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by EVERTS 8 months ago in Identity
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The African View

same-sex relationship isn't criminal

Peter is his name, a long-time friend of mine who drags me everywhere he goes, not because I'm such a good company, but because I happen to understand the fact that he is “different”.

Ze man as I call him, has this annoying habit of calling me on Saturday mornings, the exact mornings dedicated to atoning for the previous night’s escapades, the holy mornings when I sit down with a calculator trying to make sense of how exactly I'm broke exactly a week after payday.

Anyway, Peter calls (he never disappointments, wonder if he’s as faithful to his partner as he is to my phone number). This time there is tension in his voice, he is the soft kind of guy who freaks out at the sight of cockroaches, and wouldn't harm a fly for $ 1000, so I listen as he narrates his misfortunes.

He has just been summoned by mama. If you are an African, whether, from the north of Limpopo or the south of Sahara, you know that a summon to the village by a mother is never good news, You’d rather hear the voice of Satan himself planning his treacherous deeds than have your mother summon you out of nowhere.

“And bring that bulky friend of yours with you”, he says imitating her.

We get to the forgotten villages of kanyamkago late in the evening. As expected, a hot meal was waiting, I rushed through the greeting formalities which I've always thought were fake, I mean who cares how the city was, if they really wanted to know, shouldn’t they have made the trip and found out themselves?

But of course, I cant speak such out lest I get kicked from the high table, and I know what you are thinking, keep it to yourself.

Moments after we had our fill and mama, was done accusing the city girls of not feeding us well, the main agenda was put to the table, yes the meal was just a decoy. That's the beauty of being African, you only get roasted after you are well fed.

“My son,” she started, with her eyes locked on his baby boy, there was no pride in the way she said it, her eyes were searching and I could feel her spirits in the room. His son’s gaze was fixed on the floor, the man of the house slowly puffed his pipe and I sat there like an outsider not sure what this was all about.

Mama was usually jovial, she updates us on the village occasions, who is having an affair with who, what the neighbor’s wife said in the village meetings, how corrupt the chief is, who stole from the coffers of the village women's group, she talks so much that she falls asleep while at it then accuse us of not listening.

But not today, today mama was concerned, she was sad, she refused to personally receive our gifts from the city.

“I am aging my boy”, she continued, “ all my age mates have grandchildren, look at me, what did I do to deserve this?” she gestured to the sky with her hands spread out as if looking for an answer from God.

I silently wondered what God had to do with all this, whether he could see us through the thick roof. Peter used to be a Casanova, rumor had it though that most of his escapades were imaginary tales, but who are we to judge, and since when did grandchildren become trophies?

Seems God heard her, she stopped for a while as if to listen to a response from the divine being.

“We have waited way too long, it’s like the city has bewitched you my boy, so we have made an arrangement to get you a wife.”

Peter’s eyes were now off the floor and looking straight into his mother’s, I couldn’t place the expression he wore, anger? Not sure, shock? Maybe who knows my focus shifted to the old man at the corner, he neither moved nor said a word, the real definition of mind your business, I think I liked him, in fact I want to be him when I get to his age, maybe that’s the reason he survived mama all these years. Minding his business.

Who then Is the “We” mama was talking about?

My man peter shifted on his seat uncomfortably, looked at me with begging eyes, but this time I wasn't about to say anything. This wasn't my battle, I just took a leaf from the old timer’s book and decided to stay out of it.

“Mama, I should have been consulted at least,” peter said in a subdued tone, “I have no interest in getting married, at least not to a woman, I am different mama, I am gay.”

The glass in mama’s hand crushed on the floor as she sat still as she'd just been electrocuted. Then the loud cry came, calling out her gods asking questions of them. the old man casually stood, looked at his disgraced son, spat on the floor and walked out.

All this time the old-timer said nothing as if he expected it, I swear I would study this man and write a thesis about him, there is just something that is so alpha about him, he's the kind that looks at you and you get your act together, the kind that only speaks when he has to and on this occasion, he decided not to.

My mind had just been set free in the midst of the drama. Homosexuality is not a topic to be discussed in the African Household, It is a taboo in the African setup and anyone with the courage to come out as my boy peter just did was cast out.

That is exactly where the problem is, as humans we have different personalities and character traits that define who we are, considering ourselves different based on our sexuality however doesn't make an inch of sense, I mean what is life if we live by the book?

Who said we have to observe the status quo and live by what is considered “normal”, who decided normal is normal anyway. I wasn't consulted either.

Out of the 72 countries worldwide that criminalize homosexuality, 32 are in Africa, that's only 4 countries shy of the halfway mark. Out of the 54 African countries, only 22 have legalized homosexuality with the majority brutally punishing and victimizing the members of the LGBTQ community.

The begging question however is, what exactly have these people done to anyone to deserve the kind of treatment they get? You don't have to agree with what they do or join them. How about we just mind our business just like Peter’s dad. If their actions don't put you directly in harm's way then just leave them alone.

Africa is such a difficult turf for the LGBTQ community.We have been brought up with the notion that homosexuality is evil.There are many reasons, but colonial laws, religious morality, and the idea that homosexuality is imported by the West are among the most influential.

Punishment for having same-sex relation are brutal in mother Africa with countries such as Mauritania and Sudan going as far as imposing death penalties if found guilty.

Does that even make sense, guilty of being gay??

In Kenya, sexual practices between males, termed as “gross indecency” is a felony under section 165 of the Kenyan Penal Code and is punishable by 5 years imprisonment. On the contrary, female same-sex-sexual activity is not explicitly prohibited by Kenyan law, lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender persons are not recognized in the Kenyan Constitution.

This however doesn't mean that they are exempted from the punitive repercussions of expressing their feelings. In the 21st century, people are still hiding their identity, doesn't that disturb anyone?

On 24 May 2019, the High Court of Kenya refused an order to declare sections 162 and 165 unconstitutional, sending a clear message that the state doesn’t recognize relationships between persons of the same sex.

Most African societies are highly conservative and the large majority hold negative views on homosexuality. On the line normally is the cultural values and morality. The question however is, who exactly holds the moral yardstick to gauge how much immorality there is in one’s sexuality?

Cultural values, while most Africans will argue that Homosexuality is un-African, homosexual behaviors and acts are no guest in African households.

The Buganda Kingdom ruler King Mwanga II, for example, was openly gay, yet there is no record of him facing hate or rebellion from his subjects because of his sexuality, of course, this went on until the introduction of Christianity that the “eyes of the Ugandans opened up” to rebuke gay acts.

Yan daudu, is a Hausa term that describes effeminate men who were wives to men. The Yoruba too have a word adofuro, a colloquialism for someone who has anal sex, all this is African, nothing to do with the west.

What cultural values then are we talking about when we say that gayism is against our cultural values. How then did these names, referring to homosexual acts come by?

There is enough evidence out there to prove that homosexuality existed way before the colonial masters docked in the shores of the African coastline. Could there be then a possibility that we Africans are swiping the cultural values and moral values card to massage our egos as we live in denial about the practice and existence of homosexuality in African societies?

We have blamed the West for our underdevelopment(which might be debatable) among other things but homosexuality? c’mon, it's time we took responsibility for our own acts and stop trying to act victims, besides no one is forced into the act, why persecute them? WHY?

Our reservations and beautiful roots that we stick to and follow religiously should not make us inhumane manner, we must look past a person’s sexuality to define them. Let people be, let people make their own choices on who they want to be with.

Barack Obama, the former US president on his visit to Kenya said, “When you start treating people differently not because of any harm they are doing to anybody, but because they are different, that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode”

In case you are wondering what happened to Peter, the poor boy was disowned by the people who birthed him, the ones he looked up to, just because of his sexual orientation.

As we traveled back to the city, one question that I haven't yet found an answer to kept crossing my mind.

Is it less manly to be in love with a man?…...

Let me hear your thoughts


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