Black History Month J+21 : les 21 types de relations homo et transsexuelles en Afrique ancienne et moderne . Un rapide aperçu de la riche histoire des sexualités sur le continent africain.
La sexualité, comme le genre, est une “réalité” bien plus fluide que les re-constructions sociales contemporaines tentent de nous le faire croire. Ce bref aperçu de l’histoire de la/des sexualité/s sur le continent en donne une interessante illustration, même si la catégorie “LGBT” ou le terme même d‘“homosexualité” peuvent et doivent être questionnés car ils font courir le risque d’enfermer ces expériences historiques dans une grille de lecture très “située” idéologiquement et culturellement.
At least 21 cultural varieties of same-sex relationships and transgendering identities have long been part of traditional African life, as demonstrated in a new report that is designed to dispel the confusion and lies surrounding Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
[image description: King Mwanga II of Buganda (in modern day Uganda), the “gay king” who was widely reportedly to have sexual relations with men, and to have even burned men and boys at the stake for refusing his sexual advances]
- One notably ‘‘explicit” Bushmen painting, which depicts African men engaging in same-sex sexual activity.
- In the late 1640s, a Dutch military attaché documented Nzinga, a warrior woman in the Ndongo kingdom of the Mbundu, who ruled as ‘‘king” rather than ‘‘queen”, dressed as a man and surrounded herself with a harem of young men who dressed as women and who were her ‘‘wives”.
- Eighteenth century anthropologist, Father J-B. Labat, documented the Ganga-Ya-Chibanda, presiding priest of the Giagues, a group within the Congo kingdom, who routinely cross-dressed and was referred to as ‘‘grandmother”.
- In traditional, monarchical Zande culture, anthropological records described homosexuality as ‘‘indigenous”. The Azande of the Northern Congo ‘‘routinely married” younger men who functioned as temporary wives – a practise that was institutionalised to such an extent that warriors would pay ‘‘brideprice” to the young man”s parents.
- Amongst Bantu-speaking Pouhain farmers (Bene, Bulu, Fang, Jaunde, Mokuk, Mwele, Ntum and Pangwe) in present-day Gabon and Cameroon, homosexual intercourse was known as bian nkû”ma– a medicine for wealth which was transmitted through sexual activity between men.
- Similarly in Uganda, amongst the Nilotico Lango, men who assumed ‘‘alternative gender status” were known as mukodo dako. They were treated as women and were permitted to marry other men.
- Same-sex relationships were reported amongst other groups in Uganda, including the Bahima, …
- the Banyoro and …
- the Baganda. King Mwanga II, the Baganda monarch, was widely reported to have engaged in sexual relations with his male subjects.
- A Jesuit working in Southern Africa in 1606 described finding ‘‘Chibadi, which are Men attired like Women, and behave themselves womanly, ashamed to be called men”.
- In the early 17th century in present-day Angola, Portuguese priests Gaspar Azevereduc and Antonius Sequerius encountered men who spoke, sat and dressed like women, and who entered into marriage with men. Such marriages were ‘‘honored and even prized”.
- In the Iteso communities, based in northwest Kenya and Uganda, same-sex relations existed amongst men who behaved as and were socially accepted as women.
- Same-sex practises were also recorded among the Banyoro and …
- the Langi.
- In pre-colonial Benin, homosexuality was seen as a phase that boys passed through and grew out of.
- There were practises of female-female marriages amongst the Nandi and …
- Kisii of Kenya, as well as …
- the Igbo of Nigeria,
- the Nuer of Sudan and
- the Kuria of Tanzania.
- Among Cape Bantu, lesbianism was ascribed to women who were in the process of becoming chief diviners, known as isanuses.
This is far from an exhaustive list, but is important in dispelling the European-generated myth that LGBT Africans are somehow “un-African” even as same-sex love and transgendering identities have existed on the continent for millenia. This myth is not only a total erasure of our long, varied histories across the African continent, but it is also racist because it was predicated on the belief that black Africans were simply “too primitive” to be capable of anything other than the “natural heterosexual impulse” and “traditional” gender roles, since we were animals in the eyes of white people.
So when anyone tells you more of these blatant lies which deny the long history of local variations of LGBT identities, same-sex love and transgendering identities on the African continent. Hit them with this list (which is already far from exhaustive) and keep it moving.
These 21 examples are from the report, “Expanded Criminalisation of Homosexuality in Uganda: A Flawed Narrative / Empirical evidence and strategic alternatives from an African perspective,” which was prepared by Sexual Minorities Uganda. The list in its current form was compiled by the website, 76Crimes