Almost all of us think it’s an act that must be condemned by all right thinking members of society in the most vehement of terms. Our dear President, political leaders and religious guardians have all added their strong voices. The result is a resounding reverberation: “There is no homosexuality in
This rhetoric we have learnt to accept without question, faithfully rallying behind those who want our brothers and sisters involved in same sex love to leave the continent.
Yet same sex relationships were once embraced and accepted within several African societies, some of them were sexual while others were non sexual, and others still were symbolic. Perhaps the real western decadence is the grave homophobia that has now come to be part and parcel of African societies.
Joseph M. Carrier and Steven O. Murray, in a research entitled “Boy wives and female husbands” highlight the fact that same sex marriages have been documented in more than thirty African populations, like among the Yoruba and Ibo of West Africa, the Lovedu, Zulu and Sotho of South Africa, the Kikuyu and Nandi of East Africa, the Nuer and Zande of Sudan and the Hausa of Nigeria.
There is also evidence that homosexuality existed in pre-colonial
Typically one of the women in the woman-woman relationship would pay bride price and become the sociological husband. The woman for whom bride price was paid would be her wife. In a man-man relationship, the older man would pay bride price for his usually teenage ‘bride’ who would become his boy-wife.
The parents of the boy-wife would treat the older man as their son-in-law. Unlike woman-woman relationships that were usually permanent, man-boy relationships would end when the younger boy became of age and married his own boy-wife.
Like usually happens when any sort of social bonds are formed, same sex relationships in
Even then, many of the men were prosecuted for being in relationships they themselves described as passionate. There were also cases of male elders and men in authority taking advantage of other men in vulnerable positions.
Like is the case with so many other aspects, in regard to homosexuality,
Criminalisation of same sex relationships makes it very hard to intervene in cases where there is abuse, for example where one of the parties is not consenting or when minors are involved.
Allegations like those against Pastor Kayanja become not just an ordinary case of one individual violating another’s body and sexual integrity but rather a crisis. The real issue gets drowned in other would be irrelevant ones. We are more concerned with integrity and morality issues therein.
Investigation gets geared more towards punishing such immorality or salvaging the reputation of the accused, instead of addressing the gross abuse of human rights involved and achieving rational and legal justice for the victims and alleged perpetrators.
What is ironical is that these laws, criminalising all forms of same sex relationships, we cling so tightly on and quote with utmost relish and gusto were long replaced in the statute books of the countries from which we imported them.
Culture, morality and religion are all dynamic, relative and subjective notions carrying different meanings to different people at different times and places. Seems like it’s high time we look for another reason to intervene in other people’s private lives besides claiming that they are “uncultured”, “immoral” and “un-African”.
Or maybe if we feel so strongly about it, we should be the ones to leave the African continent for some safe haven where we shall not be confronted by “immoral” and “uncultured” people.
The author is a Law student at