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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Is There a Distinct African Sexuality? A Critical Response to Caldwell et al
Author:Ahlberg, Beth M.
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Africa
Women's Issues
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Health and Nutrition
Religion and Witchcraft
Cultural Roles
Health, Nutrition, and Medicine
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1160981
Abstract:J.C. Caldwell and his colleagues (1989) argue that the whole of Africa has a distinct sexuality which is inherently permissive. They claim moreover that no religious moral value is attached to sexual activity, and Christianity has thus not succeeded in changing matters. They find in this failure the reason for the failure of the fertility control programme in sub-Saharan Africa, and they argue that HIV/AIDS control efforts will fail similarly unless the fear it generates forces Africans to adopt the Eurasian model. The article reexamines Caldwell et al.'s conceptualization of the role of moral value in social change. Without considering the internal expressions, mechanisms and social contexts within and through which moral value is maintained and changed, they assume that Christian moral values could lead to a change in sexual behaviour from permissive (as they see it) African sexuality to the Eurasian model. In making such an assumption they ignore the ethical and behavioural contradictions generally inherent in moral systems. Moreover they pay little attention to the process of change in Western societies, where Christian morality has lost a great deal of its control over behaviour. But even if we assume that internal contradictions and processes of change do not exist, the Christianization process in Africa fundamentally transformed local customs in ways that delinked their role in regulating behaviour, including sexual behaviour. This is illustrated by the case of the Kikuyu (Kenya). Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French.