Top Anti- Homosexual Phrases Amongst Africans
1. It is forbidden by God read Leviticus 18:22, 20:13
2. Marriage is between a man and a woman for pro-creation,
3. It is satanic , it needs deliverance from God,
4. It is a white-man invention. Evil and foreign. “Faggots have no place in African Society”!
5. God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve
Growing up in rural Middle-Belt Nigeria, I often would hear the word, “dan daudu” this term is attributed to a person who has the characteristics and demeanor of both male and female; however, with more pronounced male features. From my understanding dan daudu sometimes dresses like a woman and has sexual intercourse with both male and female. Dan daudu at times would marry a male and or a female for reproduction. I don’t recall hearing a revolt against this special gender amongst us. One could say, dan daudu would have his “cake and eat it is too”.
However, despite the exposure to the idea that there is a third gender group, I did not take the time to reflect on its implications, after all what does that got to do with me. My third year at undergraduate I was forced to interact with schoolmates on campus who recently identified themselves as homosexuals (they desire loving, sexual relationship with members of the same sex) and bisexual (they engage in sexual relations with both male and female or vice versa). Being the born again, sanctified and justified Christian woman of God that I was, I recollect expressing to the homosexuals and bisexuals every time I conversed with them, “you will go to hell!” I went further by pointing out to Genesis 19 from the Christian Holy Bible that talks about Sodom and Gomorrah, how it was destroyed by God because of their sinful sexual engagement with the opposite sex. For all these facts, I urged them to repent from their sinful ways.
It has been over a decade now since I learned about “dan daudu” gender and six years interaction with homosexuals and bisexuals in the Western world. Through these years, I decided to read outside my academic work, by studying and engaging with this group, I read books, articles and asked others questions. Through my analysis of “dan daudu” (which is consider third gender group in most of Northern and Middle-Belt Nigeria), homosexual and bisexual seem to have a lot in common. This commonality includes: the desire to be in a meaningful, loving relationship with members of the opposite or the same sex, fight for human dignity, respectful and peaceful coexistence with those different from them, and to be acknowledged for their human-ness; hence despite their sexual orientation, they too were created by the higher powers.
I am mindful that I run the risk of generalizing that homosexuals, bisexual experience is equal to Dan daudu or any other sexual orientation across the African continent, however, given the high-lighted commonality I mentioned earlier in this piece, as members of global family, we can’t ignore the fact that we have these people in our community. For the lack of a better umbrella term for the entire sexual orientation group I mentioned, I would use a western label “homosexual or gay” interchangeably throughout this piece. Finding constructive ways in dealing with this topic is crucial not only on the African continent but world over. In the past years Westerns and Africans dealt with homosexuality differently.
Early 1950s most Christian religious Britons believed that homosexuality was a disease that could be cure like any other illness (See,” Treatments of Homosexuality in Britain since the 1950s-an oral history: the experience of patients, http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/328/7437/427. Those who publicly shared their sexual orientation were giving the alternative of either going to jail or getting a medical treatment. This option in dealing with homosexuality contributed into hundreds of arrest and murder of gays in Britain. Homosexuals who chose to get medical attention to correct their desires as suggested by medical experts, ended up with entirely different problems, such as social and psychological challenges.
In the United States of America anti-homosexual rhetoric could also be trace to the early 40s when the U.S government made it clear that gays were not welcome and their sexual preference was rather unnatural. Societal pressure forced the government to sack military personals that were suspected to be gay. Homosexual women got raped, killed and harried by civilians; most of these attacks were done in the name of purifying American land from these evil doers (See, brief history,http://safezone.slu.edu/downloads/reading.homosexuality%20in%20america.pdf).
Today in America even though homosexuals have relatively basic rights by being allowed to coexist in some spheres; their interaction in society is limited. Like any other marginalized group in America, homosexuals live predominately amongst themselves. There are laws such as Proposition 8 which confines the constitution of marriage only to heterosexuals (Female and male) relationships. What such underdone law does is forces non-Christians into living by “traditional” Judeo-Christian institution of marriage and its ordinance.
This is not to say that America refuses to act on its moral obligations towards its marginalized. America has come a long way, we have five states today that allow gay marriage: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and recently New Hampshire. However, even though these marriages are allowed by specific states, the Federal law does not recognize them as such. Religious groups, primarily evangelical Christians continue to fuel hate speech domestically for example see a court case on anti- gay protest, by Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas at a funeral service http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6274T020100308 . This contaminated, diluted hermeneutic ( reading) from conservative Western Christians found stronghold internationally amongst Africans who seem to be carefree as per things they allowed into their midst.
Most Western evangelical clergy men and other religious groups seem to maintain 18th century racist theory that Africans are like children, who need someone to lead them to the light ( See Hegel, “Philosophy of History” ). Evangelical minister Rick Warren a known author and pastor uses his white privilege and influential status by pushing for dangerous agenda amongst Africans. Recently pastor Warren went to Uganda, supporting the country’s religious leaders with their cruel, ” Kill the Gay bill”. This bill in question criminalized homosexuality, anyone found to be gay would be thrown in jail, and other times killed if the person is H.I.V positive. Warren suggested that Uganda is a purpose driving nation because of its brutal take on homosexual activities in the country.( see youtube ” Rick Warren, Sen. Inhofe, Sen. Grassley, & The Family Uganda Update – Rachel Maddow” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t-gSJDpv1o&feature=related ).
Other Evangelical preachers such as Scott Lively, Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge all joined hands to offer support for Uganda to make a law against gays in the country. ( See youtube “Anti- Gay Bill in Uganda “ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qy6E-zTSZjo). The push by these evangelical pastors caused an international outcry by the gay community as a result the pastors were forced to denounced it. Unfortunately the damage has already been done, Africa persistently becomes a free continent where everyone but Africans could offer remedy for their internal problems.
Most African clergy seem to have forgotten so soon the year 1885, with the help of Christian missionaries, Africa became a piece of pie that members of “first world” partook in its consumption. This period of 1885, scramble for African did not only allowed Westerns to purloin (steal) African lands and natural resources but also gave them alot of access to ignite a forceful fire of self-hate, dishonesty, disgrace, inferiority complex and corruption amongst the African people.This is not to suggest that Africans are not capable of committing atrocities,however, what Western dictatorship, colonization had done on the continent left a lasting legacy for what Africa is today, a troubling land fill with many woes. ( See Seun Kuti ” Don’t Bring that Shit to Me” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfeOPK0GobA&feature=related )
History tells us that the legacy of 1885, its constant imperial influences amongst the colonial subjects (Africans) is still awake; this is apparent in how Africans read the Bible, see themselves and hope to become, almost all in the image of the white man, their colonial master, (See Ngugi Wa Thiongo “Decolonizing the Mind and Moving the Center: The Struggle for Cultural Freedom”, V.Y.Mudimbe “The Invention of Africa” and Franz Fanon “Black Skin, White Mask”).
It is not surprising in recent years to hear of horrific events against homosexuals in Africa, to name a few: In Malawi a couple was sentence 14 years in prison and the law to justify it was that, their sexual orientation is “unnatural”. This conviction was later reversed by the president due to pressure by the international human rights groups ( see ” Malawi gays face 14-year prison terms” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/18/malawi-gays-convicted-unnatural-acts/?page=1).
Dakar, nine Senegalese men were arrested for “indecent” behavior and jailed with five years prison time.This sentence was condemned by gay-rights groups in the country. ( See “Senegalese gay men appeal a homophobic sentence” http://www.afrol.com/articles/32915), in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and others African countries they share the belief that homosexuality is sinful, anyone caught in the act would be thrown in prison.( See “Behind the Mask” a support group for hiding gays across Africa, http://www.mask.org.za/ghana-stage-anti-gay-protest/#comments).
This Western view and reading of scripture, it imperial tactic could be seen on how some African clergy deal with homosexuals’ orientation. There is quite a consensus that homosexuality is un-African, this might read as if African clergy are trying to protect the dignity of Africans and their culture; I would suggest this is yet again, another way of wanting to please the colonial master. Donna Smith, a South African human rights activist expresses, “What is un-African is homophobia; some people believe homosexuality is an idea brought here by the white man. But it has always been here. What the white man brought was homophobia clothed in religious doctrines that we did not have before ( see Malian paper, http://www.mg.co.za/article/2006-11-06-fear-and-violence-still-rule-gay-township-life ). What Smith is suggesting is that, Pre-colonial African History tells us that, homosexuality exited, however, upon the arrival of Christianity and other foreign religion such as Islam, gays were forced to hide behind closed doors. Religious doctrines that confine marriage particularly amongst Judeo-Christian faith to a man and a woman forced Africans to abandon their tolerance for those who desire members of the-same sex, and multiple partners.Through my interaction with a number of Africans, those who were willing to discuss this sensitive topic shared how their relatives told them positive narratives about the peace and harmony that exited between all people of different sexual orientations.
I connected with a young man from Central Africa who works as a social worker, he expresses, “There are plenty of stories mostly oral history. As for stories from my grand-father, [he said homosexuality ] was pretty normal until the strange ones came (White men). Then the chiefs started to banish them from the village.” This claim could also be supported by other works that highlighted the existence of homosexuals in African societies, even though they were not labeled with that umbrella term. (See the book “Allah Made Us” p. 7, 11. by Rudolf Pell Gaudio. Note. even though this book was written by a Westerner, from my experience and that of others, I could say the author did a relatively good job of describing the situation on grounds in Northern Nigeria).
Pre-colonial times, African societies where loose, not very rigid as they eventually became upon the arrival of Christianity and Islam. See ” Parallels in the Gender Minority/Sexual Minority Histories of Africa and Asia” http://www.colorq.org/articles/article.aspx?d=QHistory&x=parallels , ” Homosexuality in “Traditional” Sub-Saharan Africa and Contemporary South Africa*” http://semgai.free.fr/doc_et_pdf/africa_A4.pdf Homosexuals were also believed to have special divine inspiration, healing power, subsequently they were given a place of honor in society. ( See ” Parallels in the Gender Minority/Sexual Minority Histories of Africa and Asia” http://www.colorq.org/articles/article.aspx?d=QHistory&x=parallels ).
Given the situation we have at hand, I would suggest that African clergy and government to have a substantive priority by educating the masses about its past. It seems there is a dilemma amongst Africans about the origin of homosexuality on the continent. This unnecessary confusion amongst most Africans could be avoided if historical documents or oral history was past down in a way that could be beneficial to the present generation.This is because, for those who have done their home work, they are aware that “gays” have always had a presence in African life. However, because of the narrow research done on this topic by those of us in “power” we have unnecessary disputes.
I would also suggest that the present generation of Africans must make a strong commitment to good scholarship and research, rather than depending on work by Westerners. This sort of move would prevent Africans from divisive scholarship.It would be wise to make the effort by encouraging our young people to engage in critical thinking. When that happens, generation after would not be in confusion as the present.
As for those who depend solidly on Christian Biblical commentaries it would be wonderful if you participate in critical reading of the Holy Book instead of hiding behind foreign religious dogma. Perhaps, revisiting the historical context, study how it has impacted African reality,its legacy. Africans must begin to ask questions as a community about the Holy Bible such as: who wrote it? For whom was it written? Who are the characters in the book? Are the words written worth editing or are they infallible? Could one be African and belief in the Christian Holy Bible, if so what would that Christianity look like. Because as it stands most African theologians hold firmly to Western commentaries to solve their internal predicaments.
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