My ancestors are not homophobic

2012-06-11 15:51

Since 2006 when South Africa enacted the Civil Unions Act legalising ‘gay marriage’, there was opposition then and it appears that there is still opposition to the Act.

I recall Dr Nokuzola Mndende saying homosexuality is unAfrican, now Chief Phathekile Holomisa suggests that there are rituals that could be performed to free people from their homosexual tendencies. But as a Mpondo man, I do not know what ritual Holomisa is talking about unless he is going to come up with one; maybe he was talking about the right of passage ritual but I know many gay men who have gone through it and are still gay so chopping off the foreskin, salt-free vegetarian diet for eight days with lessons from the elder on how to be a ‘real man’, killing a goat and cow, drinking booze, burning impepho and a few words with the dead did not work.

What is more alarming in Chief Holomisa’s statements is the proposal by CONTRALESA to rewrite the constitution in order to give traditional courts more powers and to take away the rights of homosexuals to live freely in the Republic.

This highlights the failure of traditionalists to respect individual freedom, because CONTRALESA later changed their tune to suggest that they respect the constitution but they want the majority of the citizens to decide if they want to give homosexuals the same rights and just who in the world gave them the authority to grant people rights? The elections are the best place to decide because you simply cannot get all the citizens in a meeting where they can share their views so voting for the Freedom-Front Plus which shares their views on homosexuality would make more sense.

Prince Manene of CONTRALESA says that the majority of the people were not given enough time to discuss the Civil Unions Bill before it was passed. Well this is very simple; the Constitutional Court had given Parliament enough time to hold its public hearings on the bill when it handed down the judgement instructing parliament to amend the marriage laws to give homosexuals marriage rights; as the constitution of the republic prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Another CONTRALESA representative Setlamorago Thobejane who serve as the General Secretary stated that “we will not have children in future” if we do not remove gay rights from the constitution. This is laughable because I see more children making children now with ‘gay rights’ on the constitution so will teenagers stop making babies if gays are oppressed? The silly part is that thirteen year old kids can have babies and not be jailed even though they are prohibited from having sex.

CONTRALESA would do well to first define what is ‘African’ before telling us that homosexuality is unAfrican. According to my knowledge, there is no Mpondo word for homosexuality. Does this mean that there is no homosexuality in the Mpondo tribe or that the tribe is against homosexuality? There is also no single word for albinism in the Mpondo language; does this mean there are no albinos in the Mpondo tribe?

History tells us that people discriminate against others on perceived differences; in Nguni, albinos are commonly referred to as nkawu (monkey). In Delft there is a sangoma with albinism, because there are no clearly marked bus stops on the main road, people use the surgery as a landmark so they would say ‘please drop me off at enkawini (The monkey’s place) and this is accepted as normal to refer to albinos as monkeys, painful to watch school children do this to another child because they look different.

So Dr Mndende and the rest of CONTRALESA would have to clearly define what is African and what is unAfrican for us all to understand and I hope Dr Mndende has never had to calculate anything using Greek symbols and formulas as that would really be unAfrican.

Growing up in rural Transkie, I was never in the Msimango clan taught to hate anything different from what I was taught and sexuality has always been avoided so Prince Manene who said that he naver saw any gays when growing up would most probably not have seen any; not because they do not exist but simply because sexuality has always been a taboo issues. To this day my gogo would not sit down and have a conversation on anything sexual. In fact, my grandparents slept on separate beds just to avoid having to explain why they sleep together when boys and girls sleep separately during family gatherings. Whether you are heterosexual or not, it is still difficult for most children to talk openly about sex with their parents so how would he have seen any homosexuals unless they asked him out.

Should gays be oppressed because Prince Manene did not see any homosexuals when he was growing up? Well Zuma might have some answers to help us understand why Prince did not see any homosexuals. President Zuma once stated that if Ungingqili (Zulu: commonly used to refer to a gay man) stood before him, he would beat him up. So maybe Prince did not see any gay love because ongingqili feared prosecution not because they did not exist.

I cannot imagine that my dead great grandparents would want me oppressed and live a life of misery. In the Msimango clan and in the entire Nguni nation, we are taught that the ancestors love us, want only the best for us, speak to us and are taught how to speak to them. So the likes of Zuma and Holomisa should not appoint themselves as spokespersons to the dead when we are taught how to communicate with the dead; in fact, when the dead speak, we are taught that they will do all they can to get our attention such as making you temporary paralysed when you are being called to be a Sangoma and are not hearing them.

The other flaw on these traditionalists is that they speak on behalf of everyone such as Prince Manene saying that majority of the country does not want to see gay rights on the constitution; this majority should stop voting for the ANC; a party that supports gay rights and vote for the VF+. In addition to that, when one speaks of the ancestors, they speak of their clan only so a Zuma cannot speak for a Msimango, he wouldn’t know how to address the Msimangos, only if he was a Sangoma would the Msimangos speak through him.

So Zuma, Mndemnde, Manene, Holomisa and the like, should only speak on behalf of their ancestors and not imply that every dead African is against homosexuality. Based on what I know is that the ancestors could have been against it but there is no indication that they knew much about homosexuality as Prince said that he did not see any gays when he was growing up, not because there weren’t any but simply because Africans do not talk openly about sex. The only other explanation would be the practice of ukuthwala (forced or arranged marriage where a girl is forced into the marriage). This was done only for men who were assumed to be shy with the ladies, so if one was gay and did not know how to tell their parents; the parents would simply choose a wife for him.

As for Prince Manene’s argument that majority was not properly consulted when same-sex marriage was legalised, the law had been very clear on equality; parliament was instructed by the Constitutional Court to ensure that everyone enjoys the same rights. It is far too late for Manene to suggest that certain rights within the constitution should be reviewed such as ‘gay rights’. The traditional leaders should have organised this majority to protest back in the 1990s during the negotiations and writing of the new constitution.

Right now as Nomboniso Gasa put it “our constitution is a value based constitution” not one where only the rights and views of the majority are considered. Larry Flynt simplified it for Manene when he stated that “Majority rule works if you’re also considering individual rights. Because you cannot have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for supper”. So our constitution as it is considered individual rights, this was to ensure that majority does not turn around and oppress the minority. CONTRALESA should simply accept the constitution as the supreme law of the land not what they think the ancestors would like to see.


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