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In Azande, Boys Become Wives

Located in North Central Africa are the Azandes. Until the 20th century, this ethnic group was highly respected as warriors and for their witchcraft.

Their belief in witchcraft and their Benge oracle determined their life’s outcomes. It was such that when a termite-infested door fell and killed eight men, they blamed it on witchcraft.


The Azande people experienced a shortage of women, causing the available women to be given to the rich. Due to this, if a man had an interest in a boy between the ages of 12 and 20, he paid a bride price of five spears to have him. Fornication with a bachelor (aparanga) meant mutilation or payment of twenty spears and a woman.

English anthropologist, E.E Evans-Pritchard states in his book Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande and his essay Sexual Inversion among the Azande that the boy would become his lover (badiare). The lover will, in turn, perform wifely roles of cooking, cleaning, keeping the house warm, speaking softly, making the bed and sexually satisfying the husband (kumbami).

This satisfaction came when the husband places his penis between the “boy wife’s” thighs. This, they believed, will prevent them from desiring another man’s wife.

Having a boy wife does not stop a man from getting married to a woman. This is because the service of the boy wife is mainly needed when the men go to wars.

A high ranking man is allowed to have more than one boy wife. Also, the death of a royal man means the burial of his boy wife.

When a boy wife becomes a man, his husband gives him spears and shields. If the husband treats the boy wife well, his parents will thank him by offering a girl to the husband as a wife.

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