguīko

  1. Very intersting and educative article. I think we should go back to our culture to avoid the wamunyotas who are the majority of the youth nowadays. I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We grow up thinking that all conversations regarding sex are un-African and taboo. Good to see that our forefathers had the topic well and truly covered.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Always good to read what our culture has to offer. I actually think our culture is superior to the so called western culture.we should try and go back to it.


      1. #Warari wa Njuguna,your words are very true.but we must try first so as to succeed.a 1,000 mile journey starts with a single step & you have to make an effort to start.Ukuenda twambiririe ha?….hehehe

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Muririkane ati gutiare nginya kumumunyana kana gucenjania mata. Undu uyu tiundu muhuthu uguo urerwo. Ungienda kumenya uritu waguo tageria na muiritu uria werekiire kuhikia ari wa keri kana gatatu.


    1. Haha no matemo ma uhoro mandike, uhoro uyu ni muritu na muriku muno muno..Nonginyagia anake na airitu mathomithio ki ugikuyu macenjio mwiciririe wa muthungu niguo rui rucoke mukaro.Ugikuyu na uNGAI nicitwaranaga uu ati maundu, magongona, thiguku na witikio wa mugikuyu kabiru (Hebrew) noguo wa muyahundi (Jews) na noguo wi kirikaniro kiria gikuru (the book of LAW (Genesis, exodus, numbers, Deuteronomy,Leviticus).We must respect and abide by law (Thahu na migiro) and not use instincts like animals do.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We try as much as possible to reach them by using the English language. We know much is lost in the translation but “suffer it to be so now”. Thanks all the same in your passionate appeal for the river to return to its true course.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. truly, nyumba itu niyariganiiruo ni mitugo namiikarire tucokie miikarire itu, can you imagine how our men and women cannot advice their young ones, tondu nitwetukanirie.KAMAU WA MBURU,GATUANYAGA.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Most would totally agree to the reintroduction of the RIGHT and proper sex education, not only in school, but right onwards the ladder from school to adulthood to marriage life to spiritual search. BUT, some very intelligent ones know that proper regulation of the sexual energy has such super benefits for physiological/spiritual/etc. well-being which, if society were to be educated on, would cause such ginormous billion-minting institutions and control-freak-institutions lose out big time! *Hint hint; pharmaceutical & religious institutions! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes. Also add the modern ‘nation state’ concept to that list of money-grubbing control-freak institutions that serve to lose if childhood and adolescent sexual development replaces childhood consumerism and adults as oxen.


    1. The idea Bwana Kiragu is never to go back but to learn from history. The lessons here are many for today’s youth. Read again with a view to learning a principle that is applicable in today’s context. Try Bwana.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. I am a resident of mukurwe wa nyagathanga. All what has been stated up there is true . Mukurwe (tree) and Gathambara stream are still there. I invite the author (s) of this website to this place to gather more about our culture. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. na vile we have grown tukiambiwa vle sex is bad, infact it shldnt evn be mentioned. thz has led to us doing it in secrecy, n coz ya kutojua, we mess up. i thnk parents shld open up to the idea of sexual education to the young generation.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This is particularly beautiful:
    “She claims that the current disharmonious relations between male and female were learnt from the Mubia, priest, and should be unlearnt. The Mubia she says, is a child as far as sexual matters are concerned. It is no wonder that the Gikuyu Ngwiko was a women driven affair.”
    In America it is forgotten that there was a custom called ‘Bundling’.
    I read of it when I was in my twenties, and felt like I’d been cheated by my recent ancestors. Those who lived in the 1800s (arriving in the Americas at that time) may have learned about bundling, or it may already have been forgotten culturally. I’m not sure exactly who is responsible or even what era for the eradication of a custom which could prevent school shootings…


    1. I totally agree that our community has lost some of the vital cultural practices that would have played a big role in governing the behaviors of youths today,I am a living example of such, personally I have been affected by masturbation ,is it wrong


        1. The context and setup is everything. The context and ground upon which we stand would have to be reconstituted. A school of nguiko would have to have a very sound spiritual foundation. It is learning the power of Spirit over Body. Soul over materialism. Its not just about sex. The modern overnight prayers by the corrupt so-called Chrisrian Church, (Kesha), is an example. Only a foolish man would allow a lamb into the wolves den.


  10. Hi,
    This is a great piece. I just have a question. Were the young man and woman allowed to climax? i.e. attain orgasm? or ejaculate? If not, what were the consequences of such an occurrence?
    Thank you.


    1. The whole point was for the man to be initiated into the mystery of the sex act as a ritual focusing on process rather the fruit of action. The woman led the man along and if he failed, that was ok as next time he will try harder. Today’s culture is too engrossed with the climax to comprehend this. One of the great contributions the Gikuyu can give the world is to establish a modern school of Nguīko where people can go and train.


    2. The whole essence of ngwīko was to create control, they were however not allowed to “climax” or orgasm. “Kiritithia thuti kagīo” Gīkùyù principle! It was mùgiro for a man to ejaculate outside a woman i.e Coitus interruptus so a man had to report to his dad for cleansing.


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