Got Science? – UPDATE

OK, let’s delve into this…

What is believed to be the  Scientific Report is below. It is very easy to read and rather straight forward.

Take a moment to look for yourself.

The only thing I see stated with any degree of certainty in this document is that nobody knows why some people tend towards homosexual behavior.  It does make some noteworthy points.

1. Homosexuality is not something Western culture is imposing on us. Africans are not homosexual because they are copying the West. 

Excerpt :

Homosexuality existed in Africa way  before the coming of the white man. However, most African cultures controlled sexual practices, be them heterosexual or homosexual, and never allowed exhibitionistic sexual behavior. Almost universally, they contained homosexual practices to such  a point that overt homosexuality was almost unheard of.

Emphasis on OVERT. It never went away. It always has been and always will be there whether there is a death penalty or not.

2. The African aversion to sexual exhibitionism applies to both orientations: Gay and Straight

The present fad of sexual exhibitionism, both heterosexual and homosexual is alien and repugnant to most African cultures.

I do not understand why so much vitriol is thrown at homosexuality in the name of African values. Growing up, I hardly remember any overtly sexual scenes on national TV. Kissing or touching in public was frowned upon whether or not you were married. We got kicked out of the room if kissing came on TV. Today, African music videos, commercials and movies are just as full of  sexual imagery without legislation being enforced to crack down on them. Sex sells in Africa just as much as it does in the West. Where are the laws to legislate this? Where are the fines for putting kissing in your movie or video? Because of adultery men bring diseases home to their wives and women to their husbands. Families get destroyed. Where is the death penalty for that? Where is the 14 years in prison for promoting safe sex? Or the prison term for sex outside of marriage? Are those not also against our African values? Where were African values when the Cameroonian government passed laws banning tight jeans and short skirts and we all asked “What the hell?” Uganda had one of the worst HIV?AIDS prevalences in the world, without homosexuality being legal in the country. A massive campaign led by Museveni himself, pushed the idea of safe sex and distributed condoms. Where were African values regarding sex then? 
3. Homosexuality is NORMAL. It is not a disease or an aberration. 

Thus also in sexuality, there are spectrum of sexual behaviours. Some people are less fixed in form of sexuality than others. Thus sexuality is a far more flexible human quality  than used  to be assumed in the past, demonstrating the biological variability within the human race.

Sure, the cultural context influences it’s acceptability and the current cultural context in Africa is one where it is not tolerated, but paradigm shifts must occur in accordance with the shifting sands of time. It used to be that homosexuals in Africa could not speak up, but now they can and they are. There was a time when being a smart, educated career woman was culturally unacceptable. There was a time when choosing your own husband was culturally unacceptable. There was a time when killing twins and albino’s for no other reason than that they came in pairs or  looked different was culturally acceptable. Many of us girls clench our thighs together and grimace when we think of female genital mutilation but there was a time when it was(and in certain parts of Africa it is still)  culturally acceptable. To paraphrase Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, the culture does not make the people, the people make the culture. 
 People tend to think homosexual and think of the exhibitionist and flamboyant ones who seek attention. (The same way as people think black in America and think of Hiphop/Rap culture, which represents only a fraction of black society) Not all homosexuals are cross dressing, attention seeking degenerates. Matter of fact, many gay are respectable professionals who you wouldn’t even know were gay if it wasn’t mentioned. More than anything else, they want to be left alone. The more we make rules to criminalize them, the more they will fight back. It’s basic physics. To every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.

What frustrates me is the fact that we hide behind tradition and culture and African values to oppress a group of people over something they really have very little control over even while we ourselves labor under the weight of being  black people, something we have no control over either. 

Our leaders shake their fists in defiance at western countries over homosexuality and we crow with support, forgetting the injustices that they inflict on us. Today Museveni is a hero and he has certainly done many things for Uganda. Do not get me wrong. However, everyone seems to have forgotten that he’s been president since 1986, removed the limit on presidential terms even after criticizing the practice by other African leaders.  Uganda is reported to have a 62% unemployment rate. 
We forget that he confirmed the Public Order Management Bill — a bill which limits freedom of assembly, pushes media censorship and the persecution of democratic opposition and ordered the invasion of the DRC in 1998, as if that country didn’t have enough trouble of it’s own. The American fundamentalist christian organization, The Fellowship, hails him as their key man in Africa which is ironical seeing as he is setting himself up as the African leader who is resisting western influence. We dance in the streets and thumb our noses at the West when our leaders pass laws that feed into our delusion that they care about us and then beg the West to help when the same leaders turn around and spit in our faces.
I di wait man wey e go open e mop call on the international community for intervene again when some African crisis wukop.
I hope every single African who supports this law encounters a friend or a family member who is gay, especially the ones who call themselves Christians and still support laws like this. You better be ready to turn that loved one in for them to face whatever punishment your country has whether life in prison or death or you will be harboring a criminal and breaking the law yourself. Religious beliefs are neither inherent nor genetic. I also hope no one has a problem if a president decides to outlaw certain churches, especially the non denominational ones, after considering the psychological and financial havoc some clergy and pastors and their followers wreak on communities and families.

This Week in #TheyWantCoshWe

I doubt there is a Cameroonian alive and aware who doesn’t know about recent events in Washington DC.

I want find palava but I no even know place for start. 
I think I’m going to start a weekly review of the shenanigans and dumbassery that we get ourselves into.

When I first moved to the US my sister told me two things which have stuck with me since. 
1.  Before anything else, know that you are responsible for your actions in this country. This is not Cameroon.

I don’t even want to consider what the repercussions will be for other Cameroonians and Africans making honest livings in the area.

If being gay was a choice…

One of the most perplexing arguments I have heard against homosexuality is the fact that it is a choice. That homosexuals choose to be that way.

Ummm…. OK.

Let’s break this down for a second.

So it’s a choice. Well, dear straight ( I assume) reader, when did you face that critical moment of decision in your life when the options were:  1. Straight and 2. Gay… and you chose straight? Or is this choice faced only by the people who end up choosing to be gay? In which case, maybe they were just meant to be gay to begin with?

Also, think about it. If the choice between straight and gay was something that everyone faced, I am willing to bet all my worldly possessions (not much by the way) that the world would be a very different place today. First of all, homosexuality wouldn’t even be an issue because the potential for it is something we all would face at some point in our lives (its a choice, yeah?). It would be totally normal for some to choose gay and some straight. Just like some choose to have kids and some don’t. And some choose to become doctors and some teachers. Heck, choosing gay could very well have become the cooler thing to do if it happened that gay people tended to have the things that were desirable.

Secondly, who in their right mind, given the strong human tendency towards survival, would willingly choose the lifestyle that could mean their death in some places ? Who would want the pain and emotional and psychological trauma that is associated with being gay in today’s world? Seriously? Stop and consider the lengths people go to to avoid negative consequences. We who undertake all other kinds of crazy endeavours just to fit in. It just does not make sense.

Next, there would likely be way more gay people than there are now. Hold on…. bear with me here…. Let me finish.

Men and women are different. Many problems arise in relationships and marriages because men and woman and different. So different, in fact, it is almost as if we are from different planets sometimes (Mars and Venus, I believe they are.) So, if there was a point where you got to choose the gender with whom you formed romantic and potentially lifetime attachments, what are the odds people would gravitate towards others of the same gender, who they would likely understand?  Underneath all the social conditioning, the basic biological drives are the same. The hormones, developmental trajectories…same.  What are the odds a girl will most likely understand the way another girl is feeling or the way she does things or approaches life? Or guys other guys? How many people, tired of looking for love in one gender would simply switch to another? Or over the course of a lifetime switch between one and the other?

Children, you say? Guys, human beings figured out what plants were safe to eat and which weren’t, Spread all over the surface of the earth mostly on foot, built the pyramids and the Great Wall of China, fought massive wars, conquered diseases, and put a man on the moon without the technology we have today. I’m sure we would have figured out a way to deal with that.

Choice? I think not.

Where Do We Belong?

“A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.” 

                                                                      – W.E.B. Du Bois.

I’ve been following the Michael Dunn case and I’ve come to a realization.

Us black people in America, whether descendants of slaves or newly arrived from Africa,  have to come to terms with the fact that the plan was never for us to become members of  this society, worthy of admiration, respect and protection. And to the rest of us outside of America, it’s no better. The world as it now exists has little use for us, disease stricken and conflict ridden and corrupt as we are. We are to be pitied, guided, policed and helped at all costs. By every means necessary.

Yes, Slavery was abolished and Jim Crow and Colonialism and Apartheid ended but those were simply laws and systems which codified the beliefs held by the collective of western (read: white)  society: the belief that black people were somehow imperfect specimens of humanity, sub-standard, the very expression of what is base and evil in human nature and not worthy of sitting at the table of real human beings. The beliefs that are held by many other races now. The belief that made slavery so easy to institutionalize and colonialism so easy to implement, despite all the good people who surely were alive back then. All men were created equal but some were more equal than others… scratch that. Some were not even men. Yes, the protection of the law was taken away from those who chose to express these deeply held beliefs openly. It did not stop them from holding those beliefs.

I think the worst part is that we bought into that lie too. We came to believe that we were inferior and needed saving guidance. We internalized these beliefs. As Nina Simone so simply put it :

“The worst thing about that kind of prejudice… is that while you feel hurt and angry and all the rest of it, it feeds you self-doubt. You start thinking, perhaps I am not good enough.”

One look at the West’s technology and philosophies and aesthetics and all we were and all we had suddenly became sub-par. Our languages could not compete. Our ways of governing ourselves could not compete. Our religions could not compete. We could not compete.

Extreme language? Pick up any book written by European explorers about their exploits in Africa. Come tell me what you find. Google, “Are black people human?” And while you read those articles, blogs and comments, remember that human beings like me and you seating in front of their computers in the comfort of their homes wrote them. Oh but these are just a few people seating behind computers and not representative of all Americans? Sure, but how many more still hold that inherent disregard and mistrust for blacks and are not sitting behind their computers talking about it? Worse still there are the ones, who have this deep seated fear/mistrust/disregard and are not even aware they have it until they get caught up in a situation that puts it out there for the whole world to see. Think about that the next time a security officer follows you around a store, or a mother pulls her kid away from you as you walk down the street or when no one seats next to you on the bus, or when your teacher seems surprised you did well on a test or when next that thing happens that you know will not happen if you were not black. We know these things so well…

Look at the justifications that are given for the paternalistic and patronizing approach that the West has to African countries (and enabled by our leaders and those of us who continue to talk about how “we lack resources” …we have all the human and natural resources we need.) Basically, we have been treated like animals and dimwits from the very beginning. It’s common to hear people say now that black people are treated the way they are mainly because of  the way black criminals behave. Lies.  The  automatic fear and the bastardization of the black race predates anything that black criminals and deviants ever did.And it exists now. Every black person is presumed potentially not quite right until they prove otherwise and even then, any display of negativity is ascribed to their “blackness” not to any of the social forces that might provoke this behavior. Segregation existed up until the 60’s and in South Africa up till the 80’s. You have to ask yourself, if Martin Luther King and Mandela had not led rebellions and protests, would  we still have had black only restaurants right now? What are the odds a good many people would have had absolutely no problem with that?

Are there individuals now who see things differently? Yes. But  the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. The American societal system as a whole was never designed to accommodate black people. The West dominated world as it exists now follows the same pattern. Am I painting in broad strokes? Absolutely. How different is it, however, from the same broad strokes with which black society is painted? If the current actions of a subset of black people are the standards by which all black people are assessed, what makes it wrong for the same rule to be applied to non blacks?

That  American society is  being forced to accept us as a viable component is part the reason for all the tensions and microaggressions we have to live with on a day to day basis. It is against the law to openly show bias (although that’s changing now) but it’s ok if the bias can be cloaked in “taking precautions” and ignorance and “just kidding”.  The demand that we  ASSIMILATE is really a demand that we shed whatever we have that makes us different and take on the dominant culture so they don’t feel uncomfortable. I’ve never  read about any Europeans assimilating when they encountered Native Americans or other indigenous tribes.

So what are we to do? Where do we belong?

I have no grand way forward to offer, folks. I am still trying to come to terms with it myself. One thing I do know is that “just ignore them” is not the way forward. Because while we’re “ignoring them”,  lives are being destroyed because we are trapped in this purgatory. The burden of blackness weighs on us all whether or not it’s acknowledged. If you have some how found a way to navigate life despite this burden, remember that many others still labor under this burden.

 Not ignoring them will make you angry. As James Baldwin said:

“To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” 

But this rage, is perhaps what we need to galvanize  the drive to find validation in ourselves and our history and culture (which by the way in  the past was conveniently destroyed to make way for more Eurocentric models.)  because we will never get it from anywhere else. We have already been deemed unfit.

Was I African Before It Was Cool To Be African?

I’ve been following blog posts from the wonderful group of young Africans at Rise Africa. The focus this month has been on how we fall in love with our “Africaness” and there have been insightful posts from young men and women from all across the continent talking about how they came to accept and bear their African heritage with pride.

Read More Here

A common theme which has arisen in the posts is that idea that the enthusiasm with which many Africans are embracing their heritage is because it is now “cool” to be African. To rock natural hair and tribal prints. To know your culture and traditional language, to know your music and to know the writers who tell your stories, is the latest trend and self respecting hispter of African origin should know. So in addition to the Starbucks and black framed glasses and knowledge of all the cool rock bands before they were cool, we now have colorful headwraps, speak with that ever so slight inflection which hints at knowledge of another tongue, we wear beads, keep natural hair and listen to Wizkid.

This echoes a question one of my sisters asked me recently. “Where is all this new found zeal for all things African from?”

She asked this in response to the fact that I now listened to PSquare who I usually made fun of. (Never mind that I reserved my  sharpest criticisms for their songs  which  merely mimicked American singers. I have a deep abiding love for  genuine traditional African music, from whatever country)

Where is my (not so ) new found zeal for Africa from?

It comes from a place of anger and frustration. I’ve always been African. I’ve just never had to put conscious thought to being “African” until I moved to the US.  Since moving to the US I’ve found myself having to tell the story of my Africa over and over. I’ve had to  redefine it’s image in my daily interactions, facing massive ignorance only fueled by the images of the continent so well loved by the mainstream media. We all know that image: that of a helpless , hapless continent, trapped by it’s history, mired in it’s corruption and violence, abandoned by it’s children, whose only salvation lies in the hands of foreign intervention. The Africa that knows only pain and disease and suffering. The Africa that many of our leaders carry on their heads as they jostle in line for international dollars that regular Africans never see and have learned to live without. That Africa that many of us never knew.

I’ve heard African art referred to as rudimentary and its music and dance as unsophisticated in their expression or vulgar (too much bum bum shaking). My reply that comparing our dances, art and music to western versions was like comparing apples to oranges fell on deaf ears. It all came to a head during a heated argument in which I was arguing for more of an investment into training locals to provide the healthcare needs for Africa rather than shipping in volunteers and expertise from abroad. To which an American friend said “But they can’t even count… they barely can go to school. They need volunteers to at least  count the pills. ” I wondered who he meant by “they” for a moment then it struck me that he meant “us” Africans. Of course, I blistered his ears with what I thought of his patronizing attitude but later that day, I broke down and railed and cried bitterly because my protestations rang false even to my ears.

“What do they even know?” I asked my then boyfriend. To which he simply  replied “They know what they see on TV.”

But it was more than that. It wasn’t only what they did or didn’t  know, it was also what I had failed to show. I had to acknowledge the part I was passively playing in promoting that sad image. How can our music be powerful when I am all too eager to listen to foreign music, leaving my own music for the privacy of my home or when in gatherings with other Africans?  How can our clothes be beautiful when I can’t wear them with pride despite the stares? How can our cuisine be diverse and delicious when I am too embarrassed by the strong aromas to take them to work? How can our languages, our history or culture be worthy, when I am willing to cover my accent, adopt new traditions (Baby shower vs. Bornhouse)? How can my country be worth my dedication when leaving it was my dream for so long?

There is a high price for true assimilation as America would prefer. Assimilation that would require either that I forget the cradle of my fathers or at the very least that I push it to the very back of my life, in order to fit in. An assimilation that would need me to develop a double personality almost. A price I find myself unwilling to pay as each day goes by. For me, my protestations to Africa’s beauty and value, were betrayed by my reluctance to hold high her pennant in a foreign land.

Does it really matter why anyone is now African?

I say it isn’t. As long as we can find something to be proud of in our homelands, I say go for it. Fly the flag high. Even if the thing that we are proud of is the fact that other people are proud of their homelands, it works for me. It is my firm belief that the transformation of the continent has to come from within each one of us Africans, where we  find something worth fighting for and saving in our individual countries or tribes,  be it our art, music, languages, philosophies, natural remedies, manner of grooming, way of life and community interaction, the health of the people, their education, their economic development, whatever it is, find something to fight for. Some thing to be proud of.

To echo the sentiment over at Rise Africa : Africa is Done Suffering.

Conversations With A Fellow African Colleague

After pleasantries and the requisite lighthearted mocking of our countries of origin

Him: So are you married?
Me: Nope.
Him: (looking a little shocked) Why? How old are you?
Me: (looking a little miffed) I’m 26. Getting married is not actually a priority right now.
Him: (with the knowing nod) Aaaah, you’re still young. There is time.
Me: Is that so? It’s not marriage for marriages sake oh!
(I then launched into a mini lecture about how this pressure on African women to marry was unhealthy and unnecessary)
Him: See, you shouldn’t talk like that, men will be afraid to approach you if they hear you talking like that.
Me: (side eye)

#The StruggleContinues

Rant Break: Samuel L. Jackson Looks Like Laurence Fishburne?

I’m not sure why anyone will confuse Samuel L. Jackson for Laurence Fishburne, but apparently Sam Rubin is not the only one to have made that gaffe. If reader comments are to be believed, they DO look alike. I was shocked by the number of people who said they have actually met either of these men in person and mixed them up.

Wuna helep me.

Na the broking teeth? Or na the occasional corobo wey dem two di wear? This one pass me.

Anyway, the thing that has me a little miffed is the fact that Mr. Jackson is being criticized and called an egomaniac for setting the award winning entertainment reporter straight after he mixed them up. Watch the interview below.

To the people saying SLJ is an egomaniac or a jerk or that he overreacted. I beg to differ.

First of all, this could have gone a lot worse. I mean, SLJ could have cussed him out, could have thrown a hissy fit and stormed off set. He  is an actor and other big name actors have done worse with less provocation. He did none of the above. He took the opportunity to scold the man, using biting humor and heavy doses of sarcasm for an error which is way beneath a journalist of Sam Rubins calibre.  This is an award-winning journalist for crying out loud. Is it too much to ask that he knows who the heck he’s talking to? If this had been a black journalist who mistook, I don’t know, Sandra Oh for Lucy Liu, we likely would have been hearing a completely different story on social media. Conversations about professional standards and a lack of excellence.

SLJ did have a commercial that ran in the Superbowl but , that commercial is NOT what Sam Rubin was referring to because he immediately started apologizing when SLJ asked him  what commercial he was talking about. In my experience, innocent people do not apologize. Innocent people will likely  look back at you wondering how come you do not know what commercials you have been in.

Are other  big name actors mixed up too? Sure. Al Pacino and Robert deNiro. Amy Adams and Isla Fisher…

Click here for more

 These people actually look like each other folks….

Would they be annoyed if they were persistently mixed up for each other? I bet they would. Would they be more than a little miffed if a reporter of some import mixed them up with someone else? I’ll bet you all my worldly possessions they would.

SLJ has every right to be annoyed. Whether or not he’s a good actor is a matter of opinion but he’s respected enough in his field to have risen to the top. He deserves respect and recognition, especially at an interview on live television where they are supposed to be promoting his movie.

Click Here for SLJ’s Awards and Nominations

To be confused with another big name actor on the street by some hapless fan is one thing. To be confused with another big name actor by some one who is supposedly one of the better entertainment reporters in the business is something else completely.

And then people talking about the fact that he played the race card. Well, aside from being black and famous what else do these two men have in common? Do they even sound alike? Do they play similar roles in their movies? Because they certainly do NOT look alike. What part of Sam Rubin’s brain could possibly have been malfunctioning?   Of course, SLJ could have played the gracious and benevolent celebrity. More specifically he could have been the ever smiling sambo, easy going, and care free; or the mystical negro, the friend, forgiving of all slights, understanding of those who misunderstand and prejudge. (Morgan Freeman has dibs on that character by the way)

But he didn’t. He got pissed off and set the record straight, and there’s nothing scarier to the delicate sensibilities of the American public than the sight of an angry black man.

Anger, righteous and earned or otherwise is something you don’t exactly get to show as a black person living in the US. Your stature in society, your education, your track record of being a nice enough person to be around melts away like butter on a hot spoon. You’re not just an angry person. You’re an angry black person. That carries a different connotation.

This takes me back to the Richard Sherman brouhaha. Brothers can’t win in this thing.

 I’ll write about being black and angry in America one of these days.

For my non pidgin-speaking peeps:

Wuna helep me. > Somebody help me.

Na the broking teeth? > Is it the gap tooth?

Or na the occasional corobo wey dem two di wear? > Or is itthe fact that they both sometimes are completely bald

This one pass me. > I can’t figure this one out