So, how can I be African and still advocate that homosexuals not be treated like murderers? How can I be African with a deep respect for the African values Cheihk Anta Diop described as common and central to the the various cultures that exist on the African continent. Values like oneness/harmony with nature, survival of the group, inclusiveness, cooperation, collective responsibility and interdependence – how can I highly prize these values, advocate so strongly that we look to them as the guiding philosophies of our lives rather than to western-oriented values like individualism – and still support the emancipation of people involved in a practice that seems so contrary to nature and intuition and is so divisive?
Read those questions carefully, people, because in them lie their own very answers.
For those of you who haven’t unfriended me on Facebook already, my profile page has a very long and ongoing conversation with my beloved Uncle P, and other friends where I go into why I believe, religion, politics and morality are no justifications for imposing the kind of harsh punishments that are being imposed on homosexuals, so I am not going to go into that.
It boils down to one thing. Before I am African, Cameroonian, Tikar, Ngo-Ketunjia, Bafanji whatever you want to call it, before I am all of those things, I am one thing – a human being. A human being capable of compassion and empathy. A human being capable of looking at the way another human being is being treated and knowing that it is unfair, no matter what the law, culture, society and religion dictates, and unfortunately for you my friends, a human being who has no problem going full activist on all of your butts, no matter what it costs me.
Life in prison or the death penalty are punishments usually reserved for criminals who commit the crimes that violate the most sacred human right, the right to life. This is the same punishment that you get as a homosexual person living in Uganda and many other countries. What is worse, there is the aspect of mob justice which is essentially a death sentence without trial. Kisuule Magala, a Ugandan journalist based in Chicago summarized it neatly on NPR when he said gay people in Uganda and Africa really, have more to fear from mob justice than from the government.
David Bahati, the Ugandan member of parliament who introduced the anti-gay bill in Uganda stated in an interview that he will like to “kill every gay person.” Read Interview Here
Not an idle musing, Rwanda is, after all, right next door to Uganda. The idea of gay witch hunts, and public executions is not too far fetched and what’s worse, the people who could perpetrate these acts would have the implicit support of the law and the general public.
So yes, as an African, even as an African, I support the right gay people have, to lives without fear and terror. Free from the tyranny of the self righteous majority.
If we as nature loving, harmonious living, inclusive, cooperative, collectively responsible and interdependent Africans care so much about our values, how about we find and explore ways to offer support to those who have homosexual tendencies but wish not to express them, and live with those who choose to express them without killing them off or tossing them into prison, out of our sight, without actually dealing with the issue?
The mark of any great society is it’s ability to adapt itself to the times in which it exists.
These are our times…