Ngwiko was non-sexual popular tradition.

If you mention the word Ngwiko in a gathering of modern Kikuyus, majority will scold you as a vulgar person.

Today the word is used to mean sexual intercourse, a far cry from the sacredness it oozed some decades ago.

The truth is the word and practice is not offensive. It’s just that Ngwiko has been tarnished in the modern society. It was a sacred non-coital practice amongst Kikuyus that was ruined by colonisers and missionaries.

Ngwiko means fondling. It was a popular form of intimate contact between newly initiated youths without sexual intercourse. It was considered the very foundation stone upon which to build a race morally, physically and mentally sound. It safeguarded the youth from nervous psychic instability.

Ngwiko was between young men and women. [Photo: Courtesy]
It allowed the young bachelors to enjoy Urugari wa Nyondo (Warmth of the breasts).

“Intercourse was prohibited during Ngwiko. Even touching each other’s genitals was punished with imposing stigma upon the offenders” says Mzee Kiarie wa Mwangi, an elder.

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He adds; “It was a sacred custom that molded our young men but today not only the practice has ended but it has been deemed evil. Wazungus termed Ngwiko immoral and the whole community believes so”.


Inside Thingira (man’s hut) the boy removed all his clothes but the girl pulled out only the upper garment (Nguo ya Ngoro) to expose her breasts. Her Muthuru (Skirt) and Mwengo (Innerwear) remained intact.

She then fastened Mwengo in such a way her private part was fully covered. The two then lied facing each other with their legs interlocked.

The boy was supposed to put his genitals between his thighs so as not to touch the girl with it.

Ngwiko was practised inside Thingira (man’s hut).

From this point they caressed each other, rubbing breasts against the man’s chest as they engaged in love-making talk until they fell asleep. Kissing on the lips was prohibited. It was against Kikuyu traditions.

Ngwiko was done with multiple partners but one at a time and at a different day.

The man was prohibited from touching Mwengo during this practice and touching the partner’s sexual organ was outlawed.

There were however instances, though rare the two would have intercourse and get away with it but if it came to light the punishment was humiliation and rejection by age-mates.


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