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three pairs of lovers with space



The Boy-Wives of the Azande of the Sudan is an anthropologist's detailed account of the custom, already extinct but still vividly remembered when he began his fieldwork in 1926, of young men taking boys as temporary wives.

In 1900, the physician Paolo Ambrogetti reported in a booklet on sexual life in Eritrea on sex between men and boys known as diavoletti (little devils) by the Italian colonisers:

by Pierre Joubert

“relations with ‘little devils’ are not pursued secretly, but tolerated even by the boys’ fathers, especially since such services are always paid extra. At the age of adolescence, when the boy is ready for intercourse with women, he generally stops having relations against nature. But cases are known where some ‘little devils’, who are attached to their patron, continue such relations till the age of eighteen or twenty. […] I have rarely been able to observe that pederasty was pursued by inclination rather than by opportunity. I only remember one chief, who was 25 years old and married. He nevertheless went on pursuing passive sexual relations with men without pecuniary gain.[1]

Buggery in Buganda is the story of the violent clash over Greek love in 1885-87 between Christianity and the traditional local values of Burundi upheld by its young king Mwanga II and his nobility.

The Mossi, by Louis Tauxier, 1912 describes the pederastic practices of the chiefs of the Mossi in the upper Volta region, whose boy pages took on the sexual role of their wives on Fridays, when there was a religious prescription against heterosex.

In his Life of a South African Tribe, about the Thonga, the Swiss missionary Henri-Alexandre Junod reported from 1915 how in the all-male native compounds of Johannesburg, the miners had developed a custom of taking boys as their wives.

Michael Davidson in South Africa, 1920-ca.1921 is an English journalist's description of his love affair in Natal with a boy of Welsh extraction. In a later memoir, Some Boys, he gave an account of the Greek love scene in Dakar in 1948, which he thought exceptional for Africa.

In her book, Good Company, about the Nyakyusa of Tanganyika, with whom she lived 1935-8, the anthropologist Monica Wilson reported on how sex between boys was common and there was some pederasty, but never sex between men.

In their global survey of boy prostitution, Boys for Sale (1969), Drew and Drake had the following to say about "Africa south of the Sahara":

Africa, south of the Sahara, is not a very productive area on which to report. Casual exploitation of boys was not uncommon in black Africa before independence, by both white and black men, but little is known of any organized or even amateur prostitution. Sexual congress was more likely to be between a man and his servant boy. Even this has been almostly completely eliminated in South Africa. In Central Africa, there is no special stigma attached to boy-love, except prejudices introduced by Europeans. All sorts of sex play among children and adults seem perfectly natural in many situations. Prostitution as such, however, has not been common. The Tauregs have occasionally prostituted some boys for political and economic purposes and several times there has been a rumored scandal of a young white boy dancing in an immoral black club. When authorities show up to search for the imported European boy he always seems to have mysteriously “disappeared” — if, indeed, he ever did really exist.

At the same time there is evidence of a great deal of money being made by operators who import white boy prostitutes into one or more of the new black nations — as a novelty, perhaps — for the same reasons that there is an expensive novelty business in trading white girls from time to time.

For the most part, we should conclude that there is no boy prostitution to be reported south of the Sahara, except in certain Arab areas. Even in those, it is rarely if ever available for tourists or, in any sense, open to view.


[1] Paolo Ambrogetti, La vita sessuale nell’Eritrea. Rome, 1900, p. 16; translation by Rudi C. Bleys, The Geography of Perversion, New York, pp. 169-170.




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