The mystery of waist beads (butiiti)!!… Here is why women wear or should wear the butiiti

I was seated a taxi when a woman dressed in pants stretched a bit and I saw her wearing waist beads. It got me thinking and wondering why. All I knew was that waist beads (also locally known as embila) are for young babies especially girls that are used to shape their waists and may be used as decoration material for some cultures like the Masai of Kenya among others.

However, some new information has come to light about the mystery of butiiti. Waist beads are a bedroom accessory that most women have abused today by bringing them out into the public. Perhaps they are naïve about the use, importance or reason for wearing the butiiti.

Apparently, butiiti were introduced in Buganda from Bunyoro in search for wealth and other witchcraft reasons. However, the baganda saw them as a replacement for the cowrie shells they wore around their waists.

Initially, the Buganda women put on small pieces of dry wood that were tied around their waists in a ring form for sexual stimulation. But, with time these were replaced with the cowrie shells which were smoother, and later on the butiiti.

According to the Bride & Groom magazine, issue 30, it was unusual for a woman in the African culture to ask for sex from their husband. So a woman wore butiiti as an invitation for her husband whenever she was in the mood.

“She would just tie the beads around her waist as she entered the bed and the man would understand what she wanted,” reads a quotation in the magazine.

However, whenever it was the man calling out his wife for sex, he never waited for her to put on the beads. Nonetheless, she was expected to reach out for them as soon as the man started caressing her. They were always kept somewhere near the bed. On the other hand though, on days when she never wore them, her husband was supposed to know that his wife wasn’t in the mood for sex.

A man is expected to play with the beads in his spouse’s waist to turn her on. The noise made by the butiiti is like a small musical sound that helps to open up a woman’s mind and if handled well, she will be ready for you in just a few minutes.

“What men should know is that this woman will be the one to show you the entrance when she is finally ready instead of forcefully finding your way,” reads another quotation in the Bride & Groom Magazine.

According to Rose Nabweteme (not real name), a fashion and interior designer, “butiiti are today used so much in fashion and decoration. Such new trends cannot be ignored.” But, bedroom waist beads are blended with some local herbs like kayayana and omuwebwa among others that help in cementing a marriage BUT not in a witchcraft manner.

However, in the modern day era where many aunties and uncles have ignored their pre-marital activities, a few young men barely know the use of the butiiti while the young girls also don’t know that it’s forbidden to walk out of the bedroom when still wearing the beads.

Robert K James



Real Weddings

Bonnie and Wilbroad wedding album via