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Guest Contributor Soraya: The Abrantie and the Obaabarima

It was a pleasant mid-summer afternoon and I was walking through the city centre with a colleague when I asked whether our co-worker Tom – fashionable, stick thin, skinny jeans-wearing, long fringe-flipping, gay and proud Tom – was still with the firm. He replied “I don’t know, but I hope he isn’t. Every time I speak to him I’m scared for my arsehole, innit.”

*crickets*

Now let’s look past the abomination that is ending a statement, no matter how perversely ignorant, with “innit”. The bigger issue here is that my colleague is not alone in his views – and I’m not talking about the homophobia, we all know how unfortunately widespread that is – but the deep-seated fear that as a heterosexual man he is in danger of coerced sodomy by every Homo Jo(sephine) on the street.

I’ve always wondered what the source of this fear is. I mean, let’s not pretend that it boils down to an aversion to anal sex. These quivering Kwames defending their rectal honour are the same men are at the forefront of the “let’s try anal or I’m cheating/ leaving” movement. Furthermore, gay men aren’t known for being any more sexually aggressive or overly macho than your average bloke (last I checked, men could walk home at night without fear of sexual assault). So, African guys, why the literal homophobia?

My theory is that men in strongly patriarchal (eg African) cultures worry that their cushy status at the top of the sexual food chain (with barely legal women at the bottom) is under threat by the “recent proliferation of homosexuality”. Like the ever-ruling, never-dying African dictators (read: Mugabe), African men are overly sensitive to anything that challenges their position as the ultimate sexual predators (President for Life), including something as innocuous as dudes who like dudes who like dudes (“The Last Dictator” Nandos advert). As a result, they do everything in their power to shut it down.

Yes, I just said that Ghanaian men are viciously homophobic because they’re scared that a 250lb muscle-bound man is going to shout “Apuskeleke” at them in the market then proceed to “accidentally” brush a limb (this includes the third leg) against their hind parts. They are worried that expressing disinterest in a man’s sexual advances will not be enough to make them go away. They shudder at the thought of being blamed for being victims of unwanted sexual contact, because by showing some skin (glistening bare chest, anyone?), they brought it on themselves.

In other words, they are scared that they will be subject to the kind of misogynistic crap Ghanaian women have been putting up with since time immemorial.

Well, cry me a river. Zero sympathy from this end. Get over yourselves. Find real criminal activity to legislate against. Don’t hide behind the Bible, fornicators. Don’t hide behind the need to preserve the sanctity of marriage, adulterers. Don’t equate homosexuality with paedophilia, you dirty old men. Don’t pretend it’s the most un-African thing to reach Africa, you suit-wearing, Cognac-sipping, Merc-driving heteros. Admit your fears are irrational and move on already. The gay-bashing is getting old.

So, Adventurers, what say ye? Have I totally missed the point? Have a cobbled together the world’s worst theory? Or have I been spoiled by my years abroad? Am I going to burn in hell for not joining the anti-gay parade? Am I secretly gay myself? Can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

 

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Published on: 08 December 2011 by in General Issues

has written 145 stories on this site.

17 Comments
  1. Shane says:

    YES!!! to everything you said. I’ll try to construct a more literate response when I get over my excitement. Well written, rationally argued, humorous… nicely done!

  2. Think says:

    No, you haven’t been spoiled by your years abroad. Just 4 weeks ago, a man was taunted and eventually beaten to death because he was gay. This happened in a city 20 minutes from the Castro district in San Francisco of all places.
    The difference between you and the subjects in this post is that you use your intelligence. They don’t.

  3. Anthony says:

    Wow…Soraya, your points are so well argued.

  4. She says:

    You are not at all crazy. What you are is a skillful writer with a great point :) As an American born child of African immigrants all I can say is I BOW down to you for asserting a view supportive of gays Africans at a time when it’s such a publicly divisive issue. In regards to your question about our African hetero men, I wish I knew the true roots of their fear! Certainly insecurity, need to control the personal choices of others all play a factor…you really articulate the sexual dominance idea beautifully.

    Keep on writing. I’m an (excited) new reader ;)

  5. MTFelix says:

    This is officially the worst post ever, on this blog.
    If you feel like being supportive of gay Africans,try out anal sex first.
    Have a true African man ram-rod your rectum with a 9” dick.
    Then you would know,that the anal passage was made for coming out and not going in.
    I bet you would have a change of mind after a few strokes.
    Keep us posted.

  6. Soraya says:

    Hey guys, great reading your responses. I’ll start from the top:

    @Shane, looking forward to reading the more detailed feedback you promised :).

    @Think, now that is just a crying shame. There is no excuse for murder. I hope the perpetrators are found and punished.

    @ Anthony, thank you oh. Any thoughts to add?

    @She, thank you for your kind words. So true about the some people’s need to control the personal choices of others. It’s absurd.

    @MTFelix, I must say I am slightly confused by your contribution. What on earth does me having anal sex have to do with speaking out against homophobia? I’ll leave that with you to explain further.

    I do have to say though, that your perception of the “true African man” as a 9-inch-dick-having ram-rodder does more to support my argument than to refute it. You are assuming that what gay men do with each other has anything to do with you (straight male, I’m assuming) or me (straight female). Worry not, it doesn’t. No need to lock your windows.

    And as for what the various parts of the human body were made for, by that logic female breasts were made only for feeding babies, female mouths only for eating drinking and the appendix for nothing at all.

  7. Buckers76 (twitter handle) says:

    I enjoyed reading your post and  share in the theory you propose ( but only to to a point)  “that “Ghanaian men are viciously homophobic”. In your opening paragraph, you recount the anecdote of a work colleague who seemed to rejoice at the departure of another co-worker simply because he may have been gay “init”. I can only conclude from the utterance of this gay-fearing work colleague (Mr Innit), your reference to “mid summer” and the “gay man’s” choice of attire that the incident you eloquently describe happened in some Western country – The US, England or some other “civilised climes -right? And the “quivering Kwame” defending his proverbial is certainly African but evidently in a foreign land too, correct. 

    I may have bumbled in setting out my stall but I think it’s pertinent, given the nature of my argument. I’m a Ghanaian, who has spent close to 90% of his life in the so called West.  I’m not a homophobe – I have no fear of gay men nor do I despise them. This enlightened state of mind stems not from my extended time abroad – I have not been civilised by the white man. It’s because I am human. At age 2 my parents (and me) emigrated to England for political reasons. I came back to Ghana at 6 to attend boarding school. My best friend was Jospeh and we always held hands wherever we went. I slept in a room with 15 other boys and shared an open bathroom with up to a 100 boys every morning. At 10, I moved back to England to continue my schooling because my parents thought it would be a good idea. I left Joseph and my many friends behind and made some new friends (mostly white) in a fee paying school in a very wealthy suburb in England. Nicholas – a white English boy became my new found best friend. We were crossing the road to cricket one cold winter’s day ( a game I detested), and to stop Nicholas walking into the path of an oncoming vehicle, I reached for his hand as I’d done to my friend Joseph in Ghana many a time. Having crossed, the road, I ruffled Nick’s blonde hair in a friendly manner and proceeded to hold his hand again (harking back to my time in Ghana). Nick’s response to my “friendliness” – he stepped back like a Catalonian Matador, poised to annihilate an insubordinate bull. His physical fury was palpable but his verbal outburst made me shudder – ” black poufter”!

    The adjective “black”  (if it would suffice as such) from the lips of a young white boy made me quiver, but the noun “poufter” – stopped the other boys and the Cricket teacher in their tracks. They all turned to stare at the predatory African Poufter – a new species which Darwin failed to identify and one that Mungo Park certainly did not encounter. 

    Cricket was called off – a serious incident had occurred. I was summoned  to my housemaster’s office to explain my predatory conduct. My father was called into school because my inarticulate pronouncements would not suffice as justification or reason for my attempting to bugger Nicholas the white boy. 

    Father was puzzled – but on explaining what had happened to him, he laughed like only a fanti man could and declared “oh’, but African boys are not gay”. I’m unsure as what he said to my housemaster as I was not privy to that meeting but Nicholas, my victim was asked to apologise at assembly for wrongly accusing me. 

    I return to school in Ghana after a few more years – yes boarding school again. My years abroad had changed me somewhat, I was less keen to hold hands with other boys, would turn away from the other boys when we had a shower/bucket bath as the case was, and NEVER engaged in the mutual penis appreciation ritual which usually took place at bath times. Yes England made me more “homo-concious” (artistic license sought) than Ghana ever did. In the midst of all this homo-erotic conduct, boys ironically talked about their desire – not for other men, but their yearning to engage little Akosua in the Girls’ House in some coital act. Effeminate boys were not given a tough time as they are given in the West – Obaa Barima or Kojo Basia were derogatory and paradoxically” endearing terms used to describe such “mincers”. 

    Until very recently homosexuality was criminal in England and a host of other so called civilised countries. Although it is “widely” accepted now, there are individuals in England and other “very civilised” countries who still think its an evil act. They would go as far as inflict pain and maim members of the gay community to register their disgust. Google “Admiral Duncan” a pub in London and see what results you get. 

    I have more to say about this subject, but as a father with a 4th birthday party to plan – a direct hint at my not being gay (haha) – I have to get on my proverbial bike

    The world is an imperfect place and men all over the world have issues with homosexuality not because it’s unnatural; no! Maybe it’s because it’s a minority sport. The west has slowly begun to accept it because it’s all around them, in time Ghanaians will too. Bit  it will take time. I know there’s nothing wrong with gay men but I think my father and his father before him and Sarah Forson, my very tolerant Grandmother who waxed “biblically” about forgiveness and tolerance would certainly have had an issue with it, had they been in today’s Ghana. 

    My last word on the subject has nothing to do with homosexuality but with bottled water. Those of us who spent time in Ghana in the 80s and 90s will know that pure water or iced water as it was called then was sold in communal cups/calabashes. Grandma Sarah would be hard pressed to accept the notion of drinking water being sold PET bottles. These quivering Kwames would turn in their graves when the 1st gay president of Ghana is elected and thanks his gay husband, the Archbishop of Accra for standing by him 

    It’s not a phobia it’s a SOCIO-cultural gap and we have to SLOWLY educate not FORCEFULLY impose. My 2 cedis

  8. Dede says:

    Wow Buckers76, you’ve just given me soo much to think about! I never looked at it from that angle ever. I’m following you on twitter now! :-)

    Soraya – this is soo well written and captures exactly what my thoughts are on the gay-bashing going on in Ghana. Sadly, I’ve given up trying to ‘educate’ those in my circles. I get too emotional. I just don’t understand where they are coming from and as for the nonsense that are spewed out on the radio …. I mean there are soo many things wrong with our country that we need to focus on and we’d rather debate what two consenting grown-ass (pun not intended) men decided to do with each other?? Should we not be more worried about the rising armed crime rate and underage sexual abuse? Mtchew!

  9. Ebony Wood says:

    @ Soraya: I too agree to a point. The “fear of anal rape” you’ve described is BY NO MEANS a uniquely African/Ghanaian thing and I’m not sure it’s helpful to paint it as such. If you would like to limit your discussion to the African space that’s perfectly fine, but some acknowledgement that this phobia is present in other parts of the world would be useful (I may have missed it in the post?)

    Why? For the simple reason that this phobia is intimately tied up in “general” notions of masculinity. Many homophobic men will for example have no problem with girl-on-girl action…will even propose a threesome…but only the “good” kind i.e there cannot be more than one penis in the sexual equation. Homophobic men who want to glue their assholes together when they even suspect that someone around them might be gay are exhibiting a fear of being emasculated. It’s not so much the fear that they will not be able to repel a gay man’s advances. It’s the very fact of being the object of those advances in the first place that shakes the very core of their masculine identity. “Why is said gay man interested in me? Is there anything about me that suggests that I may be gay? Am I not man(ly) enough?” The last question is an obsession that leads to the average rational heterosexual man imagining said advances. In short, something about the very definition (socially constructed) of “masculinity” engenders this phobia, and not the fact of homosexuality itself.

    Now before anyone jumps down my throat I am NOT saying all heterosexual men/African men/ Ghanaian men are homophobic or ascribe to socially constructed notions of masculinity. ALL I am trying to do here, like Soraya, is to propose a theory (open to be disproved) on why some men are, in Soraya’s words “viciously homophobic.”

    Great post Soraya…with the developments in Nigeria this discussion is quite timely.

  10. Soraya says:

    Wow, loving the discussion and the various viewpoints. Nana Darkoa you should be recruiting these folks to guest blog!

    @Ebony Wood thanks for highlighting that this is not just an African/ Ghanaian issue because it isn’t. It’s just that, as you mentioned, homosexuality/homophobia is a big issue in Africa right now so that’s where I chose to focus. And so true re: threesomes! I would like to point out, however that in some societies even lesbian relationships are seen as a threat to male sexual dominance, resulting in such displays of barbaric idiocy as “corrective rape”. South Africa, I’m looking at you. MTFelix, I’m looking at you too.

    @Dede, don’t despair. Sometimes your words are getting through to people, it just takes them a while for their opinions to change.

    @Buckers78, there was no need for you to apologise for potentially causing offence. I believe all respectfully argued viewpoints are welcome here. I really enjoyed reading your contribution.
    The only thing I have to say in response is that a few years ago I would have agreed with the “slowly educate” approach, but recent developments mean that our gay African brethren may be in serious physical danger in the near future and I for one will not sit by quietly and let that happen. Not in the name of the culture I so cherish, defend and rave about to my non-Ghanaian friends. Not in the name of my faith. And absolutely not in the name of a system is using the “gay issue” to distract from it’s disgraceful failings.

  11. sunganani says:

    You are on point…I totally agree with everything you have said. I love this post. I have asked various male friends the same question concerning their homophobia and they never can come up with a rational reason.

  12. Nsoromma says:

    Wow! Preach preach preach! You have hit the nail on the head Soraya. And whenever I get into this argment I will direct people here!

  13. Rich says:

    Awesome post. Well said. As a foreigner living in Ghana, I get so bored of watching Ghanaians just starting the process that took the US 40 years to complete. If I have to watch it again I think I’ll die of boredom. Can’t Ghanaians learn from others and experience that all humans should be treated equally, including those with a different romantic inclination?

  14. Abena says:

    While I understand his “boredom” I don’t know that I care for Rich’s comment. Every society has a right to its growing pains. After all, it took the US eons to grasp France’s concept of liberty, equality and brotherhood didn’t it?

  15. Orogozov says:

    OMG…hahahahahaaaaa

    Kindly note that no offense was intended in my message

    I know peeps are gonna disrespect me after what am about to say claiming its ignorant,narrow-minded,silly and many more…and I will like to point out that as an “AD-HOMINEN FALLACY”…Judging from the kind of people here I don’t think I need to explain what that means…

    Any expressions in this message were not meant to disrespect anyone and therefore I will respectfully urge all readers to know that I respect and adore all cultures and beliefs.

    To what I have to say…

    I read ur message(wat I call discourses such as these) with a lil shock, u mean we should just accept something which we all know is wrong but decide to be so-called civilized and open minded about…of course I don’t acquiesce to them being chastised as if to say they were the worst people the world ever produced…

    What in the name of The ALMIGHTY GOD are u guys talking about, pardon me to disagree with Soraya and all her fans.

    How in the name of Jesus Christ will any man want to have sex with another man or should I say any man be inclined to want to indulge in coital acts with another man, to be a lil polite about being gay..

    It’s not natural, not logical…

    Am gonna have a lil discourse of my own at ur expense…

    “Son: Mummy (Soraya), I have something to tell u
    Mum (Soraya): What is it son?
    Son: Mummy aaammmm gay/a homosexual/like boys….da list goes on…
    Soraya kindly enlighten me on ur response…”

    Soraya are u telling me u are not gonna freak out…

    Personally I think its u peeps who need to re-orient urselves with the realities of this world we live in…..

    I dont agree to them being treated as the devils children…their sexual orientation doesn’t make them any less humans as we straight men who have our own perversions are..its sad peeps just want to be the first to call the gays out…

    I am a Christian man, Catholic to be precise and I can’t accept it, my principles don’t align as such and dats it, dat doesn’t make me the ultimate judge of character and I think all peeps chastising homosexuals and/or gays need to check demselves, after all our HOLY BOOK urges us to check ourselves before we check others….

    I also don’t think politics and morality have anything in common…asking for legislature is a bit strong for them, but den again we don’t see fornicators, adulterers as u strongly call them asking government to legalize their actions.

    Seriously Soraya and her fans, we need to be frank wid ourselves as stop this thing we keep doing, claiming open mindedness and civilization…Its not fair to our children who deserve much much better than this from us…

  16. Nsoromma says:

    I had to re-read Soraya’s post to get some understanding of Orogozov’s point. Ermmmm…? The post isnt ABOUT whether you agree (or not) about the morality of homosexuality. I am not sure that all posters agreeing with Soraya are, shall we say, proponents of homosexuality. I am not.

    But the overtly and overly, vocally, bullying ‘anti-gays’ are the point. The need to have a show of masculine postulation about their ‘anti-gay-ness’. And in my view Soraya is correct…that viewpoint and behaviour is annoying, unhelpful sometimes to the point of being dangerous and has misogynistic undertones (or maybe even overtones). Many of these men are afraid to be treated how THEY treat women…

    *rant over*

  17. Nsoromma says:

    Actually, rant NOT over.

    To echo Abena, Rich’s comment that he’s tired of seeing Ghanaians struggle to get to where Americans have got. Puh-lease, take a seat. There are extremely large groups of Americans who hold these same views. Also, I bristled over the idea that Ghanaians should boldy (read: blindly and stupidly) go the route the ‘almighty’ Americans have gone. Sit down. Each country has lessons to learn from another, America included. The fight for equal rights for all peoples in America is far from over before it should dictate the behaviour of others.

    *rant NOW over*

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