I am actually quite envious of your country. I had this snobbish attitude that Ugandans are … well, you understand. But
Published on 15/07/2008
By Kang’ethe Mungai
The Anglican Church of Kenya’s boycott of the Lambeth Conference because of differences with the West over homosexuality manifests our prejudice and unnecessary rigidity.
Church leaders are sufficiently educated and cosmopolitan enough to understand that the cultural setting in which the Church in the West operates is quite different from the Kenyan situation. They must do their work differently or risk becoming irrelevant in their societies.
It is unwise and unhelpful to try and say who is right and who is wrong over issues of sexual orientation. It is probably more helpful to view the differences as indicators of different environments.
Western churches are gradually departing from the age-old practice of discriminating against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.
They are doing so because such discrimination may no longer stand the legal or logical test in highly liberalised, educated and well-informed societies. Even South Africa has taken a different stance from the rest of Africa on the issue, outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in their constitution.
Scientific research on issues like the genetics of sexual orientation in such societies is advanced and findings have been disseminated widely enough to convince more and more people that gay persons are probably no less a creation of nature (or God, if you like) as the left-handed, albinos or colour-blind.
African church leaders’ conservative stance is understandable: Many minister to flocks that have very traditional views on homosexuality and largely low exposure to the latest scientific findings on issues of human sexuality and related issues. They are in the dark over simple and long-established facts of science like that biodiversity is the rule and not the exception in nature.
It is not so long ago in some of our societies that twin babies were put to death on the basis of weird traditional beliefs. In Tanzania right now, albinos are being hunted down by people who use their body parts in witchcraft. Such attitudes were also common in the West in the past.
Irrational discrimination of individuals manifestly different from us is primordial human nature. Racism, tribalism, xenophobia, sexism, bigotry, homophobia and related attitudes are the outward expression of this primitive nature, which is only kept in check by education and legal or other sanctions.
Like South African Anglican Archbishop and Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu, I believe the African Anglican Church should not be obsessed with disagreement over gayism at a time when other issues demand greater attention.