Homosexuality has existed from time immemorial, as far back as when same-sex persons ever came in contact. Africa is said to be the cradle of human race, it therefore can be logically inferred that homosexuality started in Africa, before human race started migrating to other places to spread its branches in different colours, shapes and sizes.
Many African cultures and religions viewed Homosexuals and Transgender persons as gods, they were revered before intolerant religions and cultures started flourishing. It was the advent of colonisation and the import of foreign laws like Sodomy laws that brought Homophobia and intolerance into many African societies. I say “African societies” with a consciousness that AFRICA is not a monolithic society as it consists of many diverse ethnicities and cultures and therefore there is no monolithic, African culture.
Many Africans became intolerant of homosexuality and transsexuals only after foreign religions were imposed on them. In many African cultures, homosexuals and transsexuals were revered and worshiped as spirits of the gods. Sango, the Yoruba god of thunder was often described as a beautiful man who dressed like a woman, had his hair braided and accessorized like a woman. Sango priests, all men, still dress in women apparels when performing traditional rituals. Now tell me that is un-African!
Anthropologists have found evidence that homosexuality was widely tolerated in many parts of pre-colonial Africa. For example, EE Evans-Pritchard reported that until the practice died out in the early 20th century, male Azande warriors in the northern Congo routinely married male youths who functioned as temporary wives.
Also, in Uganda, some members of the Buganda royal family suggest that homosexuality was existent and tolerated before colonial rule. To this day, it is said that many members of the Buganda royal family are gay.
In Nigeria, Calabar women are not only famed for their sexual prowess, many are also known lesbians and bisexuals, and I say this from personal experience. The fact that matriarchy is a cultural institution in Calabar could be a contributing factor to the sexual freedom of Calabar women. Unfortunately, with the advent of Christianity, the Catholic church has a stronghold in Calabar area. Which might explain why my ex girlfriend could give me mind blowing orgasms just before heading off to Mass but freaks out when called a lesbian. It could be all that repressed sexuality and catholic guilt.
In fact, Matriarchy was and is still strong in Calabar, Nigeria In the absence of a male child, the eldest daughter in the family is culturally allowed to marry another woman. She is allowed to choose a man whose sole duty is to impregnate the chosen wife. The eldest daughter is considered as the husband, she gets to keep the child, who also bears her family name. No one can say for certain what goes on behind closed doors once ‘husband’ and wife retires to their bedroom; the possibility of the couple getting cosy is quite high.
Northern parts of Nigeria e.g. Kano and Kaduna, are homes to many gays and effeminate men (effeminate does not mean gay). Homosexuality was openly practiced before Sharia Law came with its threats of stoning homosexuals to death!
I am Proudly African and I am mystified whenever I am accused of “promoting and defending European sexual perversity” (whatever that means). In fact from various historical paintings on Ancient Africans walls, our ancestors enjoyed homo-sex, affection and love and that was one reason Christian missionary colonizers immediately imported their sodomy laws into our constitutions; they imported homophobia because they thought our free loving ancestors were barbarians who indulged in same sex loving! If none was going on, there would have been no need to import that law. Just get over it, our ancestors engaged in same sex banging.
No culture is superior to the other. African, European, Asian, American or Jewish, none is superior to the other. Learning about my history does not mean I should cherry-pick only the part that suits me. I love African hospitality, I love the community spirit, I value the extended family support, I love the African braids and dressing but I do not value genital mutilation, I abhor women not having inheritance rights especially land, I am ashamed of child marriage and the fact that twins were once killed by some groups in my culture. I cannot shy away from these problems that are part of my inherited culture, which is why as a feminist; I am fighting for equal rights for all. I am a proud African but I recognise that there is no perfect culture.
Alien to Africa?
Many often claim that Homosexuality is Alien to Africa. Can someone please show me the proof? I am an African, I am bisexual, I was bisexual before I ever met any white person or stepped foot on any European shore, so does this mean I am a fake African?
As Africans, we should learn about our history beyond what was fed us in missionary schools. Africa is the cradle of humanity; homosexuality existed since time immemorial, which logically means it started from Africa before some members of the human race migrated to other continents for greener pasture.
Sodomy law is a foreign import; it is a relic from the colonial era which former British colonies inherited. The law, like most old colonial British laws, had a very high religious influence, the name of the law itself points to its biblical origin. Britain has since repealed Sodomy laws in its homeland, unfortunately Nigeria and many other African countries still cling to this antiquated law and many now think it is an African homegrown law.
Unfortunately, colonisation and mental slavery continue in Africa through the heavy influence of evangelical missionaries who, having lost considerable ground in their western countries to Equality Rights Laws, have now invaded African churches and are inciting members against homosexuals. The evangelicals are also sponsoring bills against homosexuals in African countries. Some of these churches are particularly from the USA.
The upsurge of homophobic bills springing up all over Africa is actually a calculated sponsored mission of foreign religious fanatics. The religious groups in Nigeria came to the public hearing of the bill with inciting placards and even threatened to beat up the few LGBTI defenders that attended the hearing. Whatever happened to the commandment, “Love Thy Neighbor’?
I sure love this video of sex initiation of young men by older men in Sambia tribe in Papua Guinea. Also below is a video clip of an Igbo cross dresser who used to play before an accepting Igbo community audience and also performed before royalty. It gives a very warm glow, a reminiscence of how tolerant dear Africa used to be. A cross dresser performing before royalty without being stoned to death? Wow, now that is my Africa, the one I love. That was how tolerant our people were before homophobia and its religious fundamentalists took hold of our culture! The people were only interested in the talent not how s/he dressed! As a Nigerian, I know that if it were to be Igbo community of today; this person would likely be beaten up if not stoned to death for daring to dress like a woman
The acceptance and tolerance shown by the Igbo cross dresser’s audience in the video above was common amongst African communities, but i shudder to imagine what would happen to a cross dresser in many communities or even town centers in Nigeria today.
This picture of two black men kissing – ‘Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum’ were ancient Egyptian royal servants and are believed by some to be the first recorded same-sex couples in history. It is the only tomb in the necropolis where men are displayed embracing and holding hands. In addition, the men chosen names form a linguistic reference to their closeness: Niankhkhnum means “joined to life” and Khnumhotep means “joined to the blessed state of the dead’”, and together the names can be translated as “joined in life and joined in death””
“Normativity” is a social construct; it is neither biological nor medical. ‘Hetereo-normativity” may be the norm but that does not mean it is the only type of relationship that exists or is natural.
Once upon a time, killing of twins, child marriage and female circumcision were considered normal in some parts of Africa. Also women contesting elections, inheriting lands and properties were once considered abnormal in many parts of Africa.
Humans are continuously evolving socially and politically to create new norms. Most importantly, we must recognise that some rights are inalienable rights, and all human beings are entitled to these rights by virtue of being HUMAN irrespective of gender, birth, race or sexual orientation.
What is normal today might become abnormal tomorrow but what I am born with e.g. my sexual orientation remains an integral part of me whether the society or even I, accept it or not. Sexual orientation differs but just like skin or eye colour, none is superior to the other.
What is normal to me might not be normal to you, for example, I am attracted to all gender, that is natural to me, but this might be unnatural to you. Being bisexual to me is as natural as being left-handed is to a left-handed person. I am attracted to a person irrespective of sex or gender identity. Homosexuality or Bisexuality is a natural part of nature that is present in many of the species on planet earth.
Many claim that anal sex is unnatural. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms is no business of the law or any other individual. Many heterosexuals engage in anal sex, it is not an exclusive copyright of gays. Also, many heterosexual men love oral sex and yes some women do enjoy engaging in oral sex with their lovers. It can also be argued that it is unnatural for the Penis to be inserted in a woman’s mouth, just the same way you can argue that a man’s tongue is not meant to give pleasure to a woman’s’ clitoris or down below. Many perform fellatio on their partners and don’t find anything wrong in the act. Do we say it is wrong because that is not the original purpose of the mouth or tongue?
Unfortunately, many of our schools still teach the missionary method (Sorry, no pun intended!) Anyway, the missionary schools are not known for teaching the main facts about sex or even acknowledge there is such a thing as Sexual Orientation.
Procreation: A gay problem?
Many still argue that same sex relationship is unnatural because a man cannot get pregnant, but let’s think about this;
- “Is marriage or sexual relationship only acceptable for the sole purpose of procreation?
- Should an infertile, heterosexual person not be allowed to marry?
- Should we stop old people who are in their menopausal age from getting married?
- Should we make marriage or sexual relationship illegal for fertile opposite sex partners who out of choice decide not to have children?
Not all relationships or marriages are entered into for the purpose of procreation. With advanced technological development in reproductive health, adoption, surrogacy and IVF are only some of the many options available to same sex couples.
When same sex couples decide not to add to the dangerously growing 7 billion human population of planet earth, or/and decide to adopt a child instead of biologically making one, they are being thoughtful and should be commended for their Eco-friendly action!
Uncomfortable and non acceptable?
Many claim they are uncomfortable with homosexuality or bisexuality. Actually, I do not ask people to be comfortable with the idea of who I am sleeping with or having a relationship with, I believe this is solely the business of the parties involved and not the business of the state or any other outsider.
I might not be comfortable with polygamy, polyandry or even like the idea of marriage, but I recognised that it is not my business to stop consenting adults from entering into consensual relationship. Adults do not need my approval to love, date or marry, just like I do not need another person’s approval to love date or marry my consensual adult same sex partner.
The people that matter in any relationship, whether same sex or heterosexual, are the people IN the relationship. If they are comfortable in their relationship and cause no one no harm, they are entitled to their rights, dignity, respect of person, right to privacy and the right to found a family if they so wish. It is not about what the norm is in a society; it is about equal rights for ALL.
Homosexuality is not a cultural value of the west, homosexuals in the west fought for the right not to be discriminated against; freedom is not given freely by the oppressors but demanded by the oppressed.
Anyone truly interested in fighting foreign imports should start by fighting against intolerance and homophobia, because these are the real crimes of religion. African histories via wall paintings indicate that homosexuality was tolerated in some part of Africa. I do not know of any ancient African paintings depicting homosexuals being stoned to death, but we have quite a few showing homosexuals in endearing light. Learn your history, take the positive and move on from the negative, most importantly let us leave a better culture for the next generation because We Are All Creators Of Culture.
The argument that any sexual act or relationship that deviates from the standard heterosexual norm is against African culture is using “Culture” to sanction the erasure of dialogue about alternative sexualities and to condone homophobia, therefore constituting a form of cultural violence. A society that stifles sexual and gender identities discourages the recognition of human dignity. LGBTI rights are human rights.