So Much for Igbo Chastity

There is no group of people on Earth that like to claim they are “moral” and “decent” and “chaste” like Igbo people do.

Here’s a scan I made of something interesting I found in my research for my story.

In case you didn’t notice what exactly I’m referring to 
here, I cropped it for you

So much for the myth of Igbo virginity. I gamely await the rebuttals of indignant Igbo netizens everywhere =D

Say it with me: Igbo people make me laugh.

There are 22 comments

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  1. Azazel

    Ok let us examine your statement
    @ There is no group of people on Earth that like to claim they are “moral” and “decent” and “chaste” like Igbo people do

    Is this a fact? or an opinion?
    If it is a fact, is it based on ‘research polling’ or is it based on ‘Sugarbelly polling’?

    So u get one document that says ‘isubu eda’ are expected to have sex with ‘non-Afikpo’ women?

    And suddenly ‘igbo virginity’ is a myth?

    Na wa

  2. Myne Whitman

    Sugabelly, which gender is your post referring to? The clip is obviously about men unless it is about same sex relationships.

    I doubt Igbo men claim chastity just like I don’t think any African ethnicity claims morality for it’s men. In fact, universally men are supposed to be strong and experienced in sexual matters. Decency, purity and the like are reserved for females.

    I hope you’re not falling into the trap of the straw man argument. In the case you’re referring to the women mentioned there, they could be married, divorced, widowed, or prostitutes. Also, ritualistic sex as mentioned in your book does not count in terms of morality, etc…

  3. sugabelly

    @Myne Whitman: While this page is definitely about men, I wonder though… if these men were EXPECTED to sleep with non-Afikpo (but still certainly Igbo) women, then the women that they were expected to sleep with can’t have been penalized for sleeping with them right?

    Either way, even if African cultures claim chastity of their women as long as they claim sexual conquest of their men then that implies that the men are sleeping with SOMEBODY. …. unless of course that somebody is also male.

    Either way, masculine promiscuity cannot exist side by side with feminine chastity. One of them has to be a lie because no matter which side is promiscuous, they have to be enacting their promiscuity with the other side implying that the claims of chastity of whatever side are a farce.

    Kinda like how everyone in Nigeria claims to be a virgin yet we all know Nigerians have sex.

    About ritualistic sex…. hmmm.. how does it not count? Isn’t sex sex? I mean, yeah I totally get how sex inside a marriage doesn’t count, but since Nigerians base morality on religion then wouldn’t ritualistic sex be immoral too?

    Or am I not understanding how this works?

  4. sugabelly

    Also, if the women mentioned are

    married: then wouldn’t this prove that marital infidelity was condoned?

    divorced: fornication/casual sex was condoned

    Widowed: Ditto fornication/casual sex

    Prostitutes: Prostitution was condoned (lots of Igbo people love to claim that prostitution never happened in all of Igbo history from the dawn of time *rolls eyes*)

  5. Azazel

    @ lots of Igbo people love to claim that prostitution never happened in all of Igbo history from the dawn of time *rolls eyes*)

    What do u mean by ‘lots’??
    I honestly doubt that you’ve met upto 2 000 igbo people in your whole entire life, and there are @ least 30 million igbo people.
    So am guessing by ‘lots’ u mean majority of igbo people?

  6. Ginger

    Sugabelly, why does this excerpt make me think of something more scary like rape? Cause if the stress is on non-afikpo women that means women of other tribes were I am thinking of some hefty warriors sneaking into some neighbouring village and abducting women to have sex with them. whichever way you look at it..their loss of virginity may not have been ‘willingly’. that makes them soiled doves and not part of the chaste umu-ada! my 2 kobo bit.

  7. leggy

    even if their loss of virginity was willing..that doesnt mean that most igbo women dont keep their virginity till marriage.i know my mum did, she even met my dad the week they got married so you cant tell me that my mum is just lying to me…and i intend not to loss my virginity till marriage too.
    why do you try so hard to paint igbo people as very promiscuous?
    im sorry, but this time i totally agree with azazel. a sentence does not explain anything.
    if my parents tell me not to have sex with an afikpo person..does that imply that im having sex?doesnt that just say that if i were to have sex then have it with a non-afikpo person.
    you like jumping to your own conclusions..and i do agree with the person ahead of me who talked about rape.thats what it sounds like to me too

  8. sugabelly

    @leggy: Nowhere did I say that MOST Igbo people were promiscuous.

    I HAVE said however, that there is often a general attitude among Igbos that Igbo culture is ‘100% moral, decent, and in line with Christianity’ which I find ridiculous because Igbo culture has nothing to do with Christianity.

    That being said, just because this group of people have been caught having premarital sex doesn’t mean that ALL IGBO PEOPLE had orgies and stuff before they were married.

    I never said that either.

    Myne Whitman and I were debating the implications of this expectation to have sex before marriage among AFIKPO boys and NON-AFIKPO women/girls.

    Me saying so much for the myth of Igbo virginity does not mean that NO IGBO can be a virgin. It’s like what I keep telling Azazel about generalisation, only the reverse. If I don’t say ‘NO’ or ‘NONE’ then please don’t assume I mean nobody.

    There’s nothing wrong with staying a virgin until you get married if that is your culture or what you believe.

    At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with NOT staying a virgin until you get married, if that is your culture or what you believe.

    What is rather amusing however, is how many Igbo people try to mesh their Christian religion with their highly unChristian culture leading to Igbos trying to view Igbo culture through Christian lenses and trying to whitewash Igbo culture with “Christian values”.

    For example, this particular page talks SPECIFICALLY about people from AFIKPO.

    However, I am 100% sure that there is at least one person from Afikpo that will jump up and claim that this is not a part of their culture (denial because it doesn’t fit in with their new Christian outlook).

    So, do you see what I mean?

    If you are NOT from Afikpo then this should have no effect on you.

  9. sugabelly

    @Leggy: It also clearly says there that the initiates are expected to have sex with a non-Afikpo woman on the SAME day or afterward. Meaning that at least X% of them DID have sex with a non-Afikpo woman on that day.

    @BBB: I’m not really sure what Azazel’s deal is. I’ve explained what I needed to explain so I’m not saying anything past that.

    @Ginger: So you raise a totally valid point.

    The new question is:

    This sex with non-Afikpo women, was it CONSENSUAL sex? Or was it RAPE?

    If it was RAPE, I really don’t think this practise could have continued for very long because it would have led to war.

    There was no mention of either rape nor war in the book so I think it’s safe to say that it wasn’t rape.

    If it was CONSENSUAL, then it is extremely doubtful that women would engage in sex with mere boys IF THEY KNEW that afterwards they would be disgraced and shunned by society.

    In other words, I think it is safe to say that these women were NOT disgraced or shunned, implying that AT LEAST IN SOME PARTS of Igboland surrounding or close to Afikpo (because I can’t see anyone traveling three days just for a shag) premarital sex was socially acceptable.

    (I have found evidence that it was ALSO socially acceptable in MANY, MANY areas completely separate and far from Afikpo but that’s a different story)

    Also as far as the umu-ada go, there is an Igbo tradition that when a girl gets married she goes to the umu-ada and confesses all the lovers she has had, and then each of her lovers must pay a certain amount to her husband and everything is settled, so no, I really don’t think the general notion that all of Igbo culture was virginity exalting is accurate.

    Why this is such a touchy topic however, I am not entirely sure.

  10. Oma

    Im not entirely sure why it is a touchy topic either. whatever the igbo culture is or was does not have to affect what you believe now. Just be happy that someone cares enough to dig all this information up. It is nice to know what our ancestors got up to in the past.

  11. Myne Whitman


    The point I was trying to make is that there is a difference between premarital sex and extra marital sex. That is why I listed that groups of women, all who have experienced marriage and probably therefore lost their chastity.

    Premarital sex for men is expected and even encouraged in many societies, not so for the women. However, extramarital affairs is an almost level playing field, including for the Igbos, except everyone is expected to be more discreet. Also not all extramarital sex is promiscuous. Remember there was Polygamy and Mistresses.

    A few cultures, like some in Delta and Edo ,made adultery a taboo by placing ani curses and heavy stigma around it. Others like some in Anambra and Imo sometimes even turn a blind eye. It may not necessarily be condoned but it is part of life. A widow at 33 does not have to die untouched, she is allowed to have affairs or remarry. So also a woman seperated or divorced. Women in harems may also have lovers on the down-low.

    These are the kind of women in the surrounding area that will have sex with the Afikpo initiates. Someone raised the issue of rape, possible but not likely as you noted. Another idea is a group of none Afikpo temple servers (Ritual sex)

  12. sugabelly

    @Myne Whitman: Oooh, so you make a totally good point there.

    So, I agree about the extra marital affairs. Especially since there were a lot more arranged marriages in those days.

    As for premarital sex, I also agree that it was regional. I know that there are Igbo areas that were like ‘free for all’ (e.g. Onitsha, Awka, and most of Anambra) and there were other areas that were like ‘keep your legs shut or else’.

    I totally didn’t think about the possibility of temple servers but I guess there’d have to be some.

    And yeah, rape is extremely unlikely without the mention of war.

  13. Azazel

    My problem is this o sugarbelly..
    When a person makes a statement like this

    @ What is rather amusing however, is how many Igbo people try to mesh their Christian religion with their highly unChristian culture leading to Igbos trying to view Igbo culture through Christian lenses and trying to whitewash Igbo culture with “Christian values”.

    Anybody ignorant off igbo culture/people could take what u said as truth when it completely isn’t.

    U say that ‘many igbo’ people do a certain thing and one is forced to asked how many igbo people have u actually met, in order for u to reach your conclusion? Shey u get?
    I like the disclaimer on ur thingy, and I will put the same thing up on mine

  14. sugabelly

    @Azazel: What you are not understanding is this. Since this is a blog of PERSONAL OPINION then I don’t HAVE TO give you bases and data for my opinions.


    A corporate blog HAS to. An online magazine HAS to. A newspaper’s website HAS to.


    And, AS AN IGBO PERSON who has grown up in Igbo culture, I DO HAVE VALID opinions about MY culture, MY people, MY language, and MY country. I don’t have to have met EVERY SINGLE LAST Igbo person to be able to comment on Igbo attitudes and behaviours.

    I don’t have to have met EVERY SINGLE LAST Nigerian to be able to comment on Nigerian attitudes and behaviours.

    HUNDREDS of Nigerian bloggers write posts EVERY DAY and 90% of those posts involve some commentary or the other on some aspect of Nigerian behaviour or some Nigerian attitude. I don’t see you asking THEM how they can be 100% sure that Nigerian parents like their children to greet them, or how they know that most Nigerians are in denial about homosexuality or anything else.

    The point is Azazel, you make unrealistic demands of me for whatever reasons you might have. If you happen to be that in love with fact checking and statistics then by all means do so on your blog.

    I will not convert my PERSONAL blog into a log of itemized statistics just because you or anyone else happens to like them.

    I write about whatever I want to write about and last time I checked I wasn’t beholden to some invisible Blogging rule that says that I have to provide a list of sources and page numbers at the end of every post.

    Does this mean that I don’t provide sources when I’m asked?

    No. I do so SOMETIMES. But to expect me to spend my time running all over the internet and library seeking out sources for you is absurd.

    If I write a post and there’s a source at the end, to God be the glory.

    If there’s no source at the end, take it as it.

    Shi kenan.

  15. NenyeN

    I read the disclaimer… it says nothing about generalization. Anyway, regardless of whether or not you haven written extensively on generalization, you still generalized.

  16. sugabelly

    Yes but what I wrote about generalisation was that I WILL generalize so don’t jump up and scream ‘you generalized’ because yes, I know I did, and generalization has its purposes in casual speech. It would be a bother if everyone had to specify every single thing.

    Take the Nigerian expression ‘you these Igbo people sef’. That’s a generalization. Does it mean that whatever they’re saying relates directly to every single Igbo person? No. But it’s a generalization and it’s a convention of speech and it is ACCEPTED that it does not mean that EVERY Igbo person is the way that person says.

    That is how generalization works. It is a normal part of casual speech. The only people that you can rightly call out for generalization are professional journalists and ONLY WHEN they are writing on a professional journalism website. If they’re writing on their personal blog or whatever or speaking casually then the claim of “Hah! Generalization!” does not count because in casual speech it is generally UNDERSTOOD that generalizations do not necessarily mean that it is hard and fast that that tag or label or whatever was said ABSOLUTELY applies to EVERY SINGLE INDIVIDUAL.

    So yes, I generalized. There was nothing wrong with it. I will generalise in the future too.

  17. NenyeN

    No one said be specific about everything. I know people generalize. It is a normal part of speech. What you’ve done though is wrong, especially considering the context.

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