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There is an Adult World (or three) on my street

I live within walking distance of four Adult World stores. I counted.

I find this strange as I do not consider my area to have red light district tendencies, but this is my current reality.

A few weeks ago an Adult World opened up opposite Parliament, apparently for the umpteenth time as each time it gets closed down. But it persists, seemingly going strong.

I always find it strange that although one never actually sees anyone going in and out of an Adult World they clearly have enough of a clientele to have four stores within approximately five kilometre radius.

Furthermore, judging from the ever expanding franchise that can be termed “The Adult World Empire” as well as the popularity of conventions such as SEXPO, one can make an educated guess that there is a market for sex within South Africa.

A lazy weekend and a quick Google shows that this is not just a national thing but regional in nature.  Within Africa the sex toy market continues to grow at an exponential rate.

Be it sex toys, sex lessons or videos of people having sex, somebody out there is making something sexy and people are buying it.

Sex is increasingly big business and not in a “walk the streets” kind of way.

Playing with sex: The Sale of Sex Toys

South Africa is one of the few African countries that do not outlaw sex toys. The section of legislation disallowing the manufacture of sex toys was repealed by Criminal Law in the form of the Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Act of 2007.

Sure service delivery is almost non-existent and we are never truly sure who the police are protecting but at least you can buy (somewhat) quality sex toys over the counter.

Even though Adult World is arguably ‘the face’ of the sexy toy industry, a brisk walk round SEXPOwould show that there is a whole booming online industry that sells everything from outfits, to club memberships, to vibrators that look like lipsticks.

Based in Johannesburg, the Pharoah Private Fantasy Club is a place that asks “whats your flava?”

Whilst in the country access is ample in other countries on the continent bedroom time is not so (legally) jolly.

Bedroom trinkets are illegal in some African countries, whilst other countries do not even bother to tackle the issue on their books (instead using social shame as a means of regulation).

In Zimbabwe the daughter of businessperson Phillip Chiyangwa has caused a stir by holding auctions of sex toys in Harare. She has also been known to hold peep shows whilst selling a selection of lingerie in order to pump up business. This is not something the Zimbabwean government endorsed and Ms Chiyangwa was called “immoral” (and probably a few other choice words).

If you are going to engage in the illegal selling of pleasure you might as well keep it upmarket with an auction.

Within Zimbabwe the selling of sex toys is illegal under the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act of 1967 (revised in 1996). This, however, does not stop people importing them, especially during festivals such as Festival of The Arts (HIFA).

Despite every Nollywood movie attempting to teach virtue in some sense Nigerians have their tastes as well.  Within the country women have been in uproar due to the influx of Swedish sex dolls into the country. These dolls do not come cheap coming in around $6&nsbp;000 (R60&nsbp;000). Apparently quality does not come cheap as according to the product description the doll has “skin texture that is 99.8% of human texture” and the doll is adjustable and even becomes aroused. This is probably what people in the 1960s were talking about when they said “the robots are coming”.

Sex on the screen

Sex is for all the senses and porn is increasingly becoming big business, with a boom in local industry with more and more young men and women wanting to enter the industry, some even willingly doing it for free. A sex internship if you will.

One ‘star’ however did say that this is a good way to teach people about HIV and sexual health within south Africa as often these matters are ‘sugar coated’.

However with sales of DVDs dropping up to 90 percent, experts say ‘the industry’ is no longer where it is at. The real move is towards people creating their own content in their home.

Just keep it off the cloud or Google drive.

But despite the taboo the market is still there, to such an extent that the Film and Publication Board even had a problem with one employee having a case of ‘sticky fingers’ over some Venda porn.

In the rest of Africa the industry is slowly but surely growing. In Ghana, for example, one is able to purchase Twi porn, which can be described as porn where the dialogue is completely and utterly in Twi (a local Ghanaian language).

No “pizza delivery boy/ I am here to deliver a ‘package’ for you ma’am” scenario here.

So despite what they say about the continent being conservative you clearly cannot keep a lid on the saucy brewing within. It almost makes you wonder, did the sexual revolution really die, or did it just change location?


  • Kagure Mugo

    Kagure Mugo is the co-founder and full-time curator of HOLAAfrica! She is a part-time pseudo-academic and part-time wine-bar philosopher. A nomad (who has been everywhere and belongs nowhere) with a firm belief that no-one will love Africa till she loves herself.