The Anti-gay Law Debate
About 100 years ago missionaries brought Christianity to Africa, changing the names and ways of many objects and processes. Those changes caused the upheaval of many systems and introduced new ways of thinking about things. In many ways they essentially insisted that Africans stop thinking for themselves and take on the 'better' ways. A significant introduction made by the missionaries was morality about all things, including sexuality. The Bible was used to decide what was right and wrong, with specific, accepted interpretations. Particularly, the notion that homosexuality was a sin worse than others was indisputable.
Fast forward a hundred years and the western thinking has changed. Information, rules and new ways of thinking continue to be 'suggested' to Africans, who are still expected to take it all on without thinking about it. The work of missionaries is now being done by politicians and intellectuals, but the intention is still the same: to make sure that Africa continues to serve the development of the West. The Bible is no longer the ruling text and the ideas on homosexuality have changed. Africa is therefore required to keep up with the changing thinking as we have had to do on all other issues as they have evolved in the West: women's rights, health and nutrition, human rights, justice, environmental conservation. The most glaring thing to me is that we fail to negotiate for our ideas of right and wrong because we don't know what they are. As we have shed our own African ness - both by force and by choice - we have failed to record what we are removing so that we know where we came from. We have spent so much time allowing ourselves to be upgraded and contributed our energies towards stripping ourselves of our history and identity.
The African debate on homosexuality is so directionless and weak because we don't quite know what it is that we think about it. We are debating what we are being told to do based on what we have been told to do in the past. In Microsoft excel that type of circular reasoning doesn't work. I don't think it works in life either.
This isn't the first debate that has highlighted how adrift we are as a people (feminism, food security, health, social dynamics, leadership are still raging unresolved), and it won't be the last. I wonder if we are doomed as a people. If it's true that you can't know where you're going if you don't know where you come from then I'm not sure what hope there is for us. Because from my limited analysis it is glaring that our history, our true selves and identity, has been totally lost.