Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Interesting discussion on homosexuality in pre-colonial Africa

There is an ongoing discussion that was engendered by one of my older blog posts, posted on this blog in March 2009. The post is the first of a five-part series, The Truth about Homosexuality in Africa (Part 1). Go to the comments on that post to see the discussion so far.

The discussion has been between me and (im)perfect_black ☥☥☥ (GI), who blogs at Thoughts of a Ghetto Intellectual and whose Facebook page is here. We have been considering whether there is the potential for obtaining from our elders currently living, (or from any other sources), historical information about homosexuality in traditional African societies. What is desired is information that is authentically African and devoid of all European or Western input or influence, since it seems that all of the literature and the majority of the material that is currently available to us on the subject are of Western origin.

And this would include those reports about the homosexual practices and traditions that the early Western anthropologists observed among our communities. These are available to us today but are of questionable value, since what we find in the literature are the Western anthropologist/missionary/colonial officer's views on what he thought he had observed, rather than a factually accurate and true account of what he did in fact observe.

The reason for writing this post this is to call for ideas and suggestions..

1 comment:

(im)perfect_black ☥☥☥ said...

One possible method of circumventing "western" or christian or islamic influence on local constructions of the past might be to engage in informal conversations or unstructured interviews regarding indigenous names for effeminate men, after discerning which terms are precolonial. my hypothesis is that some of these men probably engaged gay sex whilst still meeting the cultural expectation of marrying and having children.

This is speculative, but I bet that an ethnographer doing long term research in a village might get to know a few elders who would concede the connection between gay sex and (some) effeminate men. many of course would simply say that such matters are private, but I am thinking a good ethnographer might get beyond this standard response. GI