By Kagure Mugo
‘Homosexuality is wrong because society is in uproar about it.’
That was the reason given. I took issue with this for two reasons.
Number one. Slavery, colonialism, racism, capital punishment, war, nuclear bombs, degradation of the environment, capitalism. Humanity does not have a good track record of deciphering right and wrong.
Number two. Literature namely, Lord of the Flies.
For those who don’t know let me give you the spark ‘night before the exam’ type notes. Boys stranded on island. Shit starts getting real. Mob mentality leads them to kill one member of the group.
These were kids.
And living in Africa we all know about mob mentality. A man steals a bag and gets lynched. Granted stealing a bag isn’t nice but proceeding to hang a man from a tree after beating him senseless is borderline psychotic.
That’s what a moment like that in mob mentality really is. A moment when a large group of people come together and do something that they would not have dreamed of doing alone.
That’s what in my view homophobia is. As Africans we aren’t sure why we hate homosexuality. Why we go crazy when it’s mentioned. Why it bothers us so. We just know that we hate it. My personal view is we are homophobic as a people for the same reason the worst homophobes are homophobic. Being gay is in our blood.
Yes. It’s in our blood. Africa was doing the same sex thing before the rest of the world figured out what sex was. Look back. This culture we keep falling back on is littered with us being SUPER GAY!
Ok not super gay, but gay enough to know that it’s in our veins.
Let us begin.
Colonial court records showed evidence of homosexual practice amongst ‘the natives’. But let us not rely on the white man to tell us where we came from.
Court records are all well and good but nothing beats a rock painting.
The San had the good sense to jot some things down on some pieces of pebble.
In the Bantu tribes homosexuality was actually expected around the age of puberty in order for the young ones to discover sexuality and also experiment.
So I am not trying to say that EVERYONE was gay before the colonialists came. In some circumstances it was actually disapproved of. Women were still seen to have to marry and have children and the only way a lady who loved the ladies could escape this was to become a ‘healer’ or ‘prophetess’.
Evidence that white people came here and found us fruity and ready to party is seen in court records taken by the first settlers which shows ‘homosexual crimes amongst natives’. By 1892 they had clearly stepped up their Gay CIA (a GIA if you will) and there are recordings of hundreds of cases in towns. In Zimbabwe there were 250 recorded cases (let’s not forget the ones who ‘got away with it’) between the years 1892 and 1923.
Before we start tribalism court records show that the homosexual ‘offenders’ were nice and evenly spread amongst the various ethnicities and tribes.
In Kenya there are customs that allow women to marry other women. Usually after being widowed but sometimes during the husbands life time. It was common to do this within my own tribe the Kikuyus. These marriages took place for a number of reasons including economic reasons, social support reasons, and sometimes just companionship. A modern account of it states that there are no wedding rings exchanged BUT there is a goat slaughtered. And who doesn’t like goat? Of course it’s not very common now because Kikuyus are 3rd and 4th generation Christians. And we all know good Christians aren’t gay.
Many African languages have words that ‘mean’ homosexuality for example kuchu used within the East African region, maotoane in Sesotho, ‘yan dauda* in Hausa and Nkonkoni in isiZulu. Despite the negative connotations of some of these words in today’s context the words are evidence of the existence of homosexuality in traditional cultures as the words can be traced back at least 100 years.
We also may have even invented our very African dildo. In Nambia and Angola, German archeologist Kurt Falk, whilst researching questions of same sex relationships during the 1920s found in the most remote areas a selection of same sex relationships including cases of women using artificial penises with female partners.
Yes ladies. An Ancient African Strap-On.
He says in his writing that the women were ‘very devoted to this kind of sex with one another’. According to him men accepted this with little more than a grumble and simply jerked each other off (my words not his) or had anal intercourse when they did not have access to the women folk.
Within Xhosa and Zulu ancient traditions one couldn’t learn how to have sex through google. Or you tube. Or porn. Or a biology book. Observation and experimentation were key. Thus homosexual behavior amongst adolescents was often seen as natural and necessary part of the learning process.
Clearly we have been doing the same sex thing. If I was ignorant of European homosexual history I would say they learned it from us. But let’s not go there.
Thank you. And that concludes our tour of Gay Africa. Please feel free to purchase souvenirs.
Africans say white people brought homosexuality?
That’s wrong. They wiped it out.
The first people to claim that homosexuality ‘was not African’ were not Africans but Europeans, some of whom had never even been to the region.
Then they brought it back again.
Clearly they learned that some things are eternal and beautiful. Like two women having sex. Or a sunset. Or two women having sex. Whichever.
And Christianity and homosexuality… They had their dance too (but that’s another story for another day.)
Truth be told I think we have had such an awful reaction to homosexuality because we are really just…gay. Mama Afrika is just a big beautiful closet.
* it was pointed out to me after the publication of this that the word does not exactly mean homosexual. The wise comment (which can be seen below) was: ‘The ‘yan daudu are known as cross-dressing men but they are tied to a religious order that existed among the Hausa before the days when Islam reached them. There are ‘yan daudu who are gay but they can also be straight or bisexual. Some are married with children too.’
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