The Great Lakes region is known for having well-established, women-centred practices surrounding sexual intercourse. For many generations, men in Uganda, Burundi, Congo and Tanzania have been expected to induce female orgasms (known as kunyaza) and even what’s commonly known as ‘squirting’ in the West.
To add to this, is a procedure of labia elongation colloquially referred to as ‘Guca Imyeyo‘ which means ‘to cut brooms’. The practice, traditionally kept secret from the knowledge of men, involves a pubescent girl gently pulling out her labia outwards by applying force and special herbs to them. The knowledge of these special herbs is passed on to the girl from older women in the community or within her family.
According to Orijin Culture, the girl would pull at her labia minora everyday for 10 – 20 minutes until well into adulthood and even marriage. Many women who participate in the practice believe that the elongated labia aid in ejaculation and kunyaza.
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Interestingly, in the Western world, many women consider large labia to be unsightly. They even seek out surgical intervention and pay for labiaplasties to ‘beautify’ their vaginas. However, while being being a pragmatic ‘form follows function’ approach to sex, the World Health Organization had classified labia elongation as a form of genital mutilation, according to a Medical News Today report.
This ancient practice challenges the idea that sex and sexuality are, traditionally, taboo on the content. Is the shameful approach towards sex an African attitude or is it an outdated colonial inheritance like homophobia?
African women are increasingly talking about sex and voicing their concerns. In Kenya, some ladies are learning the technique of kachabali which also includes non-penetrative sex. With kachabali, large labia are beneficial to a woman’s pleasure sensation as Betty Katana Longo instructs in the video below:
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In this time where terms such as ‘Africa rising’ and ‘Africa rising’ become more and more a part of the global lexicon, women need to start liberating themselves to talk about sex. It’s been around for much longer than all of us and, obviously, resulted in our existence on this planet.
The practice is one worth researching because it opens the door to understanding the intimate relationship between women’s views on sexual pleasure and sexuality which have not been documented much outside of the Western context.