Saturday, August 4, 2018

Queer in Africa: Breaking news from Kapiri-Mposhi, Zambia

I used to take this for granted. The fear and need to hide. The expectation of guilt, self-guilting, just because I am gay, of anyone finding out that am gay. Then I became very depressed, then very angry. 
And lately, I had become complacent, because I am living in a bubble where I am apparently immune from these concerns.

So, you have met a like-minded man. Oh, you are a man. You love men. And in the lake of heterosexuals swimming around you, you have met this special other man. You have talked, and found that your minds gel. And, you want to have sex. Such a beautiful word for a beautiful action, the action of lust and pleasure and congress. No, you don’t want to force him. He is definitely not forcing you. You are anticipating pleasure, and walk besides him, with a spring in your step as you decide on the venue.

Almost a year ago, on 25th August 2017, this happened to Japhet Chataba, 38 a carpenter and resident of Ndeke compound in Kapiri Mposhi and Stephen Sambo, 30, planning officer at Ndola City Council.

They decided to get into a hotel/motel, whatever. We used to call them ‘lodges’, and they are very convenient for a safe tryst away from home where it might not be convenient, or safe. Yes, safe as in real physical rather than mental safe.

They had a good time.

Unfortunately, maybe in the heat of the moment, they didn’t draw closed the curtains in a window. An employee of the hotel, one righteous, upstanding lady of great presence, happened to glance in into the window of their hotel room.

She saw the ‘unthinkable’. Two men engaged in sex. Anal sex.

The outstanding member of community dragged (huh, okay, tipped them off, and they flew in eagerly), dragged in 4 other citizens of good standing to witness the act. Pictures, videos were taken, and, later the police was called.

What a nightmarish end to a time of beauty and mutual lust.

They were arrested. 

10 days later, they had to undergo the humiliating anal examination to ‘prove’ that they had been having anal sex. The ‘test’ is stupid…., and proves/disproves nothing, as the examining doctor pointed out.

In court yesterday, (3rd August 2018), prosecution proved that Chataba and Sambo had a ‘prima facie case to answer to. They didn’t enter a defence, and so were convicted, and are due sentencing. And, yeah, I don’t think they have been out of prison since they were arrested. No bail.

There goes all their life. Because they dared to act on what they are. On how they feel. 
They didnt hurt no one. They didnt even plan on being seen. Theirs was the sin of being different, being caught being different and thus obscene.

As I write this, I do have tears in my eyes. There but for the grace of the gods….

Some of us argue that we should not ask for striking off of the anti-gay laws from the books. That that demand/request is too inflammatory. That the laws are rarely used. That it inflames our country mates.

But, we are also citizens of the continent. Damn, we are human beings.
We need to self respect, and be safe from a concerned citizen seeing us having consensual sex and calling the police. We need to be safe from a loss of stature, livelihood, community standing and convicted of that huge, shameful, evil "act", namely making love and having sex.

Its for our very self respect that we challenge and stand up and say…., there is a limit to which the majority should denigrate us as a minority, to deny us the basic rights and instruments of a human being such as they are. For, if we continue accepting their take of things, we shall live and die in the unsafe dark, dirty, close closet that surrounds us everyday that we wake up to go work and earn a living.

Chatabo, Sambo. With you in pain. 

A Queer African

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