This article deals with the traditional custom of chastity and sexual restraint
of the Swazi people, living in a ‘tiny kindom’ in Southern Africa under the
current leadership of King Mswati III. The custom, referred to as Umcwasho,
is a custom that forbids young, unmarried females engaging in any form of
sexual activity for a specified period, the length of which is determined by
the king. The Swazi people are known to be very strict and conservative, and
traditionally permit only a restricted form of sexual activity among the young
who have reached puberty. Swazi parents grant their teenagers no free sexual
experimentation whatsoever. Parents, at all times, call upon restricted and
inhibited sexual behaviour, which means that they will allow, ‘at the utmost’
only external intercourse and sex play. The maintenance of virginity in both
boys and girls is above all treasured and extremely highly valued.
The above facts and the supposed impact thereof on young people contributed
to determine the aim and focus of this research, namely, to determine what
the custom of chastity and sexual restraint in Swazi culture entail, and what
meaning and value the Swazi people attach to this type of traditional education.
The value and importance of the custom of chastity and sexual restraint, that
falls under the jurisdiction of the King himself became obvious during the
course of this research. From the results of the study it is understood that not
only the observation of the custom, but particularly the meaning thereof, are
highly valued and respected by the nation.