International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 305

Full Length Research Paper

Sex, custom and population: A Nigerian example

P-J Ezeh
  • P-J Ezeh
  • Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, N-410001, Nigeria.
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  •  Accepted: 23 December 2013
  •  Published: 31 March 2014


Sex determines most of what happens in the rest of the social life of the Orring, a minority ethnolinguistic group in Nigeria’s Southeastern districts. Like in most so-called simple societies, rules on sexual conduct also govern such relational principles as marriage, descent and kinship. But here they go a little further than this because propriety or otherwise of sexual conduct is not limited to the acts of sexual partners. It affects also the status of children of such partners or those that may be socially connected with them at other levels. For example, a category of children that are called gbụati [sing. waati] ẹ lakpe (evil children), are in their category because they are held to be those who earn their condition as a result of unconfessed infraction of sexual rules by, usually, their parents. Gbụati ẹ lakpe include those of breach birth, those that cut their upper incisors first or those with such rare physiological condition as six instead of five fingers. The Orring society is patrilineal and patrilocal which facts seem to help in explaining why rules of sexual conduct place a heavier burden on women than on men. This paper results from a participant observation of the Orring from 1998 to 2003. It is suggested in this paper that any policy on population that ignores local custom at the present stage of development in Africa may not deliver their expected impact.  What is needed is a cross-disciplinary co-operation that will enable ethnologists, demographers, medical scientists, bureaucrats and so on to work together for effective results.

Key words: Sexual conduct,  sexual offences, sexual behaviour, Nigeria.