Friday, 8 September 2006

Somehow, strange sexualities excite Africans

Using Homosexuality as a damaging tool

Having dealt with a number of topics on sexuality on NaijaBlog in the last few days, one concerning homophobia and other a lovers’ spat, it is strange that there are still issues around sex that tend to hammer the dark into the continent of Africa.

In Malaysia years ago, the accusation of sodomy was used to depose the vice president and persecute him into incarceration and ill health, but he survived.

The first black president of Zimbabwe had his legacy completely rubbished as the tyrannical Mugabe allowed charges of homosexuality to thrive to the disgrace of Canaan Banana.

Whilst the accusation of homosexuality in Africa can create a level of revulsion, some have concentrated that response by alluding to the acts rather than just the life. Some people’s lives could be affected by being named homosexuals, but definitely destroyed by being called a Sodomite.

Publish and be damned

In the light of this, it is first interesting to read that a newspaper in Uganda has decided to publish the first names and professions of alleged homosexuals; this atrocious act is defended as exposing people who are cheating on their partners.

One wonders when it became the duty of newspapers to publish private infidelities, if that be their goal, why single out those who have cheated on their partners with a deviation into same-sex liaisons? It really cannot be justified.

Harking back to Victorian times when sodomy was criminalized, it was said that Queen Victoria did not believe there was anything like lesbianism, this paper has not published names of lesbians for so many reasons, but one can really be that men are quite titillated by lesbian sex, it cannot be said that women find pleasure in the converse.

The law should rise to protect

When a publication of names happened in Cameroon earlier in the year, the courts came down heavily on the editor that he did prison time where he might have learnt to pick up the soap; I cannot muster any sympathy for such people.

I would surmise that the publication of full names might attract litigation that could really do more damage to the paper and editor than the aggrieved.

One voice of reason in that news write up does say this is the time for the government to protect rather than persecute and prosecute – unfortunately, the railing against homosexuality has a way of congregating people to a mob of bigots but does nothing to address everyday issues of life and wellbeing – it is a useful primitive political smokescreen that gets abused by any unscrupulous politician in the West and anywhere else.

Read my story

Then a defrauded Nigerian railing against cronyism and nepotism that has allowed the criminals to abscond from justice has labelled the Minister of Federal Capital Territory a homosexual; this smokescreen reveals a more compelling catalogue of woes and corrupt practices.

We might just say, if you want your story to gain maximum interest in Nigeria, accuse the principals of homosexuality and see your story become a best seller, however, it does not guarantee you will get justice, especially if the big man decides to accord you the courtesy of suing the big pants off your backside.

The medicine man

I remember that the most feared medicine man in the town when I went to secondary school had a name in Yoruba that translated to Sodomite. If you really did have a problem you wanted sorted out in the animist traditions, you went to see him – he had not other name than that, and it drummed fear into those who as much as whispered his name.

I cannot say if the name was supposed to be literal or figurative, but whatever it meant, people must have thought he drew more magical strength from the seemingly abominable and bizarre practice – anyone who might have been done by him would definitely not dare go to the press.

A dowry for a goat

And so a house owner in Sudan wakes up in the middle of the night to sort out a kafuffle in his compound only to catch that a man in the act of using “a goat as his wife”. The shame and guilt of it all paralyses the culprit that he gets tied up and reported to the elders.

The smart grey heads decide there is no point involving the police in this, but impose a dowry on the culprit who is then allowed to take the goat home for a wife.

It is strange that the act of bestiality can attract so smart a remediation, but one of sodomy is a beheading if Sharia has a peek into that case.

Sex in Africa though common in terms of population growth, horrible in terms of rape and abuse and also paternalistic in terms of the rights of women, is still a very difficult topic of ambivalent values of traditions, religion and simple village wisdom – somehow, those in the village seem to understand the issues better.

It may also be that some even knew that sodomy long before condoms and pills was a form of contraception as long as it is practised between man and woman.

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