Sex and Herbal Alcoholic Aphrodisiacs in Ghana


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Department of Sociology and Anthropology


The proliferation of herbal alcoholic bitters as aphrodisiacs (substances that cause or arouse or increase sexual desire) across West Africa is a public safety issue. Yet, there is a dearth of knowledge on the subject and what it means to sexual practices. Using interviews, participant observations, and images from rural and urban areas in five regions in Ghana, I seek to understand the meanings women and men attach to sex and alcohol and herbal alcoholic bitters in Ghana. In this study, I provide narratives and observations with dealers and producers of local bitters/gins [licensed and unlicensed]) and their clients and local perceptions about these industries and their produce. The issues to be discussed will include perceptions about sex and knowledge of local aphrodisiacs (the types of aphrodisiacs used by men and women), perceptions and patronage of alcohol and herbal alcoholic bitters as sex enhancing medicines (the choice of herbal bitters [if ever used] and reasons, and experiences thereafter. The study is useful for understanding culture and notions of sex and medicine use in West Africa and Ghana in particular.