1. Education

Homosexuality as Part of Pre-Colonial Africa

By November 7, 2006

Follow me on:

"Some people believe homosexuality is an idea brought [to Africa] by the white man. But it has always been here. What the white man brought was homophobia clothed in religious doctrines that we did not have before." That's the voice of Donna Smith, the head of the Forum for the Empowerment of Women, as quoted in a Mail & Guardian article on gay life in South Africa today, where fear and violence are common. Read Mail & Guardian article...

A GLBTQ encyclopedia article by sociologist Stephen O. Murray on pre-independence sub-Saharan Africa says: "There is now a belief that homosexuality is a decadent, bourgeois Western innovation forced upon colonial Africa by white men, or, alternately, by Islamic slave-traders. The belief of many Africans that homosexuality is exogenous to the history of their people is a belief with real social consequences [but] not, however, based on serious inquiry, historical or otherwise." Read "The Myth of Exclusive Heterosexuality..."

See Also:
South Africa Legalizes Gay Marriage

Comments

May 7, 2010 at 1:24 am
(1) peaceGod7 says:

Homosexuality never existed in precolonial “Africa”. Stop with the lies already but hey that’s what the devil does. That is European garbage!

May 31, 2010 at 2:27 am
(2) lasublime says:

It is not a lie, and history is littered with examples of such homosexual love. Open your eyes dear, planting your head in the sand won’t make the truth go away.

June 5, 2010 at 12:29 pm
(3) peaceGod7 says:

It’s too bad for you, peaceGod7, posting your stubborness, hatred and ignorance on the internet for everyone to see!

Better blame Christianity or Islam for so filling your head with fairy stories that you can’t stomach the truth. Like it or not, homosexuality exists in every society, and always did.

November 3, 2010 at 7:52 pm
(4) John says:

Anyone who belives that homosexuality did not exist in Africa prior to European influence is a bigot who can’t accept africa the way it really was but rather believe in an “africa” that fits their baseless ideolistic view of africa.
Hate to burst your bubble but their is overwhelming evidence that homosexuality existed in pre-coloniel africa. In fact the first recorded gay couple in history is of ancient egypt, namely Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum. The most common form of homosexuality in traditonal africa prior to european influence, was that of men and boys.I like to refer you to an article on the subject: semgai.free.fr/doc_et_pdf/africa_A4.pdf.
Again sorry to burst your bubble.

February 26, 2011 at 11:51 am
(5) pauliji says:

Homosexuality has been seen in every single human society, throughout recorded history, and wherever such records might be kept. It has also been observed in virtually every mammalian species studied, currently over 1500 species. It’s also found in many bird species. It’s endemic in giraffes, dolphins, and the higher primates, including our most closely related animal species, the chimpanzee, particularly in the pygmy chimpanzee, or bonobo, where bisexuality is universal. Ask any zookeeper, or farmer if there are gay animals.

July 23, 2011 at 2:10 am
(6) Culz14 says:

It’s very sad Africans are not the ones writing their own history. I don’t think all this articles posted on the internet about history of Africa or book writing about us are 100 percent correct. Even
in this modern time some news about what is happening here from all this broadcasting stations like are not always true. About homosexuality it may or not exist in pre colonial era but I have not seen this thread in any tradition African culture(undiluted by western influence). I may be right or wrong but I think if it truly existed in pre colonial time there should still be some people doing it in the name of African culture. Some people are still using people for rituals, cutting female clitoris drinking human or animal blood, making virgins to dance on the street naked. There are also some tribe in my country still living a jungle life and homosexuality is not heard among them. I can only speak about my country though.

September 11, 2011 at 3:41 pm
(7) maxy says:

i believe Africans are refusing to accept the fact that homosexuality existed even before the Europeans colonized Africans lets take my country for a eg{GHANA} this practices actually exist in some of some traditional cultures and it become funny and interesting listening to politicians talk assive homosexuality is something that emerged from the skies aside looking at it from the biblical point of view and aside our various condemnation and it implications on the society the question i always put on board is what are the measures been taken to stop homosexuality what measures are our traditional chiefs taken to stop this deviant practices.

October 1, 2011 at 10:06 pm
(8) abbysenia says:

Homosexuality existed in Africa before the European. The issue it to what extent and to what degree of acceptance. Another issue is what we call today homosexuality and what they called it.. This is where things get muddled. However, in response to someone saying that they don’t know of natives practicing in in their country… We know that the Europeans drastically affected the continent in various way even extending into the hinter lands of the traditionalists.. There is a book called boy wives and female husbands that talks about this. In some cultures women could take on additional wives…they did NOT necessarily have sex with these wives(almost like maids in waiting like royal Europe). However, in SOME cases depending on the group sex DID occur! Also sex occured but wasn’t considered sex…just like in some culture…children with out clothes are not naked…only adults…interesting issue of symantics! http://www.bidstrup.com/phobiahistory.htm check this out!

June 15, 2012 at 6:58 pm
(9) Komla says:

As an African, I always feel pity about the thought that Africa knew no evil before the arrival of Europeans. Please help me discover who so strongly planted this idea in Africans’ mind. Take a time, think again. Africa was home to solidarity. i can see how our forefathers highlighted this by actively participating in slavery. Please, let’s stop blaming white people. Please, you who still sow these ideas, wake up. i know it’s too late but wake up all the same!

August 24, 2012 at 10:15 am
(10) Donnie says:

I am an American Negroid Gay person and I hear this non-sense all the time from the black people here.I tell them,that if we were the first people to have civilizations,spoken/written languages,etc.,then we must have been the first homosexuals.If we were first,we were the first ‘everything’! We were the first to do things you accept and the first to do things you don’t accept.There are A LOT of people on the down low that cannot accept themselves because of religious influence.That’s what colonialism brought to blacks,shame of who we REALLY are.

November 4, 2012 at 12:58 pm
(11) Funke says:

As a Yoruba woman speaking only for my country Nigeria and specifically my tribe: I do not believe christianity or even Islam warped our minds against homosexuality. The cultural stand against homosexuality is much stronger than the religious one. Take polygamy, church going members still took second wives (albeit discreetly). Unfortunately there are no written or oral tradition on homosexuality, good or bad, nothing to even hint at. Having said this though, human beings are the same the world over with the same urges and diverse makeup. I think homosexuality probably was practised in a clandestine manner.

Leave a Comment


Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.