Impact of Western Sexual Revolution on Africans

3.4 Impact of Western Sexual Revolution on Africans

During and prior to colonialism, Africa like the traditional West treasured purity in matters of sexuality. For instance, in the Tonga culture of Southern Zambia there was a taboo surrounding the sight of a woman’s thighs. It was believed that a curse fell upon he who dared to look at a thigh of unsuspecting woman. While this taboo acted as a deterrent to sexual activity, people also had to be on the guide to ensure that they didn’t take a pre-meditated glance at a thigh of a woman. Sexual purity was maintained in the process.

By and large, sex in Africa was traditionally practiced in marriage. Child bearing out of wedlock was a taboo and disgrace to affected families. Everyone needed to belong to a complete family for that is what s/he was identified with. The once popular extended family in Africa was the core from which Africa traditional society drew its values.

While colonizing could have set a tone for the infiltration of the Western sexual revolution in Africa, Christianity promoted puritanical attitude towards sexuality in Africa. But the booming of the western sexual revolution in the mid 1960s coincided with the independence of most African States from years of colonial rule. Post-colonial Africa contacts with former colonial Western masters were maintained, and Western culture, with its sexual permissiveness, made its way into post-colonial Africa, helped by advanced communication. Today, Africa is experiencing an infiltration of the Western sexual revolution.

Today one of the fastest contributing factors of the Western sexual revolution’s impact on the African sexual behavior is the phenomena of globalization. The advance in communication through mass media has likewise contributed greatly to the booming of sexual revolution in many African societies. Although much of what we watch in the national media is censored, there is much more to be desired as sexual permissiveness is evident.

Almost everywhere in Africa: kissing, love making under cover have become common sight in the media; adulterous relationships as seen in the media are taking concrete expression in the lives of Africans; sexual infidelity even among African married couples has become fashionable and a sense of triumph for both men and women in the work place; brothels, where people married and unmarried alike go to experience sexual pleasure, have emerged; and as it has been the case in the Western sexual revolution, prostitutes on the African continent, as they have become common sight have acquired the status of sexual workers etc.

As one may look at the movie industry from the 1920s to the present day, it is clear that the industry has survived not only because it has found alternative markets for the industry’ products, but also because, as compared to the wholesome films of the 1930s and those of the 1940s, the industry has increasingly incorporated sexual themes, violence, and vulgar language into their content. In matters related to sex we observe that there is frontal female nudity and open sexual coupling routinely depicted in films.

In spite of the fact that some religious ministers and politicians have publicly decried these patterns of life, their outcry from the general public is largely muted. Various industries through the mass media have pressed further, using these themes to attract audiences, transgressing traditional norms and general traditional African perspective toward sexuality.

What we should know however, is that our movie industry operates in a system of economic capitalism in which making profit is a major and highly approved goal. In doing so it has maximized its audiences in showing movies which have scenes of sex, violence and vulgarity since they are so appealing and attractive to watch. Looking at our population we discover that its majority are the youths (60%), thus a large proportion of the movie audience are particularly the youths.

Looking at our own African societies youths have fallen victims to sexual permissiveness. We vividly see such scenes as the manner of dressing that are appealing. For girls we observe a rampart dressing of miniskirts that leave no room for imagination. In addition to that some of them wear trousers known as hipsters or tight trousers exposing their hips and waists revealing their inner garments. Youths also wear top ups such as T-shirts and blouses that expose their chests and breasts.

Boys also are not left behind. Some of them wear tight vests or shirts that reveal their muscles which make them appear attractive to women. This code of dressing is sometimes practiced by some musicians who may even perform with bear chests as a way of arousing revelers more especially women.

The other thing we discover is the rampart selling of pornographic movies and magazines stimulating the young ones to engage in sexual activities. Sexual permissiveness has also led to irresponsible sexual behavior among the youths. For example we notice a fast growing number of single motherhood; cases of abortion and prostitution are increasingly on a rise; HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases continue to be reality in our society; use of contraceptive pills and other preventive measures from pregnancies such as morning pills and condoms has become rampart in our societies etc.

Lastly we cannot fail to observe how among the African youths the procreative act of sexuality has lost its value and meaning. To many of them, sex is seen as a thing which everyone should have, do or long for. We are living in a world where for everything to get its attention it has to be connected with sexual matters or sexual language. And this ideology is growing at a very fast rate. Sexuality has simply become something intended for physical pleasure, and exploitation of the other through sex for money.

Among the African youths who have become the most vulnerable to this Sexual permissiveness from Western cultures the following the realities are quite evident:

African youths have given into putting on miniskirts, tight trousers and shirts and blouses that expose their chests and breasts respectively just as they watch through the media.

Unscrupulous people have taken advantage of the crisis by selling pornographic videos that are sexually appealing to the youths[1] .

At the same time, irresponsible sexual behavior among the youths of Nairobi, Kenya, for instance, has generated single mothers and abortions. Single motherhood raises the problems as children do not find themselves in a suitable environment to develop into complete and mature and responsible human beings.

As single youths beget children, we are further left to wonder what kind of adults they will grow up to be: some may become street children while other may become criminals.

Additionally, most single mothers cannot support their families and this forces them into prostitution. As a result, the spread of sexually transmitted disease including AIDS has unimaginably hit the youths who sooner or later will have to die from it.

Just as the contraceptives pill was revolutionary for women in the West, African youths now use the contraceptives pill with much ease in order to have sex at all costs without getting pregnant.

In this culture of sexual permissiveness, abortion has been exercised in the event that contraceptives fail. Youths with unwanted pregnancies have their unborn babies killed by unscrupulous doctors

Among the African youths as well, the procreative act of sexuality has lost value and meaning. Sexuality has simply become something intended for physical pleasure, and exploitation of the other through sex for money

3.4.3 Way Forward for the African Youths

a) Need to Strengthen the Family

Sexual permissiveness in Africa has led to the disintegration of the African families. Practices such as infidelity, divorce, cohabitation and use of contraception are tearing down the African family. And certainly for children to grow into responsible youth they need the figures of both mother and father living together in a faithful marriage. “The parents are the first teachers while the home is the basic school of humanity”.[2]

In other words, the family determines what kind of society any human community would like to be. A good family is a foundation of a good society whereas a bad family is foundation of a bad society. A complete family is in a good position to offer moral, spiritual and physical support to its children who then grow up to be fulfilled youths.

When the moral, spiritual and physical support that the family is supposed to offer to its children is lacking, children easily grow into irresponsible youths. Society as such becomes irresponsible, even in the way it practices sexuality. The crime that Nairobi, Kenya, in particular is facing from unruly youths is certainly a product of offspring of incomplete or broken families.

Our effort in combating the impact of the Western sexual revolution in Africa should be geared towards strengthening or revitalizing the families within a complete and loving family, where children are better and responsibly protected from roaming on the streets, engagement in prostitution, having unwanted pregnancies, etc. According to R.N. Wachira, much of what forms and shapes the child is taught at home.

The matter of formation of the youth for the family should not be left to parents and the school alone; the church, the local government and civil society should deliberately involve themselves in formation of the youth for the family.

b) Parents’ involvement in sex education

Since one of the effects of the Western sexual revolution was the introduction of sexual education in school, there is need for parents to get involved in to what type of sexual education youths are going to receive. Most often, sex education in school has not added moral value to genital matters. Youths are thereby left to experiment on their own the marvels that genital expressions can perform.

The matter of parents’ involvement in sex education programs for the youths is an issue for proper formation of the youths in the family. Through organizations such as the Parents Teachers Association (PTA), parent can exert great influence on the kind of sex education that the youths are supposed to receive. In some cases, even better, parents have hindered governments from introducing sex education without values in schools. Value free sex education is a rival to the African family.

Once the youth of all categories are formed in the knowledge of the purpose and meaning of sexuality, they may serve as foundation for a better society in the future that values sexuality as a gift of God which should be used as its author intended: responsible procreation in a family context.

c) Returning to God

When we consider the diversity of criminal activities in Nairobi, we see a lot of robbery with violence in the city, a horde of sex workers lining up the streets, explicit sexual permissiveness, unwanted pregnancies and a lot of single mothers. The situation is seemingly hopeless, and yet it is saying something to the African society. Once more this situation points to the brokenness of the family. In order for sound and complete families to become a reality there is need for conversion, and grace can seemingly heal these challenges for the Africans, with total human cooperation. The “Holy Spirit moves freely through the ruins of our fallen humanity and we must recognize the signs of hope and the prospects rebuilding sound values.”[3]

Underlying the impact of Western sexual revolution on the African youths is an implicit lack of believe in God.[4] Humanity has gone astray by manipulating God’s creation. Sexual expression for pleasure without a desire for procreation through the use of contraceptives is but one of the ways of manipulating God’s creation. One other related sexual manipulative act is abortion since it is killing of an unborn baby.

Cessation of such acts and attitudes calls for God’s intervention through conversion so that humanity itself being God’s creation may live to respect the order of creation and nature. Such a religious conversion need not to come from African youths alone. It is one which should radically change the attitude of the source of the Western sexual revolution itself.

3.4.4 Conclusion

In this chapter, we have attempted to discuss the impact of the Western sexual revolution on Africa especially on its youths. At the root of this sexual revolution is a rejection of God, the mistaken understanding of human nature, and the separation of sexuality from procreation. The impact on African youths has been pathetic: crime, sexual immorality leading to the production of single mothers, prostitution, children on the street, the spreading of HIV/AIDS etc.

All these have been made possible because of the breakdown of the family. It is for this reason that we have suggested the reconstruction of the African family as a way out of this crisis. To this effect, it is quite important that African youths be formed to be responsible parents who will constitute sound, full and healthy families that will produce good and responsible citizens. The parents, the church and society should collaborate to realize this cause.

In order to survive, there is need for society to regulate the sexual activity. If our old African structures which were regulating sexual relations are now dying or falling apart, new and more relevant ones must be adopted. We need a system of education which is programmed and designed towards positive Christian morals, healthy practices, self-respect, faithfulness and creativity towards human dignity and God’s Love. It is not enough to put intellectual theories in front of young people in our African society; they must be initiated into life. A sound theology of sex and marriage, plus an understanding of psychology and personal development are also needed.

Sex is personal and rational; it is a craving for personal relationship. Young people need permanent relationships of their parents and the society at large, for proper mental development. All teachings and ministries to young people must revolve around the truth that the meaning of sex and sexuality is to be found in unselfish relationships, based on Christian ethics and sound moral doctrines.

[1] Global Economic and Cultural Research Project, Hekima Group, Choices of Life: The Impact of global Media on the Youth in Nairobi: The Case of the Film Industry, Nairobi, Kenya, Global Economy and Cultural Research Project – Hekima Group, 2003, p. 67

[2] R.N. Wachira, Parents and Teenagers: Bridging the Gap, p. 23

[3] P.J. Elliott, Sexual Revolution, p. 13

[4] P.J. Elliott, p. 8


  1. Father Joseph,

    Thank you for your article. I found you through my Google Alerts for "sexual purity".

    I run the website and have been free from pornography for 3 years now. My wife and I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA and help others struggling with sexual addiction.

    I have summarized your article and linked to it on our site.

    God bless you as you serve our Lord Jesus Christ in Kenya!

    Jeff Fisher


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