Saturday, 31 October 2009

Homosexuality (A brief cross-cultural survey) 3

Cultures with Males in non-masculine roles
Tanala and Bara, Madagascar, 1920s? (Linton. HRAF FY8 TANALA 1:LINTON 298, 299.)Men in feminised roles are known as sarombavy. They wear women's costumes and dress their hair as women do and practice women's occupations. They were not supposed to have supernatural powers nor to be especially adept as medicine men, but they might be medicine men if they wished. Among the Bara professional male dancers were often homosexual, but one could not be a dancer and a sarombavy simultaneously because dancers had to be in the male role. Among the Tanala sarombavy were said to exhibit female characteristics from birth, but among the Bara sometimes men, especial impotent men, might adopt the role later in life, and sarombavy also included true hermaphrodites.
Zuni, America, to present. (Parsons. Stevenson.)Native name for the feminised role is Lhamana which refers to the peacemaking Kachina spirit Ko`lhamana. In ritual dances Lhamana dance back and forth between men's and women's lines, symbolizing their intermediate role. Zuni joke that Lhamana have a special ability to attract young men. Men in the male role may marry Lhamanas.
Zapotec, Oaxaca Mexico, to present. (Chi¤as.)Berdache role, called ira'muxe, coexists with serial bisexuality. Berdache dress is more masculine than feminine in native costume, but berdaches may adopt feminine European dress. Berdaches do not have special religious roles and participate as men in religious rituals. Men in the male role may marry berdaches, but usually berdaches are not first wives. Berdaches are considered good step-mothers and may be married by widowers.
Hupa, N America, to present. (Williams, W. L. here and there.)A Hupa berdache recalls knowing he was different from an early age and it was known to his grandmother that he would "become a woman." The public thought his male partners were insertive in having sex with him, but this was not always the case. He considered his role on the reservation somewhat androgynous. When he left the reservation he passed for a woman in the dominant culture, but eventually was more comfortable identifying himself as a gay man.
Navajo, United StatesThe native name of the role is nadle, which means changing ones. The term is also applied to biological hermaphrodites.
Plateau Tonga, N Zimbabwe, circa 1900? (Smith and Dale, v. I, p. 373; v. II, p. 74.)The native name for the role is mwaami, which means a prophet. One case is cited of a man in female attire doing woman's work. Unstated whether the mwaami had sex with men, but strongly implied that he did not have sex with women. Pederasty said not to be rare, but abhorred for fear of male pregnancy.
Lango, Iteso, and Karamojan peoples of Uganda, circa 1915. (Driberg. pp. 209-210 and notes 1 & 2, pp. 209-210.)Called Jok manywala (god begat me) and other more or less complimentary terms, some men take the role of women in all regards, including in some cases simulating menstruation. Such men were said to number about 50 of a population of 17,000. Men in the male roles could take men in the female role as wives. Otherwise, sexual relationships between men in the male role were attributed to witchcraft and were punishable by death. Men "of hermaphroditic instinct" comparable to jok manywala were said to be very numerous among the neighboring Iteso and Karamojan.
Gisu aka (ba)Masaba, Uganda, W slope of Mt. Elgon, 1953-1955. (La Fontaine. pp. 34, 60-61.)BaYazi is the native term for men in the female role. Although ridiculed, such men were not regarded as revolting. BaYazi refuse to concede in any way that they are not women. At the time of the work BuYazi (the condition) was associated with homosexuality, but this was said not to have been the case in the past. Female roles might be adopted at any age, but usually before circumcision. Otherwise male homosexuality might be punished by beating the participants to death on the spot as it was taken as an indication of witchcraft.
Otoro, Nuba Mountains, Sudan (Nadel: 1953)Homosexual men were allowed to adopt the roles of women. This was not associated with their becoming miyang (medical experts).
Heiban (for comparison to the Gisu), Nuba Mountains, Sudan (Nadel: 1953)Homosexuals not afforded the opportunity to adopt female roles; regarded simply as abnormal. Homosexuality not associated with kumang (medical experts).
Pima, SW United States. (Hill.)The native name wi-kovat means like a girl. The occurrence of men in the female role is blamed on the witchcraft of the neighbouring Papapagos who have a berdache tradition.
Korong and Mesakin, Nuba Mountains, Sudan (Nadel: 1952)The word for male homosexual is identical to that for coward or weakling. In both groups male homosexuals are said invariably to become transvestites, but those regarded as cowards or weaklings are often also forced into to this role. A case of witchcraft by one such person is noted, but no special propensity for witchcraft is associated with the transvestite group.
KiMbundu, Angola. (Hambly. p. 81.)A case of a man who dresses as a woman and pounds corn with women. He was beaten by his relatives but did not reform. The medicine man sometimes dresses as a woman. Homosexuality is known to occur but is regarded as very bad.
Nyakyusa, SE Africa, 1934-1938. (Wilson. HRAF FN17 NGONDE 1:WILSON E-5 1951, 197.)An idiosyncratic report of a hermit in the hills who dressed as a woman but who was not known to have sex with persons of either sex. Nyakyusa traditions are of the serial bisexual type.
Omaha, C United States, to present. (de Tonti. Williams, W.L. here and there. Dorsey.)The berdache role is called mexoga (instructed by the moon). On his vision quest a young male is offered a man's weapons on the one hand and a woman's pack strap on the other hand by the sacred Moon Being. If the young male grasps the strap, perhaps inadvertently as the Moon Being switches hands quickly, the young male is certain to become a mexoga. A mexoga acts as a go-between for men and women, as for example in a marital dispute. The mexoga is considered neither a man nor a woman. But the mexoga can join a warrior society and thus participate in dances as a male. Mexoga dress is masculine with feminine ornaments, but would probably seem entirely masculine to an outside observer. Mexoga marry men in the male role. Modern Omaha recognise mexoga as the same as gay.

Friday, 30 October 2009


Tomorrow is the wedding day of the oldest daughter of my boss. Now, in all honesty, I will avoid attending a wedding if I can. But this is one wedding that I simply cannot afford not to attend, well, not if I want to hold on to my place in the boss's good books..This morning I took to the cleaners that not-very-often-used Burberry blazer, (you know, that navy-blue one with the shiny nautical buttons). I arranged for the tan slacks to be pressed and even got out those Anville style rawhide boots that have been kept in their box, awaiting the right moment. That is all sorted and I've even checked the city map and plotted the best route to travel through Saturday morning heavy traffic to arrive at the church in time. But one small thing remains...

I cannot possibly arrive empty-handed at the wedding reception of my boss's oldest daughter! So obviously, I will need to buy a gift. But I hate shopping! And that's even when I know what I want to buy! When I have no clue what to buy, its much much worse. I knew this moment would eventually come, and the sensible thing would have been for me to give myself enough time to think about an appropriate gift, move around a bit and get something nice, you know, something special that the newly weds will appreciate. But I thought perhaps if I didn't think about it and shoved it to the back of my mind...

Anyway here I am trying to finish off the bits of work left on my desk, (that lady at S & Co. has taken too long to send that email I've been waiting for all morning...), complain on this blog, then rush off to the shops to see if I can find something the couple won't already have.. I've thought about the following items already...A kettle, or an iron, or a dinner set, or a toaster, or a set of wine glasses or..and now you see my problem. It is likely that all of these items will already be among the gifts that the couple will receive tomorrow. Sometimes I wish I had a wife, then I could leave such difficult matters for her to sort out, lol. Hey guys, I'm crying out for help here..

Brazen (Weep)


Thursday, 29 October 2009

Homosexuality (A brief cross-cultural survey) 2

Female-Female Relationships
Azande, C Africa. (Evans-Pritchard (1970) pp. 1428-34.)Lesbianism is widely practiced and is the subject of much folklore. Lesbianism is thought to be a form of witchcraft fatal to any male who witnesses it, and therefore theoretically punishable by death (as treason) if practiced by the King's wives. In practice sanctions are less severe or ignored.
Bantu speakers of Africa. (O'Brien.)Female-female marriage is very widespread.
Dahomey, to recent times, Benin.Passing mention of female homosexuality within a more thorough description of male homosexual traditions of the serial bisexual kind. Dahomey was regarded as a land of amazons by Europeans, but evidently this had little to do with lesbianism and everything to do with Dahomey being ruled by a queen at the time of the first European contact. Something of European attitudes is revealed in that Englishmen, having been ruled by the Tudor queens, would assume that a black nation ruled by a queen was necessarily amazon.
France, early 20th century. (de Beauvior.)Description of a lesbian student community at Sävres. Although the author's answers do not reveal a particularly advanced view of lesbianism, she has a knack for asking the right questions.
Gisu (Masaba), W slope of Mt. Elgon, 1953-1955. (La Fontaine. pp. 34, 60-61.)A woman reported living in the male role.
Ibo, SE Nigeria, 1930-1950. (Uchendu. pp. 7 & 50, and note 4, p. 7.)Female-female marriage is recognised. Informant's mother had several wives, but he denies a sexual component of these marriages.
KiMbundu, Angola. (Hambly. p. 81.)Women make artificial penises to use with other women (according to a male informant).
Nandi, Kenya. (Huntingford. pp. 16, 19.)A female witch who has a female husband.
Mombasa (Strobel. p. 133 and note 33.)

Women's dance associations provide access to lesbian networks and cover for lesbian assignation (or so some male husbands suspect).

Nama, Kalihari desert, S Africa, 1930. (HRAF FX13 HOTTENTOT 2:SCHAPERA E-4,5 1930.)Lesbianism common, especially between young married women. Lesbian relationships may be sealed by "water-sisterhood" ritual called soregus. This bond may be contracted between any two individuals and does not necessarily imply a romantic or sexual relation, although it often includes such elements. The soregus partner may not be refused anything, including sexual favors, and this obligation supersedes prohibitions against adultery. The usual lesbian sexual practice is mutual masturbation. Male-male practices are remarkably symmetrical.
Nkundó, Africa, 1938. (HRAF FO32 MONGO 2:HUSTAERT 87 M-5 1938.)Nkundó play "husband and wife" and the game is played even by adult married women. The term for the act involved is ya¡kya bons ngo based on the verb ya¡kya, to press against. Nothing wrong is seen in the practice.
Nuer (Zulu), South Africa. (Gluckman. p. 184. Evans-Pritchard. (1950) p. 390.)Zulu women can take wives and the children of this union (via a male perhaps from a different community) belong to the line of the female husband.
Nupe, Nigeria. (Nadel: 1942, p.152).Homosexuality said to occur among women but not men. For this reason, the natives say, women are more complete.
Plateau Tonga, N. Zimbabwe, circa 1960 ? (Smith and Dale. v. I, p. 373; v. II, p. 74.)Women make dildos of leather and wood, but whether for use with other women or for solitary use is not specified.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


Issues such as the above are those that demand the attention of the media and the governments of Africa. What we see instead are newspaper headlines screaming about the existence of homosexuals in the general population (as if this is news), editorials condemning homosexuals, and even the unethical violation of the human rights of their innocent relatives. We even hear of homosexuality being discussed in parliaments, whereas exiguous attention is given to such a significant matter as is limned in this video..

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Homosexuality (A brief cross-cultural survey) 1

Name, Place, Time (Principal sources)Remarks
Cultures with Male Serial Bisexuality
Azande, C Africa, to circa 1900. (Evans-Pritchard: 1970)Male-male marriages are recognised between soldiers and recruits. Marriages are dissolved when recruits become soldiers and themselves take young male-wives. Men, once they were married to women, were expected to prefer heterosexual relations, but throughout life homosexuality was considered a sensible alternative when heterosexual relations were impossible, inconvenient, or as they often were, taboo. The usual form of relations was intercourse between the thighs. Azande knew some men preferred homosexual relations, and such was said to be the case with certain chiefs and military leaders. Male-male marriage was forbidden by European missionaries, but homosexual activities persisted in other forms without sanction.
Dahomey, Benin W Africa, 1931. (Herskovits. v. I, pp. 239-242, 288-289.)Typical example of male serial bisexuality in that homosexual relations among young males and young men are tolerated in a period of sexual segregation, whereas homosexuality between married adult males is strongly condemned. However among the Dahomey adult homosexual relations between those who were lovers in youth may have been concealed in a tradition of "best friendships."
Fang, W Africa, circa 1905. (HRAF FH9 FANG 2:TESSMANN 23 E-2 (1904-1909) 1913)Young men are generally bisexual and no significance attaches to the roles they assume in their homosexual relations. Fang tolerate, but do not approve of youthful homosexual relations. Homosexual relations between men of marriageable age is supposed to be taboo. However, homosexual intercourse is supposed to be a wealth-producing medicine which benefits the partner in the inserter role, although invoking this medicine is supposed to entail a risk of disease. Adult men found in homosexual relations claim not to be homosexual, but only to be practicing the wealth-producing medicine.
Great Britain,to present.Childhood sex play is not tolerated by the English. However at a young age young males of high-status families are sent to sexually segregated compounds called "public schools." Younger young males act as pages, called "fags," to the older young males. Younger young males are often cast in the insertee role in homosexual relations. Additionally, many male-male romances have been reported, although some of these may not have been consummated. In adulthood men are supposed to be completely heterosexual and to resent any allusion to their youthful homosexual relationships. Yet relationships formed in the public schools retain some importance throughout life and this is known as "the old school tie."
Greek, circa 500 BC (Dover.)Homosexuality in the social approved form consisted of intercourse between the thighs in which the inserter was a mature man who sought the relation with a young man. The youth was supposed to be indifferent to the sexual aspects of the relationship and he was not supposed to derive sexual pleasure from the relationship. The youth was supposed to benefit from the patronage of the older man. Anal intercourse was known and was not forbidden, but citizens were not supposed to prostitute themselves in the insertee role.
Houston, Texas, circa 1960. (Fictionalized account by native informant: Eighner [1985] See also: Reiss.)Childhood sex play is not tolerated. From puberty to about age 16, some young males may engage in a practice they call "queer rolling." The stated purpose of this activity is to attract and then rob older homosexual males, but in fact this never actually occurred to the knowledge of the informant. The young males were fellated by the older males and sometimes accepted money for this activity. The plan of robbery served only as an excuse for violating strict taboos on all forms of male homosexuality. Among the initiates, young males admitted deriving pleasure from the men and often said the "faggots" (adult fellators) performed oral sex better than women. Boys would admit to agreeing to meet men again. Cash payments, if any, were token amounts, although sometimes exaggerated by the young males. Sexual contact between the young males was taboo, although group masturbation was not unheard of. Signs of affection between the men and the young males were strictly taboo.
Ik (pseudonym), Kidepo Valley, Uganda, near Sudan-Kenya border, 1964-1967. (Turnbull, p. 254. Better explained: Tripp, p. 68.)Young men may masturbate each other, even in public, provided they do not exchange signs of affection. Turnbull ascribes the lack of affection to the famine the Ik are enduring, but in fact, this is one of the requirements of the native form.
Japan, from at least 1500s to circa 1865. (Childs.)Intergenerational love common among monks and in the military. In the former case men were supposedly homosexual or celibate through their lives. Adult samurai might be bisexual.
Kaluli, Papua, 1976 (Schieffelin. pp. 124-126.)Like the Keraki. Monogamous relationship between an initiate and his sponsor is noted.
Keraki, Papua, 1936 (Williams, F.E.)Sodomy to imbue initiates with masculine characteristics. Similar to fellatio among the Sambians.
Mohave, SW United States, to present. (Devereux. Williams, W.L. pp. 89-90, 96-98, and passim.)Very general bisexuality thought unremarkable from early childhood to early 20s. Virtually all forms of homosexual relations occur. Men are expected to become heterosexual and to marry women, but adult males may marry or have sexual relations with berdaches who are men in a nonmasculine role, and this is not considered homosexual. Mohave berdaches tend to have insisted on assuming the insertee role in homosexual relations.
Moslem cultures of Asia minor, N and E Africa. (Edwardes. Cline.)Intergenrational male sex tends to be the rule and after heterosexual marriage men continue to have homosexual affairs throughout life. In some societies, men brag as openly about their homosexual affairs as about their heterosexual ones. Although homosexuality is forbidden by the Koran and the death penalty is prescribed, rigid segregation of the sexes may encourage homosexual practices among parts of the male population who might not otherwise participate.
Mossi, C Africa, Tauxier pp. 569-70 in the French; HRAF FA28 MOSSI 6:TAUXIER, 106.Soroné are cross-dressing pages, young males [at certain young ages] who are concubines of important men from village dignitaries to the paramount chief. When they come of age they assume masculine roles and marry women given to them by their patron. The first born children of these unions become soroné or wives of soroné.
Nama aka Hottentots, SW Africa. (HRAF FX13 HOTTENTOT 2:SCHAPERA E-4 1930, pp. 322, 242-243.)Although homosexuality is well accepted throughout life, young males form especially intense relationships sealed by soregus (water sharing), a bond in some respects more sacred than marriage. Mutual masturbation is said to be the most common form of homosexual relations, but anal intercourse is not unknown.
Nashville, Tennesee, 1958 (Reiss.)Adolescent males who define themselves neither as career prostitutes nor as homosexuals offer themselves to be fellated for money by (usually) older males who are identified as homosexual provided this activity can be excused as a money-making enterprise, the youth are never cast in a feminine role (at least not in view of their peers), and affection is not overtly expressed by either party. Norms of the relationship of the youth to the older males are enforced with the threat of violence. The youth eventually pursue adult careers and cease this activity.
Nkundo, C Zaire, circa 1930. (HRAF FO32 MONGO 2:HULSTAERT M-5 1938, p. 86.)A sketchy and homophobic report suggests a fairly typical pattern. However, it is reported that in the past the younger partner took the inserter role in anal intercourse, which is unusual.
Nyakyusa, N shore of Lake Malawi aka Lake Nyasa, SE Africa, circa 1936. (Wilson. HRAF FN17 NGONDE 1:WILSON E-5 1951, 197.)During the homosexual period no role divisions appear among the young males and young men. Younger young males and young men exchange roles freely in anal intercourse and intercourse between the thighs. Mutual masturbation is popular. Oral sex is taboo. Boys establish villages, often laid out to reflect their relationships. Eventually the young men marry and their wives move into the village. Homosexuality involving married males is considered witchcraft and is punishable by a cattle fine. Enough cases come to light to suggest that a number of men persist in homosexual relations beyond the prescribed period.
Sambia (pseudonym), New Guinea highlands, 1974-1976 (also 1938). (Herdt.)95%+ of young men fellate older males, but only during daily secret rituals. The beginning of the fellating period is 7-10 years of age; fellated period begins at puberty and continues until about age 25. Males in this period must avoid all contact with females. Fellators do not assume the roles of women. There is a strongly marked sexual antagonism, "misogyny." Initiates are segregated in men's house, but homosexual relations do not occur there. Young children may play together freely regardless of sex. 5% or less of married males continue to be fellated, but this is socially disapproved. Married men as fellators of youths are strongly condemned, although this is known to occur occasionally.
WaTutsi (dominant ethnic caste of traditional Ruanda), C Africa, mid-20th century. (Maquet.)Homosexuality described as "general" in the Tutsi and Hutu castes, especially among young men at court. Men of marriageable age were expected to become exclusively heterosexual, but blood brother relationships and cross-caste patronage relationships may have served as cover for adult homosexual relationships.
Zulu, S Africa, to 1897. (Morris. pp. 35-36, 46, 51-52, 54, 66, 107-108, 117, 279-281, 287-288, 587.)In martial traditions similar to the Azande. Contrary to events depicted in a popular motion picture, Shaka was avidly homosexual and some of his political decisions were said to have been made to extend his enjoyment of barracks homosexuality.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Bad temper

It was one of those days today. I arrived at work just before 7am. It was Monday morning and I was fresh, sprightly and rearing to go. I was first to arrive in the building as I like to be, and especially so when I have a point or two to prove to my boss, in other words, when I want to impress him. :)

Anyway, it was all good until things started to go downhill. First of all, arriving at the front door I searched my pockets for my keys to the building, a fruitless search that became more frantic by the second. In fact, so hot under the collar and frenetic was I becoming that I grew vaguely aware of a sense of embarrassment, since I was standing (and pulling out my pockets) on a very busy rush-hour pavement. (I didn't want to think about all those stares I was attracting). Needless to say, it was pointless searching for your keys in pockets that are empty, so hefting my briefcase, I made my way back to the Council housing estate behind our building, where I had triumphantly beat everyone to it and parked my car in that coveted parking space close to the exit. Suffice it to say that the search of the car produced no positive results either. Those keys were nowhere in sight. And it was still 7am!

So of course when 9am rolled along and Sheila, our very prim, very efficient and very punctual Mauritian secretary turned the corner and made her brisk way towards me standing on the pavement in front of the building, the relief was palpable. Sure, I'd spent much of the intervening 2 hours sitting in the car listening to the radio, but I was angry that the task I'd set for myself this morning would not now be accomplished, since I'd no longer have the peace and quiet needed for it. The phone won't stop ringing, and then there would be this instruction to give to Sheila regarding something that just arrived in the post, or that client to see; this phone call to take and that representation to make..and I would get so god awful busy..and that task that was meant to be done early this morning will remain undone, unless I dared to put in a few hours after everyone's gone home in the evening..

My favourite time of day is in the early morning. I like the freshness of the air, the birdsong, the peace. My mind is at its sharpest at this time and this is when I like to take on the most difficult things that I have to take on mentally. But it is also the time when I like to listen to Magic FM, and while still in my dressing gown, sit in front of the computer with a piping mug of coffee. I missed out on this this morning because I had to rush to work. And it appears that it was in rushing out of the flat that I neglected to move the office keys from my rucksack, the one that I'd taken with me over the weekend when I'd stopped over at the office.

Which of course means that the task that I set out to do early this morning has still not been done and its now nearly 9pm. And I've been bad tempered all day. I even snarled at Sheila. Poor thing, she's so good natured and always so warm. I know she'll understand that I was in a bad mood and I intend to apologise to her the minute she steps into the office tomorrow. I'll be the first to arrive and I will have my keys ...

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Under a dome of white jasmine
With the roses entwined together
On a river bank covered with flowers laughing in the morning

Gently floating on it's charming risings
On the river's current
On the shining waves
One hand reaches
Reaches for the bank
Where the spring sleeps and
The birds, the birds sing.

Under a dome of white jasmine
Ah! calling us

Under a dome of white jasmine
With the roses entwined together
On a river bank covered with flowers laughing in the morning
Let us descend together
Gently floating on it's charming risings,
On the river's current
On the shining waves,
One hand reaches,
Reaches for the bank,
Where the spring sleeps,
And the birds, the birds sing.

Under a dome of white jasmine
Ah! calling us

Friday, 23 October 2009

The Flower Duet

And this is how I ended the day (and the week), sitting in a dimly lit room, a glass of Cognac in hand..
I prepared a lengthy post about this opera and the various Acts. But it got deleted by mistake and I was so miffed that I thought I'd just direct everyone to Wikipedia, well, thats if you don't already know about the opera and what is written about it on there...

Have a great weekend everyone.. :)

Can't stay away from the 1980's..

I've been on an 80's music trip all week..just thought to share some of it here..

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Where is Garuba?

What happened to him, that hero of the story that has been appearing episode by episode on this blog? I've been asked that question quite a few times, on the blog and off it. And I've asked myself the same question too, but have so far been unable to come up with a satisfactory answer, even to myself.

Let me do some explaining here..The story was inspired by real events. The person telling the story did go away to northern Nigeria for his National Youth Service all those years ago. And yes, Garuba was a real person, although it is doubtful that all of the other characters were. Its also debatable whether the events as described in the story represent the actuality of what happened in Bauchi, during the period when the person telling the story was there.

I am making this confession so as to make it more apparent the extent of creativity that has had to brought into writing the story. And for some weird inexplicable reason, creativity is far away me at the moment. I guess this is what is famously described as 'writer's block', because somehow I've been kept back from progressing the plot of the story in my mind. The 'muse' has gone away on holiday, lol. But I don't expect it should be too long before he finds his way back, fully recharged.

Its a simple explanation, maybe a little hollow too. But what can be said about it is that its an honest explanation and is an attempt to pacify those who have asked questions. This is the absolute truth about why nothing has been written since the 7th of September. I'm hopeful that this 'creativity drought' will soon pass. In fact, I'm pretty certain that it will.. :)

Monday, 19 October 2009

No 'Nobel' for African Leaders

When Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim announced an annual $5 million prize to reward Africa's best leaders, he warned that there would be years when "we wouldn't award the prize." Just three years on, and despite considering "some credible candidates," the prize committee said on Monday that no prize would be awarded in 2009. In announcing the decision, committee member and former Botswana President Ketumile Masire said the panel "noted the progress made with governance in some African countries, while noticing with concern recent setbacks in other countries."

The non-award is, of course, a powerful indictment of Africa's still patchy governance and the continent's most recently retired leaders. The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership considers democratically elected former heads of state or government who have left office in the last three years. The prize is worth $5 million over 10 years and $200,000 a year for life thereafter. By making the reward so big — it is the largest annually awarded prize in the world — Ibrahim has said he wanted to create something to encourage African leaders to do good while in power, in part because they might be rewarded in retirement.

(Simon Robinson, senior editor Europe writes in TIME magazine. Click to read more..)

Are Americans behind Uganda's attempt to eliminate gays?

Take a look at this press release and make up your own mind.


"In March, American anti-gay activists traveled to Uganda for a conference that pledged to “wipe out” homosexuality. Seven months later, a draconian bill has been introduced that pledges to make good on this threat."

"Sadly, this witch-hunt has the blood stained fingerprints of leading American evangelicals. The Fellowship, (aka The Family) one of America’s most powerful and secretive fundamentalist organization’s, converted Uganda’s President Yoweri its anti-gay brand of Christianity, which is the “intellectual” impetus behind the anti-gay crackdown. The clandestine organization’s leader, Doug Coe, calls Museveni The Fellowship’s “key man” in Africa. Jeff Sharlet, author of “The Family”, writes of the African strongman’s conversion:"

“So,” Doug Coe told us, “my friend said to the president, ‘why don’t you come and pray with me in America? I have a good group of friends—senators, congressmen—who I like to pray with, and they’d like to pray with you.’ And that president came to the Cedars (a religious retreat), and he met Jesus. And his name is Yoweri Museveni…And he is a good friend of the Family.”

"It is important for people to understand that The Fellowship and other anti-gay groups have long viewed Uganda as a laboratory to experiment with Christian theocracy. For example, fundamentalist organizations recently undermined successful HIV programs in Uganda by demanding abstinence only education, over condom use, which had been working to reduce infection rates."

In 2005 Douglas Coe was named as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals by Time magazine.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Nigeria, Gabon in the UN Security Council

Nigeria and Gabon have both been elected to a United Nations Security Council non-permanent seat, following voting by the 192-member General Assembly.

Assembly President, Ali Treki, announced the results - 186 votes for Nigeria, 184 for Gabon, 183 for Bosnia, 182 for Brazil and 180 for Lebanon and declared the five countries elected to terms beginning 1st of January 2010.

In a press conference Nigerian Foreign minister
Ojo Maduekwe expressed gratitude for the "solidarity of the entire African bloc" and hailed the election, saying preventive diplomacy will be central to Nigeria's approach to issues.

Nigeria has served three terms in a U.N. Security Council non-permanent seat, most recently between 1994 and 1995. This will be Gabon's first time serving on the council. Professor Kabir Mato, head of the political science department at the University of Abuja said in an interview with VOA News, that Nigeria worked very hard to reach this point. "It is quite a strategic achievement, and if properly used, I do believe that Nigeria will be able to impact positively by pushing through some very cogent economic and political issues that will not only affect Nigeria as a country, but above all Africa and the rest of the third world in general," he said.

"It's going to be an even stronger Security Council, I think, next year," Britain's UN Ambassador John Sawers said in a statement. "We have two large countries in Brazil and Nigeria who carry the weight of being a regional power. We have two countries in Lebanon and Bosnia that have been through conflict and can bring their own national experiences to the Security Council," he added.

THISDAY reported that on the eve of Nigeria's election of Nigeria to the Council, Amnesty International released a 10-point agenda for the country to fulfil as a member of the Security Council. These included the following: complying with international and regional human rights obligations; preventing and prosecuting acts of extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture or other ill treatment; adopting a moratorium on improving access to justice and protecting human rights in the Niger delta. The Amnesty International statement went on:

“In 12 months Nigeria will celebrate 50 years of independence. Following successive military regimes, efforts have been made by the Nigerian government to improve the human rights situation in the country."

“The Constitution that came into force in 1999 recognizes the right to life; prohibits torture and other ill treatment, and guarantees a fair trial; however, economic, social and cultural rights fall under the directive principles and are not justifable. In addition, a wide range of human rights concern remain.”

Ten of the Security Council's 15 seats are filled by regional groups for two-years, and five non-permanent members are elected by the General Assembly every year. To win, candidates must get a two-thirds majority vote of the assembly members which is done by secret ballot.
The five other Security Council seats are occupied by its permanent members: the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France.

Africa the Good News

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Uganda's homophobic frenzy..

I broke out in a bout of hysterical laughter when I read the following excerpt from this press release from Human Rights Watch..

"This new draft bill includes a provision that could lead to the imprisonment for up to three years of anyone, including heterosexual people, who fails to report within 24 hours the identities of everyone they know who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, or who supports human rights for people who are."

This outbreak of frenzied homophobia is the epitome of the hypocrisy that pervades political life in Africa. At a time when expensive legislative time should be judiciously expended on the issues that really matter to the people of the country; when Ugandan lawmakers and the Ugandan government should be concerned about the welfare of vulnerable Ugandans, (including those same-gender loving men and women in their society, who are susceptible to wanton physical abuse and discrimination); when the Ugandan authorities should be looking to protect those of the country's citizens whose welfare is their responsibility; when the challenges that face our continent in this 21st Century are enormous; what we hear of instead is an Anti-Homosexuality Bill being introduced to Parliament. This bill is deemed necessary according to the MP David Bahati who introduced it. He claims that the purpose of the bill is to protect children and the "traditional family".

Now lets face it, the vast majority of the incidents of child rape in Uganda, as everywhere else, are not perpetrated by homosexuals. (In Uganda, child rape is referred to as 'defilement'). In fact, more often than not, the child victim has fallen prey to a predatory heterosexual rapist. It is this heterosexual rapist who children need protection from. And as far as I am aware, the laws that are currently in force in Uganda already make it an offence to engage in sexual relations with a minor.

Mr Bahati goes on to demand the death penalty for what he calls "aggravated homosexuality". I read this and I wondered if the said Mr Bahati has ever had the opportunity to sit inside a classroom in his life, given that unless he is starkly illiterate, he ought to know that there are no law books in any Common Law jurisdiction, (including Uganda), that refer to an offence known as 'homosexuality'. Homosexuality cannot be an offence! You cannot make it an offence and punish a person for having feelings of sexual and emotional attraction towards others of the same gender. You cannot prove 'homosexuality' in a court of law to the standard of proof that is required in a criminal court.

What the law describes as an offence, is the act of "carnal knowledge against the order of nature", i.e., the physical act of sexual penetration by one person of another person of the same gender. Now, unless you can prove beyond reasonable doubt that penetration has occurred, you do not have a case. Most of the homosexual sex that happens in this world is consensual, and not all of it is penetrative. Therefore, unless homosexual rape has occurred, a successful prosecution under the existing laws is virtually impossible. The operative word here is "rape", and a rapist should always be punished for his crime, be it homosexual or heterosexual rape. Similarly, a convicted paedophile must always be severely punished, and where he continues to pose a threat to children, he must be removed from society altogether, until such a time as when that risk no longer exists..But most paedophiles are not homosexuals. Homosexuals are only a tiny minority of the overall population and to ascribe to them such a disproportionate portion of the burden of guilt for child sex offences in Uganda is not only wrong, it is also manifestly prejudicial and irrational.

My point here is that you cannot prosecute for 'homosexuality'! There is no such offence in existence. There cannot therefore be the aggravated form of a non-existent offence! Section 140 of the Penal Code Act of Uganda already outlaws homosexual acts. The proper thing for lawmakers to do is to introduce an Amendment to the existing legislation, which in any event, I do not even see the need for, seeing as the existing law in Uganda is already one of the more draconian anti-sodomy laws in existence anywhere in the world. On the whole, this bill is suggestive of the fact that Ugandan lawmakers are allowing their homophobic prejudice to run away with them. Surely, there are some intelligent people in the Uganda Parliament who know enough to be tolerant and to be moderate in their views. I am relying on their good sense to kill this ridiculous bill...

Monday, 12 October 2009

Africa crisis warning

Some months ago I wrote this blog post expressing concern that Africa may not be doing enough in preparation for the world's changing climate. Events have come to light which vindicate those like me who have been crying out for a long time about the need for us to take heed of what the climate change scientists have been saying for years. Millions of people across East Africa are already facing starvation and dire poverty as rising food prices and a drought leave them without food.

Oxfam are warning that aid is needed urgently across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, where many people who rely on imported food have seen prices go up by as much as 500 per cent.

Lindsey Hilsum Channel 4 News's International Editor was based in Kenya between 1982 and 1989. She wrote this report on returning to parts of Northern Kenya recently, after 20 years.
Among other things, she writes:
"It’s a world away from Nairobi, where Kenyan MPs – who are, incidentally, paid more than their British counterparts – drive around in fancy cars and plot for the next election."
"Climate change scientists say northern Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia can expect more extreme weather events like this. Later this month heavy rains associated with El Nino are expected, but they may not improve the pasture so much as cause erosion by flooding. The aid agencies call this a “climate and poverty hotspot”, a desperate conjunction of misfortune. The people here need money to build dams to conserve water when the rains come. They need new laws on land tenure to minimise the risk of conflict between different groups and tribes over scarce resources. They need alternative employment opportunities, or they’ll end up leaving pastoralism, which remains the best way of using this arid land, and add to Kenya’s growing population of unemployed slum-dwellers."
"Aid agencies, both foreign and national, can help alleviate the worst of the suffering but in the end a government is responsible for the welfare of its people."

"As we drove south I thought how China has lifted
400m people out of poverty in the last 30 years. That’s the population equivalent of 10 Kenyas. What has the Kenyan government done in that time? It hasn’t even built a decent road from Baragoi to Maralal."
This doctor's blog from Kenya is worth reading..

Mrs Clinton on Nigeria..

The U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has described the situation in Nigeria as heartbreaking. Mrs. Clinton gave this description recently while speaking at the Corporate Council on Africa's Seventh Biennial U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Washington. Mrs Clinton said "There is no doubt that when one looks at Nigeria, it is such a heartbreaking scene we see. The number of people living in Nigeria is going up. The number of people facing food security and health challenges are going up... because the revenues have not been well managed."

Speaking about her meeting with leaders in Nigeria, Mrs Clinton said she had stressed "commitment to partnering with Nigeria in areas such as electoral reform, anti-corruption activities, better stewardship of oil revenues, and efforts to build a more diversified economy, as well as the resolution of the conflict in the Niger Delta." On the Obama Administration's strategies to help spur economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Secretary of State said "We are eager to move beyond stereotypes that paint Africa as a land of poverty, disease, conflict, and not much else. And we will continue to lay a strong foundation for a new kind of engagement with Africa, one that is built on shared responsibility and shared opportunity, and on partnerships that produce measurable, lasting results,"

Mrs Clinton went on to say, "From our perspective, for too long, Africa has been viewed as a charity case instead of a dynamic continent capable of becoming a global economic engine of the 21st century. So it is time to change the narrative. We will focus on country-led plans and market-based investments in areas like food security, infrastructure, and women. We will focus on metrics and accountability, on nations eager to attack corruption and promote good governance"

On the need for responsible African leadership on whose shoulders the ultimate responsibility for the success of the Obama Administration's 'big agenda' rests Mrs Clinton said, "We have to acknowledge that none of this can happen without responsible African leadership, without good government and transparency and accountability, without acceptable rule of law, without environmental stewardship and the effective management of resources, without respect for human rights, without an end to corruption as a cancer that eats away at the entrepreneurial spirits and hopes of millions of people."

To read the text of the complete speech click here.

I am hopeful that all of this is not mere rhetoric of the kind that we have been hearing in Africa for decades. I wish to be optimistic, but since the Obama Administration has stated clearly that the success of its positive agenda for Africa relies entirely on African leaders being responsible leaders, I can only be as optimistic as my realism allows. And going by the record of most of Africa's leaders, I cannot be as optimistic as I really would like to be..

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Welcome to Lagos..

I spent much of last Friday ferrying Sis and my niece around town. They'd been here for the last several weeks and were due to fly back to Lagos that night. At about 9.30pm a text message flashed.."We've boarded, thanks for everything..". I was pleased that everything had gone as planned and went to bed with a feeling of satisfaction. Then at about 4.30am Saturday morning, another text message sounded, waking me from deep sleep.."We've arrived, but we're trapped on the plane..". Alarmed, I jumped out of bed and tried to call them in Nigeria, but couldn't get through for some reason. So I went downstairs made some coffee, and with nail-biting anxiousness switched on the TV just to see if there was Breaking News on CNN of an aircraft mishap in Nigeria..

And I don't know for how long I sat there, but much to my relief, my phone rang again. It was Sis's Nigeria number. Apparently, a few seconds after the A340 touched down on the runway at Murtala Mohammed Airport, the lights at the airport went off. There was a power outage at the airport and the plane was unable to taxi safely to its docking place, trapping everyone inside the plane for about 30 minutes. I am advised that the aeroplane was eventually manoeuvred from the taxi way to the airport building with the help of the aircraft's own bright landing lights. On arriving at the docking point, the building in total darkness, airport and airline officials switched on their mobile phones, using the light from their phones in an attempt to illuminate the very dark tunnel through which disembarking passengers had to practically grope and feel their way in order to get into the airport terminal building, which itself was still in complete darkness..

It was not until nearly an hour after they touched down that the lights in the airport finally came back on and the baggage belt started running, enabling tired (and frightened) passengers to retrieve their luggage.. And I was wondering, what if there was a person on that flight visiting Nigeria for the first time? What a welcome this was!

As an aside, if you're not already browsing with Google Chrome, don't spend another minute without it.. :)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Moving away?

I'm toying with the idea of packing up and moving over to WordPress. For a sneak preview click here. Now having done so, please let me know what you think..

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Something about blogging..

I recently left a comment on someone's blog about how I think gay African men and women should make themselves more visible, take more pride in their sexual orientation and speak up more than I thought they are currently doing. My view was that the lack of understanding of homosexuality by Africans is deepened by the fact that our sexuality remains a mystery to them; and that it is unsurprising that this would be so, given that most have never met or known anyone who identifies as gay. But it was swiftly brought to my attention by the author of that blog that in fact there has been a proliferation of LGBT blogs written by Africans within the last year, and that gay Africans are indeed speaking out, despite the hostility that surrounds them in their communities.

I was silenced and had no choice but to accept what was said, hastily retreating with my 'tail between my legs', since it seemed that I had failed to acknowledge the existence of the many blogs written by LGBT Africans. Also, I appeared not to have recognised that with so many gay Africans writing about their sexual orientation, information about homosexuality is becoming available to Africans in unprecedented volumes. It is important that this information is being provided by the gay Africans themselves. Information of this kind has hitherto been in short supply, but is now pouring into the public domain in a quantity that has never before been seen, much of it of good quality and of educational value. And this is of course a positive development, since much of the hostility that we see being demonstrated by Africans generally towards homosexuality, derives from a lack of knowledge and understanding, a situation that has arisen partly because many of the ideas and attitudes that Africans have imbibed over the years and especially since the inception of the colonial era were tailored in Europe, albeit in a Europe of the past; but also partly because gay Africans have held on tightly to their anonymity, fearing reprisals if they dared to expose themselves, reprisals that are possible only because the generality of the African population have been largely unaware of the truth about homosexuality..

I am a LGBT African person, but I am reticent to think of this as an LGBT blog. I'd rather want to see the blog as a place at which I come to express my views and thoughts about the things that I care about, yes, of course gay issues too naturally, since these are issues that affect me and other Africans who are like me. But taking the advice of others who started their blogs earlier than I did, my aim has been to broaden the scope of the issues that I write about, since in the process what I hope to achieve is to demonstrate that being gay does not necessarily imply that my mind is preoccupied only with thoughts about my sexual orientation. Also, while it is important that anyone who reads this blog knows that the author of the blog is gay and African, I think it is also important that the reader can tell that the author far from being angry about being misunderstood by his kinsfolk, is desirous instead of making evident the fact that he (and others like him) is an ordinary human being who, as with most people, is interested in the world around him and that he has to grapple with the everyday challenges thrown at us all who live in the modern world. Being gay is an additional challenge, but being misunderstood makes dealing with this added challenge even more arduous.

Akin is a fellow blogger whom I admire exceedingly. He is currently blogging from his hospital bed about the ordeal that he is going through, receiving treatment for cancer. I have been following his blogs and I feel close to him and feel as strongly about his condition as if I was physically present with him. It is the power of the blog I think, and how it enables one to express oneself in ways that were hitherto impossible. It is the way the blogger is able to express his thoughts and feelings and expose his mind to a wider audience than ever before possible, even those who he does not know or has never met. I've written this blog post in an effort to relax after a particularly rigorous two weeks at work. I tried the usual things when I got home this evening, a glass of beer, Chopin, Bach, Aretha Franklin..Nothing happened, and not until I came on here to type this blog post did the tension ease..

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Friday, 2 October 2009

Thursday, 1 October 2009

What to make of this?

To the intellectuals of 19th Century Europe and America, it was thought that apes and black people were very similar. In this picture, from a book by Robert Knox called The Races of Men (1851), the slant of the brow is used to draw connections between the “Negro” and the “Oran Outan” and differences between those two and the “European.”

During this same period, African people were kept in zoos alongside animals. These pictures below are of Ota Benga, a Congolese Pygmy who spent some time as an attraction at The Bronx Zoo in New York City. He was featured in a 1906 human zoo exhibit at the zoo. Benga roamed freely on the grounds and was encouraged to interact with patrons; he later came to be "exhibited" in the zoo's Monkey House as part of a display intended to promote the concepts of human evolution and scientific racism. It is said that at the time of his capture in the Congo, he saw most of his local ethnic community, including his wife and child, murdered before he was brought to the zoo.
Public outcry eventually led to Benga's removal from the zoo, and he was released into the custody of African American clergy. He lived in a local orphanage until he was relocated in 1910 to Lynchburg, Virginia. There he was groomed for the American way of life, dressing in Western-style clothing and attending primary school. When the outbreak of World War I made a return to the Congo impossible, Benga became depressed. In 1916, he committed suicide with a stolen revolver. A book has been written about him and his life.

The theory that the African person was at the bottom of the hierarchy of the races was upheld not simply for “science” or “fun.” It was a central tool in justifying efforts to colonise, enslave, and even exterminate people. If it could be established that certain kinds of people were indeed less than human, then it was acceptable to treat them as such.

Sources: Sociological Images,