Africa is largely intolerant of homosexuality so much so that the majority of the continent’s 54 countries has criminalized the activity, and while others have no law against it, there is high intolerance.
Many Africans and their governments argue that homosexuality is a foreign import from the West, that is, the practice is “un-African.”
However, Nigerian-American musician Jidenna begs to differ.
Still on the promo run for his newly released 85 to Africa album, the Classic Man passed by Sway’s Universe on Monday where he touched on several topics, including homophobia.
According to Jidenna, who was born to a Nigerian father and an American mother and spent some years in his father’s home country as a child before moving back to the United States, homosexuality was practised in Africa way before Europeans touched its shores, using history to corroborate his statement.
“You hear these African leaders who are dressed in three-piece suits, got an iPhone, speaking in English and not their native tongue are saying, ‘it’s unafrican to be homosexual, it’s unafrican, we don’t have it. That was brought as a European import.’ It’s not true. It’s not true at all,” he started.
“You got Uganda, the kingdom of Buganda at the time, before Uganda, there was an openly gay king,” he added. “If you go to Zimbabwe, the bushmen as they call them, you’ll see homosexual acts in the Cave paintings. If you go to different communities in West Africa, there was different rights of passage where if a woman was with a woman, or a man was with a man, they were thought to be more powerful.”
“There was never a time where this didn’t exist,” he adamantly added. “Or where it was just hands down that homosexuals were wrong. That’s not actual an African thing, which means it’s not a black thing.”
Jidenna on how homophobia contradicts African history. We love facts… pic.twitter.com/ajudbSf08f— …and She was loved. (@thesalteater) August 28, 2019
Last year, Face2Face Africa wrote a feature about a 19th-century king of Buganda who was gay. According to our research, King Mwanga II, who was known to be relentless, ruled as Kabaka (king) from 1884 until 1888 and from 1889 until 1897 before British rule.
Sources say Mwanga II learned homosexualism from Arabs who were prominent in Buganda during the time. Professor Sylvia Antonia Nannyonga-Tamusuza cites in her book, Baaskisimba: Gender in the Music and Dance of the Baganda People of Uganda that, “During Mukabya’s reign, after the Arabs and other foreigners had come to Buganda, promiscuity became rampant…those Arabs also introduced another bad behavior, that of fellow men making other men their women [wives]… Mwanga was often given to the practice of sodomy, allegedly learnt from Arabs.”
But Nannyonga-Tamusuza’s assertion is also contested by the earlier evidence cited, suggesting that Mwanga engaged in this behaviour on his own accord.
Watch Jidenna’s full interview below: