Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Waiting for the phone to call

Someone from the BBC World Service called again this evening. They were having yet another Have Your Say show on homosexuality, using the South African legalisation of gay marriage as pretext. I fed the lady a few thoughts and waited for the phone to ring to have my say. It didn't. Not having access to the World Service (apart from online, but who wants to sit endlessly by the computer?) meant I didn't get to hear what was said.

My prepared thought was this - and I'm not sure it has been as studied/theorised as much as it should be: in Nigeria, as elsewhere in Africa, everything goes as long as the law is not involved. As soon as any kind of progressive legislation comes within a few thousand miles of Nigeria, the law makers run the other way (after all, the extreme homophobia enshrined in law banning any kind of talk let alone action in favour of gay relationships was a result of a high-level political trip to South Africa). Meanwhile, anything goes, as long as it is not raised up into public discourse. Whence this dynamic? How come everything is permitted at one level, yet everything is denied at another? How can people deny that sexuality does not always run straight and narrow, pretend that it is a western/colonial import, given what they know takes place?

Such collective self-deception can only be the result of a fundamental lack of honesty or engagement with actual dynamics of society, as well as a deep-rooted denial of the many frequencies on which sexual desire resonates. A framework of religious fundamentalism does not help: the Abrahamic monotheisms that we are bequeathed with never fail to get their theocratic underwear all a-twist when it comes to desire (Songs of Solomon the noble and poetic exception).

This bifurcation between the legal and the informally permitted points to a larger issue, way beyond sexuality: how can progressive legislation ever take root in many African countries, when anything that is allowed is allowed only to the extent that it takes place behind discursive closed doors?

Maybe the answer lies in economic determinism. African societies are still conditioned by rural/agricultural mores and outlook. Globalisation will attenuate local rumps of hypocrisy and double standards in time. At present, many African cultures are a long way from accepting let alone embracing their own internal complexities.


Anonymous,  11:33 pm  

For the first time since I've been reading any of your posts related to homosexuality, I cannot find anything with which to disagree.

I guess this means I'll have to go kiss a man now. spit! :-)

Anonymous,  11:37 pm  

How will gay laws address the basic needs to which majority of Africans have no access.
We need food, clothing and shelter.
While this may seem too unambitious for you as you seem to live in a different world, these are major challenges for the average African

Akin 9:26 am  


Rather than make gay laws appear frivolous by trying to highlight the sufferings of everyday Africans, I think once we catch the concept of equality in seemingly social issues, I believe that undoubtedly the economic, health, educational issues would have to follow.

The more people feel they are part of society, the more they are able to either contribute or demand a listening ear.

If it starts with the "unAfrican" gay laws, so be it. It would appear gay laws are easier to pass than budgets and the will to provide basic needs for now.

Anonymous,  12:00 pm  

anonymous - I can see your point and, unless I am mistaken, even in the Western world where it is more prevalent homosexuality is still practiced by a small minority. My point being that when we have managed to house, feed , clothe our people and provided them with basic healthcare and education then we can start facing these other challenges.

Akin 2:35 pm  

The job of feeding, clothing, sheltering and empowering people has been available to leadership for years and they have not done much to acquit themselves well on this matter.

If we were as you both suggest to wait till all are fed, sheltered and clothed to the detriment of promoting equality, fairness and justice no matter how trivial.

We might as well submit our freedoms to a police state and revert to Stalinist Communism where we survive on being pliant and suppressed.

South Africa is a democracy, if their legislative agenda, in agreement with the executive and judiciary deem gay rights to be a core issue to strengthening their democracy, who are we to question their seemingly "misplaced" priorities.

I wish we had a legislature that was half as bold and courageous in Nigeria doing something radical that does something positive for Nigeria.

About This Blog

  © Blogger templates Psi by 2008

Back to TOP