Thursday, February 27, 2014

Homophobia is Un-African

First it was the passing of the Nigerian homophobic law, and now it's been done in Uganda. The Ugandan law gives a life sentence to anyone who engages in a same sex relationship. It also gives the state the power to extradite Ugandans outside the country who are practicing homosexuals.

The hatred surrounding these laws is astounding. Often proponents say homosexuality is un-African, an import from the West, but a cursory look shows this to be untrue. The fact that many indigenous languages have words for homosexuals proves that they were there before the colonisers set foot on the continent. And here is more proof if you need it.

Most African societies have a version of botho as part of the foundation in their culture. According to the University of Botswana botho means:

 'Botho' is derived from Tswana, the national language of Botswana. The Botswana people use the term botho to describe a person who has a well-rounded character, who is well-mannered, courteous and disciplined, and realises his or her full potential both as an individual and as a part of the community to which he or she belongs. Botho is an example of a social contract of mutual respect, responsibility and accountability that members of society have toward each other and defines a process for earning respect by first giving it, and to gain empowerment by empowering others.

Botho alone dictates that the behaviour of the continent's homophobes is un-African.

This homophobia is an imported idea. It was brought here by the foreigners wanting to control Africans every way that they could, including in the bedroom. It is being refueled by foreigners yet again; this time by the ultra-conservative religious people primarily in the United States. In Uganda, for example,  a workshop was held by a man called Scott Lively, an ultraconservative American homophobe. The agenda of the workshop according to The New York Times was- "how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how 'the gay movement is an evil institution' whose goal is 'to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity'. 

 This sort of hatred was used before. A religious justification was found for Apartheid. It was found for segregation. The breakdown of the family (the white family) was the justification for the vehement laws against mixed marriages. All of these were proven to be nothing except unjust bigotry. Eventually these homophobic laws will be seen in the same light.How many lives will be destroyed before that happens one can only imagine.

So as the homophobes run and shout and wreck havoc in the lives of the continent's gay Africans, thinking they're upholding African traditions with their hatred, they should realise they've been mentally colonised yet again.  They are merely the puppets of others, nothing more. And when they realise this, we can only hope all of this injustice will fall away.


Vanessa Gebbie said...

Great article, Lauri. Congratulations.

CA Heaven said...

Good post.

I've heard analysis of the situation in Uganda both in Winterland public broadcasting and BBC World Services. Accordingly to the experts, the new anti-homo laws in Uganda are pushed by politicians who seek support from large groups conservative voters. But Im not surprised if their attiude has tilta in the Boble. Religion brings no good, and never did

CA Heaven said...

Bible, not Boble.

Sorry about the typos. Its this damn cell phone changing words against my will

Lauri said...

Sadly, foreign intervention on this issue as on most, is not working. Problems need home grown solutions, when will all of these foreign donors and governments etc learn this? Now people who may not be for the homophobic laws are joining Bo-Museveni and Goodluck Jonathan because the West (i.e. Obama) is trying to dictate what African countries should do. It is making the situation worse.