Celebrating East African Writing!
Barrack Obama’s Africa visit has sure stirred up a hornets’ nest. Never have we seen so much hullabaloo about a visitor choosing to go to our neighbor rather than come to our house. Mark you, were I Obama, I wouldn’t step into Kenya either given the sort of double-tongued invite that has been spewed by residents. How do you lament a visitor not visiting you when you berate and withdraw invitation in the same breath? Bottom line – He doesn’t have to come to Kenya.
So boohoo Chris Kirubi and Bob Collymore; The President of the United States did not notice you weren’t there and mainly because he did not personally invite you! Talk about boorish behavior; announcing how you won’t attend something that was an open invite to just about any and every business leader in East Africa.
Now that I have dealt with the utter lack of etiquette among Kenyans, let’s talk about the POTUS encouraging African countries to embrace LGBT rights as part of their democratic process. Now, it’s no secret that African nations have taken colonial buggery laws to a whole new extreme, but surely even the POTUS should know better. Isn’t it just ludicrous for the POTUS to expect African nations to do what is not even being done in the US?
During his visit on the continent, The Supreme Court just stopped short of making same-sex marriages legal and lawful at the federal level; there is still some way to go in terms of fully implementing family and marriage rights in America. The only thing the US has done so far is simply not arrest people who are gay for being gay. Granted, at the societal level gay rights activism has resulted in a far more accepting culture than what you will find on the continent.
But wait a minute! 100 years ago, no, about 50-60 years ago, ethnic communities in Africa had a very open and accepting approach to “gay” people. YES, they did. Several ethnic communities practiced “male bonding”, acceptance of women to marry women, and the switching of genders; women living as men, fathers, grandfathers. It’s not a secret. It’s not NEWS. It’s a fact.
Along came the missionaries’ with their bible and the gun, and all of a sudden even polygamy was bad! Yes, your Christian missionaries who imposed a European ideology only suited for a worker colony – first they told your gods are satanic, and then they told you it’s one man one wife, and then they outlawed people who were always a part of society. In just a ridiculously short span of time, what was culturally accepted has become “un-African”.
It was a way to control the different ethnic communities, to unite them under one ideology and to make all the Africans forget who they are and abandon and hate themselves and their own people and it has worked SPLENDIDLY.
So when Barrack Obama comes along and says LGBT rights, all the worker Africans are up in arms! “HOW dare he!” First he refused to visit us now he tells us to have gay rights, we won’t be told what to do by the west.
Well. Seeing as the bible you are bashing is western, the clothes you are wearing are western, the language you are speaking is western and your foolish mindset is totally western, I don’t see why it’s so hard for you to accept and acknowledge the rights of people you already live with and always have.
I do wish Barrack Obama would have a sincere talk with the Evangelical Christian organizations in the US, most of who make life utterly miserable for LGBT people in the US. Worse, they spread their hate to people around the world, people whose cultural heritage was accepting of all, without prejudice. I want African nations to sit down and re-examine their anti-gay stand; they keep claiming that they are African, let them have laws that are uniquely African in origin, instead of enhancing European medieval oppression. It is un-African to be homophobic; it is completely un-African to deny marriage rights to people willing to have a family based on their sexual orientation. We know this because even in Kenya women were and are still allowed to marry women for the sake of having children.
I agree that we should indeed have a review of our very homophobic laws, and we should base that review on what we really are, not who we have chosen to ape over the last century. That is the first step to becoming truly African. Maybe after we do that, we can review what an actual African invitation looks like so that we don’t abuse a guest and claim that he doesn’t want to come to his motherland when we were insulting in the first place. That is just ignorant behavior; the fact that business leaders exemplified it shows the degree of mental rot that is prevalent in Kenya.
Betty Waitherero Njoroge is a writer, a human rights activist and a producer for television. She writes commentary and opinion pieces on socio-political matters in Kenya and runs her own blog on www.bettywaitherero.blogspot.com
She is passionate about the color red, loves roast chicken and red wine, will spend most of her day buried in literature, articles or texts, and she is a mother. Betty hopes to join the University of Nairobi in 2013 and pursue masters in Anthropology, concentrating on Gender, Culture and Language. Her favorite quote is “Brevity is the soul of lingerie” by US author and humorist Dorothy Parker; her rather amusing take on Shakespeare’s famous quote by Hamlet – “Brevity is the soul of wit.”