The Tradition of 'Visiting the Bush'
Attending sex education.

The Tradition of 'Visiting the Bush'

Is it necessary?

By Eunice Nyiraneza
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First published: February 2, 2006

In most Ugandan traditions, sex is a sacred topic. For this matter, it is neither discussed in public nor taken lightly as it is in the western cultures. For the same reason young women were prepared for sex by their aunties as they were growing up since it is one of their (young womens) duties traditionally to satisfy their husbands sexual desires.

Among many others is the tradition the Baganda commonly refer to as visiting the bush. Visiting the bush is elongating the labia minora of the womens sex organs. Labia minora are two structures situated at the entrance of the vagina.

The aunties prescribe herbs to be used to their nieces in the process to keep the labia minora long whenever they are stretched. They also teach them what to stretch and how to go about the whole business of pulling as it is called.

Since all ladies are traditionally expected to grow up and get married, and thus serve their husbands sexual desires, this culture of pulling or visiting the bush is highly practiced even today with many parents intending their daughters to be bedroom superstars when the time comes. Some parents have even resorted to introducing their girl children to this practice at a tender age, for some as early as 7 years.

Ssenga Nassanga who gives advice on sexual matters in Buganda says that the girl child should be introduced to the tradition at the age of 13 years.

Unless your daughter acts older and more understanding, below this age, a child below thirteen years of age could go around disclosing what you told her to her peers with no shame, she advises.

Ssenga Nassanga says that the practice of pulling is very important and every young girl should undergo it to ensure a happy sex life in her adulthood.

She says that completing the task proved that the girl is courageous, determined and has respect for culture and her future husband.

The first few times you try it out it is painful and thus discouraging. Therefore if a woman goes the whole way they are brave and should be appreciated for it, she says.

I marvel at a man who does not show gratitude to a wife that went through this ordeal to the very end, remarks the 66-year-old Ssenga.

Why visiting the bush is important

Traditionally, this culture is considered sexually important in a number of ways. The elongated labia minora act as a door to the vagina. It is from the vagina that a woman gets all they want in life. You are therefore supposed to keep it as sacred as you would look after your home. You never leave you home open all the time, elaborates Ssenga Nassanga.

In acting as a door, the elongated labia helps keep the womans sex organs warm, which is the traditional requirement that the vagina should be warm and not cold at any one time.

According to Ssenga Nassanga, women who visit the bush also protect themselves from sexual harassers. Rape becomes impossible if a woman did visit the bush. A man cannot fit their sex organ into a woman unless she is willing to let him. Remember there is a door that she alone opens to let in anyone or anything, she elaborates.

Most importantly, the traditionalists believe that there is no way a couple can enjoy sex if the woman did not visit the bush. It is believed to enhance foreplay and orgasm.

Like many other traditions, this too is slowly dying out. Very few girls today pay heed to this practice and most young men do not even know their women are supposed to have done it as per tradition.

The whites do not do these things and they carry on normally. I do not believe all this crap of the long labia minora being essential for sexual pleasure anyway, says Diana a finalist student at Makerere University, Kampala. Another male student from the university also says he does not mind whether a girl has done it or not.

I can not walk out on a girl just because I realize she did not go to the bush. This is the twentieth century for Gods sake, he exclaims.

While many young men and women agree with the two students, there are many others still standing by their traditional and cultural norms. Omulangira Ndawula says that he does not understand how a woman who did not visit the bush expects to keep her husband sexually satisfied and contented.

During a recent sex education gathering at Cooper Theatre in Kampala, there were elderly ladies in the audience who wanted to know how to maintain their labia minora long even after birth and repeated sexual intercourse, which, they believed, made them shorter.

Retouch is not just meant only for hair ladies, responded Ssenga Nassanga, who was one of the facilitators. You have to take off time once in a while to revisit the bush even in your adulthood, she advised. Retouch in womens language means revisiting the hair saloon to beautify themselves.

Ssenga Hamida who is hosted on CBS FM every Monday at 9am to address family issues quelled all talk that the tradition was only a necessity in Buganda saying that it was for all cultures in Uganda as far as she is concerned.

By Eunice Nyiraneza
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First published: February 2, 2006
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Eunice Nyiraneza is a media practitioner at Ultimate Media Consult.