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Sorry Mr/ Ms. Bigot! Homosexuality is VERY African

zulu homoosexual wedding

 

PART ONE

[Dedicated to commentator MSA. Hope you read this & change your mind; otherwise, let’s agree to disagree 🙂 ]

Yesterday, my favorite Ghanaian bigot said something that gave me comic relief for the week & I’m really grateful to him for that. Rev. Prof. Martey, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana stated that ‘teh gays & lezbos’ are witches or similar to witches or something like that. I laughed my head off till my eyes brimmed with tears. I’ve officially been branded a witch y’all, teehee! It was while I was wiping these tears & chuckling that I had a brilliant idea! I decided to search online for similar ‘smart’ statements that my favorite Ghanaian bigot had made about homosexuality just for ‘shits and giggles’.

In between statements that the ‘esteemed Reverend’ (lol 🙂 ) had made about gays being ‘filthy’ & ‘satanic’, I discovered the statement that ‘Homosexuality is un-African’. I almost choked on the fruit juice I was sipping out of my glass at that moment because that statement was so dumb. Like seriously? Duh! (vodafone advert alert lol)

There are those who argue that homosexuality is un-African. Our ancestors were running around naked & innocent & totally ‘un-gay’. They were very heterosexual indeed! Oh, men were marrying 50 women & women were fruitfully bearing 200 children per available uterus until the wicked Europeans appeared. The evil Europeans introduced homosexuality into Africa & have been recruiting Africans into this evil cult since. Bullshit!

Since homosexuality is un-African; how did I (an African, descended from Africans & born & bred in Africa) know when I was a 4-year-old girl that I liked other girls? It would be years before I met a white man/ woman & yet at that tender age I was aware of my orientation. What about the scores of African gays in diverse parts of Africa who are yet to travel outside Africa or meet white men/ women? And how believable is it that homosexuality has existed in every corner of the world but not in Africa?

Then there are those who argue that homosexuality may have existed but it was never accepted by any African culture. This argument is totally false when you consider historical records, anthropological records & simple logic.

Some people argue that most African native languages don’t have any word that translates into ‘homosexuality’ & this means that our ancestors frowned upon LGBTs. I beg to differ! I’m a Fante & in my language, there’s no word for ‘privacy’. Yet I’d laugh anyone out of town who claims that Fante culture never accepted the concept of ‘privacy’. Indeed, a well-bred Fante knows that couples have sexual intercourse in private & our kings also eat in private. Similarly, the mere fact that there’s no single word for homosexuality in our culture doesn’t mean that African cultures didn’t embrace LGBTs.

A commentator on this blog referred me to an article by another blogger (Nana Nyarko Boateng- Beyond Tales Blog) where she argues that that our ancestors didn’t have a word to describe homosexuality because they understood that all types of sexual orientations were respectable orientations & so they didn’t need to strictly divide sexuality into homosexuality & heterosexuality & bisexuality. This is why there are also no native African words for heterosexuality. I’m inclined to agree with her. After all, the British coined the words ‘homosexuals’ & ‘sodomy’ when under the influence of their Christian religion, they decided that homosexuality was a sin against their god & they set out to stigmatize, persecute & weed out gays. Maybe our ancestors felt no need to do this.

I have read the writings of historians & anthropologists who have researched Ghanaian culture including Rattray, J.B. Danquah & Sarbah. In their books, I notice that they state different types of offences/ crimes in the different Ghanaian ethnic groups & the sanctions for them. Eg: in Rattray’s Ashanti Law & Constitution, he mentions sexual offences such as rape, sex with minors, adultery & even sex in the bush (lolz). They all have names & their punishments are indicated. Eg: a man who commits adultery with the wife of another is liable to pay ‘ayefare’ as compensation to the cuckolded husband. Interestingly, at no point in ANY of these books is it mentioned that homosexuality is an offence or any punishment for it given. Which conclusion is more probable? Is homosexuality not mentioned as an offence by these anthropologists because it never existed in African societies or is it not mentioned because although it existed, our ancestors accepted it?

I have been researching the issue of homosexuality in Africa for some time now. My research revealed several interesting facts.  A tomb for two male courtiers in ancient Egypt contains bas-reliefs depicting them in erotic & intimate poses that alluded to marriage or a relationship. Similarly, Uncle-Bob-I-will-rather-die-than-hand-over-power-Mugabe has been ranting & raving that homosexuality is un-African. Yet, an ancient rock painting of the ancient Zvidoma people of Zimbabwe illustrates 3 men engaged in intercrural (thigh) or anal sex. Then there are cultures like the Azandes of Central Africa who had customs that embraced homosexuality. Male Azande warriors took young ‘male wives’ for whom they paid bride wealth while some female Azandes also engaged in same-sex relationships with each other in which, among other things, they’d sometimes tie bananas or maniocs carved into phallic shapes with cords and then tie it to their loins & use it to pleasure each other. There were African cultures that LGBTs were revered as spiritualists & medicine men/ women eg: among the Dogon people of Mali where gay men were viewed as spiritual gatekeepers.

TO BE CONTINUED

References:

Marc Epprecht, Hungochani: The History of the Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Canada, 2004

Stephen Murray and Will Roscoe (Ed), Boy Wives and Female Husbands, Palgrave, New York, 1998

Ifi Amadiume, Male Daughters and Female Husbands, Palgrave Macmillan, New York,  1987

E.E. Evans-Pritchard, Sexual Inversion among the Azande, American Anthropologist New Series, Vol. 72, No. 6, Dec. 1970, page 1429

William Eskridge, A History of Same Sex Marriage, 79 Va. L. Rev. 1419, 1993, page 1435

Melville J. Herskovits, A Note on ‘Woman Marriage’ in Dahomey, Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 10, No. 3, July 1937

 

About the Author

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11 Comments
  1. Nana Darkoa says:

    Loved this, and the references you included. Teach!
    Ei! ‘intercrural’ huh? I’ve learnt something new 🙂

  2. ;) says:

    Nicely done baby. 😉

  3. Ekuba says:

    Thanks for the comments W ; )

    Yes Nana Darkoa, I was so shocked the day I discovered the term ‘intercrural sex’. I learnt that in some African cultures, this was the primary mode that gay men engaged in sexual intercourse.

  4. nelson zhandu says:

    interesting post, from out History there was a Ugandan King called Kabaka Mwanga of the pre-colonial Buganda Kingdom who was openly gay, he ruled sometime between 1850-1900 so yes homo-sexuality was very much a part of the African Society prior ro colonisation

    • Ekuba says:

      thanks for the info nelson! Is he also the king who killed the people who refused to give in to his erotic demands & those people later became the ‘sainted’ by the catholic church as the matyrs of uganda?

      if he’s the one then i heard david bahati refusing vehemently that he was gay(during a bbc debate on whether homosexuality is african). the homophobe bahati claimed that the king ‘learnt’ homosexuality from some arab traders. hahahaha. the lenghts people will go to deny stuff huh?

  5. Kwaku says:

    Pls can some one one this forum/blog explain to me the human rights in particularly Ghana, that gays claim are being violated.Once people know that you are gay or lesbian, what exact rights do they start to violate.Pls anybody who answers this question should present some specifics and the context is Ghana.I want to be educated.Thanks

    • Ekuba says:

      @ Kwaku: These are some of the ways LGBTs are abused in Ghana

      1. Arrests & harassment by the police: Section 104 of Ghana’s Criminal Offences Act says ‘unlawful carnal knowledge’ is illegal. Unlawful carnal knowledge refers to ‘penile penetration in any bodily orifice except the vagina’. In lay man’s language- In Ghana, it’s illegal for a man to stick his penis in any hole on the body EXCEPT the vagina ie: fellatio & anal sex are illegal. Interestingly, although marriage couples also engage in fellatio & anal sex, I’m yet to hear of even one married couple or even boyfriend & girlfriend being tried in court under this law. However, gay men are frequently arrested under this provision. What annoys me is when people claim that no gay person has been jailed in Ghana. That is false. In 2003, 4 gay men were jailed in Ghana (go look for Aug 8, 2003 version of Daily Graphic front page).

      2. Assaults: LGBTs in Ghana are regularly assaulted. I’m sure you remember the lesbians who were recently assaulted in Jamestown by some youth? Up to date, not even one person has been prosecuted. No one has asked for them to be prosecuted either. Afterall, aren’t lesbians considered as ‘witches’ in Ghana? So who cares if they’re beaten up right? I have several gay friends who have been beaten up just because they look ‘effeminate’. My other LGBT friends are regularly assaulted. 2 days ago, when I went to buy food with my girlfriend, I was verbally abused by the food sellers who suspected I’m a lesbian (because of the way I was dressed, I looked butch or masculine).

      3. Police ignore you: In Ghana, if you’re an LGBT, then when a crime happens to you, pray the police don’t find out you’re gay else you wont get any help. I have been contacted by LGBTs who were assaulted or robbed by people. When they reported to the police & the culprit was apprehended, the culprit told the police ‘oh, that dude is gay’ & in a flash, the police let the culprit go off & arrested the gay person instead. This happened in Ghana. LGBTs in Ghana are regularly blackmailed by the police & other people.

      4. Loss of livelihood: As a bisexual lawyer who used to work at a human rights organization, I have interacted with several LGBTs who lost their job or places of abode once their bosses or landlords found out they were gay. One of the guys I know was a caterer & was sacked when his boss was told he was gay. Another person I know was thrown out of his home & had to look for a place to stay at night.

      5. Suppressed: As a grown woman, I have the right to decide whom to love, live with & start a family so long as I’m not hurting you or anyone else. I have a right to dignity & privacy. I have a right not to have the sex acts I participate in my own bedroom scrutinized & regulated by the government. Because you’re an African man, you can marry any amount of women you want, divorce when you want & even take on added girlfriends. As a bisexual woman, I can never marry my girlfriend in this country. & I will always have to hide her if I want to protect my security & not get assaulted in public. I’m sure you talk about your wife/ girlfriend, probably have a picture of her on your desk at work etc. I can never ever do that if I live in this country. I bet you’d go insane if you could never ever talk about the one person in the world you love so much. I even have to hide her if I want to maintain my job & not get thrown out of houses I rent. & if Ghana is to go the way of Nigeria (as so many people want) I could end up in jail for a decade or more just because of whom I love. Do you think this is fair? How would my being with her worry you or any other straight person in Ghana? If people are so bothered about protecting the ‘sanctity of marriage’ why don’t they make divorce illegal? Why target only gays who just want to live their lives?

      6. Stigmatization: Gay people face vitriol from society.Doctors refuse to treat you once they find out you’re gay (a doctor walked a woman I know out of his office when he found out she was a lesbian). Your family abandons you. I know several LGBTs in Ghana whose families have thrown them out or are estranged from them just because of their orientation. People falsely claim that homosexuals are pedophiles. Ministers of State ask for us to be arrested & claim that we’re ‘abnormal’. Lawyers (like Nana Oye) who stand up for gay rights are ridiculed and victimized. People are setting up camps around Ghana to ‘reform us’ (so says the almighty Presby moderator). People ask for us to be killed. Psychiatrists in Ghana like Dr. Akwasi Osei are dishonest & lie that homosexuality is abnormal & that we’re sick (that every reputable scientific organization in the world today including WHO have concluded that homosexuality is normal & not a disease). I have mental health issues (from my abusive past) but I can’t see a psychiatrist in Ghana because I can’t tell him about any challenges I have in my love life unless I want himr to ‘try to cure me’ since his boss believes I’m sick. How would you feel if as a human being, you just wanted to have your piece of mind & love another person & society treated you like shit for it? How would you feel if you could never marry the person you love or even just live in peace with her because of society’s biases?
      Please watch this video so that you can understand how LGBTs feel & how you’d also have felt if society claimed that your orientation (I’m assuming it’s straight) was a crime.

  6. Nana Akua says:

    I totally agree with a comment that was made, ”no one learns to be gay”…..yes, some people may get curious but if you are not, then you simply aren’t. I was very disturbed when i became aware of my attraction towards girls. I just wanted to talk someone and anybody i spoke to made me feel so condemned and dirty. Well, now i know myself and i dont feel like i am supposed to come out ’cause i so don’t need anybody’s approval before i live my life. It is really interesting how anyone whoever found out about my sexuality suggested some ‘spiritual’ person i could see so that the individual would help me come out of ”it”. I don’t think so. I’m gay and comfortable and for anyone else who doesn’t agree, well that is their own business.

  7. Kweku Yeboah says:

    Ekuba long time! How long have you been back in Ghana? I can understand your frustration. In comtemporary Ghana due to the profileration of fanatic christianity homophobia is very prevalent. Most people equate acceptance of homosexuality to Sodom and Gomorah in the biblical era which will lead to the destruction of the world. This is pure ignorance. Even in the bible the destruction of Sodom and Gomorah was due to rape which included homosexual rape which all people focus on. It will take some time before this can be reversed. Luckily some of these pentecostal pastors are gradually being discredited and their influence will wane. Only then can advocacy work towards acceptance of homesexuality will make an impact.

    Homosexuality had existed in Africa since time immemorial but we are very good at denial in the same way that there was stigmatisation and denial of people with disabilities.

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