Tag Archives: Homophobia

“When the internet arrived, the homosexuality deamon went digital”

a brief scientific history of deamons.

Binyavanga Wainaina on the scientific history of African deamons

Ivan Forde

Image by Ivan Forde

When the internet arrived, the homosexuality deamon went digital, and was able to climb into optic fibers. Homosexuality deamon learns fast. Full of trickery. Read a lot and decided to convert from simple analogue deamonhood, to an actual ideology. Homosexuality demon is by this time quite African, a middle class one, likes old colonial houses, comfy hotels, really likes imported things. Homosexuality deamon decided to occupy son of a pastor to a scholarship in the Netherlands where they ate cheese, wore clogs and smoked bang. While smoking bhang and at tenting philosophy they came up with a Homosexual ideology. They called it Gayism and Lesbianism. Homosexuality deamon and son of Pastor knew that Africans would never accept them unless they were imported and western. So they bought skinny jeans and balanced trousers.

Flight back to Nairobi (first class with NGO money), they were attacked overflying Sudan, by a chariot of male African homosexuality deamons. It was very traumatising – a bunch of Wolof speakers afro-deamons, some Azande, some refused to say. Two Kings. Shaka and Kabaka Mwanga. So. they were hijacked and taken to a hotel in Entebbe. They were taught many things, secret Baganda things, warrior-like Zulu things. Kabaka Mwanga said he really liked young boys, pages. He liked girls too. Actually he liked a feast of flesh.

So, deamon of Homosexuality (French mum, English dad) and Pastor’s Son were very well educated. Shaka, they learned was into pain: thorns, shot spear stabs, soulful war cries. He taught them geopolitics and how to shield their websites. Shaka was not into women. Hated lesbians. Kabaka mwanga hated white people, kept trying to poison Imported Homosexual deamon. He really hated Catholic priests. They killed his lovers. The things they did in the Cathedral!Over two weeks in Entebbe, they used social media to spread Afro-homosexualism everywhere with a few dutch techniques…………Continue on Brittle Paper

 

I can’t honestly say what this is. Really. You just have to read and make of it what you will. Looks like Binyavanga was possessed by Marechera’s spirit or something. The most I can say is that when storytelling tips over the edge of prophecy, you get this.

#BrazeYourself

Ivan Forde

So the deamon for homosexuality, is it French? Coz many Pentecostals say it is not African. Now, the deamon of homosexuality—I’m thinking it came on a ship, coz deamons must be hosted by a body. They just can’t arrive by teleporting. Bible Scientists who know the field very well have deeply researched ALL African knowledge and are sure Gay deamon DID indeed come from the West. Scientists and experts on Bible Africa are sure Homo deamon was imported. I’m not sure though whether by plane or ship. Container number? Homosexuality deamon could very well have arrived, not in a container (carrying Friesian bulls maybe?), it could have come with passengers. Homosexuality deamon must have sat around bored for a long long time occupying one or two people, until the internet arrived.

When the internet arrived, the homosexuality deamon went digital, and was able to climb into optic fibers. Homosexuality deamon learns fast. Full of trickery. Read a lot and decided to convert from simple analogue deamonhood, to an actual ideology. Homosexuality demon is by this time quite African, a middle class one, likes old colonial houses, comfy hotels, really likes imported things. Homosexuality deamon decided to occupy son of a pastor to a scholarship in the Netherlands where they ate cheese, wore clogs and smoked bang. While smoking bhang and at tenting philosophy they came up with a Homosexual ideology. They called it Gayism and Lesbianism. Homosexuality deamon and son of Pastor knew that Africans would never accept them unless they were imported and western. So they bought skinny jeans and balanced trousers.

Flight back to Nairobi (first class with NGO money), they were attacked overflying Sudan, by a chariot of male African homosexuality deamons. It was very traumatising – a bunch of Wolof speakers afro-deamons, some Azande, some refused to say. Two Kings. Shaka and Kabaka Mwanga. So. they were hijacked and taken to a hotel in Entebbe. They were taught many things, secret Baganda things, warrior-like Zulu things. Kabaka Mwanga said he really liked young boys, pages. He liked girls too. Actually he liked a feast of flesh.

- See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2014/01/african-homosexual-deamon-binyavangas-treatise-demonology/#sthash.gL5YBZ0u.dpuf

I can’t honestly say what this is. Really. You just have to read and make of it what you will. Looks like Binyavanga was possessed by Marechera’s spirit or something. The most I can say is that when storytelling tips over the edge of prophecy, you get this.

#BrazeYourself

Ivan Forde

So the deamon for homosexuality, is it French? Coz many Pentecostals say it is not African. Now, the deamon of homosexuality—I’m thinking it came on a ship, coz deamons must be hosted by a body. They just can’t arrive by teleporting. Bible Scientists who know the field very well have deeply researched ALL African knowledge and are sure Gay deamon DID indeed come from the West. Scientists and experts on Bible Africa are sure Homo deamon was imported. I’m not sure though whether by plane or ship. Container number? Homosexuality deamon could very well have arrived, not in a container (carrying Friesian bulls maybe?), it could have come with passengers. Homosexuality deamon must have sat around bored for a long long time occupying one or two people, until the internet arrived.

When the internet arrived, the homosexuality deamon went digital, and was able to climb into optic fibers. Homosexuality deamon learns fast. Full of trickery. Read a lot and decided to convert from simple analogue deamonhood, to an actual ideology. Homosexuality demon is by this time quite African, a middle class one, likes old colonial houses, comfy hotels, really likes imported things. Homosexuality deamon decided to occupy son of a pastor to a scholarship in the Netherlands where they ate cheese, wore clogs and smoked bang. While smoking bhang and at tenting philosophy they came up with a Homosexual ideology. They called it Gayism and Lesbianism. Homosexuality deamon and son of Pastor knew that Africans would never accept them unless they were imported and western. So they bought skinny jeans and balanced trousers.

Flight back to Nairobi (first class with NGO money), they were attacked overflying Sudan, by a chariot of male African homosexuality deamons. It was very traumatising – a bunch of Wolof speakers afro-deamons, some Azande, some refused to say. Two Kings. Shaka and Kabaka Mwanga. So. they were hijacked and taken to a hotel in Entebbe. They were taught many things, secret Baganda things, warrior-like Zulu things. Kabaka Mwanga said he really liked young boys, pages. He liked girls too. Actually he liked a feast of flesh.

- See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2014/01/african-homosexual-deamon-binyavangas-treatise-demonology/#sthash.gL5YBZ0u.dpuf

Museveni and reconstruction of homophobic colonial legacy in Africa

From Pambazuka News,  “Museveni and reconstruction of homophobic colonial legacy in Africa: Which way progressives?”  Horace Campbell on the passing of ‘legizlations of hate” in Uganda and Nigeria exposes the historical roots of right wing American Christian fundamentalists which goes back to lynching of Black Americans, a Eurgenic agenda  support of Apartheid and demonisation of Haitians and the 1804 independence.

As the legalization of hate towards same-gender loving persons gains traction in parts of Africa, it is the task of Pan African progressives and decent humans everywhere to expose this orchestrated destructive cultural war. This assault, fomented by some of the most conservative and racist Christian fundamentalists in America, is an attempt to reconstruct the divisive homophobic colonial legacy in Africa. This wave of extremism is in the same category as the activities of some of the most conservative Muslim fundamentalists who attempt to sponsor the imposition of archaic religious laws on Africans. In the midst of the confusion and moral façade under which these religious fanatics operate, the progressive Pan Africanist must speak up decisively. Two weeks ago Pambazuka News carried a splendid issue opposing this wave of hate and I want to join in opposing this legislation of hatred and intolerance. More than thirteen years ago when the Black Radical Congress was still a vibrant political force in the USA it had issued the statement, ‘African Leaders Hide Political Woes Behind Homophobia.’ [1]

On February 20, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Bill also dubbed as ‘Jail the Gays Bill,’ criminalizing same-sex relationships with up to life imprisonment. This Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014 (previously called the ‘Kill the Gays Bill’ in the media due to the originally proposed death penalty clauses), was originally passed by the Parliament of Uganda on 20 December 2013. Because of the international outcry over the death penalty proposal in the bill, this death penalty clause was dropped in favour of life in prison. One day after Museveni signed this bill into law, a Ugandan newspaper published a list of what it called the country’s 200 top homosexuals, outing some people who previously had not identified themselves as gay. This came only weeks after Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law a similar bill that would punish same-gender loving persons with up to 14 years in prison.

After signing the bill, Museveni referred to gays as ‘disgusting’ human beings, while suggesting that his action was intended ‘to demonstrate Uganda’s independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation.’ Museveni echoed an irony when he categorically stated that ‘we do not want anybody to impose their views on us.’ Janet and Yoweri Museveni have been supporters of the most conservative Christian fundamentalists in the USA and they have not been shy about their loyalty to these social elements in North America. [2] That Museveni was ready and willing to sign the original version of the bill was a reflection of the politics of retrogression in Uganda. That he equivocated with a statement about seeking scientific evidence on the sources of homosexuality was a demonstration of his insecurity and opportunism. This opportunism has been the trademark of Museveni since the days in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, when he posed as the most radical anti-imperialist of the elements of the Dar es Salaam School. Ultimately, Museveni calculated that his alliance and loyalty to conservative Christian fundamentalists was more important than any kind of reasoning that he may have had with former Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was crafted with the help and influence of some white supremacist, right wing Christian fundamentalists from the USA. [3] Prominent among these extremists was Scott Lively. Lively has since been charged for crimes against humanity in US court for his role in engineering the Uganda Anti-Gay Bill. [4]

The activities of American fundamentalists and individuals who influenced Ugandan leaders and helped craft the country’s anti-gay bills have been chronicled by researcher Kapya John Kaoma in the publications titled, ‘Colonizing African Values’. [5] (See also, by the same author, ‘Globalizing the Culture Wars: US Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia’.) [6] As noted by Kaoma, pioneers of the present wave of homophobia in Africa are ‘U.S. Christian Right figures including the internationally prominent Baptist pastor and bestselling author, Rick Warren; Scott Lively, the anti-gay, Holocaust revisionist; and Lou Engle, head of the revivalist group, The Call, and a leader in the right-wing New Apostolic Reformation movement…. [T]hey are contributing to the atmosphere of intolerance that is resulting in ‘instances of harassment, discrimination, persecution, violence and murders committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.’”

This atmosphere of hate, discrimination, harassment, persecution and lynching was perfected by the white supremacist bred in a country – USA – that for nearly a century enshrined in its constitution and justified the notion that the black personhood is only 3/5th of a normal human being. It is against the backdrop of this inherent dehumanization associated with the legalization of hate that African progressives must stand up and speak out against the wave of anti-gay laws blowing across the continent from Zimbabwe to Cameroon, Uganda, Nigeria and elsewhere.

Rights of same gender loving persons are human rights that are inextricably linked with the rights of every person in society. Yoweri Museveni’s claim on the anti-imperialist mantle comes from the silence of the progressive Pan-Africanist Left in Africa. Inside Uganda, Kizza Besigye, (a leader of the opposition) attacked the new laws signed by Museveni. He disputed the claim that homosexuality was ‘foreign’ and said the issue was being used to divert attention from domestic problems. Three years ago the Ugandan scholar, Sylvia Tamala, published the book ‘African Sexualities: A Reader’. [7] This ground breaking reader is still not widely known, and it will be important for many to read such works to engage this debate. What is significant is the stunning silence of well-known radicals in Uganda and East Africa on this criminalization of Africa’s LGBT community. Where are the scholars of the Dar es Salaam school on this issue?

South Africa has a progressive constitution that guarantees all people’s rights. But anywhere leaders are insecure they turn to bigotry, hate and the politics of exclusion to gain popularity. The most outrageous was Robert Mugabe who called homosexuals ‘pigs and dogs.’ And yet, many progressives still see Mugabe as a great revolutionary. More than ten years ago when I wrote on ‘Homophobia in Zimbabwe and the Politics of Intolerance,’ [8] some sections of the global Pan African movement objected and continued to praise Mugabe as anti-imperialist. In Nairobi, at a public meeting in 2011, young radicals from Bunge la Mwananchi (people’s parliament) were vociferous in their proclamation of intolerance to same-gender loving persons even while they were loudly opposing all other forms of oppression in Kenya.

Progressives in Africa must resist the ostensible moral appeal of the religious extremists and be humble enough to admit that there are some complex phenomena about human sexuality that require the critical questioning of popularly biased sentiments. There has to be an in-depth anthropological interrogation of generalizations and assumptions in present day Africa, as well as the probing of pre-colonial African societies and practices that were overshadowed by colonial laws and ordinances. Precolonial African societies were not homogenous but rather complex, diverse, and multidimensional. In the book, ‘Male Daughters, Female Husbands: Gender and Sex in an African Society’, [9] anthropologist Ifi Amadiume sheds light on the fluidity of sexuality in a precolonial Ibo society. This conceptualization of flexible gender relations was a real breakthrough and more work needs to be done to expose the myths that there were no same-gender relationships in Africa before colonialism. Other works of anthropology have responded to Amadiume and have investigated the reality of sexuality in some precolonial African societies (see for example, ‘Boy-Wives and Female Husbands: Studies of African Homosexualities’). [10]

Across Africa, the Western hegemons imposed their religion, languages, cultures and laws while demonizing or outlawing pre-existing practices. Most ‘educated’ Africans eventually internalized the Western ways, including the laws and religions that were bequeathed by colonialism. Societies such as Nigeria and Uganda were not an exception, and that is why same sex relationship was already not recognized by these countries’ constitutions which themselves are a colonial legacy. Thus, the promulgation of the anti-gay laws amounts to a reconstruction or reinforcement of a Western colonial legacy.

Many of the right wing American Christian fundamentalists that are financing and lobbying for the anti-gay laws in Africa are known for their eugenic agenda and were heavily in support of apartheid and destabilization in Africa during the Cold War. Some of them, including televangelist Pat Robertson, have not only opposed civil rights for Blacks in America but are also advocates of American exceptionalism and imperialism. It was the same Pat Robertson who at the time of the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010 said that there was the earthquake in Haiti because the people had signed a ‘pact to the devil.’ This was his understanding of the Haitian revolution which overthrew slavery and colonialism in 1804.

These conservative forces and their corporate backers are still working hard in America to reduce voting rights for blacks and browns, assault women’s and minorities’ rights, increase military budgets at the expense of funding for healthcare and education, as well as oppose programs and policies that benefit low wage workers and the exploited in the USA. They tend to be losing the culture war against the rising multi-racial tide in America, hence their intensification of the struggle in Africa. As one analyst puts it: ‘The U.S. culture wars are still not understood in African circles.’

While some tendencies within African Christianity share charismatic beliefs with U.S. Christian Right campaigners, the African Church in general is more social-justice-oriented and concerned about the exploited and the disenfranchised. Social justice and human rights advocates must expose the U.S. Christian Right’s opposition to social justice initiatives in the United States—and their historic alignment with White supremacist and repressive regimes in Africa.

Pan-Africanists and progressives cannot sit on the fence at this decisive moment. They must choose to be either in alliance with conservative forces opposed to social justice and equality or join forces with those who want equal rights and social justice for all Wole Soyinka has spoken out against these laws – which he referred to as ‘legislative zealotry.’ [11] In continuation of the tradition of their late father, the sons of Fela Kuti the Afrobeat maestro – Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti – have both made decisive statements against the anti-gay laws. [12] Author Chimamanda Adichie has done same. [13] It’s time for many more progressive Africans to take a stand.

Also see the Pambazuka Special issue : The Struggle for Homosexual Rights in Africa

 

The Rabid Virus {Poems of Resistance}

The Rabid Virus

1

It is a global epidemic
Somehow causing fitful laughter
Mainly causing fearful slaughter
In the selfsame flock
Fearful but if you said as
Much it’s enough excuse
They set children they’ve
“Dog train,” kids on you.
Those without children
Will just infect their dogs
“Definitely!” assurance of
Fear. Gender role is the
Unnamed virus human’s
Live with daily viral form
They call it, “the order of
Things!” It reeks dosorder.
Rumi calls it, “consumptive”
‘Akiarapa calls it, “ailment”
Buddha calls it, “suffering,”
Ignatius calls it, “in-breeding”
Descart call it, “chains,”
Fearfully a friend asked
“Why is everyone giving
you dirty looks?”
They are fearful of the uncertainties
My existence provokes in them…
Enough said only humans
Can live in occupation so &
Say, “that’s why we are here!”
& rabidly believe it…

2

Away and home team up
Always at each others throats
Only setting time out for
The outsider they see in me
The virus that holds them together
Irritates others like me robbing us
Of breathing space. Questioning
Our right to basic human rights,
Questioning our rights to use designated loos
Question our right to our own voices
And then turning it into an imaginary
Cow prod to keep us in line
“You need to bleach wash your brain
Out!” they’d say calling other on board.
Or the rabid virus would say at
Our expense. Hell, some of us out
Of fear out of a craving for acceptance
Out of desire for approval.
“How do they do it? How do they?”
They thunder the rabid virus does
The neocolonial craze is in the air
Neocolonialist come in all colours
No use pointing out colonialist alone
We all take part in the demise
Of soul of spirit of our role in to true self

3

If in doubt listen again when out and about
If in doubt listen to your heartfelt pelt
We, some of us, call ourselves women
We, some of us, call ourselves men
But do not forget some call ourselve trans
Some intersex some queer some neuter
But wherever the leaf drops
The cancer is the same.
Bornstein calls it, “the either/or” system
Agbaje calls it, “Okun n’b’obirin”
Raymond calls it, “the transsexual empire”
In an attempt to apportion blame
The band wagon followed her lead
Inagije called it, “eat make a eat jo!”
Diaspora (African) call it, “white supremacy”
And still dem go bone when a say
A no be dis a no be dat a don tell una
A no be bai, bai not to be mistaken for bi
“Are you trying to be a pariah?”
A guy asked me once when I answered
NO! I’m a woman only loving neuter
He barred me from existence if he could.
Cousin Warrior took one look and asked
The ground under his feet to swallow him whole.
Later cousin Warrior told aunt Mope
“He said he is no longer Home”
“How dare he?” she responded blaming
Her near rape by my father on me
It happened even before I was born
“Inkan se!” she said thinking “like father like son”.

4

Efen multicultural nonentities go put mouth
Dem go say, “na paranoia dey kill am”
Dem no fit speak the truth wey dey
Kill dem small, small for body
Dem no sabi say na di epidemik wey dey dem
Heart. Dem no sabi say because of di
Paranoia wey dey dem heart dey so so
Wey dem for heart
Dem know sey somtin dey
Wey dem sef dey call dem rabid virus dem
We dey chop dem since so na ma
Palava dem com put for head…
What is it about gender role?
How dare you say you are a woman?
How dare you say you are a man?
What was that? Trans?
How dare you say you are
Trans, intersex or Queer?
Chides the mob of sufferers
Upgrader to gender role police
It is unnatural it is unAfrican.
No it isn’t.
Gender role is unafrican it enslaves
Women gender role is unnatural it
Makes monsters of men
Gender role is the rabid virus
It makes cowards of us all
Before you become slaves to disorder
Question what evils you sow.
The rabid virus is gender role.

5

It is a global epidemic gender role
Check it out causing fitful laughter
In some causing fearful slaughter mainly
In the selfsame flock so
Fearful but if you said as
Much it’s enough excuse for them
To set their children they’ve
“Dog trained” kids on you.
Those without children
Will just infect their dogs somehow
“Definitely!” assurance of
Fear. Gender role is the
Unnamed virus human’s
Live with daily viral form
They call it, “the order of
Things!” It reeks disorder.
Rumi calls it, “consumptive”
‘Akiarapa calls it, “ailment”
Buddha calls it, “suffering,”
Ignatius calls it, “in-breeding”
Descartes call it, “chains,”
Fearfully a friend asked
“Why is everyone giving
you dirty looks?”
They are fearful of the uncertanties
My existence provokes in them…
Enough said only humans
Can live in occupation so &
Say, “that’s why we are here!”
& rabidly believe it…

Mia Nikasimo (c) March 2014

A Word to 9Jas {Poems of Resistance}

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African LGBTIQ do not need a ‘get out of Africa’ escape route!

Gays in Africa Need Our Support” by Melanie Judge, calls on the South African government to produce a counter narrative to the “homosexuality is unAfrican” being peddled by religious and cultural fundamentalists across the continent.

Certain groups are creating opportunities for LGBTI people to escape Africa, but if the causes of the hate are not addressed, nothing will change, writes Melanie Judge.

The recent passing of the Anti Homosexuality Act (AHA) in Uganda and the South African government’s mealy-mouthed reaction to it demand attention.

South Africa sponsored and is leading the first ever UN resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity. South Africa also boasts a constitution that explicitly affirms equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender. Yet our government cannot muster the political stealth to speak against (rather than just about) homophobia when it really counts – as is the case now.

Shortly after the act’s passing, the government stated that “South Africa takes note of the recent developments regarding the situation of lesbians, gays, bisexual, transsexual and intersex persons (LGBTI) worldwide… (and) will, through existing diplomatic channels, be seeking clarification on these developments from many capitals around the world”.

What’s to clarify? This indicates a deep reluctance to name recent events in Uganda and to take a position on them.

It also implies, through the seeking of clarification, that there is some legitimate rationale for criminalisation of members of that country’s population because of their sexual or gender identity.

The SA Human Rights Commission took a bolder position and “strongly rejects the notion that the freedom to live and love without fear of violence and regardless of one’s sexual orientation is part of a rights framework from Western countries. The struggle for these and other freedoms has been at the heart of liberation struggles throughout (Africa)”.

The ANC blocked a motion in Parliament against the AHA, reflecting its ambivalence to speak out. On the contrary, the former president of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano’s open letter to African leaders is an example of the kind of leadership present persecutions demand.

The AHA and other legislation of its kind give state legitimacy to violence against people on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The AHA will prompt the forced migration of some LGBTI people.

The AHA feeds a narrative that positions citizens with non-conforming sexualities and genders as outsiders to the dominant culture of the nation. This is linked to the false notion that homosexuality is unAfrican and homophobia isn’t.

In its self-appointed leadership role on LGBTI equality internationally, the government should readily offer a counter-narrative to those who peddle prejudice in the name of “Africanness”.

Homophobia in Africa represents a set of complex and intersecting issues – deeply routed in the continent’s colonial past. Violent inscriptions of race, sexuality, ethnicity and gender took place under colonialism and are linked to present-day norms around sexuality. These historical continuities, and how sexuality is racialised, are mostly entirely absent in discussions on homophobia.

Drawing on the “savages-victims-saviours” construct of law professor Makau Mutua, the West has a keen interest in homophobia that is often framed within these sets of relations. Lurking within much of the public discourse on homophobia in Africa is the notion of the civilising mission of Eurocentric culture (and its human rights frameworks) that will save African culture, and its victims, from its barbarism and its savagery.

One example of this is a recently launched online fundraising effort initiated in the US. It is a “Rescue Fund to Help LGBT People Escape Africa” and is aimed at “Gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people persecuted and trapped in African countries that criminalise their sexuality”. The campaign states that “by contributing to this rescue fund you will help me (the initiator of the fund) to save more gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people from Africa (sic) escape terrifying persecution”.

An online counter shows the money is flowing in. If one donates to “save” an LGBTI person in Africa, one is granted a status recognition originally titled as “ultimate saviour”. There are also “prizes” for donors such as “Nelson Mandela coins” for “passport providers”.

Promoting an “escape” from Africa to “greener” US pastures, without simultaneously addressing the underlying conditions that force this migration, is dangerous and opportunistic. Dislocated from Africa-based struggles for social justice, these feel-good interventions offer no long-term solution to the systemic issues that drive homophobia. At best they are palliative and patronising, at worst they reinforce the victimhood of Africans and the saviour status of Westerners. This is part of the logic that keeps the “homosexuality is unAfrican” discourse in play.

Other more pernicious saviours are those US religious conservatives who have actively promoted homophobic ideologies across the world and are now pushing such legislation in the US. There is much to be done to challenge these religious groupings and leaders on their home soils, to expose their active undermining of sexual and gender rights.

State-sponsored homophobia serves to keep certain power relations intact. Battles over power and identity are increasingly being played out on the bodies of LGBTI people.

These battles relate to, among others: contestations around what it means to be “authentically” African; citizens’ pressuring for democracy, inclusion and leadership accountability; basic needs being met in a context of global inequality wherein rich elites govern over the poor; and women increasingly asserting their sexual rights.

In this context, South Africa’s tiptoe diplomacy on homophobia in Africa exposes the troubling underbelly of current leadership on democracy and human rights. Whilst Jon Qwelane remains ambassador to Uganda, in the face of his imminent high court appearance for homophobic hate speech, perhaps the government’s tread is more firm-footed than it might appear.

* Melanie Judge is an LGBTI activist.

Anti-Gay Laws and the Unification of Nigeria

From The Feminist Wire, an excellent article by Adejoke Tugbiyele “Sexual Identity and Nigerian Culture”   which examines the challenges presented by  the recently signed Same Sex Marriage Bill and the resulting explosion of homophobic violence across the country.

“I spent the latter part of 2013 living and working in Nigeria under a Fulbright Scholarship.  My research dealt with the cross-section of spirituality and sexuality among LGBTQ communities living in that country and how they navigate a largely conservative, religious society.  My first three months in Lagos were very productive.  I attended gay parties with my friend and activist Williams Rashidi, with whom I had many engaging debates about how to bring about change in the minds of others towards queer communities.  I also filmed a panel discussion organized by The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS) at their screening of the new documentary Veil of Silence.  I visited the Shrine of Osun, based in Oshogbo, and interviewed a Yoruba Priest and Priestess about homosexuality within traditional Yoruba culture. I engaged LGBTQ communities in Lagos, as well as Nigerians abroad, about what it meant for them to be queer and Nigerian. The responses I got mirrored many of the issues one would find in mainstream society.  Just like straight people, queer people also need access to good health care, clean drinking water, a better educational system, and so on.  In other words, LGBTQ people are people, and their sexuality does not necessarily make their daily experiences remarkably different from the average Nigerian, African or global citizen.

My research and my self became threatened when President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMP) earlier this year. It is essentially an anti-gay law, as it includes the banning of all gay parties and organizations. It also states that any public and private display of affection is punishable with 10 years imprisonment. Practically overnight, LGBTQ people, who are worried about things like getting to work on-time just like everyone else, now fear leaving their homes altogether.  Their beloved country had just labeled them criminals. I, as an out-lesbian artist living in Nigeria at the time, had also been criminalized.  Police have essentially enacted a “witch-hunt” for gays, and these were just the stories we could access in the papers. Apparently, other evils have emerged within the past two weeks that have not been covered in Nigerian news outlets. For instance, I just learned that a “gay convert” just stabbed his gay friend to death in Lagos last weekend.  The fear this new law has raised in LGBTQ communities has led people to turn on each other.

The fundamental problem with Nigeria’s anti-gay law is that it unites supposed enemies within Muslim and Christian sects, and it validates and empowers their extremist, conservative views on how we ought to live.  The empowerment of hate groups is not only happening in Nigeria.  With the events unfolding in Russia regarding the Sochi Olympics, the world is beginning to wake up to LGBTQ rights.  Along those lines, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently argued that LGBTQ rights are one of “the civil rights challenges of our time.”

I am concerned, however, that the West would not be pressing this hard on global LGBTQ rights had the events of the Sochi Olympic Games not unfolded. After all, the “corrective rape” of lesbians has been rampant in places like South Africa for decades now. And it was just over three years ago when LGBTQ activist David Kato was brutally murdered in Uganda.  Further, the extortion and bribery of LGBTQ people has become common place in Nigeria, as depicted in a handful of homophobic Nollywood films, such as Hideous Affair (2010). “The Video Closet” by Lindsey Green-Simms and Unoma Azuah thoughfully examines how mainstream homophobic views are reflected in within the regulated Nollywood film industry. Regarding sexual identity, we can argue that this historically dominant view still holds—the African/Black body as “less important” than that of the Western/White body. The sexual revolution that begun in the West must not fall prey to the mistakes of the feminist revolution in the U.S. in order to be considered truly global. We must remember that the emergence of writers like Angela Y. Davis, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde was a response to racist feminisms that excluded Black women. Similarly, African female writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie have emerged to continue the feminist wave across the Atlantic. In short, with all the work that still needs to be done globally to combat discrimination, the additional fight for sexual rights in Africa and throughout the diaspora makes the work even more difficult. The sexual revolution must be global and inclusive of all peoples for it to have lasting impact both socially and politically.

Internal problems certainly don’t help. In the case of Nigeria, there are still too many parents that won’t allow their Yoruba daughters to marry Igbo sons. Many Igbo people are calling on the federal government to apologize for the genocide of Biafra. A lot of Hausa people in the North believe that Nigeria belongs to them, since it was handed to them one hundred years ago by the British during the Amalgamation of 1914. Therefore, national unity and identity is not as defined in Nigeria as it is in the United States. To a large extent, believing that the masses will “do nothing” is partly what empowers the federal government to sign such hateful and demeaning laws in the first place.   Continue reading on the Feminist Wire.

 

 

 

 

Angelique Kidjo’s critique of homophobia

Speaking out against homophobia across the African region, award-wining Beninoise singer and activist

Angelique Kidjo – watch it here:

As she says, speaking to the ab(use) of religion – “”its not about God its about power”.

Feminist Chronicles: Delta Milayo Ndou

Yet another young person, very inspiring and set to make Zimbabwe a very proud nation, or should I say prouder since she has already started making strides in achieving that. One of the most inspiring articles I have read written by this remarkable young woman explains who she is, or rather who she isn’t. Entitled kicking out paternalism, in that article Delta Ndou introduces the subject matter by saying;

delta

“I have never been too fond of radical feminism or any form of extremism for that matter; finding it to be an aggressive, usually narrow and unhelpful approach to conflict resolution.

Delta went on to explain how  despite her misgivings towards radical feminism, she supports certain radical steps that women take in countering paternalism. She bemoaned or rather emphatically discredited the underepresentation of women in the constitution making process in Zimbabwe, declaring unapologetically that the men of Zimbabwe, especially those in parliament are quite misguided if they think that in this day and age they can still purpot to speak on behalf of the women.  In her own words Delta said’

“The transition from theoretical gender policy frameworks to the implementation and practice of the same has yet to manifest; and while one can appreciate that it is not easy to reverse the thinking of years and that gender equity will be a process – one expects to see a degree of commitment towards living up to the words enshrined in the treaties, legislative instruments and laws which Zimbabwe has signed, ratified and enacted.”

What I see in her is a young inspiring Zimbabwean woman who knows who she is, what she wants out of her life and where she wants to go. But she wasn’t always this determined and she wasn’t always this focused. She met serious personal struggles in her life, the kind that almost drove her over the precipice. But what makes her remarkable is how she did not let her trials determine her fate. She rose above them and changed the course of her history. She surpassed her own personal struggles and has proved that, as empowered as she is, nothing can stop her from achieving what she wills in her heart and mind.

The one phrase I can use to describe Delta is that when you see her, or read one of her articles, or see another one of her updates on facebook, they speak of a personality that screams  ’I am woman, hear me roar.’ This roaring tigress is not afraid to challenge patriarchy and male domination that permits men to view women as objects that can be used and discarded.

On her profile on www.worldpulse.com she describes herself as ‘a wordsmith’…one who is ‘preoccupied by the need to challenge the status quo, to de-construct the stereotypes and the myths about what womanhood entails, particularly in patriarchal Africa.’ That is exactly who and what she is!

 Delta has gone past that stage of self discovery, a step that we all need to make in determining who we are and charting the way to becoming who we want to be. She states boldly “ I am a member of the human species, an African by race, a Zimbabwean by nationality, black (perhaps brown is more accurate) by color, a woman by sex, a Venda by tribe, a Christian by religion, a feminist by choice, a journalist by profession, a writer by design and an activist by default.”

 Delta is a journalist, a writer, a blogger and a gender activist. She is not scared to put her thoughts into words, unminced, uncensored and what you see on paper is what you get when you meet her face to face.

 In the Echo of silence  a captivating story of a woman who commits suicide after she finds her abusive husband of many years having sex with his own daughter, Delta speak to three issues. First, how women are expected to stay in marriage no matter how bad things get. Second, how relatives and society in general do not spare their precious time nor lend a listening ear to women who are suffering from abuse yet when these women die they all find the time to attend the funeral. Third, Delta speaks to the inhumanity in some men, to not only be so evil as to abuse their wives but also their own daughters. This problem has increasingly become a menace in Zimbabwean society with cases of fathers raping their own daughters appearing more and more in the courts, despite harsh sentences. The Echo of Silence story was published in the “ African Roar 2011” series by a South African publishing house “StoryTime Publishing.”

 On her blog , Delta explores many issues and is not scared to challenge the perceived normal and ordinary. In June 2011, because of her role as a blogger who advocates social and political transformation, Delta toured Washington DC and Minneapolis after she was chosen by the Washington Foreign Press Center as on of the world’s top 20 emerging Global New Media Leaders.

 Not only is she a fierce feminist but a patriotic individual who values her nation and defends its name against unjustified vilification. In her article ‘I met a Zimbabwean’, Delta addresses one of the issues that many of us have a problem with, especially when we travel outside the country. That problem is of defining oneself as an individual with their own views juxtaposed to the role we assume as ambassadors of our countries. We are challenged by individuals who have never been to our countries, have never met a national from our country but claim to know what the country is about, even claiming to know more than we do because they have access to some classified information gathered by lone researchers or stashed in some secret place by their intelligence bureau.  As Delta aptly says  it is  annoying when you have to constantly defend your country “in the face of half-truths, gross misrepresentation of facts and the supercilious know-it-all attitudes” by people that you meet wherever you go.

 Delta also blogs on Genderlinks where among other things she comes to the conclusion that any woman in an abusive relationship should ‘flee’ . In 2010 she was part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service, Red Light Campaign which was fighting human trafficking in light of the world cup games that took place in South Africa. In that campaign Delta castigated the role that women play in facilitating the trafficking of other women.

She is an Alumnus of the Moremi Leadership Initiative, no wonder  she displays such strong leadership skills.

Ma Dube’s Feminist Chronicles

Haiti: Occasional Musings, 20 – Further attacks on LGBT community in Port-au-Prince

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On May 17th  I attended a public gathering of LGBTI activists and friends in a downtown hotel in Port-au-Prince as part of a weekend of IDAHO events.   There were workshops, testimonies song and dance and a short play demonstrating street harassment and violence against LGBTI people but nothing on the scale of what has taken place in a short space of 6 weeks following a faith based anti-gay protest on 19th July.  2 murders, 47 people beaten with machetes, sticks and rocks and last weekend two further attacks. 

On Saturday in the areas of Morne Lazard in Petion-Ville a private house party was attacked by unknown people carrying machete, knives and stones.   They also carried Molotov cocktails which they threw into the house where a British and Haitian gay couple were celebrating their engagement. The police did try to intervene but either they didn’t try hard enough of the crowd was too large and no one was arrested.    On Sunday in the area of Delmas,  Marjory Lafontant who is the coordinator of lesbian organisation, FACSDIS,  was harassed and attacked with stones and bottles by a crowd…..

” They said they do not wish to have an LGBT activist living in their neighbourhood – this is very serious for the community”

Although President Martelly has condemned the violence, his words have clearly not reached local police as no one has been arrested for any of the above crimes.  The attack on Ms Lafontant in the vicinity her own home is  a further escalation in the violence against the community.    And because of the relative openness in the past LGBT people are extremely vulnerable at this time leaving everyone in a state of fear and anxiety over what will happen next!

 

 

CatchAFyah – Caribbean Feminist Network Call to Action

CatchAFyah has a Call to Action directed at CARICOM across the Caribbean  including organisations in Haiti  [Kouraj, SeroVie] Jamaica, [CVC COIN, Jamaican’s For Justice, Quality of Citizenship Jamaica,]  and Pan Caribbean – [CARIFLAGS,  Caribbean DAWN] denouncing recent transphobic and homophobic acts of violence in the region.  In Haiti two gay men were murdered following a religious anti-gay demonstration and a further 47 gay men were beaten in the past two weeks.

CatchAFyah Caribbean Feminist Network is a collective of young, passionate Caribbean activists and organisations. We span the Caribbean, representing such nations as Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We are farmers, social workers, artists, social entrepreneurs, counsellors, researchers, teachers and students. We believe in everyone’s right to a good life and everyone’s right to be.

CatchAFyah calls on African feminists on the continent and in the African Diaspora to join their Caribbean sisters and brothers to take a position on homophobic and transphobic violence by blogging tweeting sharing whatever  – you can  Sign on to the Call to Action here

Death by homophobia in Cameroon

From Women in and Beyond

Last year was a busy year for Cameroonian lawyer Alice Nkom, but then again … it was a busy year for the Cameroonian government, and its various allies, persecuting and prosecuting anyone it suspects of being gay, lesbian, transgender, of a sexuality, feminine, or different.

This year promises, or threatens, to be equally busy. This week, leading Cameroonian LGBT rights activist Eric Ohena Lembembe was found tortured and murdered. These are urgent times in Cameroon, as noted today at Africa Is a Country, and Alice Nkom, as ever, is in the thick of the urgencies.

Alice Nkom was the first woman to become a lawyer in Cameroon. That was in 1969, and she was then 24 years old, and she’s been kicking through ever since. Over the last four decades, Nkom has been a leading civil rights and women’s rights activist and advocate in Cameroon, and for the last decade or so has become famous, or infamous, for her defense of LGBTIQ persons, communities and rights.

In February 2003, Nkom established ADEFHO, L’association pour la défense des droits des homosexuel(le)s. The Association for the Defence of Homosexuals has suffered threats, attacks, intimidation. Nkom has received death threats. She has been imprisoned. She has been threatened with being disbarred. And she persists and returns to court again and again.

In December of last year, Alice Nkom once again was in the news when an appeals court upheld the three-year sentence of her client Jean-Claude Roger Mbédé, whose crime was sending another man a text message that read, “I’m very much in love with you.” In July, Mbédé was released provisionally, and so this sends him back to jail, to the harassment and assaults “at the hands of fellow inmates and prison authorities on account of … perceived and unproven sexual orientation”. He goes back as well to the general hellhole of Yaounde incarceration, a prison originally built for 600 that now houses 4,000.

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Continue at Women In and Beyond.

Haiti: KOURAJ: “Be True to Yourself”

The evangelical churches responsible for driving homophobia in Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia and the USA have begun a campaign of violence and hate in Haiti. On Friday, an all faith coalition of homophobic haters called [The Haitian Coalition of Religious and Moral Organizations ] held an anti-gay protest in downtown Port-au-Prince.

Homosexuality is not criminalized in Haiti and although ostracized socially within Christian faith communities , LGBTI people are very much a part of the Voudou practicing community, who themselves are facing increased hostility from these same moral crusaders many who receive huge financial support from churches in the USA.

LGBT activists from Kouraj and Facsdis explained that whilst homophobia is rampant, it is not murderous and many activists are out to their families. Kouraj is working with lawyers from the Defenders if the Oppressed to draft anti-homophobia and anti-discrimination law and also to,push for an open dialogue on sexuality and fixed notions of gender.

With the rise of the religious haters what progress has been made is likely to be compromised and the possibility of murderous acts increased as two men were beaten to death during Fridays protest.

In response to ‘Anti-Gay” protests

Homosexuality is “unAfrican” in pre-colonial history

Such a thing did not exist in the African jungle…or not

When I read a paper by an African researcher that insinuates that Africans learnt homosexuality from Europeans (and/or Arabs), I do not go to my happy place where only thoughts of first love and first kisses rule. Rather I think about waking up in the dead of the night to a ghostly white female figure hovering over my bed. The white woman that all African lesbians, bisexual women and women who sex with women know intimately, because after all we learnt this from Europeans. In this cult of gayness that the Europeans started, we are taught our colonial heritage and to venerate Margherita dos Santos, the first very bored, very gay Portuguese colonist wife who successfully seduced a young African woman in the 16th century thereby making homosexuality an African identity.

The above sound ridiculous? Well ridiculous is what I find Africans who go out of their way to argue how “unAfrican” homosexuality is. Africans who write lengthy “logical” papers, disputing various sources and references, all while ignoring the real lives of LGBTIQ Africans today. Their efforts are not only silly but dangerous to me and I probably wouldn’t spit on them if they were on fire. I recently read one such paper, but this one left me totally disheartened because I initially thought it was pro-African queers. The paper in question is “A name my mother did not call me: Queer contestations in African Sexualities” by Taiwo Oloruntoba-Oju. Perhaps when I saw this title I zoned in on the “queer contestations in African sexualities” part and for some reason believed that it was arguing for the presence of homosexuality in pre-colonial African history. Little did I know that the paper was written by someone who finds it “agonising that disputation about the status of homosexuality in Africa is often equated with “homophobia” even when some of the disputants have close and friendly relations with known homosexuals” and who believes that “the imputation of homosexuality as an African identity must of necessity generate [antagonism]”.

I happily settled down to read the paper, and it started innocently enough but the more I read the paper, the more my face fell and now days after reading it, I find that I am still angry with it. But I can’t stop thinking about it and need to let my jumbled thoughts out in this post.This paper evoked all sorts of feelings in me so this post may be lengthy, I’ve broken it down to sections based on what I found problematic in the paper, so you can leave and return easily. If I sound angry, I most likely am.

Africa as a monolith

Africa is such a big country, and what happens in one part of Africa happens in the other part. So you come from an ethnic group that has apparently never known what homosexuality is yet manages to somehow consider it an abomination, this must be the same all across the village that is Africa. It does not matter that your ethnic group numbers in the millions, and that different regions have always had different customs in spite of sharing a similar language (which turns out is not so similar considering dialects). In one corner of the continent, homosexuality is considered a deviance so this must be the same across the African continent. This ignores the diversity in which disparate African philosophies viewed homosexuality, while in some societies gays, lesbians and transgendered people were key to society’s psychic balance (as among the Dagara of Burkina Faso), in others there were witches who were exiled (see Izugbara O. Chimaraoke, “Sexuality and the supernatural in Africa”, pp. 533-558, in African Sexualities: A Reader, ed. Sylvia Tamale). The antagonists towards homosexuality as an African identity will do well in remembering this.

Western terms and African sexualities

When the antagonists argue that homosexuality did not exist on the African continent before the advent of the Europeans and/or Arabs, do they mean same-sex love or same-sex sex. Were Africans waiting to learn how to develop feelings for a member of the same sex from the European and/or Arab gay bogeyman? Or did queer Africans never practice any form of sexual activity before the foreigners taught them to? Then again the Europeans and/or Arabs supposedly taught our ancestors a lot, they civilised us, they brought complex religious systems and the One True God, they taught us manners, they taught us how to wear clothes, they taught us how to build civilisations, they taught us how to maintain personal hygiene, they taught us medicine…and they taught us how to develop feelings for the same sex and how to sexually act on these feelings.

Truth is many Africans today are disconnected from the sexuality our ancestors knew. We do not know our philosophies, or argue that African philosophies do not exist. In the paper, the issue of “woman-to-woman marriage” is brought up, and Oloruntoba-Oju argues (rightly so) that this institution was not necessarily proof that the pre-colonial African societies that practiced them accepted homosexuality and lesbian marriage. The institution was probably not created to facilitate lesbian marriage, although it did develop for varied reasons depending on region. Western scholars and researchers have no right to impose their ideas of gay marriage on a society where a woman marrying another woman was a show of wealth. But who is to say that one lone African woman did not use this institution to her advantage and to be with a woman she loved? Maybe the antagonists have the ability to read through the minds and memories, and look into the houses and bedrooms of the female husbands and their wives. Apparently no researcher is yet to have asked women married to other women if there had ever been a sexual component to their “social” arrangement (see Amory P. Deborah, ‘“Homosexuality” in Africa: Issues and Debates’).

There is still not enough research into African history outside of Egypt

The majority of African history remains shrouded, under-researched, in the shadows or honestly ignored. Majority of us do not know history outside the racist colonial lens and are surprised to read that our ancestors engaged in complex medical procedures or evenwrote in indigenous script. Without this knowledge of pre-colonial African history, along with the reality that there is even less research on African sexuality in history, how can someone know for sure that “homosexuality” was not practiced before the Europeans and/or Arabs introduced it? That it wasn’t an identity?

Linking to the point below, the fact that most of African histories are oral as opposed to written makes no difference. How many Arabs, for example, would argue that homosexuality is a “Western deviation” today despite the fact that there is written evidence to the contrary. The activities of medieval Arab lesbians were well documented in studies from the 9th century by philosopher al-Kindi and physician Yuhanna ibn Masawayh. Written history can be destroyed and silenced just as oral histories can.

The role of colonialism

Africans tend to dismiss the ways in which colonialism (both European and Arab) damaged institutions and our view of self and history. Most of what we insist today as “tradition” is in most cases not, and I sometimes imagine our ancestors being shocked at some of the things we claim as tradition. For example, views on marriage, years ago I read a paper that argued that homosexuality would be strange to Africans because we have always placed a high value on marriage. I am sure I cannot find that paper now, in my recent readings on Igboland I’ve seen that there were actually several people in this pre-colonial African society who never married. The sex workers, the priests and priestesses (all wives of Gods and Goddesses), the slaves. I will not be surprised if there were more societies like the pre-colonial Igbo in this respect, it may be more accurate to say that high value was placed on children or that emphasis on marriage was reserved for certain classes of people.

There is no way one can discuss pre-colonial Africa, or in fact pre-colonial Asia, the Americas, Australia, while belittling the role of colonialism. One cannot ignore that colonialism drastically changed mindsets, as people adopted Victorian mindsets and mannerisms eschewing the “barbaric” ways of their ancestors.

The role of language

Oloruntoba-Oju is Yoruba, in the paper they argue that Yoruba people have no words, sayings or proverbs that indicate that they knew what homosexuality was. Yoruba is a colourful language, and can be quite explicit in detailing heterosexual sex emphasising the penis and the vagina, so Oloruntoba-Oju believes that it should have been the same for homosexual sex. At the same time, a saying “apparently” hidden deep within the Yoruba divination cult was produced by a Nigerian scholar and says obinrin dun ba sun ju okunrin lo (“it is easier to sleep [have sex] with a woman than with a man”). This saying is dismissed as an isolated example, Oloruntoba-Oju drives home their point by demonstrating how metaphorical Yoruba is, something that all Yoruba speakers know. In praising twins, one says “twins, kindred of Isokun, born of an ape” however this clearly doesn’t mean twins are apes or monkeys. Perhaps this “isolated” saying refers to something else entirely, yet somehow the sayings which reference penises and vaginas are not metaphorical. Not to mention this widely popular saying, okunrin o se ba sun bi obinrin (“you cannot sleep with a man as with a woman”) which is to be taken at face value because it is “more established”.

Context is ignored, the former saying seems to be coming from the perspective of a woman, while the latter from a man. If a Yoruba woman who has sex with other women, says “okunrin o se ba sun bi obinrin” is it not impossible that her next sentence would be “obinrin dun ba sun ju okunrin lo”.

It seems the antagonists prefer to find a term that directly translates to “lesbian” in Yoruba language. However what happens if this term is vague or unrecognisable, it could have been simply “witch” as in a recent Yoruba film I watched, Enisoko Soja, in which a man’s mother was branded a “witch” after his wife dreamt she “made love” to her. Most terms associated with lesbians in other languages are from the action of tribadism. In Arabic, the roots of words linked to “lesbianism” and “lesbian” (s-h-q) means “to pound” or “to rub” (see Amer Sahar (2009), “Medieval Arab Lesbians and Lesbian-Like Women”, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 18, No. 2). And in Urdu words which refer to female homosexual activity are rooted in words like chapta which means “flat”, chapatna “to be pressed flat” and chipatna “to cling to” (see Vanita Ruth (2004), “Married Among Their Companions”: Female Homoerotic Relations in Nineteenth-Century Urdu RekhtiPoetry in India, Journal of Women’s History, Vol. 16, No. 1). African languages may be unique and different, or they may be similar, some antagonists may be searching for words they expect to clearly spell out L-E-S-B-I-A-N while ignoring words other words like “pounders” or “clingers” or even “witches”.

In addressing the difficulties of investigating lesbian women in history Judith Bennett introduces the term “lesbian-like” to cover those women who in the past lived lives that may have offered opportunities for same-sex love, or lived in circumstances where they could nurture and support other women. Rather than referring to such women outrightly as lesbian, Bennett suggests “lesbian-like” to extend over those women in the past who felt emotions towards other women, even if they never acted sexually on this; women who never married; women who cross-dressed or assumed masculine roles and mannerisms; as well as women who resisted established cultural norms of sexual propriety (see Bennett M. Judith, “Lesbian-Like” and the Social History of Lesbianisms).  “Lesbian-like” recognises that not all societies had constructed terms for women who had feelings for or had sex with other women.

Oloruntoba-Oju mentions ‘yan ludu, a term that means sodomy in Hausa and is derived from Arabic. ‘Yan ludu literally means “people of Lot” and apparently the fact that Hausa people refer to sodomy with this term “exposes its modern and post-contact origin”. But what exactly does it expose? That the word is not indigenous to the Hausa, or that sodomy isn’t? Considering the tone of the paper, I’ll go with the latter. Notice the assumption that all gay men engage in anal sex, there is also no mention of language appropriation. Today some Yoruba people call milk, miliki, a term that clearly has roots in English, so I guess Yoruba people did not know what milk was before Europeans introduced it. Moving farther yet closer to the topic on hand, in Japan today, lesbians are referred to as レズ (rezu) fromレズビアン (rezubian) which of course comes from English, lesbian.  レズビアン is a foreign word in every way, even down to the characters that form it, this must mean that that there were no lesbians in Japan before European intervention, an estimation that is laughable considering how well documented same-sex relations are in Japanese literature and art history (although the bulk is on men loving and sexing men because this is HIStory).

What constitutes “gay behaviour”?

When I was growing up, it was a common to see two men holding hands while walking down the street in parts of Nigeria. Now, maybe a decade later, this scene has become rare because two men holding hands is “gay”.

Oloruntoba-Oju states “it is true that even in contemporary times, a good number of Africans go through an entire lifetime without coming into contact with gay behaviour either in the rural areas or even after having passed through such “high risk” urban locales”…with nothing to back his claim except for this footnote; “A colleague reading this article recently drew my attention to a forum observation by an apparently gay white fellow who had been in Nigeria and had noticed that straight Nigerians apparently do not have what he called a “gaydar”, hence a lot of gay sex does take place without them being aware. If this observation is true it may well be a further curiosity that these Africans seem not to have developed a gay sensitivity over the centuries”. This falls back to several of my points above, especially the one on imposing Western definitions on Africans. Oloruntoba-Oju argues elsewhere in the paper against Western hegemony but fails to see how contradictory it is to then attach relevance to this “white fellow” who believes that Nigerians do not have a gaydar. There is no consideration that what constitutes gay behaviour in Nigeria and how gay Nigerians single each other out may be different from what this white man is used to. I mean how many straight people in the country this white person comes from possess a gaydar? Does this suggest further curiosity that these white people seem not to have developed a gay sensitivity over the centuries?

Oloruntoba-Oju then continues, “many may have “heard stories” but these are mostly about gayness being a “foreign import” and occurring in proximal geographical locations where foreign contact has occurred over the centuries”…again with no references. Oloruntoba-Oju mentions “logical” reasons in being an antagonist to this preposterous idea that homosexual identity is African but it is really debatable whether their paper exhibits logic.

Conclusion

Oloruntoba-Oju argues that it is speculative to debate that there was “homosexuality” in pre-colonial Africa. In my humble opinion, it is just as speculative to argue that there was no “homosexuality” in pre-colonial Africa. While majority of these African researchers do not like stating whether they are talking about same-sex emotions, or same-sex sexual activity, I am referring to both. I am not speculating when I state that some of my African female ancestors must have developed feelings of attraction to other women. Whether my female ancestors acted on these feelings may be speculation, yet in societies were initiation ceremonies and sexuality training schools involved women touching, massaging and pulling breasts and vulvas, usually under the guise of “training” in order to please future male partners, it is not inconceivable that my female ancestors physically loved the women they adored. Maybe they did this secretly, maybe they were in the open and society did not mind because it recognised that these things happen (getting speculative here).

Albeit confusing, the paper was at times well written and even convincing, I can agree that Western hegemony should not be imposed on queer African identities but every other point was like someone inserting needles in my skin. I suggest that heterosexual African researchers leave criticisms of homosexual labels and identities to African queers themselves. We are not as close-minded as you, and this is not an insult, a privileged heterosexual worldview is limiting.

Homophobic African antagonists, yes homophobic, fail to realise that part of their antagonism is attempting to wipe the thousands of Africans who engaged in same-sex relationships, whether sexual or not, from history. Oloruntoba-Oju positions as being largely for queer Africans stating that “a synchronic focus on today’s sexuality realities in Africa may well offer safer grounds of analysis of queer representation…” but then rounds up  with “…than the frequently strained colonial imaginaries on pre-contact African sexualities”! This is someone who finds the pain of being labelled as a homophobe (because homosexual friends!) greater than the pain of LGBTIQ Africans who have to face homophobia daily. Oloruntoba-Oju, in this paper, completely ignores and, pardon the colourful language, shits upon the feelings, thoughts and experiences of queer Africans. It could be that the paper is addressed to the West and Western scholars, hence the mention of “colonial imaginaries”, but this further emphasises my point on Oloruntoba-Oju completely ignoring that queer Africans will find their presented historic picture problematic.

 

I would like to end with a call to the queer African women reading this, especially if you have a link to histories in some way, even if it is access to the elders or ancestors. We need to gather the stories and voices, keep them in a safe space where people can access this information. Perhaps now or in the future, one woman will appreciate that there was a woman who loved another woman in 13th century West Africa.

Amer Sahar (2009), “Medieval Arab Lesbians and Lesbian-Like Women”, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 18, No. 2 Vanita Ruth (2004),

Married Among Their Companions”: Female Homoerotic Relations in Nineteenth- Century Urdu Rekhti Poetry in India, Journal of Women’s History, Vol. 16, No. 1

 

This article was first published on HOLAAfrica! by Cosmic Yoruba

Democratic Left: Call for Suppot of 18 July 2012 Picket Against Homophobic Violence & Killings

The Democratic Left Front (DLF) expresses its full solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and inter-sexed people in South Africa. We can no longer keep silent about the alarming increase in the numbers of LGBTI people who are victimised daily in our townships, informal settlements, inner cities, rural villages and other parts of our country. LGBTI remain oppressed by the deep-seated homophobia that is prevalent in our society despite the constitutional promise of equality, non-discrimination, freedom of association and freedom of expression. At its most tragic, the homophobia has recently seen rapes and murders scores of LGBTI people. We are extremely concerned at the silence of government and poor investigative work by the police.

The DLF fully endorses and supports the 67 Minutes of Shame: LGBTI Anti-Hate Crimes Picket and Vigil. This 67 Minutes of Shame will mark 67 minutes on Mandela Day to protest against the silence of the ANC and demand action against hate crimes and violence. We call on all activists, progressive organisations and others in Gauteng to join the protests planned for this coming Wednesday as follows:
11h00-13h00, a protest, at the Library Gardens, in Johannesburg: this protest will hand over a memorandum to the ANC Secretary-General, Gwede Mantashe.
18h00-20h00, a political and commemorative vigil, at the Women’s Jail, Constitution Hill

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Jon Qwelane guilty of hate speech

Jon Qwelane who published the article “Call me names but gay is NOT OK” in the South African Sunday Sun in July 2008 has been convicted of hate speech by the Johannesburg Equality Court.

The article by Jon Qwelane — which includes a despicable cartoon equating same sex relationships with bestiality, calls for a rewriting of the SA constitution and the criminalisation of same-sex relationships.   Despite facing charges of “hate speech” Qwelane was appointed in January 2010 as South African ambassador to Uganda – an openly homophobic man being appointed to a country which was considering the death penalty and long term prison sentencing for same sex relationships.   It remains to be seen whether the South African government will do the right thing and relieve him of his position.  This report from the South African Mail and Guardian…… UPDATE - the Dept of International Relations and Cooperation has stated this is a “personal” matter for Qwelane, meaning government officials, are free to make disgusting homophobic statements,  be found guilty of hate crimes but remain in their positions.   A clear message that homophobic statements and actions are acceptable on the basis of small monetary penalty.

“We are quite pleased that the court has found in our favour … R100 000 is quite a reasonable amount,” said SAHRC spokesperson Vincent Moaga.

“The focus is not on the money, but the message coming out of this. With recent hate speech and crimes against the community, the court is sending positive messages,” he said.

The SAHRC initiated court proceedings in terms of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.

Qwelane did not make much of an appearance in the course of the trial. He failed to sign court papers presented to him by a clerk and did not file responding papers.

The court ruled that, as it had only one version of the story, the SAHRC’s argument would be accepted.

llapen: Through poetry, a gay Jamaican man, Dadland Maye, tells how he was almost shot dead as homop

llapen:

Through poetry, a gay Jamaican man, Dadland Maye, tells how he was almost shot dead as homophobes set his house on fire. (h/t @SonofBaldwin)

Love, Against Homophobia

Ugandan writer and poet, Musa Okwonga adds music and video to his poem “My Love Against Homophobia

“My Love (for Eudy Simelane)”

To some people
My love is somewhat alien;
When he comes up, they start subject-changing, and
In some states he’s seen as some contagion -
In those zones, he stays subterranean;
Some love my love; they run parades for him:
Liberal citizens lead the way for him:
Concurrent with some countries embracing him,
Whole faiths and nations seem ashamed of him:
Some tried banning him,
God-damning him,
Toe-tagging him,
Prayed that he stayed in the cabinet,
But my love kicked in the panelling, ran for it –
My love! Can’t be trapping him in labyrinths! -
Maverick, my love is; thwarts challenges;
Cleverest geneticists can’t fathom him,
Priests can’t defeat him with venomous rhetoric;
They’d better quit; my love’s too competitive:
Still here, despite the Taliban, Vatican,
And rap, ragga in their anger and arrogance,
Calling on my love with lit matches and paraffin -
Despite the fistfights and midnight batterings -
Despite the dislike by Anglican Africans
And sly comparisons with those mishandling
Small kids, and his morbid inner chattering
My love’s still here and fiercely battling,
Parenting, marrying, somehow managing;
My love comes through anything

Women Take Ownership Of Their Sexuality And The Streets

The following piece was written by Cheryl Roberts on the Sparkling Women Facebook page – This is the kind of piece that should be written and to which I was referring to my post from yesterday “Telling other people’s stories” .

Fighting Homophobia, Women Take Ownership Of Their Sexuality And The Streets

Given our non-racial democratic South African society, our very progressive constitution, our defense of human rights, coupled with our brutal past… of violence, we can be forgiven to think that 16 years on, violence against girls and women should not be occurring at all.
However, despite freedom and personal choice of sexuality being enshrined in South Africa’s non-racial, democratic constitution, hate crime and gay abuse/violence are realities in several township residential areas of South Africa and young, black, gay women are particularly vulnerable to such attacks.
Although any and every person in any South African community, whatever their gender, class or colour, must have the right to life and sexuality, as they choose, and no other person has any right to determine otherwise for them or to terminate their life because they don’t approve of their sexuality or lifestyle, several cases of death, as a result of hate crime, have already occurred. And many violent attacks have also gone unreported because the victims are too scared to report their attackers.
Numerous protests against hate crime and gay violence have followed the attacks, with LGBT activists- mainly LGBT sympathetic NGO’s, women’s and gay and lesbian groups- delivering the protest action. Despite the protests, every gay girl or woman in a black township remains a potential victim of hate crime.
But women in Guguletu and Nyanga are not allowing their sexuality to be prescribed, imposed, determined or abused by any brute or thug of a man. Ndumie Funda and Leletu Ntanjana are two women LGBT activists who are ensuring programmes are set in motion which articulate the protection and support of township-based young, gay, black women.

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Homophobic rantings on the Atlanta metro

So familiar – two friends / lovers leaning on each other, one reading, one sleeping – how ordinary is that?

Very – but from the online reactions the ease and ordinariness of their friendship is their greatest offense – Rod McCollum at Rod 2.0 explains:

The image was snapped of two young men apparently on Atlanta’s MARTA and the Twitpic is entitled “No Excuse: I Don’t Give a F-ck How Sleepy You Are.” So far, the image has 12,400+ views and has produced three pages of mostly cruel, homophobic and hateful comments. There are dozens more comments across Twitter and the Twitpic has migrated to gay-baiting black gossip blogs. One perennial gay-baiting blogger has slammed the two young men as “homo-thugs”, ranted about HIV/AIDS and complained that “it’s become nearly impossible to distinguish heterosexual men from down low thugs.” Are “down-low” thugs hugged up on public transit? Probably not …

It’s a very sweet and innocent photo. According to the comments, it seems the young men’s primary offense, in addition to seemingly being gay, is that they are “normal looking” and apparently in love. More power to them. It’s too bad more people don’t have the courage to be themselves.

Single story homophobia and gay imperialism revisted

Two excellent articles by Keguro Macharia [Gukira]. The First was published on  Kenya Imagine and is a response to an article on homophobia in Africa by Madeline Bunting in which she attempts to explain “African Homophobia”.. Keguro’s criticism first points to her claim that the West should “rightly” be concerned and hugely angry about homophobia in Africa.

Being “rightly” concerned is, as far as I can tell, a full time occupation where Africa is concerned. To be western, Bunting suggests, is to have “the right” to be concerned and angry about what happens in Africa. 40 years after African’s independence from colonialism, I remain puzzled at what gives “the west” any rights over Africa. And because I am an intellectual, I wonder at Bunting’s need to posit an autonomous “west” against a knowable “Africa,” even after more than 30 years of scholarship that has emphasized the cross-hybridization of these two spaces.

Keguro goes on to question the source of Bunting’s “authoritative voice” considering  she makes no attempt to seek out scholarly voices such as his and Canadian Marc Epprecht and those of others easily accessible online with a little effort and Google.

Given the article’s authoritative tone, I would have assumed that, at the very least, Bunting would take the time to read the body of activist and scholarly work available on African homosexualities and African homophobia, much of which lives online. Had she bothered, she might have found the long-standing website Behind the Mask, which offers a range of resources and reports on Africa. She might have discovered the erudite scholar writer Sokari Ekine whose blog is a historical and scholarly resource. A little digging might have turned up Feminist Africa , which has devoted special issues to questions of sexuality in Africa, including a moving article by Uganda-based professor Sylvia Tamale .

If Bunting had cared to actually study her subject, she might have discovered scholarly monographs by South African  Neville Hoad and Canadian Marc Epprecht, both of which offer nuanced, historically grounded analyses of homosexual and homophobic practices and discussions in Africa.

In the second piece published in  yesterday’s  Guardian, he challenges the notion that homophobia in Africa  is somehow unique and that homophobia exists in continental or regional forms.  In reality there is no single story.   In answer to the question “how do we account for what APPEARS TO BE  the intensification of homophobia in Africa?” he provides two examples, one from Kenya where the first mass attack against gay men took place recently.  Unlike the usual reports in the Western media where Africans are presented as passive and unengaged, Keguro  names local activists organisations and their responses…..

So what has changed? Activist organisations such as Minority Women in Action (MWA), Transgender Education and Advocacy (TEA) and Gay Kenya have been established and run educational workshops across the country. As with other human rights groups in Kenya, their efforts have been met with mixed reactions, ranging from acceptance to indifference to hatred. Their increased visibility has led to increased vulnerability, a trajectory shared by progressive organisations across the world.

The second example he uses is the  marriage of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza and again challenges the “unique” single story…

To grasp the Malawi case, we need to understand the meaning of the engagement ceremony chinkhoswe. Chinkhoswe certifies marriages in the eyes of the law and also creates stable ideas about gender. It is worth noting that Tiwonge Chimbalanga identifies as a woman, so this case is also about transgender politics.

Notably, despite some gains in gay marriage in the west, transgender politics remain contested. Without a locally based understanding, rooted in a history of Malawi and a grasp of its cultural politics, we cannot comprehend what is at stake in the case. Discussions that frame the case as Malawians opposing westernisation tell only a very partial story.

Last week British Gay activist Peter Tatchell published HIS response to the sentencing of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza in which he, in the style of the single story, reduces homophobia in Africa to a simplistic colonialist and passive explanation.

Before the British came and conquered Malawi, there were no laws against homosexuality. These laws are a foreign imposition, they are not African at all. Despite independence, these alien criminalisations were never repealed.

Today, the minds of many Malawians — and other Africans — remain colonised by the homophobic beliefs that were drummed into their forebears by the western missionaries who invaded their lands alongside the conquering imperial armies.

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