Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Queer Politics, Zimbabwe

I did not choose to be heterosexual

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…..

Via African Activist.

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4 Comments

  1. The argument sometimes made that gay people chose to become gay borders on the ridiculous. And sits alongside that other nonsense that African same-gender loving people have acquired their sexuality from contact with Europeans.

    Our ancestors were perfectly familiar with homosexuality and their attitude towards it was far removed from that which the colonialists introduced to our continent, the homophobia of the 19th century that our people continue to cling to nearly 200 years on. Perhaps another century must pass before Africans wake up to the reality that homophobia is pure prejudice and bigotry and that it is akin to racism.

  2. The notion of homosexuality as “un-African” (whatever that means) is complete, utter balderdash. I know this in that I've seen heterosexually married men who were in fact gay but got married due to the stigma associated with being gay. At least one man I know is now in a happy gay union here in America – he and his ex-wife got amicably split.

  3. Farai

    the link at the end of the article is broken, I thought I would share a working link if you still want to continue reading the article. > http://
    kalamu.posterous.com/ info-
    homosexuality-in-zimbabwe -towards-a –
    cult

  4. soleil

    its refreshing to see that light might yet come. Africans fail to realize that , the very culture that lied to them is now in the forefront when it comes to gay rights.It verges on stupidity to think or believe that any african person has been made to be a homo by a white man . how stupid is that notion?a community where being gay can earn you an early grave surely who would choose that?as for mugabe its clear to those who care to see that ..the man will use any thing to get people to look away from what is important and focus on foolish debates.. like most of our leaders.stand up Africa these are your children,brothers,sisters,mothers etc.