‘Segun Odejimi: Stop Showing Your Ignorance! Homosexuality Is Actually An African Thing

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The conversation about homosexuality will never go away. Everyone has an opinion on it. Sometimes, those conversations become really heated arguments. At other times, it actually becomes something worse.

Many people claim that same-sex relationships are totally against nature. According to them, if God or whoever or whatever we believe is behind the natural process wanted individuals of the same sex to have sexual relations and procreate, he would have made the process seamless. They point out that, after all, elements of a man and a woman are needed for procreation to occur. This, for them, is the biggest hammer blow against homosexuality.

Those on the other side of the divide retort that homosexuality is not a choice and that this same nature gives people urges that attract them to humans of the same sex. They argue that even if nature doesn’t encourage it, who are we to judge an individual’s sexual preferences.

Anyone caught practising same-sex marriage in Nigeria will lose their freedom for 14 years according to the laws of the land. In countries like the United States, however, such sexual unions have been encouraged by law. The former is music to the ears of many Nigerians at the moment while others point to the later when arguing for homosexuality in these parts.

I am not here to speak for nature or God. I am here to ask people to educate themselves before making the pedestrian and incorrect claim that homosexuality is not an African thing, that it came with the white man.

Homosexuality predates the intrusion of the white man in Africa. Over the years, historical evidence and extensive documentation show that the practice occurred in pre-colonial Africa. According to anthropologists, same-sex practising Africans were a constant characteristic of African belief systems. So, before you authoritatively blurt out that homosexuality is “not an African thing”, remind yourself that it has been proven to not be alien to Africa before colonialism.

Many African communities featured homosexuality in varying degrees. From the zvidomas in Zimbabwe and the Southern African mines to the Igbo people and the Yorubas in Nigeria. From the Nilotico Lango and Iteso people in Uganda and parts of Kenya to the minorities in Senegal and Malawi. From communities in Northern Congo and Cameroon to the Banyoro and Langi people. All these communities harboured sexual diversity in both men and women long before the colonialists gallivanted to Africa.

Even ancient Egypt is not left out of the discovery. Anthropologists have told us that tombs from around 2400BC that featured two men’s bodies Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep embracing each other as lovers have been excavated.

Homosexual practices were part of the cultural outlook and traditions of some of these places. In Nigeria, for example, among the Igbo people, some women were titled as men called ozo and they were crucial to the economic and political affairs of the community. These economically independent women took on many wives making them female husbands.

However, Africans today have allowed the religious narrative driven by the white colonialists to influence their thinking into concluding that same-sex romantic relationships are an ENTIRELY unAfrican practice.

It is accurate to claim that homosexuality is alien to the Islamic and Christian religions. But to say it did not exist in many communities in Africa before borrowed religion showed up could not be farther from the truth.


‘Segun Odejimi
Is a Nigerian Writer -Follow @SegunOdejimi 

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