Is it unAfrican to be gay? The Nigerian case

IMG_6232 Since 1960 Nigeria has had no more than eleven years of unbroken civilian rule. Out of those, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) now led by Goodluck Jonathan has held a tight grip on power whilst barely contributing to any growth. Shell has just admitted that thousands of barrels of oil have spilt in the Bonga oil leak, the worst Nigeria has seen in over a decade. Nigerian universities are currently shut down on an impermanent strike. There have been more than a dozen bomb explosions this year. Schools are still teaching children more about Lord Lugard than of African icons that shaped history. About half of Nigerian women have been beaten by a male partner. Maternal death rates are the second highest in the world, widows are mentally and physically abused and acid bathing affects an increasing number of women across all ages.
I could go on but I’ll stop before I get the ‘rebrand Africa crusaders‘ on my case.

Instead of questioning the morality in a government that upholds such living conditions for its citizens now planning on legalizing homophobia, the hot topic on facebook and several other forums is paradoxically the ‘immorality’ of homosexuality. Apparently it is unAfrican to be gay.

I don’t know whom I respect less; the Nigerian government, or people like this that appoint themselves as gatekeepers of traditional African culture and in so doing defend the obviously incompetent regime. How unenlightened to use the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic canon as proof of the unAfricanness of homosexuality when the historical truth is that homophobia was introduced to Africa through organized religion and Victorian values. Before then there is historical evidence that homosexual practice was accepted and even revered by tribes such as the Dogon, Bangala, Hausa (Yan Daudu), Nzema (Agyale) and others.

Personally, I’m interested neither in glorifying nor condemning homosexuality. It’s like having an opinion on the incident that human beings breathe.
And I’m suspicious of traditionalist fantasies. The truth is few of us would want to return to 19th century Africa just as little as we would like to return to the Europe of those days. The romanticizing of African values is a piously camouflaged reaction against western imperialism. If the west  claims pretends it cares about the environment and animals – we are quick to say it is African to kill elephants and wipe out our vegetation since it is man that is made in the image of god. If the west asserts pretends that feminism made women equal to men – we remind ourselves of the ever loving, enduring, protecting African woman who accepts her position as the rib of the African patriarch. When the west alleges pretends it is pro-gay – we decry western decadence on one hand, and then conflate its mythology with African values.

It’s unfortunate that we don’t see that the (pseudo) liberalism in western politics is actually largely a political tactic aiming to position the west as the monitor of the ‘free’ world; of ‘free’ trade; of ‘free’ speech; of a world order where freedom means dominance. Unfortunate, because by reacting defensively against it we only reinforce its supremacist position.
Culture that is born out of defense is just as problematic as that which rises from ignorance and it is ignorance, not culture, which we would be preserving with this legislation.

Oh and merry Christmas everyone! 😉

Creative Commons License photo credit: smagdali

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  • Adekumbi

    “….the historical truth is that homophobia was introduced to Africa through organized religion and Victorian values.”

    That quote pretty much hits the nail on the head. As Africans, we need to truly examine our past. As human beings, we need to examine our history. I, for one, am not for the “hyperglorification” of the African past. To claim homosexuality was a European import does a disservice to African and world history. And to people. Moreover, it is incredibly offensive on all sides because that mindset is definitely rooted in homophobia. As you so eloquently said, “Personally, I’m interested neither in glorifying nor condemning homosexuality. It’s like having an opinion on the incident that human beings breathe.”

    Anyway. Won’t be longwinded. The post is very thought provoking. There comes a time when we must acknowledge the truth (or truths), and speak truth to power.

  • Nana Darkoa

    You’ve pretty much nailed the issues in this post. African governments are failing their people and state homophobia conveniently diverts attention from the real issues we have to deal with

    •!/derintwts derin


  • Kunbi

    I pretty much agree except for the comparison to breathing. Homosexuality isn’t a basic need for life. The government doesn’t do much but I think this bill was passed in reaction to David Cameron’s threat, which I think was totally inappropriate.

    • fly3769

      “Homosexuality isn’t a basic need for life…” I disagree. One’s need to love and be loved is a fundamental aspect of the human condition. I also have a feeling that the countless named and un-named individuals who have committed suicide, or lived their life wrecklessly due to perceptions of, and laws banishing same-sex love, would disagree with your premise too.

  • Akmed

    All u Africans who have embraced these so-called western values of gay freedom are very stupid. I am a moslem ,live in the Germany and i cant marry more than one wife? Is bigamy not alternative life style too? Dem whites have just succeeded in using Gay rights as a cover up for their growing male impotence and population stagnation. Africa has bigger issues to deal with,like development and industrialization. Some foolish African kids living in the west are busy fighting for sexual orientation rights when their various countries are dead deep in under development. If African governments are dumb,those agitating for gay rights are even dumber.

  • 54interviews

    I am so tired of this topic! Homosexuality is NOT a Western import. It has been part and parcel of our culture! Yes, PART and PARCEL of our culture! Please do your due diligence research on that!

  • Noble Male

    Polygamy is also a life style, why is it not paraded and fought for?Its funny to me how feminist pick and choose which “rights ” to fight for. Gaymosexuality is just a cover for advocating a sick and disgusting form of breaking the natural social order of strong families. May of its advocates are also in the population control bandwagon. Along with this deathstyle comes child rape which is already bad in Africa but will get worse if this is normalized.

  • Larry Kay

    It is not only unafrican, it is also not of God and it is inhuman.

    • MsAfropolitan

      Quite amazing how you speak of God and humanity and then express hate at other HUMANS in the same breath

  • Karl

    Great article, the crux of the matter is homophobia exists in Africa more than on any other continent. The West has however compounded the African’s backlash against gay rights by trying to impose their laws and moral values on us, this definitely does not work.Akmed you hit the nail on the head Barring my personal opinion, being openly gay in most of Africa is in the same boat as me trying to marry the daughter of a KKK member…it can work but it’s damn near suicide.

  • Menhu Hotep Ankh

    Straight bullsh!t!!! Nigga’s why we got to outdo the white people in anything they put out there! All they have to do is put it on tv & radio and after we’ve seen enough we done wit it now. Gay is anti African. This is a Greco/Roman exalted thing. It might have existed in Africa, but not in any large capacities but a tribe or few. MARK my word after you nuts accept this, they’ll be shoving pedophilia next! LMBAO even them made up god’s and allah’s had enough sense to say it’s wrong. KNOW one is mentioning the woman catching hiv or finding out there man has to wear depends adult diapers cuz his ass was torn out the frame. Look at it simply as is it healthy for the human male body? EXIT ONLY!!!

    • Lady Victoria

      Wow!!! Such venom. What gay person rebuked you? I don’t understand your anger-if you’re not gay, stop protesting so much! Only sick folks respond as you do! Let people be who they are as God made them. You want folks to let you be your uptight self,right?

  • Tarwin

    Thanks for the quick information. I had no idea WHY there was such a revolt against gay people in Africa at the moment (at least publicized in the west at the moment). Guess it does make sense as a fight back against the west.

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