Olaide Kayode Timileyin | 1:58pm
Religion, or i say spirituality isn’t new to the people of West Africa pre-colonial era. A known fact is that the indigenous tribes like the Yorubas have oral traditions traceable to the “creation of man”, a well coordinated and systematic way of spirituality, established mainly in ancestral and Orisa worship.
The Yoruba spirituality from West Africa depicts some of it’s divine and gracious figures in a forms which would have been threaten with fourteen years imprisonment if they dare exist on the streets of Nigeria as of today, examples of which are Olokun, Oya , and Esu. In as much as Esu’s masculine energy is often perceived, Esu “is at once both male and female. his masculinity is depicted as visually and graphically overwhelming, his equally expressive femininity renders his enormous sexuality ambiguous, contrary, and genderless.”
Colonialism and Slavery, didn’t just cart away the people, it introduced us to a new faith, that which we could believe in while on a ship to the lord’s land. “Impacts of slavery and colonialism as ventured on modern societies include: unequal social relations [like homophobia, Patriarchy, etc] and racial inferiority; neo-colonial dependency; distorted economies as well as massive poverty, particularly of the colonies, especially in Africa.”
ISIWO, CATHOLIC CHURCH: HOMOSEXUALITY – QueerCity
In most Africa countries like Nigeria and as recently shown in Ghana, the faith of the people can determine the fate of some people, most especially if the fate of these people would favour the powers that be politically. In 2014, one of the excuses for the enactment of the Same Sex marriage prohibition Act in Nigeria is that our culture and faiths do not give space for homosexuality. In 2021, Ghanaian former procurement minister, Hon. Adwoa Safo said “ The issue of LGBT is an issue that when mentioned, it creates some controversy but [On the issue of our cultural acceptance and norms, these practices are also frowned upon. So, for me, these are two distinct clarities on the matter and that is what I strongly stand for]”.
While there are indigenous and cultural traces of Queerness in West Africa, the faith of it’s modern people seem to either seek to furtherly erase or truncate the fabric of the existence of this “accepting” and not “tolerating” history. With continuous demonization of all that seem to affiliate itself with indigenous faith, which could be blamed on the exact demonization of black sexuality during slavery by colonial masters, West African post-colonial majorly practiced religions have continued to use their faiths to police the existence of people and the sanctity of these region.
In Northern Nigeria, the ‘Yan Daudu’ community is a group of persons belonging to the Hausa subculture, whose men act like women and engage in sexual relationships with other men. Sadly, the same Northern Nigeria is currently a home to Punishment by Death in states that operate under the laws of the Muslim faith called Sharia. Mauritania has the harshest anti-homosexuality laws and the subject remains hush hush or taboo, as it similarly does in Niger and Guinea, all of which is credited to the same Sharia law.
Christian Bishops across this regions actively activate and crusade the weaponization of their own faith against sexual minorities in this region, even when most countries in this region are bound by constitutions enacted by unending number of treaties signed by this same region. The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) in an official statement in 2021 said “We, the Catholic Bishops of Ghana, write to condemn all those who support the practice of homosexuality in Ghana,”.
Queer religious activists in the past have physically sought to create safe spaces for the discuss of queerness and faith, but they have been met with the waterloo of violence that comes with the weaponization of the same faith. Rev. Jide Macaulay of House of Rainbow in this article title “Towards Full acceptance” narrated “As a person of faith, my focus was always reconciliation, first with God and then with the people who mattered most to me. It took me several years to come out to my close family members, friends and colleagues. Each step bears its own mark of pain and anguish. I was psychotic at one point. It was difficult for me to trust anyone. I was ill-treated from one African Christian community to another whenever it was discovered that I was gay.
The back and forth on the subject of sexuality in West Africa continues to suffer the cringes of faith, and it leaves one lost if one questions the subject of “if certain humans are morally viable to debate the validity of the existence of others, by nothing else but by the yardstick of faith which the constitution recognizes as a choice.
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