Homosexuality in Malawi remains one of the areas that is still not explored and discussed enough. I came to this conclusion due to the recent explosions on Twitter Malawi about men that involve themselves in gay acts but are married to women and have a happy home. The play of the story was interesting to me, one could easily single out the amount of homophobia that was laced with most of the tweeps that were discussing the story. However, my mind went into a frenzy as to why homosexuality is taken as a crime in Malawi and most of other African countries, when the African history explains otherwise. And so I started to read on the African history about homosexuality, and these were some of my finding along with my thoughts.
Before I ventured into the initial reading, I had one question in mind
“How did Malawi come up with the word “Mathanyula” if these acts were not around from long ago”
The reason for posing that question was, in 2010 when the first openly gay couple (Tiwonge ‘Aunt Tiwo’Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza) staged an engagement ceremony and were are arrested and convicted, the one word we used to express their acts was “Mathanyula,” meaning the acts must have been in existence for so long that we actually had a word to describe them.
In my reading, I also stumbled on something interesting; something that up until now I had thought was but a rumor. I remembered the events that took place when I was 14 years. I went to my village for the holidays, just in time for the girls initiations (zinamwali). Once the ladies in the village learned of my visit, they quickly invited me to go to the initiations so I could learn about womanhood, something that my grandmother and mother refused profusely. Two years later, I dared asked my nana why she refused and what she answered was shocking to my young self. She narrated how such ceremonies mostly encourage girl-to-girl sexual contacts (or if they are boys, gay acts) in order to learn how to handle themselves during sex when they are married. Meaning, the one thing we condemn so much is actually engraved in our culture.
I also stumbled upon the research findings of one Kendall Liwakatso, she was researching on the existence of gay men or women in Lesotho in the early 1990s. At first, she found no one who was openly gay or lesbian in the country. However, as the time went by, one of the ladies she had come close to revealed that it was normal for Lesotho women to engage in erotic relationship with one another, and that such relationship were actually accepted by their husband and society.
But if we dig deep into the African history, you will find the legendary Buganda king (now Uganda), King Kabaka Mwanga II. Not only was he known for the killings of Christians and Muslims in his Kingdom, but for his sexual flavors as well. He had about 16 wives, but also would sleep with men. He was an openly gay King in the 1880s.
Then there is the history that most noble men in Southern Africa believed that sleeping with other men would bring them fortune. Another backing for rumors that a lot of politicians sleep with men as rituals to win elections and accumulate wealth.
Our African history points that homosexuality is actually rooted in our continent, it is something that our forefathers were participating in. However, it became a sin when westerners brought the Bible, a book that proclaims sex to be only between a man and a woman. Homosexuality did not come from a white man, black people have been engaging in the acts for a long time.
In recent times, a lot of people have failed to openly be gay or lesbian due to the fear they have in their countries. Fear of disappointing their families, fear of receiving death threats from their communities, fear of being arrested and convicted. Mostly because a lot of countries will either claim that it is not in our culture, or because they are a God-fearing nation.
What are your thoughts???? State them in the comment section below.