Yesterday I asked gug, my gay Ugandan friend if he could you write something which challenges the constantly repeated claim that homosexuality is a western import (a disease according to one bishop), un-African, not known before the white man came. I asked him, a gay Ugandan, if he could challenge the false ideas and describe how the desire of men to love other men is something natural to him and to the gay men he knows, something which is indigenous to Africa, and which has been known in African cultures from way before white colonisation. He has posted his response in full on his blog: http://gayuganda.blogspot.com/2009/11/i-am-un-african.html. Below is an edited version.
I am un-African
Yes, that is what they say.
Note how I have stated it. Not that I am NOT African. But, that I am un-African. Like I have an attribute which is not of my people. Not of my continent.
In essence I am a sell out, a traitor, a ‘collaborator’. I deserve death, and the infamy of social ostracisation and legal limbo. My people have the right to write a law that puts all like me in prison and to death. Because I am un-African.
It is a breathtaking assertion. A lie so incredible that, in this day and age, the reaction should be, ‘shame upon you, liar’. But, in this day and age, we tend to respect such assertions. Like ‘Recruiting European homosexuals’. And, maybe Africans are dumb. Or all the problems that we have come from ‘colonialists’. Or many other ridiculous things which do not deserve accreditation.
I have learnt to isolate the anger these thoughts pull out in me. It is like I have formed a cocoon, which I don’t touch most of the time. An isolated part of my mind, that is like a nuclear reactor. An anger and motivation that I can tap on in case of need. But it is a danger, like a malignancy. There is always a leak, a tenuous, almost imperceptible leak of it into the rest of the mind that can, and is like the fury of the Hulk. It can posses my mind.
So, I have learnt to weave my thoughts into the incredible beauty of my world. To dull the pain, to remind myself that though life can be incredibly unfair, creation is incredibly beautiful.
I was saying that they say I am un-African. Some go as far as to state I am not African. Others think it, when they say I am un-African.
See, I have made an incredible discovery. The language we speak, it is English. That is the language that most of my country mates share. Most Ugandans. I can go anywhere in the country, and the ‘educated’ people will be speaking English. So, I will most likely be able to speak with them in that language.
But, English is not African. Isn’t it? Yet, according to our constitution, English is our ‘national language’ Or, is the wording ‘official language’?
Nevertheless, I must allow that we don’t speak it like they do in America, or England, or Australia. We don’t speak it like they do in West Africa even. We have our own meanings to the words, our own insinuations, our own emphases. Damn me, I actually speak it fairly better than my mother tongue! I am indeed not African.
I feel so African, that I don’t have time to waste on those who want to prove my un-African ness. Matter of fact. I am gay. Of course I am. But, why should I go into the convolutions to prove that I am African?
For those of you who would like to go into that academic exercise, you can check out a text on African Homosexualities. Boy-Wives and Female Husbands, by Murray and Rosco. To some, something becomes real because someone took the time to research it and canonize it in a book.
To me, my Africanness is something which I was born with, which I had to accept. It was as real and natural as the cold breeze that is playing on my black skin this particular moment. When I first saw a person with a white skin, it was an albino. I was a child, I stared, and stared, fascinated. To my childish mind, I was not seeing a human being.
Sadly, when I first came to know my sexuality, I was taught that it was not normal. I learnt in church that I was abnormal. I learnt in society that I was an outcast. I tried to ‘pray away the gay’. I lost my faith, I lost many years, as I searched and sought to exercise demons in my minds. Demons of normality which my world was insisting were abnormal. Demons which those who should have been in the know in faith and knowledge insisted were not African, were foreign. Were bad.
Till the liberating time that I came to accept myself. The time that I found out, to my incredulity, that I was as normal and natural as I was born. If I knew any god at that time, I would have asserted that he or she had created me that way. I am a human being. I am a gay human being. I don’t need to beat my head by reasoning that I am an African and thus cannot be gay. I don’t have to go into learned treaties to prove that I am normal (Oh, forget the fact that I actually did. I had to. My world was presenting all these ‘evidences’ of my ab-normality that I had to.) But, now that I know, how can I deny what I am? How can I say that I am not African? How can I lie that I am not gay? How can I lie that an African cannot be gay? I am living proof of that. How can I deny the breeze dancing on my dark skin, the chill that I am standing up to as I write this? It is. I can ignore it, but I know it is. It is there. No amount of clothing will take it away. And, I can glory in who and what I am, and assert it, or I can slink off and hide.
But, I will admit, I am gay and African. I am a Ugandan who is gay. And, despite the ignorance and false stories, the incredible stupidities which my people are displaying in exorcising people like me from themselves, I will remain what I am.
They don’t understand. That is the reason why we will always win, even when they persecute us in the name of God. Because we are, we are what we are. We have always been. We will continue to be. Historically, there have always been efforts to purge populations of us weak minorities. And, they have fought back. Always, because, to the majority, it is nothing more than a nuisance once in a while to pay attention to. To us the persecuted, it is a fact of life, everyday life, which, perforce, we have to live with. We need to adapt to, to learn.
Now, today, I am not going to any church to listen to how un-African and evil homosexuality is. I hear that is the major topic these days. Well, the Bishops are welcome to their sermons. I hear they also preach against the other religions…
Curious, isn’t it? They use a decidedly ‘European’ religion, Christianity, to rail against us homosexuals. But, I am told, Mwanga the Second of Buganda, he was at least bi-sexual. That is why he killed the so called Uganda Martyrs. History is written by the winners. That is why those sell outs, the ones who embraced the foreign religion and refused the un-refusable advances of the demi-god, the Kabaka and were rightfully punished by burning at the stake are now held up as stellar examples of our Ugandan Christianity. They were collaborators with colonialists for God’s sake! They were selling out our country!
But, if homosexuality was acceptable and right at the Buganda Royal Court, at that time, and there was no protest when these disobedient young men were burnt at the stake for their disobedience to their rightful sovereign and king, why is it considered that homosexuality is un-African? Surely, even history says that homosexuality was here, in Uganda, even before Christianity as a faith came to Uganda?
But you see, we humans are very adept at holding onto our beliefs. So, Uganda is under attack by the ‘Homosexual International’. And, we are going ahead and resisting. We are showing the whole world what true Christian leadership is. We are going to imprison and kill all our homosexuals. And show the world how Christian and upright we are.
We gay Ugandans are un-Ugandan. Arent we? Well, Michael Jackson was a white man. That is a very cruel statement. Isnt it?