King Mwanga II of Buganda
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21 varieties of traditional African homosexuality | 76 CRIMES

King Mwanga II of Buganda
King Mwanga II of Buganda, the “gay king” who reportedly had sexual relations with men. (Photo courtesy of Sebaspace)

At least 21 cultural varieties of same-sex relationships have long been part of traditional African life, as demonstrated in anew report  that is designed to dispel the confusion and lies surrounding Uganda’sAnti-Homosexuality Bill.

The following discussion and the 21 examples are from that report, “Expanded Criminalisation of Homosexuality in Uganda: A Flawed Narrative / Empirical evidence and strategic alternatives from an African perspective,” which was prepared bySexual Minorities Uganda:

In their work anthropologists Stephen Murray and Will Roscoe provide wide‐ranging evidence in support of the fact that throughout Africa”s history, homosexuality has been a ‘‘consistent and logical feature of African societies and belief systems.”

Thabo Msibi of the University of Kwazulu‐Natal documents many examples in Africa of same-sex desire being accommodated within pre-colonial rule.”

 

Deborah P. Amory speaks of ‘‘a long history of diverse African peoples engaging in same-sex relations.”

Drawing on anthropological studies of the pre-colonial and colonial eras, it is possible to document a vast array of same-sex practises and diverse understandings of gender across the entire continent.

Examples include:

  1. One notably ‘‘explicit” Bushmen painting, which depicts African men engaging in same-sex sexual activity.
  2. In the late 1640s, a Dutch military attaché documented Nzinga, a warrior woman in the Ndongo kingdom of the Mbundu, who ruled as ‘‘king” rather than ‘‘queen”, dressed as a man and surrounded herself with a harem of young men who dressed as women and who were her ‘‘wives”.
  3. Eighteenth century anthropologist, Father J-B. Labat, documented the Ganga-Ya-Chibanda, presiding priest of the Giagues, a group within the Congo kingdom, who routinely cross-dressed and was referred to as ‘‘grandmother”.
  4. In traditional, monarchical Zande culture, anthropological records described homosexuality as ‘‘indigenous”. The Azande of the Northern Congo ‘‘routinely married” younger men who functioned as temporary wives – a practise that was institutionalised to such an extent that warriors would pay ‘‘brideprice” to the young man”s parents.
  5. Amongst Bantu-speaking Pouhain farmers (Bene, Bulu, Fang, Jaunde, Mokuk, Mwele, Ntum and Pangwe) in present-day Gabon and Cameroon, homosexual intercourse was known as bian nkû”ma– a medicine for wealth which was transmitted through sexual activity between men.

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