A refreshingly different voice coming out of Zimbabwe which challenges the historical revisionism of a pre-colonial Africa without homosexuality. We are all used to and tiring of hearing the mantra that homosexuality is “unAfrican” from the religious and political leaders despite the evidence to the contrary. In his article, Munyaradzi B. Munochiveyi challenges the myth that same sex desire did not exist in pre-colonial Zimbabwe. It’s always good to know people grow and learn and Munochieveyi’s admits his own homophobia and previous support of the Mugabe statement against gays…
I regret it now, but when President Robert Mugabe issued his now infamous 1995 aspersion against gays as “worse than pigs and dogs”, I enthusiastically endorsed that sentiment, despite my own general revulsion with Mugabe’s dictatorial tendencies.
Munochieveyi traces same sex desire as far back as “the dawn of history” in Southern Africa when “dissident sexualities began to emerge” amongst the Shona and Lovedu people
The Shona of Zimbabwe, for example, like other societies, observed a culture of discretion around sexual matters, and actually recognized various forms of queer sexualities. Examples of pre-colonial gender variance and sexual inversion included ritual incest and celibacy, such as the mbonga, a female guardian whose celibacy protected the Shona chief, and the chibanda, a caste of male diviners possessed by female spirits and referred to in early European sources as “passive sodomites”.
Among the Lovedu people, the gender inversion involved women. The “rain queen” kept her virginity but married girls. In the nineteenth century, Ndebele and Ngoni warriors introduced the practice of ritual male-male sexuality as part of war preparations.
Munochieveyi makes the point that ALL sexualities and sexual expression in pre-colonial and ancient Zimbabwe were inclusive but highly regulated and it was at the point of colonial intervention when Victorian mores and ideals were imposed on African peoples including homophobia which was widespread in Victorian England. Continue reading Munochieveyi article…..